Philodendron Black Cardinal Species Profile & Care Guide

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is an alluring tropical houseplant that stands out due to its uniquely dark foliage.

A member of the Araceae family and native to South America, this low-growing plant makes an excellent addition to indoor plant collections.

Its care requirements are simple and straightforward, making it a popular choice for novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Profile Overview

  • Common Name: Philodendron Black Cardinal
  • Scientific Name: Philodendron hybrid
  • Family: Araceae
  • Origin/Native Region: South America (specifically Brazil and the surrounding areas)
  • Growth Habit: Evergreen, perennial plant typically grown for its ornamental foliage.

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is part of the large family of Araceae, and an origin native to South America, but particularly found in Brazil.

Aptly named for its dark, glossy leaves, this variety is known for being robust and is certainly suitable even for those who do not boast a green thumb.

Its distinct growth habit is mesmerizing as it cultivates over time, making it a splendid addition to any plant collection.


The Philodendron Black Cardinal sports a stunning appearance with large, glossy leaves. Its foliage starts out light copper-green, eventually maturing to a deep, glossy black-green, providing an exceptional aesthetic contrast that sets it apart from other indoor plants.

The leaves’ lower side often maintains a reddish-purple tint, adding further to its visual appeal. The stem may also display a similar burgundy hue.

The overall appearance of this plant is quite eye-catching and gives it its exotic appeal. Despite its dark-themed name, the Black Cardinal is far from being gloomy or sinister, but rather, it’s a captivating addition to any indoor collection.

Leaf Size

The Philodendron Black Cardinal tends to have large, broad leaves, which is a dominant trait in the Philodendron family. Each leaf can often grow up to 8-12 inches long and similarly wide.

Young plants have smoother, slightly smaller leaves, but they quickly grow to full size as the plant matures. The size of the leaves may vary based on growing conditions such as light and temperature.

Adequate care and favorable conditions can assist in the growth of larger, healthier leaves giving your Philodendron Black Cardinal a majestic look.

Leaf Shape

The leaf shape of the Philodendron Black Cardinal is describable as a broad and elongated heart. The oversized leaves, unlike those of many other species in the family, present a dramatic spear or arrow-like shape.

This means they are wider towards the base, tapering into a slender tip. The leaf edges or margins are also smooth, without any indention or serration.

The leaf shape plays a crucial role in the aesthetic appeal of this plant, contributing to its distinctive bold, tropical appearance.

It’s the leaf shape combined with the color that makes this particular Philodendron species an eye-catcher in any indoor setting.

Leaf Color

The Philodendron Black Cardinal showcases a unique variety of leaf colors, which is one of its most compelling aesthetic features. The new growth begins as a bright burgundy or almost copper color, gradually darkening to a deep, rich chocolate or nearly black shade as the leaves mature.

This transformation of colors from bright to dark provides a dramatic visual appeal. The undersides of the leaves typically retain more of the bright burgundy color throughout the life of the leaf, creating an exciting contrast against the dark upper surface.

This distinctive color palette adds a touch of drama and elegance to any space.


Stem Characteristics

The Philodendron Black Cardinal displays shorter stems compared to other philodendron species. These stems are sturdy, thick, and glossy, with a clean and neat appearance.

Their color ranges from a vibrant green to a deep purple, depending on light exposure and the plant’s age. Notably, the stem quite adeptly supports the large, heavy leaves.

A single stem can yield more than five broad leaves, which adds to the plant’s lush, dense foliage. In optimal conditions, the stem will keep sprouting new growth, a testament to the plant’s robust personality.

It’s essential to provide good support if the plant resides in a windy or high-traffic area to help maintain the stem strength and integrity.

Mature Size

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is a relatively compact plant, especially when compared to other Philodendron species. As an indoor plant, it typically reaches a maximum height of 2-3 feet and a spread of 1-2 feet.

However, in ideal conditions outdoors, it might grow slightly larger. Keep in mind that due to its bushy growth habit, it may take up more horizontal space than vertical.

This makes it perfect for parts of your home or office which need a bit of greening but don’t offer much vertical space. Its moderate size can also bring lush tropical charm to smaller spaces.

Care Requirements

To ensure your Philodendron Black Cardinal continues to thrive and flourish in your care, you need to meet a few specific care requirements. These involve catering to its unique light, watering, and temperature preferences, providing it an appropriate soil type and maintaining the soil’s pH within a specific range.

A healthy Philodendron Black Cardinal displays vibrant and lush foliage which can become an instant attention-grabber in any indoor or outdoor setting. By following the guidelines for its correct handling and maintenance, you will have a perennially green and radiant Philodendron Black Cardinal gracing your surroundings.

Each of these care aspects is further explained in the subsequent sections.

Light Needs

The Philodendron Black Cardinal thrives under bright, indirect sunlight. While it can tolerate limited periods of low light, prolonged exposure can cause its leaves to lose their vibrant, dark hue.

Additionally, direct sunlight may be detrimental, causing leaf burn and discoloration. A position near a north or east-facing window is ideal for this plant to flourish.

If natural light is inadequate, you can supplement it with artificial lighting specifically designed for indoor plants. A balance of appropriate light source and intensity is a crucial component of your Philodendron Black Cardinal’s well-being.

Watering Frequency

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is not overly thirsty, but it does need consistent watering to flourish. Aim to water it once the top inch of soil has dried out, usually every 7-10 days depending on your local climate and the conditions in your home.

Over-watering can lead to root rot, so be careful not to let the plant sit in water. But, under-watering can cause the leaves to turn brown and crispy.

Always remember, it’s better to err on the side of under-watering with this species as excessive moisture can be detrimental.

Humidity Preferences

The Philodendron Black Cardinal thrives in high humidity environments, much like its native tropical rainforest. It appreciates humidity levels around 60% to 75%, making it an excellent choice for locations like a bathroom or kitchen, where humidity tends to be higher.

If these environmental conditions are not naturally available in your home, you can simulate them by misting the plant regularly or using a humidifier.

Alternatively, placing the Philodendron Black Cardinal on a tray of pebbles partially submerged in water can also add moisture to the surrounding air, improving the plant’s overall health and growth.

Remember, a humid environment aids the plant in maintaining its vibrant leaf color and promotes healthy growth.

Temperature Range

The Philodendron Black Cardinal thrives best in a temperature range between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Being a tropical plant, it needs warm conditions to grow optimally.

Temperatures below 55°F (13°C) can cause damage to the plant, resulting in yellowing leaves or slowed growth. Similarly, the plant can get scorched if exposed to extreme heat.

It is important to regulate the temperature to maintain a warm, humid, and stable environment. Seasonal temperature fluctuations, like a cold winter, should be managed by moving the plant indoors or providing extra insulation.

Soil Type & pH Preferences

The Philodendron Black Cardinal prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It thrives best in a soil mixture of peat, perlite, and a small amount of organic compost.

These plants prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Although they can tolerate a little variety in soil conditions, maintaining this kind of soil environment ensures the plant’s root health and overall growth.

It’s crucial to check the soil pH from time to time to ensure it is in the optimal range for this plant species.

Growth & Propagation

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is a relatively easy plant to cultivate and propagate. Understanding its growth rate and ideal propagation methods is key to ensuring its health and longevity.

The plant exhibits a moderate to fast growth rate under ideal conditions, often yielding new leaves on a consistent basis. For propagation, stem cuttings are the preferred method due to their higher success rate.

The active growth period for the Black Cardinal is typically during the warmer months of spring and summer but will require repotting every two years due to its size escalation.

It’s recommended to use a pot that is slightly larger than the root ball when repotting.

Growth Rate

The Philodendron Black Cardinal exhibits a moderately fast growth rate in optimal conditions. Throughout its active growth season, typically in spring and summer, you may observe new leaves unfurled every few weeks.

Its growth pace may slow down in cooler months or when not provided with ideal care conditions. With proper care and attention, this philodendron species can reach its mature size relatively quickly when compared to other houseplants.

However, remember its growth rate can be influenced by various factors such as light, water, temperature, humidity, and fertilizer input.

Propagation Methods

Propagation is a fascinating aspect of plant care, especially so for the Philodendron Black Cardinal. Ideally, propagation should occur during the growth season, typically late spring or early summer.

There are three main methods to propagate this plant: through stem cuttings, air layering, or by division. Stem cuttings are the most popular and easiest method. Simply cut a part of a healthy stem with a couple of leaves on it and plant it in the potting mix.

Air layering and division methods are slightly more complex and often reserved for mature and larger plants. Regardless of your chosen method, ensure thorough moist conditions post-propagation to facilitate growth.

Season of Active Growth

The Philodendron Black Cardinal, similar to many philodendron species, experiences its active growth period mainly in the wonder and spring months.

During this time, the plant will put forth new leaves and stems, and will need additional nutrients, water, and care.

It is also the ideal time for propagation, as the plant is in its most active growth stage and there is a higher chance of successful rooting.

Despite the active growth during these seasons, the Philodendron Black Cardinal can continue to grow slowly during other months too, given optimal care and conditions.

Potting and Repotting Recommendations

Potting and repotting the Philodendron Black Cardinal is easy because this plant doesn’t mind being a little root-bound. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent excess water accumulation.

For young plants, repot every year in the spring to accommodate rapid growth. Adult plants do not need repotting often, usually every 2-3 years.

When repotting, gently remove the plant from the pot, shake off old soil, inspect the roots for any rot or disease, then place it in a larger pot, no more than 2 inches in diameter larger than the previous one, filled with fresh well-draining soil mix. Water thoroughly after repotting.

Potential Issues

Despite its resilience, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is susceptible to certain issues that can impair its growth and overall health. These potential problems include pests and diseases.

They also comprise unique sensitivities of the plant, such as its reaction to different lighting conditions or its response to specific fertilization practices. Identifying and addressing these issues is key to ensuring the robust and vibrant growth of your Philodendon Black Cardinal.

In this section, we’ll delve into the most common pests and diseases that can afflict the Black Cardinal, and we’ll also touch upon other sensitivities you need to be mindful of to keep this beautiful houseplant in top condition.

Common Pests

Philodendron Black Cardinal plants, like many indoor plants, are prone to a few common pests. Spider mites, scale insects, mealybugs and thrips are potential threats that you should keep an eye out for.

Spider mites are tiny creatures that usually live underneath the leaves of the plant, sucking its sap and potentially causing leaf drop or yellowing.

Scale insects and mealybugs feed on the plant’s juices, leading to weak, discolored foliage. Thrips are minute pests damaging plants mainly by vectoring viral diseases.

Regular inspection and early detection can help manage these pests and keep your Philodendron Black Cardinal healthy.

Common Diseases

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is generally a hardy plant but can be susceptible to a few diseases. These include bacterial leaf spot, root rot, basil stem rot, and Anthracnose.

Leaf spot can be identified by yellow halos around brown spots on the leaves. Both root rot and basil stem rot is usually caused by overwatering, poor drainage, or a too humid environment.

Anthracnose affects philodendrons and can cause dark brown spots and wilting. Healthy plants may be infected if there’s a spore carrier, like wind or rain.

To counter these diseases, it’s important to maintain appropriate watering practices and good airflow around your plant.

Other Sensitivities

It’s important to note, the Philodendron Black Cardinal has several sensitivities that you need to be aware of. This includes sensitivity to overwatering which can result in waterlogged roots and fungus and also sensitivity to excessive light, which can cause the leaves to scorch.

Additionally, it has a sensitivity to temperatures below 55°F (12°C), and any sudden fluctuations in temperature, which can hinder growth or cause leaf drop.

Understanding these sensitivities is vital in ensuring the long-term health and beauty of your Philodendron Black Cardinal.

Special Features & Uses

The Philodendron Black Cardinal has unique features that make it stand out from other plants.

From adding aesthetic value to indoor environments to playing a role in improving air quality, the Black Cardinal has a range of uses that are not limited to its visual impact.

Unique Characteristics

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is known for its dynamic and striking appearance. It’s among the few plants that undergo color transformation as they mature.

The juvenile phase sees leaves in a bright, almost neon, green. As it matures, these leaves take on darker and darker shades, finally landing on a deep burgundy, almost black color in maturity.

This color progression makes the Black Cardinal a fascinating plant to observe over time. Additionally, the plant has a naturally compact growth habit, meaning it tends to grow as a dense cluster rather than spreading out widely – a unique characteristic in the philodendron family.

Decorative Use

The Philodendron Black Cardinal’s deep-hued foliage makes it a striking addition to your indoor or outdoor green space.

It can be used as an accent plant in your home or office due to its bold and distinctive coloring.

With its compact growth habit, it makes an excellent choice for tabletops or desks. Its lush leaves also make it a prominent part of any mixed plant arrangements.

If you are aiming for a tropical theme, its unique characteristics would remarkably blend well with other tropical plants.

It casts a dramatic shade and texture contrast when paired with plants bearing lighter and thinner leaves.


Like many other Philodendron species, the Black Cardinal is considered toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. If ingested by humans or pets, it may lead to severe mouth and throat irritation, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

Therefore, it’s crucial for you to place these plants out of reach of small children and pets. Even skin contact with the sap of the plant could potentially cause dermatitis in sensitive individuals.

Always take precautions when handling or pruning this plant, wearing gloves and long sleeves may help to protect your skin.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Growing a Philodendron Black Cardinal can be an enriching activity once you understand its needs and preferences. This section provides valuable insights and suggestions to help you grow your plant thrivingly.

Here we will share the recommended practices for fertilization, pruning and maintenance, and the need for support structures for the wellbeing of your Philodendron Black Cardinal.

The ability of any plant to thrive is not only limited to the basic care requirements, but also the additional considerations that many tend to overlook.

The specific recommendations shared here are intended to foster optimal growth and longevity of your Philodendron Black Cardinal.

Fertilization Recommendations

Fertilizing your Philodendron Black Cardinal can significantly enhance its growth. A balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer, preferably one that is high in phosphorous can be used.

It’s recommended that you feed your plant about once a month during spring and summer, the active growing periods. During winter, you can fertilize once every 6 to 8 weeks.

Always dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to avoid root burn. Avoid over-fertilization as it can cause leaf burn.

Also, avoid fertilizing a dry plant as this can damage the roots; always ensure the soil is damp before applying fertilizer.

Pruning & Maintenance

Keeping your Philodendron Black Cardinal healthy and vigorous involves regular pruning and maintenance. Removing yellow or brown leaves not only enhances the plant’s appearance but also promotes better growth.

Regularly check for dead sections and carefully cut them away without damaging the adjacent healthy areas. Pruning is best done before the growing season, typically in early spring.

Regular dusting or wiping of the leaves is another maintenance step to ensure the plant breathes properly and can absorb light effectively.

You should use a soft, damp cloth, taking care not to apply too much pressure that might injure the plant.

Support Structures

For the Philodendron Black Cardinal, using support structures is not typically required as it is not a climbing variety. Instead, this plant grows in a bushy manner and doesn’t require any form of trellis or stake for support.

However, if you desire a more controlled growth pattern or want to influence the direction of the growth, you could consider employing the use of stakes and guides.

Despite not being a mandatory requirement for the plant’s health, when used judiciously, support structures may also assist in giving the Philodendron Black Cardinal a tidier appearance.

Houseplants   Philodendrons   Updated: October 31, 2023
avatar Hi, I'm Amy, a devoted horticulturist and the creator of, where I use my expertise to help beginners foster their green thumbs. My blog is a vibrant community where I unravel the complexities of gardening and share my profound love for nature.
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