3 Reasons Why Micans Leaves Turn Red (& Care Tips)

philodendron micans leaves turning red

Many who’ve enjoyed growing a Philodendron Micans have asked why Micans leaves turn red. While most agree that red leaves are stunning on a Micans, it’s understandable you want to ensure your plant is healthy.

These three reasons will explain the possibilities for why your Micans has red leaves and how you can maintain its health. 

1. Sun Stress is the Most Common Reason for Red Leaves on Micans

If you have your plant in a location where it receives strong, bright light for part of the day, you may notice your Micans has red leaves.

philodendron micans sun stress

This is known as sun stress, the plant’s adaptation to brighter light through pigment change. Plants that sun stress are beautiful, and many growers strive to achieve this desired look. You can think of sun stress as the plant’s first line of defense to protect its leaves from burning.

Does Sun Stress Hurt Your Micans? 

Too much sun stress can harm your Micans.

If the sunlight is too intense, it can eventually sun-scorch the leaves. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your Micans closely when you notice red leaves.

Watch for dry leaves, brown discoloration, pale leaves, and curling leaves. These can be signs that your Micans is declining from too much sunlight.

Additionally, it is more important than ever to avoid missing a watering since the plant can be more prone to drought stress in high light. 

When Micans slowly acclimate to higher light, their sun stress appears gradually, which is better for the plant. Furthermore, it helps to rotate your Micans and have it in a location that receives shade over part of the plant.

A Micans can be stunning and healthy when it has some sun-stressed red leaves along with deep green leaves.

Micans Sun Stress Versus Sun Damage

Sun stress and sun damage are occasionally used interchangeably, but these terms have notable differences. As you monitor your Micans, it’s important to recognize the difference between sun stress and sun damage. 

Sun stress can occur and turn Micans leaves red without being sunburned. Sun stress appears as a red pigment change that usually covers the entire top side of the leaf fairly evenly.

You’ll also notice that the leaves still look hydrated and healthy despite being a different color. 

Sun damage, on the other hand, can present in several ways. Most notably, sun damage on a Micans will make a leaf look unhealthy with uneven coloration. This can present as red spots, orange streaks, brown coloration, and bright red coloration on only part of the leaf. The edges of the leaves also might have a washed-out bleached look. 

Sun damage indicates that your Micans leaves are getting burned in the sunlight, and the plant needs to be pulled back out of direct light. Damaged leaves will usually die off eventually, but the plant can typically recover if no more than ⅓ of it was burned. 

2. Underwatering can Turn Micans Leaves Red

Another reason why Micans leaves turn red is drought stress.

If your Micans gets too thirsty between waterings, this can cause some leaves to turn red. The newest and oldest leaves tend to be the first to turn red when a Micans is drought stressed.

There are a few ways to differentiate red leaves caused by drought stress rather than sun stress. 

An underwatered Micans will have the typical signs of thirstiness paired with thin red leaves. Therefore, it will have dry soil, and the pot will feel light-weight. Additionally, some of the leaves may distinctively curl under or inward. These leaves will die off

philodendron micans drought stress
Photo by author

To solve the issue, give your Micans water using the top-water method. This watering method is preferred for drought-stressed plants to help prevent root rot. As roots become weak from extreme dryness, they are susceptible to rot when the plant soaks in water. Until your plant recovers, top-water versus bottom-watering. 

FUTHER READING: Philodendron Micans Care & 6 Tips to Thrive

3. Under-fertilizing can Cause Red Leaves on Micans

A third and less common reason why Micans leaves turn red is underfeeding.

While fertilizer issues can cause a range of leaf colors, you may see light brown or pale red Micans leaves when it is deficient in certain nutrients. Since the soil can become depleted of nutrients over time, your Micans will need to be fertilized periodically.

If you have yet to fertilize your plant during the growing season and have ruled out other causes for your Micans having red leaves, you can try feeding it. The added nutrients can breathe life back into its leaves. 

When and How to Fertilize a Micans

You can use 1/4 diluted complete liquid fertilizer or 1/4 diluted fish emulsion with iron. Do this twice monthly during the growing season to ensure your Micans gets enough nutrients to thrive. 

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