Philodendron plants have been growing in the tropical forests of America for centuries and have been a popular houseplant since Victorian times. A philodendron Imperial Red, sometimes called a “Blushing Philodendron” or a “Red-leaf Philodendron,” is one of several hybrid philodendrons that have been developed by growers over the last few years. It is a member of the Araceae family of aroids. When small it is an excellent plant that can sit on a table or desk. As a philodendron “Imperial Red” matures and the leaves spread out laterally, it makes an impressive floor plant. This is an easy-care plant that can adapt to all kinds of conditions if you keep it warm.
Philodendron Imperial Red – Description
There are two main types of philodendron plants, climbers and self-headers. The heart-leaf philodendron is an example of a small climber. Without some form of support, the stems of a climber philodendron hang down. Many climbers produce aerial roots to help them cling to poles, wall, or large trees. The other main philodendron group is the self-header. The plants in this category are much larger than climbers and have much bigger leaves. A philodendron imperial red is an example of a self-header. It has glossy, wide, bright green and red, oval-shaped leaves spaced very close together on a single stem. This barely visible stem, which is usually only seen when the older, bottom leaves of the plant fall off, keeps a Philodendron Imperial Red upright and elegant looking. This plant, when grown indoors, can easily reach a height of 2-3ft and a leaf spread of 2-3 ft. It has stiff stems that are strong and firm enough to keep the plant growing straight up as it matures.
Varieties of Self- Header Philodendron Plants
Here are a few examples of other popular philodendron hybrids that are close relatives of the philodendron imperial red, have the same care requirements, and grow about the same size.
Philodendron “Imperial Green” has smooth, shiny, green leaves that fan out in all directions, sometimes reaching out as far as 3ft (90cm).
Philodendron “Black Cardinal” has wide, oval leaves that start out as burgundy and gradually become a blackish green or dark brown color.
Philodendron “Emerald Prince” has glossy, green, elongated, oval leaves and grows 18”- 20” (45cm-50cm) tall and 36”- 40 “(90cm -100cm) wide.
Philodendron “Moonlight has bright, lemon/lime new leaves that turn a darker green as the plant matures. This plant may also produce large, pinkish, spathe like flowers even as a houseplant.
Philodendron “Red Emerald” has deep, reddish/wine-colored stems, and long, elongated, heart shaped leaves.
Philodendron “Autumn” has large, copper-red, new leaves that turn a dark glossy green, with splashes of yellow as the plant matures.
P. Imperial Green P. Autumn P. Midnight P. Black Cardinal
Quick Care Tips for a Philodendron Imperial Red
Warm temperatures – minimum of 55°F (12.8°C) in winter
Fertilize only when the plant is actively growing
Avoid direct sun
These plants are poisonous and should be kept away from children, cats, dogs, and other pets. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book: Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
How much light does a Philodendron Imperial Red need: Although the plant survives in lower light, it grows faster and looks better when grown in medium light.
How to water a Philodendron Imperial Red: Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. The soil needs to dry out more during the winter when the plant is resting.
How to fertilize a Philodendron Imperial Red: Feed monthly when the plant is actively growing with a balanced plant food diluted to ½ the recommended strength. If a philodendron plant is not producing new leaves, it doesn’t need any plant food.
Best temperature for a Philodendron Imperial Red: Provide warm temperatures between 70°-85°F ( 21.1°-29.4°C). Keep the temperature above 55°F (12.8°C) during the winter.
Does a Philodendron Imperial Red need high humidity: Although the plant prefers high humidity, it still grows well in basic household humidity.
Philodendron Imperial Red plant pests: Keep an eye out for mealy bugs and aphids. You can read more about these plants pests and how to identify and treat them in the Glossary of the website.
Philodendron Imperial Red plant diseases: Erwinia Blight, a type of harmful plant bacteria, is the main disease that affects philodendron plants.
Best soil for a Philodendron Imperial Red: Use a rich, quick- draining soil. You may have to add a little sand to your usual potting mix if it appears too heavy and does not drain well.
What size pot for a Philodendron Imperial Red: Philodendrons like to be slightly root-bound and a little snug in their pots. When the roots have filled the existing pot, it’s time to move the plant to the next size container and nothing any larger. The pot must have drip holes in the bottom so excess water can escape. The best time to re-pot a philodendron is in the late winter or early spring before its start to produce new leaves.
How to prune a Philodendron Imperial Red: This is a type of “self-heading” philodendron and rarely needs to be pruned. If the plant spreads out too far and you are running out of space, cut off some leaves at the base of their stem.
How to propagate a Philodendron Imperial Red: Professional plant growers use tissue cultures to propagate this plant and all of its hybrid cousins. In our home, we can try to propagate using plant off- shoots or air layering. Read more about these propagation techniques in the Glossary of the website.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is a Philodendron Imperial Red poisonous: All philodendron plants, including the Imperial Red, contain calcium oxalate are very toxic plants with a #2 toxicity level. Learn more about Poisonous Houseplant Toxicity Levels in the Glossary of the website.
Your Philodendron Imperial Red could probably survive in a dark corner for a little while, but it certainly wouldn’t thrive. I’d recommend putting it in medium or bright indirect light.
You are killing your Philodendron Imperial Red with kindness. The plant is losing leaves because the roots are staying wet and never being allowed to dry out. Start by allow the soil to totally dry out. Once that happens, water well and then do not water again until the top 50% of the soil has dried out. Fertilize monthly when the plant is actively growing with a balanced food diluted to ½ the recommended strength. If the plant is not producing new leaves, it doesn’t need any plant food.
As the leaves on a Philodendron Imperial Red mature they do become greener. Placing your plant in a brighter location will help maintain the red for a longer period of time.