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The Philodendron Dark Lord is a stunning tropical plant that many Philodendron collectors have on their “Must Have List”. It is known for its large triangular leaves that change colors as they grow. New leaves are burgundy, and then as they mature they slowly transition from the burgundy color to a very dark green. The undersides of the leaves have a dark red hue, and the stems of the plant are burgundy like the new leaves.
Like many of the rare Philodendron plants, new owners wonder once they get one: “How do you care for a Philodendron Dark Lord?” In this Philodendron Dark Lord care guide, we go over the origin of the Philodendron Dark Lord, its toxicity to pets, and of course how to care for one.
Philodendron Dark Lord Origin and History
The Philodendron Dark Lord is a hybrid of the Philodendron Imperial Red, which is also another hybrid that was bred for commercial purposes. It is from the Aracea family and is an aroid.
Philodendron Dark Lord Scientific Name: Philodendron Erubescens ‘Dark Lord’
The Philodendron Dark Lord is also called Philodendron Black Lord by some.
Philodendron Dark Lord Plant Care
Owners of Philodendron Dark Lords are often surprised at how easy they are to care for. Tropical plants, especially the rare Philodendrons, are known for their touchiness to the environmental factors of growing in a home vs their natural environment. But Dark Lords aren’t as picky and are a great option for those who want to try out caring for a rare Philodendron.
- Can grow rather large, so have a big space to let it grow. (up to 4 feet wide)
- Bright indirect light, morning sun is ok.
- Water once the soil feels dry by placing your finger into the dirt and testing the first few inches of soil.
- Requires a pole or stake for support and to grow up on.
- 60% humidity is best.
- An ariod soil mix is best. Well draining soil is essential.
- Use a flower pot that has good drainage.
- Repot as needed, they grow fast and will need frequent repotting as they grow.
- Propagated from a cutting off a mature plant.
Philodendron Dark Lord Watering
Philodendron Dark Lords like to have evenly moist soil. That does not mean that it likes very wet soggy soil. As long as you follow the soil recommendations for this plant it should be able to drain well and will not result in the plant’s roots being submerged in soggy soil.
Do not try to stick to a watering schedule. The moisture level of the soil can vary greatly depending on humidity levels each day and air movement.
Use your finger to determine how the soil feels, if it feels dry it is time to water your plant. The best way to do this is to stick your finger into the soil mix in the pot up to the first or second knuckle. If it feels moist on your finger then you don’t need to water the plant. If it feels dry then you need to water the plant.
If you can’t determine the moisture level with your finger (in my house I have to test all the soil as my SO works with his hands and they are caused so he can’t determine the moisture well) then you can try a moisture meter. But these tend to be hugely inaccurate most of the time. So if there is someone else that can feel the moisture of the soil, try to have them feel the soil for you before resorting to a moisture meter.
Overwatering needs to be avoided at all costs. Dark Lord Philodendrons are prone to root rot and watering the plant too often can lead to this happening.
How To Water a Dark Lord Philodendron
When you water your Dark Lord, use filtered or distilled water to avoid heavy metals and chemicals. Pour the water evenly around the soil in the pot until it runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. It is often best to do this in a sink or an area where you can easily collect the water without it running onto the floor or onto furniture.
Philodendron Dark Lord Light Requirements
Bright indirect light is best for the Philodendron Dark Lord. It can tolerate a few hours of the morning sun.
Having your Dark Lord in an area with bright light will help the plant grow faster.
Avoid letting the plant sit in the afternoon sun directly, this is the time of the harshest sun rays and can lead to some damage on the plant. Although this particular type of Philodendron is less prone to being burned by the sun.
Pot and Repotting
You want to make sure to give your Dark Lord something to grow up. A bamboo pole or a moss pole are great options to place in the pot of the plant.
When the plant is younger, or just a rooted cutting, it is a good idea to use a clear orchid pot so you can keep an eye on the root growth of the plant. As they get older and need bigger pots, choose one that has good drainage. The roots of the Dark Lord Philodendron must have access to oxygen, they are very prone to root rot so the more drainage the better.
They need to be repotted when it becomes root-bound. Which can happen several times a year when you are growing them from a cutting.
When repotting choose a pot about two to four inches bigger than the one that it is currently in. These plants grow fast so going up a pot size that is a couple of sizes bigger than the current one is important.
While you are repotting your plant, inspect the roots to make sure they look healthy. If you notice any rot while doing this, try to remove as much soil as you can from the roots and then trim off any of the rotted roots.
Philodendron Dark Lord Soil Mix
Without the right soil mix, these plants can get root rot easily.
Since these are an aroid it is best to make your own soil mix to fit the plant:
- 30% potting soil
- 20% peat or coco coir
- 30% bark
- 10% perlite
- 10% worm castings
If you use coco coir instead of peat, you might find that you need to take a more frequent approach to fertilize the plant as coco coir does not hold onto nutrients very well. Also, make sure to flush out your coco coir before you use it in any soil mix. This can help get rid of any chemical residue that can be left in the coir from the processing of the medium.
If you cannot get all of the above ingredients then a mix of orchid soil, potting soil, and perlite can be sufficient. You want to create a very breathable soil mix to allow for air to reach the roots of the plant.
Ideal temperatures for this plant are between 70°F and 85°F. Temperatures should be kept above 60°F to avoid any detrimental effects to the plant.
Being a tropical plant, the Dark Lord Philodendron likes humidity. Optimal humidity is above 60%. But unlike other rare Philodendrons, they can do ok with lower levels and not suffer any damage. Owners have reported that they have done well with the humidity dropping down to 35% in the winter months.
If you need to increase the humidity levels around your plants, small humidifiers are a great option.
Should You Mist Your Dark Lord Philodendron?
Misting doesn’t provide any benefits to the plant. The only reason to mist would be if you have a moss pole, and then you mist the moss and not the plant itself. Aroids will put roots in the moss pole as it grows up it, and misting the pole in locations where roots are can provide more water to the plant without overwatering the roots in the pot.
Any houseplant liquid fertilizer will work for a Dark Lord. Our favorite to use is the Espoma Organic Indoor Plant Food or Fish Fertilizer.
To fertilize your plant, follow the directions for dosing on the package of the fertilizer and the frequency recommended for houseplants.
Another alternative would be to do a 1/4 of the dosage and fertilize each week when watering. This is often a great way to mimic what happens in their natural environment and will prevent burning the plant since it is so diluted and the plant is getting fed in small doses.
Philodendron Dark Lord Propagation
Philodendron Dark Lords are propagated using cuttings from a mature plant. You can often find Dark Lord cuttings for sale on Etsy or Facebook Marketplace.
If you already have one that you want to propagate you can do so by taking a stem cutting from the top of the plant. If you have one climbing a moss pole you might be able to get some good aerial roots on a cutting that you take.
Before taking the cutting prepare a small orchid pot with a soil mix that has peat, perlite, and worm castings.
To get a cutting use a sharp pair of sterilized sheers (this prevents bacteria from entering the cutting) and cut below a node that has aerial roots coming out of it. It is best to try to get a couple of nodes on the cutting to allow for a healthy plant.
Once you have your cutting dip it in some rooting hormone and then plant the cutting into the pot you prepared with the aerial roots at least 2 inches below the surface of the soil. Fill in any extra space with more of the potting mix and then water well.
Place your potted cutting in an area that is warm and has good light.
It can take up to six weeks for the roots to develop well on the cutting. If you used a clear orchid pot then you can easily keep an eye on the cutting to see how the roots are growing.
Philodendron Dark Lords can grow up to 6 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide.
Generally, Philodendron Dark Lords don’t require much pruning. Make sure to remove dead or damaged leaves. You can cut the plant back if it is getting too large, this is a great time to get a cutting from the top and make another plant for yourself.
Pets and Toxicity
Is the Philodendron Dark Lord toxic or poisonous to pets? Yes, they are.
All Philodendrons are toxic to pets, both cats and dogs.
If you have pets, keep your Philodendron up and out of reach. Use a homemade citrus spray or a deterrent such as Bitter Apple to keep them from chewing on these plants.
Philodendron Dark Lord Price and Rarity
Where Can I Find a Philodendron Dark Lord For Sale
The best place to check is your local plant nurseries or plant shops. Popular online options to find Philodendron Dark Lords for sale include Etsy or Facebook Marketplace.
When purchasing a Dark Lord online make sure to buy one from a reputable seller. Even though these are not the most expensive Philodendron, it is not good to pay anything for the wrong plant or an unhealthy one.
Is The Philodendron Dark Lord Rare?
Yes, the Philodendron Dark Lord is a rare houseplant. They are easier to find now than they were last year. And as they become more popular they will become easier to find as time goes on.
Most often a Philodendron Dark Lord will range from $50 to $65 when they are from a reputable seller online. The prices at your local plant shops could vary greatly since that will depend on the local area and how easily and quickly they are able to propagate the plants.
Common Problems and Pests
These are small white fuzzy bugs that you will often notice either on the nodes of the plant or on the undersides of the leaves. Use insecticidal soap or Neem oil to get rid of these pests.
Spider mites will often first be noticed by the webbing that they create on the underside of the leaves. Using insecticidal soap or Neem oil will help eliminate these from your plant.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Most often this will present as dark spots with yellow halos but sometimes can just appear as dark areas on the leaves. These are usually very small when they first appear, less than 1/4 inch. The spots can become transparent as they damage the structure of the leaf. They can also appear on the stems as a dark brown area.
A copper fungicide on the plant can help with avoiding the spread but you will want to remove any damaged leaves. Keep air circulation good around the plant and avoid misting the plant.
Other Philodendron Care Guides:
- Philodendron Imperial Red Care
- Philodendron Mamei Care
- Heartleaf Philodendron Care Guide
- Philodendron Brasil Care Guide
- Philodendron Burle Marx Care Guide and Tips
- Philodendron Billietiae Care Guide
- Philodendron Melanochrysum Care Guide
- Birkin Philodendron Care Guide
- Silver Sword Philodendron Care
- Bacterial Leaf Spot; UCANR.edu; https://www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/agriculture/lettuce/Bacterial-leaf-spot/
- BACTERIAL DISEASES OF ANTHURIUM, DIEFFENBACHIA, PHILODENDRON, AND SYNGONIUM; University of Illinois, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences; http://ipm.illinois.edu/diseases/rpds/616.pdf
- What is an Aroid; Aroid.org; http://www.aroid.org/aroid/
- Guidelines for Araceae Hybrids; Aroid Cultivar Registry; https://www.aroidcultivars.org/hybrid-cultivars
- Heartleaf Philodendron | ASPCA; https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/heartleaf-philodendron