Philodendron Black Cardinal
Philodendron,  Plant Care

Philodendron Black Cardinal

In this article we’ll run down how to get the best out of the philodendron black cardinal, a beautiful the key is bright light and careful watering…

Philodendron Black Cardinal Summary

Light needs:Bright indirect sunlight.
Watering needs:Check once a week and water if top inch / 2cm of soil is dry. 
Fertilizer:A balanced fertilizer every 2 or 3 weeks in the summer growing months.
Soil:Well draining.
Temperature:16-28°C (61-82°F).
Where to buy:Try our list of Rare Plant Shops or Etsy.
Common issues:Root rot.


The philodendron black cardinal is known for it’s dark almost burgundy colored leaves, which start off as red. It is a real show stopper with it’s dark leaves and a red fountain of new growth at the top. It is perfect for the inner goth in you!

It is a self-heading, compact philodendron.

Tip: we recommend Etsy for buying plants. Look for the best rated seller you can, and try to buy as close to your home as possible so the plant does not travel too far.

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Philodendron Black Cardinal Light Needs

Give it bright indirect sunlight. It will do well in a bit less light and further back from the window, but if it gets leggy, just move it forward. Be careful not to let it get direct sunlight at midday as it will burn the leaves.

How Often to Water

Check the plant once a week and water it if top inch or two (4cms or so) of soil is dry. Do not just water it on a schedule without checking it. These are easy to overwater and this can damage foliage or even root rot, so be careful and let it almost dry out.


Use a balanced fertilizer every two or three weeks in the summer growing months. It will really help the foliage to grow well. Do not use in winter or autumn when the plant grows a lot less.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Soil

For a philodendron like this you definitely want to make sure the soil is well draining as they can be susceptible to root rot. Make sure it is loose too, they do not like packed wet soil. They really want plenty of perlite added, some people use a cactus and succulent compost.

For more on Philodendron soil see our guide on what to buy or how to make your own: Philodendron Soil.

When To Repot

If you see roots growing through the bottom of the pot you can repot the plant up a pot size. You can do this any time of year, but the best time is in Spring.

For more on philodendrons see our philodendron category with all our philodendron care guides.


Philodendrons like 50% humidity which is the higher end of household humidity (most households are 30-50%). Give them a misting two or thee times a week. Misting is good as it helps to keep the plants leaves clean from pests, at least at the early stages, it also removes dust which can inhibit photosynthesis. Just be careful with mold.


Philodendrons like this do well in the 16-28°C (61-82°F) range. Normal household temperature is 20°C to 25°C (68-77°F), so these plants will do well in most households. Just don’t let them get too cold in the winter, keep away from draughts.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Propagation

The black cardinal is an easy to propagate plant, you just need to take stem cuttings. Just be careful as the stems are very close together is it is self-heading compact-growing plant. Let the cuttings callous over for an hour or two and then root them in water or moist sphagnum moss. Keep it humid and in indirect sunlight and it should root over the next month or two. Then you can pot it up into soil and it you should see new stem growth soon.

When a I propagate a self heading plant like this I wait until it is a large plant and then cut it right down, taking a lot of stem cuttings and making quite a few new plants. Cutting a self heading plant like this will change its shape, so I tend to go big and really cut it down.

For more on propagating philodendrons, see our guide: How To Propagate Philodendron.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Scientific Name

Philodendron Erubescens Black Cardinal

Philodendron Black Cardinal Caramel

The caramel version is a dark brown creamy color. It needs medium indirect ight to keep tat color, too little light and it fades and too much and it will bleach out.

Is It a Climber or A Crawler?

It is a climbing philodendron.

Philodendron Black Cardinal USDA Zone

They can grow outdoors year-round in zones 10-11.

Philodendron Black Cardinal
Image source:

Where To Buy

Always support your local plant store where you can. These are some fairly rare plants so you may well need a specialist dealer, so try our list of Rare Plant Shops. Or Etsy.

Philodendron Black Cardinal FAQs and Common Problems

Be careful of root rot as it is a big killer of these plants. I always add extra perlite to help out with drainage and do not water until the top layer of soil has dried out.

Is Philodendron Black Cardinal Rare?

They are relatively rare which keeps prices high, but you do see them on slae, try Etsy:

Is It Toxic To Pets?

According to and it is an irritant to the mouth and esophagus if taken orally. Seek out vets advice if your pet has consumed it.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Variegated

There are very rare variegated versions of the black cardinal available for sale. They go for huge sums of money due to their rarity. If you do see one for sale, make sure you are sure the variegation is stable.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Scientific Name

Philodendron erubescens black cardinal.

What’s the different between a Black Cardinal and other dark philodendrons?

There are a lot of dark leaved, almost red philodendrons out there and there is often some confusion… The black cardinal has oval leaves, some pointy at the end and some round. It is not heart shaped like the black majesty etc. The leaves are much less thin than the dark lord, the black cardinal’s leaves are more oval like a rubber plant. Leaves are shinny in look and texture, and dark red, burgundy black. The black cardinal is not a viney, long philodendron, it is low and bushy.

Philodendron Majesty Vs Black Cardinal

The main different is that majesty has more long-heart shaped leaves with pointed tips, and the black cardinal has more oval leaves with rounded end.

Philodendron Dark Lord Vs Black Cardinal

The dark lord is darkest with almost evil looking pointed black leaves, and is a climbing philodendron (it grows like a pink princess) where as the black cardinal is self heading and compact with much less stem showing.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Vs Dark Lord

The main difference is how they grow, the dark lord is a climbing philodendron, but the black cardinal is self heading. For more on these two plants see our guide here.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Vs Red Congo

The red congo has greener (but still dark) leaves, and they are more pointed than the black cardinal.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Vs Imperial Red

The imperial red puts out leaves that are reddish at first, and they are slightly bigger than the black cardinal.

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