There are a lot of amazing philodendrons out there, but a manmade hybrid has proven to be one of the most striking.
Officially named Philodendron Black Cardinal (USPP5355P), Bamboo Nursery, Inc. of Florida released the patented hybrid in 1983. It has become incredibly popular with growers.
This plant is also sometimes referred to by the nicknames blushing philodendron (after the parent plant) and red-leaf philodendron for the coloration of its juvenile leaves.
Despite its exotic appearance, this proud member of the Araceae family is relatively easy to care for.
Many consider it a suitable beginner plant for those interested in growing philodendrons.
Philodendron Black Cardinal Care
Size And Growth
- Black Cardinal isn’t the largest of philodendrons; it measures a mere 3′ feet tall and about half as wide. It is self-heading.
- The slower growth rate means it will take about ten years to reach full height, but you’ll still get plenty of visual appeal from its foliage.
- New leaves unfurl to reveal a bronze to burgundy coloration that deepens to a nearly black green as the leaf matures.
- Unlike most popular philodendron varieties, the leaves of this plant remain oval-shaped and tend to reach around 1′ foot long and 8″ inches across.
Flowering And Fragrance
As with other philodendrons, it’s almost impossible to get this plant to bloom indoors.
But when it does, the spring inflorescence proves unremarkable.
Light And Temperature
One would think that a plant with dark leaves might prefer shade, but that’s not the case here.
- Instead, Black Cardinal prefers bright, indirect light, including dappled sunlight or filtered light.
- Full sun can scorch the leaves. But it’s okay to give it full morning sun and afternoon shade in milder climates.
- It shares the typical philodendron love for humidity, preferring at least 70% percent.
- It can handle normal household levels of 40% to 50% percent if you don’t mind slightly stunted growth.
- A humidifier or pebble tray is the best solution. Also, grouping other plants can make for an effective natural solution (although this plant seems to prefer being a loner).
- Ideal temperature ranges of 68° – 78° degrees Fahrenheit make this a perfect houseplant. It can survive temperatures down to 58° degrees Fahrenheit at night.
- Temperatures dipping below 54° degrees Fahrenheit will damage the plant.
It’s possible to grow this plant outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. Most prefer to keep it in a container for movement if there’s a threat of low temperatures or heavy storms.
Be sure to keep it sheltered from sudden drafts or temperature shifts.
Watering And Fertilizing Black Cardinal
The soak-and-dry method is best for this plant.
Stick your finger in the soil and water when it feels dry 1″ to 2″ inches down.
Water slowly until you see moisture seeping from the drainage holes or the soil can no longer absorb at the speed you’re pouring.
Cut back on watering in fall and winter while the plant is dormant.
Fertilize your Philodendron plant monthly in spring and summer using a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to 1/2 strength (or as directed on the packaging).
Many growers also recommend feeding it once every eight weeks during fall and winter.
Calcium and magnesium deficiency is not unusual for this plant. Pour boiling water over dried-out egg shells and allow to steep overnight. Strain and use as a liquid fertilizer supplement.
Soil And Transplanting
Loose, well-draining soil is key to a healthy Black Cardinal, preferably with a pH of around 6.5 (although it can accept a range of 5.5 to 7.0).
African violet mixes are perfect for potting, especially with some added perlite.
Or, you can plant it in pure sphagnum moss or a peat and vermiculite mix.
Add perlite or coarse sand to outdoor soils as aggregate.
A popular homemade soilless mix for philodendrons consists of:
- 4 parts coconut coir
- 2 parts of orchid bark
- 1 part activated charcoal
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part pumice
- 1 part worm castings
You’ll need to repot a container plant every 2 to 3 years to reduce root binding and provide a fresh potting medium.
Grooming And Maintenance
As a self-heading plant, little to no maintenance is needed outside of removing the occasional dead or diseased leaf.
Still, you can also prune back to maintain a desired size or shape.
Philodendron Black Cardinal Propagation
Due to the growth habit of this hybrid, it can be propagated equally well through air layering, stem cuttings, and division.
Black Cardinal Philodendron Pests Or Diseases
Aphids and mealybugs tend to be the most common pests, while root rot is the only primary disease concern.
As with all philodendrons, this plant’s high concentration of calcium oxalate crystals makes it toxic.
Philodendron Erubescens Black Cardinal Uses
This plant is versatile due to its self-heading nature. It may be grown in containers or even as a shrublike landscaping accent.
It’s also an air-cleaning plant, making it even more useful around the home.