If you’re looking for a self-heading philodendron variety, the philodendron Congo rojo, also known as the red philodendron, produces broad, dark green to deep burgundy shiny leaves that have an upward growth pattern.
Philodendron rojo is an exquisite floor plant that brings elegance and completes the decor of any spacious room, hallway or terrace.
Despite being a native to tropical areas of South America, it can be kept as a houseplant if its light, temperature, soil and watering requirements are met.
Below, you can read my recommendations on how to care for your philodendron rojo indoors.
Size & Growth
Most philodendrons exhibit a fast growth pattern and the philodendron rojo is no exception. With a size that can reach 10 x 10 feet, you’re going to need to control its growth by cutting it back whenever necessary.
Because it can spread to as much as its height, it also needs quite a bit of space around it. This is not a small apartment plant. It requires quite a bit of space and looks best in larger homes or offices.
Bright, indirect sunlight works best for this plant, although a little morning sun or late afternoon sun will only help bring out the deep burgundy coloration of the leaves.
Exposing the plant to strong, direct sunlight should be avoided both indoors and out. The strong rays of the sun will only scorch the leaves.
Don’t leave the plant very close to a sunny window either. Move it back a few feet so it still gets indirect light, but it’s leaves aren’t directly blasted by the sun.
The plant will also tolerate bright fluorescent lights, so keeping it in an office environment also works.
Philodendron rojo enjoys a slightly moist soil that can be achieved by deeply watering the plant and allowing excess water to drain.
To this end, any pot you keep this plant in should have draining holes on the bottom. Otherwise it would take too long for the soil to dry and it will expose the roots to too much moisture.
Before re-watering, you need to make sure that the top of the soil dries a bit. If the soil right up to your first knuckle of your index finger feels dry, you can go ahead and re-water. Otherwise wait a bit longer for the soil to dry.
Overwatering is actually more harmful than underwatering, so if you’re to overzealous with the watering can, you need to hold back a little and check the soil for its moisture level.
Speaking of soil, this philodendron variety enjoys well-draining soil. Its soil should be loose and rich in organic matter. I advise against using regular potting soil.
Instead mix it up with peat, perlite, or vermiculite to ensure good drainage and aeration for the roots. You can go for completely soiless mixes too combining just vermiculite with peat or perlite.
If you choose the right soil, you’re also giving your philodendron rojo a good start and you’re preventing potential problems that come with soil prone to compaction and water retention.
Temperature & Humidity
Philodendrons thrive indoors. They can be kept outdoors too in summer if you’re not putting them out on the scorching sun and you remember to move them back inside when the weather starts turning cold.
Temperature wise, philodendrons should be kept at 65 – 78°F. Lower than 60°F is not indicated since this is a tropical plant that’s sensitive to cold and frost.
Philodendron rojo is a heavy feeder. And it isn’t surprising. The plant has a fast growth pattern, producing large leaves. This sort of growth should be sustained with regular feeding.
If your plant is doing poorly, i.e. not developing as fast as before, shooting smaller leaves than before, you should use fertilizer to boost its development.
You can go with a balanced liquid fertilizer or pick a good quality slow-release fertilizer. Both work fine, just remember that the liquid fertilizer should be added monthly during the periods of growth.
As with water of which too much can harm the plant more than it helps, overfertilizing can also become an issue, so follow dosage recommendations. Start with a weaker solution and test it to see how your plant does.
Potting & Repotting
Once it grows, this is a heavy plant, so choose a pot that can support the top of the plant. Terracotta or ceramic pots are not only a great decorative element, they’re also useful since their porous structure will absorb moisture and they’re heavy enough to prevent the plant from falling over.
Plastic, on the other hand, retains moisture for longer and it’s much lighter. While the plant is still small a plastic pot works fine, only when the plant becomes top heavy it’s better to upgrade to a sturdier pot.
As the plant grows, it outgrows its current pot and you’re going to need to transplant into a bigger pot. It’s best to do this in early spring to coincide with the new growth season.
Regardless of the type of pot you get, make sure to drill some draining holes on the bottom to allow excess water to trickle out.
How to Propagate Philodendron Rojo?
Propagation of philodendron rojo can be achieved either by division (removing a part of the root with a stem) or by rooting stem cuttings in water or soil.
Regardless of the method, keep the new plant or cutting in a warm, bright location, out of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, making sure not to overwater. In 6-8 weeks, you should see new roots appear or new growths to form.
The rojo philodendron variety is a fast and large growing variety. It’s self-heading, making it a great floor plant.
Like other varieties, it doesn’t require too much care and attention, but it’s important to keep it protected from direct sun and low temperatures. Even high temperatures (100 F) are problematic.
By following the plant care recommendations I gave in this article, I am confident that you can grow this plant in your home, regardless of your skill level.