Philodendrons are characterized by large leaves, and the dark lord is no different. Apart from the big leaves that resemble an arrow, the most remarkable feature of the plant is the dark underside of the leaves, which is where the plant also gets its name.
The leaves start off as bright pink or deep orange and change into blood-red before turning dark green with a maroon-silver underside as they mature. In some instances, they can turn completely black, too, which explains the name.
Other names for this plant include pink dark lord, dark knight, and the dark lord plant.
To learn how to best take care of it, here’s everything you need to know.
Overview & Origin of Philodendron Dark Lord
The plant comes from Panama and Colombia and is a hybrid of the imperial red philodendron. Like other philodendrons, it also belongs to the Araceae family. Other places where it grows include Seychelles, the Philippines, and North Africa.
It grows rapidly and gets quite huge over time, so you’ll need to make sure you have enough space for it. Considering how big it gets, it’s best to use a climbing pole or moss pole covered with coconut coir to provide the plant with support and stability. In fact, moss poles also help ensure that the aerial roots stay healthy.
The dark lord has bright red stems that can grow up to two inches in diameter. Regular pruning is necessary to keep the plant growing. The foliage is also large; the long leaves are glossy and long, with a purple tint at the edges. And as mentioned earlier, they change colors as the plant goes through different growth stages. Plus, they can grow up to 18 to 22 inches long.
The plant’s extensive root system is also impressive. It grows deeper and deeper into the soil as it grows. If your plant is healthy, you will see many aerial roots that help it absorb nutrients from the air.
Note that like other philodendrons, the dark lord is also poisonous and toxic if ingested for both pets and children, so make sure you keep them away.
Care Guide for Philodendron Dark Lord
Luckily, the plant is relatively easy to care for and isn’t high-maintenance at all. Keep in mind that factors like soil mix and water requirements will vary based on where you live and the humidity and temperature there. To make sure your it thrives, here’s what you need to know:
You don’t need to place this plant under direct sunlight. While direct morning and evening natural sunlight for a couple of hours is fine, the harsh afternoon sun can burn the leaves. The plant thrives best in 70-80% bright indirect light, so you should keep it near a window that receives curtain-filtered cool morning sunlight for a few hours a day. In particular, make sure you keep it in a warm, well-lit spot in the winter months.
You also need to be wary of excessive sunlight since it can cause the leaves to turn yellow. In some cases, brown patches can also occur on the leaves. Meanwhile, inadequate sunlight will slow down the plant’s growth and can increase the chances of leggy stems and root rot.
You should water the plant daily to keep the soil moist during the growing season, but you need to be careful not to overwater it. The dark lord cannot survive in waterlogged soil for too long. Plus, over-watered soil can lead to root rot, which can kill the plant. This is why it’s important to plant your dark lord in a well-draining pot.
While you need to water some other philodendrons one or two times a week, the same is not the case with the dark lord. You need to check the plant daily to know if you should water it. You can judge if it needs water by checking the soil. Put your fingers knuckle-deep into the soil. Moist soil is soft and sticks to the finger while dry soil is compact and brittle. If the soil feels dry, it means you need to water the plant. Checking your plant daily also helps avoid both over- and under-watering.
The right way to water this species is to water it thoroughly such that water seeps out of the holes at the bottom of the container. Despite what many people suggest, you shouldn’t water the plant a little at a time. Instead, water it thoroughly in one go.
Soil & Fertilizer
The philodendron dark lord grows best in an organic, rich, well-draining soil mix that includes vermiculite, coco coir, and perlite. Make sure not to use sandy soils since they can drain water relatively quicker than normal soils.
Both overly wet and dry soils can hinder the plant’s growth. You should also avoid clay soil since it is compact and can limit the nutrient and oxygen supply to the roots. All in all, the soil mix should be well-ventilated and well-draining.
In addition to the airy soil mix, you need deep containers and pots for the plant to grow. We recommend starting with an 8-10-inch deep pot that has sufficient space for the roots to grow and spread. Deeper pots encourage faster growth and help the roots to develop properly. They also limit the need to frequently repot the plant.
Apart from all that, you also need to be mindful of the fertilizer. While the dark lord isn’t a heavy feeder, regular fertilization ensures faster growth. In the summer and spring months, you should fertilize the plant monthly with a slow-release fertilizer. In the winter and fall months, you can just fertilize the plant every 6-8 weeks.
You should use a well-balanced fertilizer that contains sufficient phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen and fertilize 6 inches from the base. Potassium and phosphorous keep the stems healthy and assist with root growth, while nitrogen is beneficial for the leaves.
Keep in mind that excess salts in fertilizers can be harmful to the plant’s roots and can even kill it. The best way to prevent salt build-up around the plant’s roots is to drain the water once a month. You should also avoid using tap water high in salt since it can be hard for the roots; use RO water instead.
Temperature & humidity
The dark lord thrives best in temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It cannot survive cold temperatures so make sure you place it in a warm spot before the temperatures turn frosty otherwise it will wilt. Cold temperatures can also lead to stunted growth.
It gets its signature rich maroon color when it is kept in warm temperatures, but you shouldn’t keep it in areas hotter than that. Otherwise, the plant will lose its rich color and become leggy.
Since the plant comes from tropical regions, it’s no surprise that it loves humidity, and with the right humidity, the leaves grow big and healthy. Ideally, you should keep the humidity levels above 70% even though it can survive in humidity levels as low as 40-50%.
How to Repot Philodendron Dark Lord
As your plant grows, it becomes root bound, which slows down its growth. To prevent that from happening, you need to move your dark lord into a bigger pot as soon as it outgrows its pot. However, keep in mind that you should not repot the plant in winter. Instead, wait for spring to do so. Spring is the ideal time to repot the plant into a new soil mix since it adjusts to the new environment very quickly.
Before you repot your dark lord, you need to make a rich soil mix that contains perlite, vermiculite, compost, and soil. Check your plant for any black or dead roots. If there are any, remove them. You should also make sure that your plant doesn’t have any insects, pests, or infections. Finally, move the plant to the bigger pot you chose before. You can expect the plant to grow for 2-3 years in this new, bigger pot.
View this post on Instagram
How to Propagate Philodendron Dark Lord
It is very easy to propagate the Philodendron Dark Lord. Here’s what you need to do:
- Choose a top stem cutting that has at least 2-3 nodes from a mature plant.
- Take a pair of clean scissors and cut the stem right below the node
- Dip the stem you cut in rooting hormone
- Finally, plant it in a soil mix
Tips for repotting
- Make sure that you bury the cut stem at least three inches deep and cover it with more soil. Water it daily until the roots start to appear.
- Put your new pot in a warm place that gets sufficient bright indirect light
- It’s also good practice to put the cutting in water for a couple of days until roots as long as two inches develop.
- Once you plant the stem, it will take 3-6 weeks for the roots to form so make sure you look out for them!
- Keep an eye out for dead or black roots when repotting the philodendron dark lord. If you don’t get rid of these dead roots, the philodendron can fall victim to fungal infections or other diseases.
- The plant can survive being root-bound for a few days but if you leave it in the small pot for an extended time period, it will stop growing and might even die.
Problems, Pests & Diseases of Philodendron Dark Lord
As mentioned earlier, the philodendron dark lord isn’t fussy, but like all other philodendrons, it is still susceptible to things like pale foliage, diseases, and pests attacks. If you plant the philodendron dark lord, you can come across problems such as:
Insects & Pests
Some insects and pests that can affect the dark lord include thrips, scale, spider mites, and mealybugs. You can get rid of the sap-sucking spider mites and mealybugs by pruning the infected area and rubbing cotton swabs dipped with alcohol on them.
You should also make it a habit to regularly apply neem oil since it is a great insecticidal. It is also a great way to keep unwanted pests and insects at bay.
Erwinia blight disease
This disease is characterized by wet, mushy lesions on the plant’s leaves and stems. Since it is usually caused by overwatering, it is better to be careful when watering the Philodendron Dark Lord. The disease starts from the soil and moves up the foliage.
If your plant is severely infected, it’s impossible to cure it, but you can cure a limited infection by pruning the infected leaves, changing the soil mix, and reducing the amount of water you give to your plant.
The dark lord’s leaves can turn yellow due to a number of reasons such as nutrient deficiency, extreme temperatures, under-watering, and over-watering. Check for all of these factors and treat the problem accordingly.
In some cases, the leaves also lose their rich green color when they’re kept in the shade or in a cool area. This is because they generate less chlorophyll when they don’t get enough sunlight and tend to lose their color. To fix this problem, just move the plant to a warm area that receives sufficient filtered sunlight.
Browning leaf tips
The edges and tips of the dark lord’s leaves can turn brown because of under-watering. When the plant stays thirsty for a long time, the leaves start to turn yellow before developing brown patches.
If this happens, take a look at the soil mix. If you find compact and dry lumps of soil, then change the mix and use a well-draining and airy mix instead.
So I hope the above Philodendron Dark Lord Plant Care Guide has helped you achieve the desired results for your home or office garden. Do share your own good and bad experiences in the comments below. We have in-depth plant care guides for Philodendron Micans, Brasil and the popular Birkin varieties. Make sure you check out our all these plant care guides.