Philodendron Dark Lord: Care, Propagation & Common Problems
The Philodendron Dark Lord has been on my wishlist since I first discovered it. I immediately bought it when it became available in my area! The Dark Lord stands out because of its dark, almost black leaves and makes a statement sitting amongst your other green-leaved plants.
I quickly realized that not only is the Dark Lord a stunning plant, but it is also quite hardy and easy to look after. It is now one of the biggest plants in my whole collection!
All About Philodendron Dark Lord
The Dark Lord is a rare hybrid from the Imperial Red Philodendron Erubescens species. It originates from Colombia and Venezuela but has also been found to grow naturally in parts of Africa, the Philippines, and the Seychelles.
As the name suggests, The Dark Lord has dark, elongated arrow-shaped leaves with deep red petioles and stems. When the new leaves appear, they can be deep orange to red, changing to a red-purple color and lightening up over time to dark green.
The underside of the leaves is a beautiful dark maroon color that also borders the whole leaf along the front.
The Dark lord can grow upwards of 1.8m in height and about 1m to 1.2m wide. The leaves themselves can grow up to 55cm long. In the forest, they climb up trees and thus do extremely well on moss poles for indoor growing.
As they are climbing plants, once they have an established root system, they are effortless to care for and will reward you often with brightly colored new leaves.
If you like the look of the Dark Lord’s foliage but aren’t a fan of climbing plants, a great alternative is a Philodendron Rojo Congo.
FURTHER READING: Top 16 Black Houseplants For Your Goth Indoor Garden
Philodendron Dark Lord Care Guide
|Light||Bright to medium indirect light|
|Watering||Every 7-10 days or when the top 3-5cm of soil is dry.|
|Soil mix||Aroid potting mix or chunky soil mix.|
|Pot||Plastic with drainage holes|
|Temperature||18 – 27 °C|
|Repotting||Once a year or when it doubles in size|
|Pests||Can be susceptible to mealybug|
|Fertilization||Every 2-3 weeks (spring/summer) or yearly with a slow-release fertilizer|
Lighting & Placement
The Philodendron Dark Lord grows on the forest floor in nature. It’s often found attached to large trees that the plant uses for additional support.
The Dark Lord thrives in bright, indirect light, but it will be happy in medium to low-light conditions.
If you want the best lighting conditions for your plant, find a room in your house that has a sun-facing window and place it no more than 1.8m away from the window. Make sure it doesn’t get any direct sunlight as this will burn the leaves!
The Dark Lord can get quite top-heavy as it grows taller. This may be a sign that you need to repot or consider adding a moss pole for extra stability.
My plant fell over in the middle of the night a few times before I figured out a way to stop it. My quick solution was to put the plastic pot which my Dark Lord is in into a heavy ceramic planter.
This plant cannot tolerate water-logged soil – this can cause root rot which will eventually kill your rare plant.
Trying to follow a set watering regime with any indoor plant is detrimental, so you need to be rather hands-on with checking when your Dark Lord needs to be watered.
Insert your finger into the pot and check the moisture of the soil. If the top 3-5cm of soil is dry, it’s time to water.
Make sure that you drench the plant all the way through and remove any excess water from the drip tray/decorative pot in which your plant is sitting.
Soil & Potting
The Philodendron Dark Lord needs to be planted in an Aroid soil mix. Because it’s a chunky mix, it doesn’t retain too much water and will help prevent root rot.
However, the Dark Lord is quite resilient to harsh growing conditions, so you don’t need to worry about root rot as much as other plants. I suggest adding more coco coir than usual so that you can water the plant less often. This trick is useful if you’re a forgetful plant parent!
The mix I would recommend is:
- 2 parts perlite
- 1.5 part pumice/volcanic rock/leca balls
- 1.5 part small bark/coco chips
- 1 part coco coir
- 1 part worm castings (optional)
I don’t usually suggest worm castings in my Aroid mix as I like to add nutrients during watering. Adding worm castings will increase nutrients in the mix & help to reduce your weekly plant chores.
Temperature & Humidity
The Philodendron Dark Lord is a very hardy plant. It can withstand lower temperatures and humidity levels when compared to other Aroids. This makes it a fantastic plant for beginners, as it doesn’t need much care and attention.
The Dark Lord likes to live in temperatures between 18℃ and 27℃, but it can definitely handle temperatures lower than that.
My Dark Lord’s growth rate did slow down during the winter when outside temperatures were below 10℃. Still, it didn’t suffer any serious damage. No yellowing leaves, no root rot.
The Dark Lords’ ideal humidity levels are 50% humidity and above. It will thrive and grow in higher humidity levels and is happy in levels up to 75%.
The Dark Lord isn’t too bothered by humidity levels, even as low as 30%. However, in lower humidity conditions, you might find some new leaves getting stuck as they start coming out.
If your Dark Lord’s new leaf gets stuck, don’t worry! Simply spray it with water to loosen it up a bit, then carefully peel away the sheath and make sure not to snap the growing tip.
The Philodendron Dark Lord can be quite a heavy feeder. They grow relatively quickly, so they will need a lot of food to support their growth.
You can fertilize your Dark Lord with a liquid fertilizer during watering once every 2-3 weeks. I recommend finding a fertilizer with a ratio of NPK 20-20-20 which is optimal for feeding leafy plants.
Over-fertilizing can result in burnt roots, so less is more in this regard.
You can also add a slow-release fertilizer into your soil which is a great low-maintenance alternative to feeding your Dark Lord.
Growth rate & Repotting
A happy Dark Lord will put out a new leaf every 4-5 weeks. The Dark Lord’s internodal spacing is smaller than most Philodendron Erubescens, with a spacing of 7-10mm in the right lighting conditions.
If your plant is in a dark corner of a room, you will probably see larger internodal spacing as it tries to reach for more light.
You should repot your Dark Lord about once a year at the beginning of the growing season. It is also recommended to repot your plant once it has doubled in size.
When repotting, make sure not to repot in a pot that is too big. I recommend finding a new pot that is no more than 4cm larger than its current pot.
Philodendron Dark Lord Propagation
Propagating a Dark Lord is very easy. They put out relatively large deep purple aerial roots that remind me of earthworms along their stems.
To make cuttings, take a sterile blade and cut between each node. I recommend letting these pieces dry out for a few hours to close the “wound” on the plants before planting them.
To propagate in water, put your cutting in a glass jar & place it in a bright spot with no direct sunlight. You can change the water after every 5 to 7 days, or when you see the water getting dirty.
You can also dip them into rooting hormone to help with root growth and then place them into pots with Aroid mix or sphagnum moss to begin rooting. Don’t bury them too deep into the soil, as this can result in the chunk of stem rotting.
Ensure they get good lighting and monitor them for problems such as root rot and soft stems.
Since the Dark Lord is a resilient plant, it is not particularly susceptible to pests, but always keep your eyes out for spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips.
Luckily, if you do weekly checks while watering, you can catch these pests early and avoid too much damage to your plant.
Mealybugs are fuzzy white bugs that hide in the tight crevices between the plant nodes. They are so good at hiding that I recommend peeling back the sheaths on the main stem to check for them.
I recommend using neem oil regularly to suffocate mealybug and then remove them by wiping them off with an alcohol swap soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Spider mites are small red and black insects that make webs around the entire leaf of your plant. They can also be very good at hiding, so I recommend checking the underside of your leaves regularly, as they can spread extremely quickly.
For spider mites, I recommend spraying your plant with an insecticide high in Bifenthrin. Neem oil is also a good treatment.
Root rot is caused by a lack of oxygen around your plant’s root system. This is usually caused by watering your Dark Lord too often.
Make sure your soil mix is airy & drains well to avoid this. The Dark Lord is happy to sit in dry soil. If you miss a watering day, don’t worry. Your plant will be fine.
I forgot to water my plant for two weeks, and it didn’t mind!
Other Questions About Philodendron Dark Lord
Why is my Dark Lord drooping?
This would be because it needs support – consider repotting it or adding a moss pole for extra support.
What is the difference between the Dark Lord & the Bloody Mary?
The Dark Lord has a wider leaf surface, and the veins, midrib, and petioles are maroon.
What is the difference between the Dark Lord & the Red Emerald?
They have a similar leaf shape, but the Dark Lord is slightly more pointy. The Red Emerald has much brighter red stems and lighter green leaves. The Dark lord is also more leathery than the shiny Red Emerald.