How to Grow and Care for Philodendron ‘Black Cardinal’: 2024 Guide

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Well, here’s the scoop on this stunning houseplant that just keeps winning hearts. The Black Cardinal Philodendron, a real head-turner with its dark, nearly black leaves, shines as a top pick among indoor plant enthusiasts.

What makes it tick? It’s all about those glossy burgundy leaves that turn almost black as they mature—now that’s a conversation starter in any room!

Originating from the tropical rainforests, this plant brings a piece of lush, exotic vibes right into your living room. It’s not just about good looks; this philodendron is famously easy to care for, making it perfect for those of us who might not have a green thumb.

In this article

Spotting a Black Cardinal Philodendron

Philodendron Black Cardinal 1
Instagram: @orchids_korean

What’s This Plant All About?

The Black Cardinal Philodendron packs a punch with its stunning leaves that start off a rich burgundy and gradually deepen to glossy black shades as they mature.

Unlike your taller, sprawling houseplants, this guy likes to keep it low and dense, making it perfect for spots where space is at a premium but you still want some greenery.

Table: Quick Look at Black Cardinal Philodendron Features

Leaf ColorStarts burgundy, turns to glossy black
Growth HabitCompact, low-spreading
Light NeedMedium to high indirect light

Not Your Average Philodendron

When you line it up next to other philodendrons, the Black Cardinal really stands out. Where others might climb or trail, the Black Cardinal prefers to grow outward, keeping its stems short and leaves large.

It’s not just another pretty face in the crowd; it’s a statement piece that says a lot with just a look.

This fella is about more than just looks, though. It’s tough, too. Where some plants might fuss over the perfect spot or the right pot, the Black Cardinal isn’t picky. It’s a survivor, making it a solid buddy for those of us who might forget a watering here or there.

Optimal Growing Conditions for Black Cardinal Philodendron

Light Requirements

To keep your Black Cardinal Philodendron looking sharp, you’ll want to nail the lighting. These plants thrive in medium to bright indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can burn those gorgeous leaves, while too little light might fade their rich colors.

Think about a spot near a window with a sheer curtain—that’s your goldilocks zone right there. Just right to keep those leaves nice and vibrant without cooking them.

Temperature and Humidity

Now, let’s talk about the feel of the air around your plant. Black Cardinals are like many of us—they enjoy a comfy range of temperatures and a bit of moisture in the air. Keep your home between 65-80°F (18-27°C), and these plants will be in their happy zone.

As for humidity, they dig it. If your air’s a bit dry, especially in winter, a small humidifier or a pebble tray with water near the plant can do wonders. It’s like giving your plant a mini tropical vacation.

Soil Requirements

Alright, getting down to the nitty-gritty: the soil. This isn’t too complicated. Your Black Cardinal will love a soil mix that drains well but holds a bit of moisture—think peat-based or a mix with perlite and orchid bark.

This keeps the roots happy and healthy, preventing them from sitting in water, which can lead to all sorts of no-good, very bad days for your plant.

LightMedium to bright indirect light
Temperature65-80°F (18-27°C)
HumidityHigh, benefits from extra moisture
SoilWell-draining, moisture-retentive mix

Planting and Potting Your Black Cardinal Philodendron

Philodendron Black Cardinal 2
Instagram: @plantrocker

Choosing the Right Pot and Potting Mix

When you’re setting up a new home for your Black Cardinal Philodendron, picking the right pot is key. You’ll want one with good drainage—think holes in the bottom—to avoid water sitting around those precious roots.

A size up from the plant’s current pot is perfect, giving it just enough room to grow without drowning in too much soil.

For the potting mix, go with something that’s well-draining yet can hold some moisture. A blend of peat, perlite, and some orchid bark makes a happy medium. This mix will keep your plant’s roots airy and moist, but not wet, which is just how they like it.

Steps to Plant or Repot the Black Cardinal Philodendron

Repotting doesn’t need to be a hassle. Here’s how you can do it without breaking a sweat:

  1. Gently remove the plant from its current pot, shaking off excess soil and checking the roots. Trim any that are dead or overly long.
  2. Add a layer of your potting mix to the new pot, setting your plant in so that the top of the root ball is just below the rim.
  3. Fill around the roots with more mix, tapping down lightly to remove air pockets. Water it well to settle everything into place.

Tips on Placement Within the Home

Finding the right spot for your Black Cardinal is more about avoiding the wrong places. Keep it out of direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves, and away from drafty windows or heating vents. These plants prefer a stable environment.

A north-facing window or a spot that gets filtered light is ideal. If you’re worried about light levels, a simple rule of thumb is if you can read comfortably during the day without turning on a light, there’s probably enough natural light for your Philodendron.

Watering and Feeding Your Black Cardinal Philodendron

Watering Schedule Tailored to Different Environments and Seasons

Keeping your Black Cardinal Philodendron happy means getting the watering just right. How much and how often you water will depend largely on the environment and the time of year.

During the warmer months, your plant will be drinking up more, so keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Think of it like a sponge—damp but not dripping.

In the cooler months, water less frequently, letting the soil dry out a bit between waterings. This change gears down the plant’s growth and mirrors the natural rhythm it would experience in its native habitat.

If you’re unsure when to water, here’s a simple trick: dip your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If it feels dry, it’s time to water; if it’s still damp, give it a bit more time. This hands-on approach prevents over-watering, which can lead to root rot, a common issue that’s easier to prevent than fix.

Types of Fertilizers to Use and How Often to Feed the Plant

Feeding your Black Cardinal Philodendron is all about supporting its growth without going overboard. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer—something with an equal mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Fertilize about once a month during the growing season (spring through early fall). During the winter, you can cut back or skip it altogether, as the plant’s growth slows down.

For those who prefer a more natural approach, you can opt for organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or seaweed extract. These are gentler on the plant and can be just as effective as synthetic options. Remember, the key is to feed the soil, not just the plant. Healthy soil supports healthy growth, which is what you’re aiming for.

A good rule of thumb with fertilizers—less is often more. It’s tempting to give your plant a big boost, especially when you want it to grow big and beautiful, but too much can lead to nutrient burn, which shows up as brown tips on those lovely dark leaves. Stick to the instructions on your fertilizer’s label, adjusting slightly if you notice signs that your plant isn’t responding well.

Pruning and Maintenance of Your Black Cardinal Philodendron

How and When to Prune

Pruning your Black Cardinal Philodendron isn’t just about keeping it looking neat; it’s essential for the plant’s health and vitality. Prune during the growing season, which is spring through early fall.

This is when your plant is most resilient and can recover quickly from any cuts. To prune, simply use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut away any yellow, brown, or damaged leaves.

Also, if your Philodendron starts looking a bit too wild or is encroaching on its space, trim back any overgrown branches. This not only tidies up the plant but encourages more robust growth by redirecting energy to the healthier leaves.

Tips on Maintaining the Ideal Shape and Health of the Plant

Maintaining the ideal shape of your Black Cardinal Philodendron involves more than just occasional pruning. Here are some tips:

  • Rotate your plant regularly to ensure all sides receive equal light, promoting even growth.
  • Check the soil before watering; over-watering can cause more issues than under-watering.
  • Clean the leaves once in a while to ensure they can photosynthesize efficiently. A soft, damp cloth will do the trick. This not only keeps the plant looking shiny and healthy but also improves its overall health.

Dealing with Common Pests and Diseases

The Black Cardinal Philodendron is relatively hardy but can encounter some common pests and diseases like spider mites, mealybugs, and root rot. Here’s how to tackle these:

  • Spider mites and mealybugs: These pests can be managed by wiping the leaves with a soapy water solution or using an appropriate insecticidal soap. Regular inspections of the plant will help catch these pests early, which is crucial in preventing them from spreading.
  • Root rot: This is often a result of overwatering. To avoid this, ensure your pot has good drainage and that you’re letting the soil dry out between waterings. If you suspect root rot, you may need to repot the plant into fresh soil and trim away any black, mushy roots.

Propagation Techniques for Black Cardinal Philodendron

Step-by-Step Guide on Propagating the Black Cardinal Philodendron from Cuttings

Propagating your Black Cardinal Philodendron is a straightforward way to multiply your plant collection or share it with friends. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Choose a Healthy Stem: Look for a stem with at least two or three leaves and a couple of nodes (those little bumps on the stem where leaves attach and roots tend to grow).
  2. Cut with Care: Using clean, sharp scissors or shears, cut just below a node. This part is crucial because roots grow from these nodes.
  3. Prep Your Cutting: Remove the bottom leaves near the cut end to expose the nodes. If there are any large leaves left, consider trimming them down to reduce moisture loss and focus the cutting’s energy on rooting.
  4. Rooting Medium: You can root the cutting in water or directly in soil. For water rooting, place the cutting in a jar filled with water, ensuring no leaves are submerged. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh. For soil rooting, plant the cutting in a pot filled with a moist, well-draining potting mix.
  5. Wait and Watch: Place the pot or jar in a spot with indirect light and wait for roots to develop. This might take a few weeks, so patience is key!
  6. Planting: Once the roots are a few inches long, you can plant the cutting in soil, if it isn’t already, and begin treating it like a mature plant.

Tips for Successful Rooting and Transplanting

  • Humidity Helps: Philodendrons root best in high humidity. If you’re rooting in soil, covering the pot with a plastic bag can create a mini greenhouse effect, speeding up the process.
  • Water Wisely: Whether in water or soil, keep the medium consistently moist but not soggy. Overwatering can cause the cutting to rot before it roots.
  • Transplant Gently: When it’s time to move your rooted cutting into a larger pot or outdoor location, be gentle. Handle the delicate new roots carefully to avoid damage, and choose a pot that’s just big enough to accommodate the root ball plus a little growth.

Common Problems and Solutions for Black Cardinal Philodendron

Identifying Signs of Distress in the Plant

When your Black Cardinal Philodendron starts to show yellowing leaves or experiences stunted growth, it’s waving a flag that something’s not right. These symptoms can be due to a variety of care issues, from watering missteps to light problems.

Yellow leaves often suggest overwatering or poor drainage, while stunted growth might hint at insufficient light or nutrient deficiencies. It’s like your plant is trying to talk to you, so paying close attention to these signs can help you adjust your care routine in time to prevent more serious damage.

Troubleshooting Common Issues Like Overwatering, Underfeeding, or Pest Infestations

Dealing with issues like overwatering, underfeeding, and pests requires a good understanding of plant care fundamentals:

  • Overwatering: This is one of the most common missteps. The Black Cardinal Philodendron prefers its soil to be moist but not waterlogged. To combat overwatering, ensure your pot has proper drainage and you’re allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. If the pot feels unusually heavy or water stands in the saucer, it’s a sign to ease up on the watering.
  • Underfeeding: If your plant looks a bit pale and growth is slow, it might be hungry. Feeding your plant a balanced fertilizer every month during the growing season can help. But remember, it’s better to underfeed than overfeed—excess fertilizer can harm the roots and lead to poor plant health.
  • Pest Infestations: Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. These critters can be managed by regular inspections and, if necessary, wiping down the leaves with a soapy water mixture or using neem oil, a natural pesticide. Early detection is key to preventing these pests from becoming a bigger headache.

Decorative Tips and Uses for Black Cardinal Philodendron

Incorporating the Black Cardinal Philodendron into Home Decor

The deep, dark leaves of the Black Cardinal Philodendron make it a bold statement piece in any indoor space. Its striking appearance can serve as a natural focal point, complementing modern, minimalist, or even rustic decor styles. Here’s how to make the most of this dramatic plant in your home decor:

  • Create a Lush Corner: Position your Black Cardinal in a corner that receives indirect light to transform an unused space into a vibrant, green nook. This plant’s unique color contrasts beautifully against light walls or alongside bright textiles.
  • Tabletop Terrariums: Smaller specimens can make striking additions to tabletop terrariums or plant arrangements, especially when paired with lighter green plants that highlight its dark foliage.
  • Bathroom Buddy: Thanks to its love for humidity, the Black Cardinal thrives in bathrooms where it can add a splash of elegance while benefiting from the steamy environment.

Pairing with Other Plants for Aesthetic Indoor Gardens

Combining the Black Cardinal Philodendron with other plants can create an engaging and diverse indoor garden. Here are some tips on pairing:

  • Contrast Colors: Pair it with plants that have light green, silver, or variegated leaves to emphasize its dark foliage. Good companions include Silver Pothos or Variegated Rubber Plants.
  • Vary Textures: Mix plants with different textures for a visually interesting display. For instance, the soft, feathery fronds of a Fern can complement the broad, glossy leaves of the Black Cardinal.
  • Layer Heights: Use plant stands to place shorter plants like the Black Cardinal alongside taller ones, such as Dracaenas, to create a multi-level display that draws the eye upward and maximizes your space.


What is the best lighting condition for Black Cardinal Philodendron?

Black Cardinal Philodendron thrives in medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause the leaves to scorch, while too little light may cause the leaves to lose their vibrant dark color. A spot near a window with a sheer curtain is ideal for filtering light.

How often should I water my Black Cardinal Philodendron?

Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Typically, this might be once a week, but it can vary based on environmental factors such as light, humidity, and temperature. It’s crucial to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

Does the Black Cardinal Philodendron have any common pests or diseases?

Yes, like many houseplants, it can be susceptible to pests such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Regularly inspecting the plant and cleaning the leaves can help prevent infestations. If pests are detected, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Is the Black Cardinal Philodendron toxic to pets?

Yes, the Black Cardinal Philodendron is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation to the mouth, tongue, and stomach. It’s best to keep this plant out of reach of pets.

How do I propagate a Black Cardinal Philodendron?

Propagation is typically done through stem cuttings. Choose a healthy stem with several leaves and cut just below a node using clean, sharp scissors. The cutting can then be rooted in water or directly in soil. Once roots develop, the new plant can be transplanted into a pot with well-draining soil.