There are so many species and varieties within the Philodendron genus that it’s hard to decide which one to bring home next. If you have enough greenery in your space and are looking for something a bit new and different, the Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’ is a fantastic choice.
This plant is coveted for its leather-like foliage and easy care routine. Something so striking and beautiful seems as if it would come with a long list of requirements. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This plant has the same easy-going nature as other Philodendrons. If you’re already a fan of this type of plant but don’t have an imperial red in your collection, take this as your sign to track one down!
Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’ isn’t the only cultivar with dark or reddish leaves, but it has a few tricks of ups sleeve (or leaf) that set it apart. Keep reading to learn everything you’ll need to care for this breathtaking tropical plant.
|Common Name||Imperial Red, Blushing Philodendron, Red-Leaf Philodendron|
|Botanical Name||Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’|
|Native Areas||South America|
|Sun/Light Requirements||Bright, indirect light (low light tolerant)|
|Watering||Moderate; Water once ½ to ¾ of the soil is dry|
|Soil||Well-draining, high in organic matter|
|Temperature||65°F to 80°F|
|Humidity||50% or higher|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA zones 9 to 11|
Imperial Red Philodendron Appearance
If this cultivar’s name didn’t give it away, Philodendron ‘Red Imperial’ has red leaves! But it doesn’t end there. The new leaves on this plant are a deep, lovely red, but they change as they grow. Its final look is a blend of purple and green, making this plant more tricolor than anything. The combination of dark red, purple, and green set it apart from all of its fellow philodendrons, as well as any other houseplants around!
Its leaves are oval but grow long enough for the shape to be stretched. They’re glossy and leather-like, allowing this plant to act as quite a statement piece.
This is a self-heading Philodendron variety, so you won’t catch it climbing or vining. Instead, all of its colorful leaves come from the center of the plant. As a result, it’s fairly compact. It grows to around three feet tall and two feet across. Considering the great heights and lengths other species achieve, it’s on the smaller side. Still, if you have a small space and need it to fit, you can train it with pruning.
Its stems are strong and sturdy and the leaves are relatively thick, giving this plant an overall hardy appearance.
Imperial Red Philodendron Care Requirements
Don’t worry if you’re a novice with plants. There’s no need to feel intimidated by this beauty. Its needs are easy enough to meet. It is a tropical plant, of course, but you probably won’t need to go out of your way to accommodate a blushing philodendron as your new house guest. Keep in mind that the parent plants for this cultivar hail from the warm, humid rainforests of South America, and its ideal conditions echo its origins.
If you’ve cared for any Philodendron species before, it will come as no surprise that the blushing philodendron prefers bright, indirect light. It’s low-light tolerant, which means it will survive in conditions with less-than-ideal light sources. It needs more than that to thrive and grow, however.
East-facing windows are the ideal locations for blushing philodendrons, but any window will do as long as your plant isn’t in the direct path of the sun. Too much direct sunlight can damage the leaves.
Signs that your plant is receiving inadequate light include:
- Stunted growth
- Smaller leaves
- Loss of color
Low light conditions won’t kill your plant, but it won’t live its best life, either. It will lose some of its deep red color and go green instead as the plant attempts to meet its own energy needs. New leaves will be slow to grow. If you notice any of the above signs, find a new place for your plant!
Like many house plants, root rot is a real and present danger for Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’. The best way to prevent it from setting in is to water appropriately. Don’t overdo it.
These plants are somewhat drought tolerant, and you’re safe to let the soil dry out a fair amount. You can let it go until about three-quarters of the soil feels dry and then offer it a deep drink. Make sure any excess water goes out through the drainage holes to avoid waterlogging. If you notice your plant losing leaves, examine your watering schedule.
Blushing philodendrons need well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Mixes with a peat moss base will work well here. Succulent and cactus mixes offer the sort of drainage required. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different types of mix, soil, and ingredients until you find something that works for your plant. Below are some other great potential materials and add-ins.
- Coco coir
- Orchid bark
- Worm compost
However you put it together, make sure the soil is well-draining and doesn’t have moisture-retaining crystals.
While your Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’ prefers warmer temperatures, it does perfectly fine with a wide range of household temperatures. As long as your home is between 65°F to 80°F, there’s no cause for concern!
However, these plants are not cold-tolerant. Don’t place them near a drafty window or door. They’re hardy and adaptable in many ways, but they are not frost tolerant. Don’t leave them outside or in any place where temperatures drop below 55°F for long.
Any tropical plant you bring home does best in higher humidity. This one is no exception. With that said, it was bred to grow as a houseplant and live with common household conditions. Most homes don’t intentionally have 70% humidity. As long as you keep your humidity levels around 50%, you’ll have a happy plant.
Living in a dry area or regularly running the heat or air conditioner makes it harder to maintain moderate or high humidity. If you’re struggling, set up a humidifier near your plant.
Blushing philodendrons can use a bit of TLC during the growing season. You can use organic, natural compost to boost their growth. If you’re going for something a bit more commercial, though, get a well-balanced fertilizer and dilute it to half-strength. If you notice any signs of fertilizer burn, take a break or dilute the solution further.
These plants don’t need a lot of extra help from fertilizer, especially if they have good-quality soil. Feeding them once a month to give them all they need.
Pruning an Imperial Red Philodendron
Since this is a self-heading plant, you won’t need to do much for it. Just remove the dead or decaying leaves, and cut away any part of the plant carrying disease. Whatever the reason for pruning, use a pair of clean shears.
Imperial Red Philodendron Propagation
While it is possible to propagate this plant at home, it’s no easy task. It’s difficult to get an adequate stem cutting since it’s self-heading and the leaves grow tightly together.
If you want to propagate your blushing philodendron, the best time to do so might be while you’re repotting. When you’ve taken great care of your plant and it’s mature, it will produce small offshoots. Separate them once they have their roots and a few leaves. All you’ll have to do is plant them in their own pot and begin caring for them as you would the adult plant!
Repotting an Imperial Red Philodendron
Repotting isn’t a major priority for this plant. It will likely stay in the same one for quite a while. The easiest way to know if it’s time for a new pot is if your plant becomes top-heavy. Roots might find their way through the drainage holes or even up and out over the top of the soil.
At that point, get a container one size up. Ideally, repot during the spring and summer growing seasons to give your plant the best chance of recovery and new growth.
You have a fairly pest-resistant plant on your hands here. There are still the usual culprits to look out for, though. Check your plant for signs of mealybugs, which produce a cotton-like substance and gather against the leaves and stems.
Aphids and spider mites are a potential issue as well. Spider mites are typically kept at bay with healthy levels of humidity. If you notice signs of them, you can treat your plant with neem oil or other safe plant oils and soap. If you’re dealing with an aphid infestation, thoroughly wipe down or spray your plant with clean water. Treat it with horticultural soaps or plant-safe oils.
The Philodendron erubescens ‘Imperial Red’ looks just as good in a farmhouse window as it does in an urban city loft. Its unique, unmatched appearance adds something dynamic and special to any plant collection. Everyone can benefit from it, too. It’s so easy to care for that anyone can manage it!