Black Cardinal Plant Care

This tropical plant is well suited for the home with its dramatic leaves and is generally low maintenance.

Are you looking for the perfect houseplant? The Philodendron Black Cardinal might be your next plant to add to your collection. The low-growing hybrid Philodendron has almost black leaves, and the new leaves are glossy bronze. You will love that this plant is a tremendous low-growing plant for understory use and shady gardens.

What is the Philodendron Black Cardinal?black cardinal

When you plant the Philodendron Black Cardinal, one thing that stands out is the colorful leaves but never eat it as it is very toxic. The plant differs from your other heartleaf varieties, as the leaves are ever color changing from burgundy, green, to black. The species is native to South America and makes for an exceptional display. You can plant them on the ground with the medium size, hang them in a macramé plant hanger, or place them on a shelf.

First, however, you’ll need to find the correct place to keep it out of reach from kids and pets.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Classification

BOTANICAL NAMEPhilodendron Black Cardinal 
COMMON NAMEBlack Cardinal
LEAF COLORBurgundy, Green, Black
MATURE SIZEOne meter (3 Feet)
SOIL TYPELoose Well-Draining
SOIL pH5.0-7.0 Acid-Neutral
TOXICITYToxic to Kids and Pets

Philodendron Black Cardinal Care Basics

When you invest your time planting the Black Cardinal, you will find the enormous glossy leaf growth interesting to watch. The leaves start with a light bronze shade and mature to a deep black/chocolate appearance. However, the young plant grows with green accents until mature. Therefore, what is the Philodendron Black Cardinal plant care to ensure your plant remains healthy?

Here is the complete layout from planting to taking care of this magical plant.

Best Potting Mix

potting mix

The Black Cardinal plant benefits are outstanding as it is easy to maintain as a houseplant. To keep this plant thriving plant it is loose, well-drained soil. Prevent using an all-purpose potting mix as it becomes compacted, strangling the roots.

An excellent choice is the African Violet soil mix, or you can prepare it yourself using peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. Preferably, use sphagnum peat moss or a peat-vermiculite one. Doing this helps the soil to drain fast and improves aeration at the root system. Furthermore, it prevents a buildup of water at the roots and prevents rotting.

Watering Needs

For the black cardinal variety, allowing the soil to dry to the touch is true before watering the plant. However, you can water it well and make sure the water drains well into a saucer and re-water when you find the top inch of the soil dry. Doing this prevents overwatering, and there is no risk of the plant drying out. Another way to prevent overwatering is to plant the Philodendron in well-drained soil.

Ideal Lighting Needed

One thing this plant loves is a warm and bright spot to thrive away from direct sunlight. You can place it near a window where the sun does not shine directly on the leaves. However, if you find the leaves turning yellow, it is getting too much light.

black cardinal lighting conditiion

Alternatively, if the stems elongate and grow only several inches, the plants not getting enough sunlight. Another notable thing is that the plant can produce purple leaves by exposing it to a bit of morning/afternoon sun when not that bright.

Humidity and Temperature 

One notable thing with the Black Cardinal is that it cannot survive in freezing temperatures. So if your plant is outside, make sure to bring it indoors before the frost. We recommend keeping the plant in a room with a temperature 65°-78° F during the day and at night at 60°F. These temperatures also refer to average temperatures found in your home.

While the plant thrives in tropical climates, they are hardy plants when placed in low humidity. Do you plan to set your Philodendron indoors? Then it helps to put it in a room with a humidity of 30% to 50%. However, never place your plant close to heating vents or your AC as the extreme temperatures damage them, and all your hard work goes to waste.


You will love the fact that the Philodendron Black Cardinal is not a hungry feeder. Yet, you can provide it with a monthly feeding using a weak liquid fertilizer made for foliage plants. You can use this at the early growth stage in spring and summer or every eight weeks during fall and winter.

liquid fertilizer

Furthermore, the plant can become deficient in calcium and magnesium and identified by the pale color on leaves. You can go the eco way using dried crushed eggshells and pour boiling water over them. Leave the solution to soak overnight, strain the shells out, and pour it onto the soil. Alternatively, use a ready solution such as Cal-Mag Plug.


If you want to keep your plant small, Black Cardinal plant propagation is the best way to achieve this. Doing this, you can keep it small, bestow a new plant upon someone special, or get a new free plant. The easiest way to do this is by cutting the stem and rooting placing it in water.

Make sure to cut the stem from the base and change the water every day until you notice bumps developing growing roots. Once the roots grow, you can plant them in soil. If you are considering planting it from seed, think again. Doing this is ineffective as it rarely flowers. If they produce seed, it remains a complex hybrid, not passing down the same genetic traits through the germ.

Growth Zone

Since Black Cardinal is native to Brazil and Mexico, these gorgeous lush foliage will mostly thrive in shady gardens or shady front-yard and frost-free regions. Black Cardinals appreciate well-drained, moist soil. Too much light and less moisture with this beauty can cause their leaves to become pale and brown instead of their glossy bronze and blackish-green leaves.

They can grow from 2- 3 feet in height and half of that in width in their natural habitat when mature. If cultivated indoors, it’s possible to reach its maximum growth by providing them all the necessary tropical experience they were accustomed to.

Potting and Re-potting

When you buy a Philodendron Black Cardinal as a small plant, you will need to repot it every few years, depending on the growth. As mentioned, make sure to follow the soil, water, and fertilizing tips stated above. The best time to do a Black Cardinal propagate from the root is with repotting.  

You can carefully detangle and cut a section of the root with its corresponding stems. Once you have them separated from the mother clump, you can replant them into another container. Preferably, replant your Black Cardinal in a larger pot bigger than the root ball, approximately two inches larger.

Do this by watering the soil a couple of hours or even the night before, making it easier to pull out. Check the roots and untangle them. Replant it in your new container using the correct soil and water deeply. Furthermore, your plant needs not much pruning.

When the leaves age and turn yellow you, can remove them or trim the damaged areas. In turn, this also helps keep the plant small. If you do not do a lot of cutting, you may need to replant it again every three years.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Varieties and Similar Plant

Now that you know how to care for your Philodendron Black Cardinal, you are thinking if there are other species and similar plants found. Yes, you can find Black Cardinal varieties. However, if interested in adding others to your houseplant collection, you can look at the following ones.

Philodendron Birkin

philodendron birkin

This is also part of the genus of plants found in the Araceae family. You can find over 500 species available, and it is a large imposing plant that climbs other plants or trees.

Philodendron Gloriosum

philodendron gloriosum

This has a velvet appearance, and when the leaves reach maturity, it can have pronounced white veins. While not a climber, it does run along the ground.

Philodendron Pink Princess

philodendron pink princess

This is a gorgeous houseplant that is a climbing plant with dark leaves with light pink blotches. Even the stems are dotted with a soft pink shade.

Philodendron Black Cardinal Diseases & Pests

One thing you will be happy about is that the Black Cardinal is an easy-to-maintain houseplant. The plant can quickly recover from stress or damage. Neither does the plant fall prey quickly to diseases nor pests. But if under attack, here are some of the culprits.

Root Rot is one of the biggest concerns and happens when there are not enough water drainage holes. Make sure the water flows out and use the correct potting soil. Furthermore, check the top inch of the ground to make sure it is dry before watering. When the leaves turn yellow and curl, you know your plant has stress from overwatering.

Aphids are tiny insects you find on the stems sucking out all the juice and harmless to you but not your plant. You can wipe it off using your fingers or spray it with dish soap and Neem oil.

Mealybugs are another culprit that causes harm to the plant. They live in humid places and feed on the plant juice. You can wipe them off using a paper towel with Neem oil or rubbing alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Well, like many Philodendrons, this really depends on where you live. Here in the U.S., it can be found more regularly as it is sporadically developed from crosses among: Wendlandii, Hastatum, Erubescens, Imbe, & Fragrantissimum Wendlandii.

The origin of the name leaves one empty-handed, but it’s believed it might be because of the color of the leaves that is black to sometimes reddish

You can find two of these species available and can be climbers and non-climbing. The Black Cardinal is non-climbing and remains self-heading, and grows enormous in the leaves.

You can find the Black Cardinal Philodendron for sale at some nurseries online, such as Woodies Garden Goods. The Philodendron Black Cardinal price starts as low as $21 and up, depending on the pot size

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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