Philodendron Black Cardinal Care And Grow: The Ultimate Guide

Philodendrons are a favorite indoor plant pick, mostly because of their awesome leaves and easy-to-handle nature. The Black Cardinal is one of the most wanted philodendron types.

This plant comes with killer dark green and nearly black leaves that give a fancy and dramatic vibe to any indoor space. If you’re just starting out with plants, you’ll be stoked to hear that Philodendron Black Cardinal Care is pretty straightforward.

About Philodendron Black Cardinal

The Philodendron Black Cardinal, a cool hybrid type that popped up in the 1950s, is a solid proof of how creative plant breeding can get. This unique variety owes its birth to a smart combo of Philodendron Erubescens and Philodendron Gloriosum. The Erubescens parentage gives the Black Cardinal its cool dark green leaves with red veins, while the Gloriosum gives it the big, shiny leaf structure that boosts its looks.

When it comes to taking care of it, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is seen as a no-fuss indoor plant, doing great in bright, indirect sunlight and needing well-draining, damp soil. You need to water it when the top inch of soil gets dry, and it’s a good idea to give it a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season. To make it feel like it’s in its natural tropical home, you can spray water around it often to up the humidity. While it’s pretty tough against most bugs and diseases, keep an eye out for mealybugs and scale which might give it trouble now and then. If you spot any of these, it’s a good idea to separate it from your other plants and treat it with the right bug or fungus killers.

When it comes to using it for indoor plantscaping, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is a real all-rounder. You can let it shine on its own, put it in a hanging basket, add it to a mixed planter, or even use its leaves for flower arrangements because they’re so striking.

There have been some cool new discoveries about the Philodendron Black Cardinal in the world of science. A paper in the Journal of Plant Growth Regulation showed that you can get the normally slow-blooming Black Cardinal to flower within 170 days if you use the plant hormone gibberellic acid (GA3). These results open up fresh possibilities for speeding up the flowering process in this variety.

About Philodendron Black Cardinal

Philodendron Black Cardinal care overview

Botanical Name Philodendron erubescens ‘Black Cardinal’
Common Name Philodendron Black Cardinal
Family Araceae
Origin Central and South America
Leaf Color burgundy to green and then to black as the plant ages.
Bloom Time Rarely blooms indoors
Mature Size 36 inches as a houseplant
Repotting Every 2 to 3 years
Temperature 65 – 80 °F (18 – 27 °C)
Light Bright indirect sunlight
Watering Water if the top inch of soil is dry
Humidity 70%-80%
Fertilizer Once a month in spring and summer
Propagation Stem cuttings or division
Toxicity Toxic to humans and pets


Philodendron Black Cardinal care

Give your Philodendron Black Cardinal some decent, indirect light and make sure its soil stays kinda damp, and you’ll have this killer plant to admire for years on end. Here’s the full rundown on how to give a Philodendron Black Cardinal the right care:

Light Requirements

The Philodendron Black Cardinal, who’s used to living in the tropical parts of South and Central America, loves the sun’s rays when they’re softened by the rainforest’s trees. It needs bright, indirect light to grow right.

It needs bright, indirect light to grow right. But, the black cardinal’s light needs are pretty flexible.

The Black Cardinal can cope with low light conditions for weeks on end. You should find a spot for it where it gets a couple of good hours of light each day but dodge direct sunlight.

If there’s no indirect sunlight, it’s cool to give it a few hours of early morning sun and then shade in the afternoon.

Black Cardinals dig warm spots that don’t get direct sunlight. The best place for them is near a window where the sun’s rays won’t hit the leaves directly, like a north or east-facing window.


Something like moist, springy soil that’s full of organic stuff is what you’re looking for in your philodendron black cardinal’s soil.

For your philodendron black cardinal, slightly sour to kinda sour soil, or pH levels from 5.5 to 6.5, is the best.

Pure peat moss is the type of soil that drains easily but still holds onto enough moisture.

Or, you could make your own mix by combining your soil with compost and peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. Or you can add coco coir, perlite, coconut husks, or orchid bark.

To stay damp, philodendrons need soil that drains well and is packed with organic stuff. If their roots stay wet for too long, they can get root rot, which can be deadly. An all-purpose potting mix will hold onto water too long, which could cause rot.

Soil for Philodendron Black Cardinal


The philodendron black cardinal likes temps of 65-80 °F (18- 27 °C). Keep your philodendron in a room that has this perfect temp during the day and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

In the super hot summer months, you should put your black cardinal out on your balcony. And when late summer or early fall hits or temps drop below 55°F (12°C), you gotta bring it inside.


Philodendron Black Cardinal in the rainforest is used to getting a shower at least every other day throughout the growing season, but winter and the first few weeks of spring are a lot drier.

Water your black cardinal throughout the spring, summer, and early fall whenever the top inch of soil gets dry.

It doesn’t need as much watering during the winter. Let the soil get almost totally dry before dunking the pot in a sink or bucket of water until it’s completely under.

Depending on the situation, you should water your philodendrons more often or less often. (humidity, pot size, temperature, etc.).

To make sure it all gets soaked, slowly pour room-temp water over the whole soil surface.

Let the top 1 to 2 inches of soil dry between waterings. Pour water into the drip tray until the dampness reaches the drainage holes, then get rid of any extra that’s collected there.

Never let the pot sit in water that’s not going anywhere; always totally drain any extra water.

watering philodendron black cardinal


The humidity in the Philodendron Black Cardinal’s home rainforests is about 70%.

Even though it’ll grow a bit slower, philodendron black cardinal will usually be cool in your home with a humidity level between 40 and 50%.

The best way is to target the air around your philodendron with a little humidifier.

Put its pot on a tray with pebbles and water, or bunch all of your tropical plants together to make a damper little world, and it’ll be as happy as a clam.

Just be sure to keep your plants away from heating and cooling vents because the high temps and dry air there will do them no good.


To help make big, good-looking leaves, it’s a good idea to use philodendron black cardinal food on the regular.

Philodendrons don’t need food and aren’t big eaters. You can feed them once a month in the spring and summer and once every 6-8 weeks in the fall and winter if you want to keep steady growth going.

When you change plants’ pots in the spring, you can use potting soil that has a slow-release food in it.

For your philodendron black cardinal, use a liquid food for leaves with an NPK food ratio of 5-2-3 or 3-2-1 will be perfect or a balanced 20-20-20 is also okay.

Related: Philodendron Billietiae Care And Grow: The Ultimate Guide


Because it doesn’t grow super fast, you only need to repot your Philodendron black cardinal every 2-3 years.

When you see roots stuffing the pot or poking out of the drainage holes on the black cardinal, it’s time to repot. The best time to do it is in early spring.

To keep the soil moisture level steady, a glazed or plastic pot will do the trick. Just make sure it has enough drainage holes.

To repot:

  1. Start by making the soil wet a few hours or the night before.
  2. Gently shake off any loose soil from the roots, check the roots after taking the plant out of the pot, and trim off any brown or damaged roots.
  3. Then replant it in the new pot using the right soil or peat moss mix.
  4. Fill in the space around the root ball with fresh potting soil, pressing it down gently to get rid of air pockets.
  5. Give the plant a good watering to settle the soil and help the roots set up shop in the new pot.
  6. Put the plant in bright, indirect light and dodge direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.

philodendron black cardinal with new pot


You’ll hardly ever need to give your philodendron black cardinal a haircut.

All you need to do is snip off any dying and yellowing leaves. This not only keeps your plant looking good, but also helps keep it healthy and pest-free.

Always use sterile, super sharp scissors when giving your black cardinal a trim.

Also, put on gloves since the sap from the philodendron black cardinal plant might give some folks a rash.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Propagation

When you’re repotting your plant, you can make more of your philodendron black cardinal plants by dividing the plant while repotting, or by stem cutting.

Propagation Philodendron Black Cardinal by Division

  1. Split the plant’s roots and stems into two or more bits before taking them out of the pot.
  2. Look at the roots, taking away any that are damaged or dead.
  3. Pot these bits up separately each bit into a separate pot filled with fresh, well-draining potting mix.
  4. Give the newly potted bits a good watering and put them in bright, indirect light.

Propagation Black Cardinal by Stem Cuttings

  1. Pick a healthy stem from the plant, preferably one that has several nodes (little bumps on the stem where leaves grow).
  2. Just below a node, make a cut with a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Leave only a few leaves at the top and take off the lower leaves from the stalk.
  3. After dipping it in rooting hormone (optional), stick the cut end of the stem in a pot with damp potting mix.
  4. To keep the soil moist and make a mini greenhouse effect, wrap the pot in plastic wrap.
  5. Put the pot in a warm, well-lit spot that’s out of the direct sun.
  6. Check for roots growing by gently pulling on the stem a few weeks later. If it puts up a fight, roots have grown.
  7. Once its roots have grown, you can care for the baby plant like you would an established Philodendron Black Cardinal by taking off the plastic wrap.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Propagation

Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Common Pests, Plant Diseases

Generally speaking, philodendrons are tough little guys, and this type was made to be even more bug-resistant.

Here are some common pests and diseases to keep an eye out for, plus some tips for keeping your Philodendron Black Cardinal in good health:

Common Pests

Philodendron Black Cardinal can get the usual mix of houseplant bugs, including spider mites scale, aphids, and mealybugs.

  • Spider Mites: These tiny bugs can suck the sap out of the plant, making leaves turn yellow or brown.
  • Mealybugs: These white bugs hang out on the underside of leaves and can stunt growth or turn the plant yellow. Like aphids, these little bugs love damp places and eat plant juices.
  • Scale Insects: These bugs can be hard to spot, but they can make leaves turn yellow and wilt.
  • Aphids are little bugs that chill on plant stems and feast on the liquids they provide. They can easily be wiped off with your fingers and are perfectly safe (for humans, not for plants).

You can wash bugs off with a strong blast of water or use a bug-killing soap or with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. They can easily be removed with your fingers.

By wiping down the glossy leaves with a neem oil or bug-killing soap solution once a month, you can stop them from bugging your black cardinal.

Common Diseases

Root Rot

Root rot is the main headache that Black Cardinals have to deal with. This happens if the pot doesn’t have enough drainage holes, the soil doesn’t drain well, or you’re watering your plants too much.

When a plant’s soil is kept too wet, the roots can’t breathe, which causes a fungal infection and root rot to set in.

The stems get weak, the leaves sag and turn yellow, and the roots turn black and smelly.

By removing any sick parts and replanting what’s left in fresh soil in a clean pot, you might be able to save your philodendron black cardinal.

Leaf Spot

This problem can be caused by overwatering or not enough air circulation and can cause yellow or brown spots on leaves. Get rid of sick leaves and improve air flow around the plant.

Curled or yellowed leaves

This problem is another sign of stress in plants. While too much water won’t kill your plant right away, the root rot will eventually get too bad to fix.

FAQs Philodendron Black Cardinal care

Q: Does the black cardinal philodendron have a scent?

A: No, it doesn’t have a scent, which makes the philodendron black cardinal plant a great option for public places where folks with smell sensitivities might run into it.

Q: Why is the black cardinal in my philodendron dying?

A: It might be because it’s been sitting in wet soil for too long, and your Philodendron black cardinal plant might have gotten root rot. Cut off all the sick parts and replant it in a new pot with new soil.

Q: How may philodendron black cardinal be grown outside?

A: If you’re in zones 10 to 12, you can plant the philodendron black cardinal plant outdoors all year round. In cooler places, you can move pots outside in the summer to a spot with some shade.

Q: Are Black Cardinal Philodendrons Toxic to Pets and Humans?

A: Yes, all philodendrons are considered dangerous and should be kept away from kids and pets.

Q: Why is my black cardinal philodendron drooping?

A: It could be that your philodendron black cardinal plant is too wet or dry. If the soil is too dry, give it a good watering or replant it in some fresh, loose soil.

Q: How may philodendron black cardinals be grown indoors?

A: You can grow the Philodendron black cardinal indoors in a pot with regular watering, bright, indirect light, and a typical room temperature.


Black Cardinal philodendrons are a pretty tropical plant that don’t need a lot of work and are perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. With their bright colors, showy leaves, and low-maintenance personality, Black Cardinal philodendrons are sure to draw attention and add some style to any indoor garden.

By following the care tips we’ve outlined in this Famiplants blog post, you can make sure your Black Cardinal philodendron will thrive and reproduce, giving you a long-lasting and fun plant to enjoy.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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