Philodendrons are some of the most exotic and beautiful plants in the tropical world. There are about 400 species of philodendron worldwide, including the Philodendron erubescens, or 'Red Emerald', which is native to Costa Rica and the rainforests of South America. P. erubescens is an aggressive climbing plant. These plants are highly valued for their leaves, which feature reddish and colored undersides that form a lovely display as the leaves cascade down a growing surface. Like other philodendrons, P. erubescens is toxic to people and pets, so it should be grown in a safe location.
In its native environment, the plant has been known to reach heights of 60 feet and sometimes converts to fully epiphytic growth if its connection with the ground is severed. As a houseplant, however, it's likely that your plant will remain about 3 feet in length, and it's easy to care for.
|Common Name||Blushing philodendron, red-leaf philodendron, imperial red philodendron|
|Botanical Name||Philodendron erubescens|
|Mature Size||2-60 ft. long, 16 in. wide|
|Soil Type||Well-drained, loamy|
|Soil pH||Neutral, acidic|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Hardiness Zones||10-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Central America, South America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to people and pets|
Philodendron Erubescens Care
P. erubescens are less cold- and drought-tolerant than other species of philodendron, but if you can provide ample warmth and humidity, P. erubescens will stay healthy. The large, waxy leaves of this species are exceptionally beautiful.
P. erubescens can survive without water for a short time like many philodendrons, but it's best to water your plant when its soil is dry, allowing for drainage as necessary. It's fairly easy to grow as a houseplant because it doesn't require full, bright sunlight. 'Red Emerald' is said to be somewhat rare, but there are plenty of sources from which to purchase the plant. The rarest philodendron is the 'Pink Princess'.
P. erubescens is a shade-loving philodendron. These plants dislike bright sunlight and should not be exposed to full sun outdoors. Indoors, an east-facing window with morning light would be a good situation. Don't let the sun's rays touch the foliage; if several leaves turn yellow, it might be getting too much sunlight.
Philodendron plants aren't very particular about soil, and most standard potting mixes are suitable. The plant does best in a loamy, nutrient-rich, quick-draining soil. Opt for a mixture with a neutral to acidic pH. If the soil mix is too heavy, add a little sand.
Water the plant when the surface of the soil is dry. P. erubescens is drought-tolerant, but it doesn't do well when overwatered, which can cause the plant to rot. If there is too much water, the leaves will begin to turn yellow. Opting for a pot with plenty of drainage holes combined with regular waterings is a great way to keep P. erubescens healthy.
Temperature and Humidity
Like other philodendrons, P. erubescens likes plenty of moisture and heat to thrive, although it can withstand shorter periods of cold if it's well-established. The plant thrives in temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it does exceptionally well at regular room temperatures.
During the spring and summer growing seasons, fertilize P. erubescens one to two times a month with a regular houseplant fertilizer. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions. Fertilizer can be cut back to about once every other month during fall and winter.
Types of Philodendron Erubescens
- P. scandens: Similar to P. erubescens, this variety grows with light red coloration on its leaves. It has a climbing growth habit and much smaller leaves.
- P. erubescens 'Green Emerald': This variety of P. erubescens features vibrant, bright green leaves.
- P. erubescens 'Pink Princess': Known for its exceptional colors (and high cost), the 'Pink Princess' variety has marbled pink and green coloration on its leaves.
Philodendrons don't need to be pruned often, but they can sometimes get a little too large for their space or become long and leggy. The best time of the year to prune P. erubescens is during the spring or fall, though you can remove yellow leaves or trim thin growth at any time of year.
To prune a philodendron, make cuts using sharp, sterile scissors or pruning shears. Cut where the stem meets the main vine of the plant; if you can't see where it connects, cut the stem off at the soil's surface.
Propagating Philodendron Erubescens
Like most vining philodendrons, P. erubescens can easily be propagated by cuttings and division. When taking a piece of the stem, make sure to take a piece with multiple aerial roots. Older plants will sprout aerial roots on their leaf nodes that simultaneously act as roots and grab onto surfaces. It's best to propagate philodendrons in the spring when the plant is actively growing, but plants that are outgrowing their pots can be propagated in other seasons if necessary. Here's how:
- Step 1: Gather a new container for the cutting, then fill it with the appropriate soil mixture.
- Step 2: Locate a stem with multiple aerial roots to take a cutting. If propagating by division, locate a stem growing on the side of the plant.
- Step 3: Using a clean pair of gardening shears, trim off the stem of your choice.
- Step 4: Plant the stem in its new container and place it in a spot with bright, indirect light.
- Step 5: Water the soil, allowing it to drain fully, then care for the plant as usual.
How to Grow Philodendron Erubescens From Seed
Growing P. erubescens from seed is a relatively simple process. Gather a fresh pot filled with soil, plastic wrap, and your philodendron seeds. Plant the seeds about 1/3 inch deep in moist soil, then lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pot to trap moisture inside until they germinate. Check the soil regularly to ensure it does not dry out. Place the pot in an area with bright, indirect light and consistent temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Within two weeks to two months, the seeds should sprout. At this point, the plants can be cared for as usual.
Potting and Repotting Philodendron Erubescens
Younger P. erubescens plants are rampant growers. You will likely need to repot your plant every spring at the beginning of the growing season. After its first year, when it's ready to climb (or even on its first repotting after sprouting), it's helpful to provide some structure for it to climb on.
This plant isn't necessarily picky about what it likes to climb, but it can be difficult to train a plant to "take hold" of its climbing pole and begin its ascent. To encourage climbing, gently tie the main vine to the support and train it upward. The hope is that it will eventually decide to grab onto the pole on its own. Older plants are considerably harder to repot because of the climbing poles. If this is an issue, simply scrape off the top layers of soil and replace them with fresh soil and new fertilizer.
P. erubescens should be grown indoors in most climates to maintain consistent temperatures, but some hotter regions of the country can accommodate this species outdoors year-round. If you live in an area that doesn't drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, your P. erubescens can survive outside.
On the other hand, growing this plant in other areas requires overwintering indoors if the plant is placed outside during the growing season. Gradually move your plant inside to a room with bright, indirect light and similar temperatures. Once nighttime temperatures are above 55 degrees in the spring, your plant can be taken back outside.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Philodendrons are vulnerable to pests including aphids, mealybugs, scale, and white fly. If possible, identify any pest infestations as early as possible. Treat pests on your P. erubescens plant by mixing 2 1/2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap in 1 gallon of water, then spraying the entirety of the plant down.
Your P. erubescens may also be susceptible to leaf spot diseases, which appear as either brown or yellow spots on the leaves. Thankfully, these fungal diseases can typically be prevented by watering your plant at the bottom—rather than on its leaves—to keep the leaves dry. For plants that have already been affected mildly, apply a fungicide to the entirety of the leaves and stems.
How to Get Philodendron Erubescens to Bloom
Philodendrons are not self-pollinating, so it's necessary to hand pollinate your indoor P. erubescens plant to encourage blooming. This species blooms in the spring and summer for a few days at a time with deep red flowers. Keep your philodendron in a spot with consistently warm temperatures before its bloom time. To pollinate your plant, wait until nighttime when its spathe is open, then apply pollen to the spadix. After the flowers bloom, they can be trimmed (or deadheaded) from the plant.
Common Problems With Philodendron Erubescens
In general, philodendrons are regarded as some of the easiest plants to grow, but it's still possible to run into a few common growing problems. This is typically related to the plants receiving too much sun or water (or not enough), and most issues can be remedied with a few simple methods.
If your philodendron's leaves are turning yellow, there may be a few different causes that can be determined by the plant's growing conditions. For example, an overwatered philodendron may develop yellow leaves due to root rot or oversaturated leaves. On the other hand, too much sun can also make the leaves begin to yellow. Move your plant to a shadier spot or cut back on waterings based on its needs.
An underwatered philodendron may begin to turn brown on its leaves. In this case, increase your plant's watering schedule, ensuring its pot still allows for plenty of drainage to prevent root rot from developing.
Dark Leaf Spots or Edges
Leaf scorch is common in philodendron plants that are growing in areas with too much bright light. This appears as dark leaf spots or dark edges on the leaves. Move your plant to a shadier area, and check for any signs of fungal disease that can also lead to dark spots.
How long can philodendron erubescens live?
Philodendrons have been known to live for up to 20 years when cared for properly. By ensuring your philodendron erubescens stays healthy, this houseplant can grow for years to come.
What plants are similar to philodendron erubescens?
While there are hundreds of species of philodendron plants, there are similar varieties to philodendron erubescens with climbing growth habits and long, pointed leaves. Philodendron 'Burle Marx' climbs sideways, and philodendron mamei offers silver variegation on its leaves.
How can I make my philodendron grow faster?
Your philodendron plant will grow best—and fastest—when it's provided with the proper light, water, and fertilizer for its needs. Keep the plant in a spot with bright, indirect light, and water it each time the soil dries out. A boost of fertilizer every two weeks to one month during the spring and summer growing seasons can also encourage your philodendron to grow quickly.
Dieffenbachia and Philodendron. Poison Control.