The philodendron dark lord is a majestic-tropical plant with unusual stunning foliage. It has long arrow-shaped foliage with cherry red on the undersides.
At a young age, the philodendron dark lord or known as philodendron erubescens appears with deep orange or bright pink. And then, it slowly turns to blood red before turning to dark green with silvery maroon. Sometimes, the leaves can also appear all black which makes it named dark lord.
The philodendron dark lord is a part of the Araceae family. It originated in Panama and Columbia. This plant is a hybrid variety, coming from philodendron erubescens imperial red.
- Botanical Name: Philodendron Erubescens “Dark Lord”
- Popular Name: philodendron dark lord
- Size: Up to 2-3 feet in height
- Type: Perennial
- Sun Exposure: Indirect sunlight
- Soil Type: Moist and well-drained soil
- Soil pH: 5.5 – 7.5
- Toxicity: Humans and animals
Philodendron Dark Lord Care
To keep the philodendron stay healthy, you must mimic the real habitat as much as you can. For example when it comes to the soil. You will need to use the slightly acidic to neutral range. Maintain the temperature between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 to 29 degrees Celsius.
The plant also needs fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 15:15:15. Make sure the humidity level also reaches at least 50%.
Watering can be the most tricky thing. Most people think watering the philodendron is just pouring water from top to bottom. But actually, it is the wrong way.
Watering the dark lord is a balance between moist and well-draining soil.
When the plant is overwatered it will lead to a serious problem. Often, this condition leads the plant to suffer from Erwinia blight disease or fungal infection.
Though it is better to fall underwatering, you cannot let the plant go dry because it will damage the plant’s signature leaves.
The philodendron is not as hardy as the heart-shaped philodendron, but it can stand a couple of missed watering. If you compare it with the Calatheas, it is less prone to browning leaf tips.
However, overwatering the plant can make the leaves turn yellow and more susceptible to root rot.
Be careful when it comes to lights. Philodendron is sensitive. The plant thrives with partial shade to medium light. You can also place the plant under bright, indirect sunlight, but avoid direct sunlight.
Direct sunlight is dangerous for plants. It will scorch the leaves. This is why the dark lord is easier to be maintained indoors. But if you want to grow it outside, you can do it but place it under the tree canopy.
If the plant is grown indoors, choose an area around the eastern or northern window. Place it 10-12 away from the window. You should not face problems if you position the plant this way.
As the plant is native to tropical habitats, it loves higher humidity. Aim for a humidity of at least 50%. At this rate, the plant will grow very well.
This, however, can survive low humidity too but it should not be too low. You must avoid excessively dry circumstances.
During the cold seasons like fall and winter, the humidity level often falls dramatically. This is why it is recommended to buy a hygrometer. It is very useful! And you can buy it at a cheap price.
This tool will help you notify how humid the root is. In this way, you can adjust the circumstances accordingly.
In this way, it is easier for you to modify the moisture level. A hygrometer helps you determine whether the changes you have made give enough impact on the plant.
If you live in a place with lower humidity, there are ways to increase it.
First, you can use a humidifier to help you increase the humidity level. This tool now is easily available in the market at various prices.
Second, you can use a pebble tray. With pebbles, fill the tray with water but not until the water submerges the pebbles. Then you can place the pot on top of the pebbles. This is a natural way to increase the humidity level.
The last way is by grouping the plants. However, you must make sure that each plant doesn’t have an infestation. This method is often riskier because can easily spread diseases and pests. Therefore, before doing it, you need to check the plant’s health.
Grouping the plant will create a mini biome that helps them share good humidity.
Read also : Philodendron Holtonianum : Caring Guidance
As we have discussed above, the philodendron dark lord thrives well in warm weather. This means you have to provide a similar environment if you want the best result.
At least, try to maintain the temperature between 60 to 85 Fahrenheit or 15.5 to 29 degrees Celcius. However, the plant can survive a moderately hotter climate. However, you should remember that the temperature should not be more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celcius.
If the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celcius, the plant will exhibit a sign of distress.
Also, note that the philodendron erubescens is not a hardy plant when it comes to cold temperatures. Hence, you have to avoid areas with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celcius.
A temperature level below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celcius even causes harm. So, consider increasing the temperature when it drops dramatically.
The philodendron erubescens dark lord is a fast grower. It needs sufficient nutrition to help it thrive. It is recommended to give a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 15-15-15. You can also have 10-10-10 and then used it with half-strength.
If you notice the philodendron erubescens doesn’t grow well, even though it has optimal light, you can increase the fertilization once every two weeks.
Remember that the plant will not die if it is not fertilized. It will still grow but at a slower pace. However, it always depends on how healthy the soil is.
The philodendron erubescens can grow from three to 5 inches tall. Meanwhile, the foliage itself can grow up to 16 inches. Because of this, you need to prune the plant to keep its shape.
Pruning is also beneficial to keep the plant healthy. It promotes healthy growth and prevents disease and pest spread.
Just cut away the leaves that turn yellow and damaged. You can also prune the spindly stems to encourage the plant to regenerate.
Ideally, repotting is done every year. It is because the plant grows so fast. Most dark lords cannot cope well with bound roots. When it happens and you don’t take an effort, it will stunt the growth.
On the contrary, repotting is less needed if the dark lord has rooted itself. As the plant has a mounting development pattern, you will need support to help it climb.
To support the vine, you just need to connect the rod and climb. You will also need to knot it.
Somehow, it is difficult to repot a mature dark lord that has mounted on the support.
If repotting is difficult due to the plant’s size and the mounting, you just need to change the top layer of the soil.
Though, there are some signs of repotting that you must pay attention to:
- Roots start to grow out of the drainage hole
- The roots start to circle the base
- The dark lord needs more watering every few days
- The soil is compacted
- It has poor growth
Note: Repotting can cause distress to the plant, but being rootbound causes more stress. At the early times of repotting, the plant might show a sign of stress but it will adjust with time.
Besides, you must do the following thing when repotting:
- Always repot the plant during growing seasons which are spring and summer.
- Pick a pot or container with good drainage holes and 2-3 inches bigger than the old one.
- If you cannot make your soil mix, buy the pre-mix because it has good quality and is rich in organic content.
You might want to give the dark lord to your friends who have high enthusiasm for the exotic plant. Then, it is time to talk about propagation.
Propagating the philodendron erubescens is very easy. The most successful method is using stem cutting. Here are the steps to follow:
- First thing first, prepare the soil mix which contains perlite, coco coir, and worm castings.
- Next, pick a mature philodendron dark lord and choose the healthy stems with 1-2 nodes along with aerial roots.
- Using sterilized pruning scissors, cut the stem right below its node.
- Don’t forget to dip the freshly cut stem into the rooting hormone or powder.
- After that, you can plant the stem into the soil mix. Ensure the roots are buried, around 2-3 inches inside the mix.
- Next, fill the rest of the gap in the pot with leftover potting mix.
- Water the plant thoroughly and place the plant in an area with lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
- You should expect new growth after 3-6 weeks to develop. To know if the roots have started to grow, gently tug at the base of the plant’s stem. There, you can feel roots growing.
The philodendron dark lord is toxic because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. The calcium oxalate crystal is very poisonous.
If you ingest the plant, you will exhibit various symptoms from mild to severe such as swelling around the mouth and tongue, breathing difficulty, and irritation on the skin.
It is better to keep the plant away from children and pets.
Pests and Diseases
A pest infestation can be the most annoying thing when growing the philodendron. This includes the philodendron erubescens. This can appear at the beginning of the nurseries or be contaminated by other plants.
Some of the most common are spider mites and mealybugs.
The spider mites come as tiny and translucent bugs which scour the foliage for chlorophyll. The spider mites do this also to lay eggs.
Meanwhile, the mealybugs are more noticeable with the cottony webs look and mostly appear around stems and leaves.
To prevent infestation, make sure to always check the plant before bringing it indoors. You can use neem oil as a treatment to prevent further infestasion.
Besides pests, the philodendron dark lord is also suffering from diseases. Root rot is one of them.
Root rot is a common disease that attacks philodendrons including the dark lord. It is caused by overwatering.
Hence, if the plant sits in an overwatered pot, the chances are the roots will begin to rot.
The sign of this disease can be seen in the yellowing leaves and brown leaves with wet lesions.
Unfortunately, the chance of success in fixing the issue is not big. However, you still can do some actions before the infection spread further.
You need to pull out the dark lord from the pot and then examine the condition to know how bad it is.
If you spot a yellow tint on the roots, then you are still fine. If you spot dark with squishy texture on the roots, quick action is needed as soon as possible.
You need to cut the infection and clean the roots. After that repot it with the new soil mix.
The most unique thing about the philodendron dark lord is the unusual foliage. It has long-arrow-shaped foliage with cherry red at the undersides.
The juvenile plant appears to be different with a deep orange hue or bright pink. Then it turns into blood red before it gets mature which then turns into dark green. Sometimes, the plant can also appear black which is why the name is dark lord.
The philodendron erubescens is a fast grower. It can grow between 2-3 feet tall and the leaves can grow from 0.8-1.3 feet.
The philodendron dark lord has a climbing nature so it is better to provide support such as a stake or pole.
Leaf, Flower, Stem and Seeds Characteristic
- Leaf – The plant has distinctive features with long-arrow-shaped foliage. The color is cherry red on the underside. When the plant is still young, it has bright pink or orange hue. Then, it slowly turns red before it gets mature. As it gets mature, it turns dark green.
- Flower – The plant is rare to flower especially if it is grown indoors.
- Stem – The stems are reddish to purple.
- Seeds – Since the plant rarely blooms, then it is also difficult to obtain the seeds.
The philodendron erubescens likes a well-aerated and moist soil mix. You can plant this philodendron into a soil mix that contains perlite and organic matter.
The plant also enjoys an acidity level between 5.8-7.5.
Here you should avoid heavy soil or light sandy soil as you want the water to go through the pot.
Heavy soil will just hold the water which later leads to root rot. Meanwhile, sandy soil will drain away the water too soon and the root will not be able to take up nutrients.
If you like creating your soil combination, you can use 100% sphagnum moss.
You can also combine sphagnum moss with perlite and vermiculite in equal portions.
If you already have a potting mix at home, add some sand so it will help the mix to drain well.
If you like store-bought soil mix, you can use orchid, cactus, or succulent mix. It works perfectly but note that each of them has a different texture and also composition.
Is It Okay to Use Organic Fertilizer?
Yes! You can use organic fertilizer to fertilize your philodendron. But bear in mind that you need microbes and also bacteria to break down the nutrients. Therefore, if you are looking for a quick result, organic fertilizer is not the best way.
If you want to use organic fertilizer, there are some of the best to try such as kelp meal, seaweed extract, tea drops, and worm tea. However, organic fertilizers tend to contain less nitrogen.
Is It Okay To Use More Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is good to boost philodendron growth, but don’t overdo it. Instead using too much fertilizer will kill the houseplant.
Fertilizers, especially synthetic fertilizers contain residue salts which if you take a large quantity can burn the root.
Will Cheap Fertilizer Make It Different?
It is recommended to not use super cheap fertilizer. The cheap fertilizer is loaded with excessive salt which may later be accumulated in the soil.
Over time, the accumulated salt will change the pH and cause root burn and it is very tricky to fix it.
How Long Dark Philodendron Can Grow?
The philodendron dark lord can grow from 3-4 feet. It takes up a lot of space, making it suitable for spacious space.
I have Just Import The Dark Lord, What Should I Know?
– First, the plant will mostly be wrapped in moss. You need to remove it. The use of moss here is to keep moist during transit.
If most around the roots are too dry, the moss will compact and it will lead to a greater risk of waterlogged soil.
– You might spot the leaves will fall off or die. This is normal! The plant is experiencing transit stress. You will see new growth soon if you take care of the plant well.
– Isolate it before grouping it with another plant. It is important to do it to prevent infestation. Isolate it for around 2-3 weeks. Use neem oil all over the leaves and also stems to prevent the disease from being transferred to the entire plant.
– The plant might experience transit shock. But don’t worry, you can handle the effect.
How To Treat Houseplant Pests?
Pests are very annoying which only disrupt the plant’s growth of the plant, but also kill it. However, you still can do some treatments. It is recommended to act soon as you spot an early infestation.
For example mealybugs. You can treat mealybugs by pruning and rubbing the cotton swab that is dipped in the alcohol.
For spider mites, you can prune the infected area and then spray it with neem oil that is diluted with water.
The same thing with scale. You can treat it by pruning the plant or rubbing alcohol. If the infestation is large, you have to discard the plant.
The last is thrips. You can treat it by pruning the plant or using neem oil.
What To Do If The Plant Is Suffering From Erwinia Blight Disease?
Know that Erwinia Blight’s disease is easier to prevent than to cure. This is caused by a bacterial infection which causes wet lesions on the foliage.
The infection starts from the soil level and then moves up to the stems. If you don’t act soon, it will quickly result in a lesion on the leaves.
This disease is very serious and can kill the plant within days. To prevent this issue, it is better to not overwater the plant and it is better to not misting the plant too often.
Another thing you can do is by pruning the potting mix and reducing the watering frequency. Let the water drain perfectly in between watering to avoid the water from waterlogging the plant.
If you find the disease has spread to leaves and other areas, it is unlikely your plant can recover.
Is The Philodendron Dark Lord Toxic?
Unfortunately, the philodendron dark lord is toxic to humans and pets. It is because the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals which are poisonous. It can cause medium to severe irritation from swelling around the mouth and tongue, skin irritation, and breathing difficulty.
Therefore, placing the plant should be in a place where the kids and pets cannot access it.
Why Is My Philodendron Turning Yellow?
The yellow leaves are caused by the watering frequency. It can be caused by underwatering or overwatering. Besides, yellow leaves can also be caused by low and high temperatures as well as nutrient deficiency.
Why Is My Philodendron Turning Brown?
When the plant is turning brown, it is because of underwatering. Check if the soil is compact and dry. If it happens, you need to add water soon.
Browning leaves with crips texture is also a result of gettings scorched. You need to place the plant under bright, indirect sunlight.