How to Care for a Philodendron Dark Lord: 7 Helpful Hints

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a vigorous grower with large dark foliage that contrasts dramatically to a light and bright indoor plant collection. Whether you are searching for a plant to fill a large space or simply want to add dark coloration to your indoor garden, the Philodendron Dark Lord is an excellent choice. 

The majestic look of dark plants has increased in popularity over the years, which makes the Philodendron Dark Lord a highly sought-after plant. This cultivar can reach up to 6 feet tall (182cm), giving you more bang for your buck!

As a Philodendron lover, I always look for new and unique cultivars to add to my tropical plant collection. The Philodendron Dark Lord definitely fits the bill. The large dark foliage looks sensational on a bright white backdrop of my entertainment area. 

Caring for my Philodendron Dark Lord has been effortless over the years. Now I will give you the rundown on what to expect when you own one of these beauties.

philodendron dark lord

Table of Contents

Is Indirect Light Necessary?

hand holding dark knight philodendron white background

Unlike other indoor plants, the Philodendron Dark Lord tolerates lower light than other indoor plants. An ideal location to position your Philodendron Dark Lord is by a south-facing window that receives 6-8 hours of filtered, indirect light through a sheer curtain.

Don’t panic however if you can’t find the perfect spot because 2-3 hours of morning or evening direct sunlight won’t destroy it. In other words it will be fine if the Philodendron Dark Lord doesn’t receive peak afternoon light.

Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn. An indication of this is when the leaves start to turn yellowy-brown and brown patches will appear.

On the contrary, if the Dark Lord Philodendron doesn’t receive enough light, it will slow down the plant’s growth. Eventually it will start to grow leggy in the direction of the sun. If this happens, find a new place for your Philodendron Dark Lord and rotate the pot to even out its growth.

ariel view of philodendron dark lord

What is a Good Watering Schedule?

The Philodendron Dark Lord thrives in moist soil, so checking the soil regularly will ensure the plant is not dying out or even being overwatered. Depending on the temperature and humidity of your home, you can expect to water the Dark Lord Philodendron once to twice a week during the summer months.

To check if your Philodendron Dark Lord needs a drink, you can push your finger into the soil’s top 2 inches (5cm). It is time to water if the soil is dry and doesn’t stick to your finger. However, avoid over-watering the Dark Lord Philodendrons, as they are super sensitive to root rot. When it comes to watering time, make sure you let the excess water drain out of the pot for 10 minutes. This will make sure the plant is not sitting in waterlogged soil.

A telltale sign that you have overwatered the Philodendron Dark Lord is that the leaves will start to turn yellow and look limp and droopy. Eventually, the leaves will fall off the Dark Lord Philodendron plant, and it will die. To rescue the Philodendron Dark Lord from overwatering, try to reduce the humidity in the room and let the soil dry out completely before watering the Philodendron Dark Lord again.

close up of dew on a dark lord leaf


On the other side of the spectrum, underwatering the Philodendron Dark Lord can cause problems with your soil, too. If the soil is left too long without water for example, it can become hydrophobic, making it difficult to absorb water again later on. If this happens to your Philodendron Dark Lord, firstly you will need to sit the soil in a reservoir of water for 15 to 20 minutes until it has fully saturated the soil again.

Suppose you live in an area with heavy salt in your water for instance; try to use bottled water for your Philodendron Dark Lord. Any excess salts or compounds built up in the soil can clog up the soil and cause Philodendron Dark Lord’s roots to rot.

Balance is the key- I set a reminder on my phone or you to check my indoor plants each week- We can all be a bit forgetful sometimes!

What Soil Mix is Best?

maroon philodendron dark lord leaf with water droplets

This plant is fond of a well-draining, rich organic mix that is light and airy. The soil should have a pH range between 5-6, which is slightly acidic. You can measure the pH of your soil by using pH test strips or the level on a moisture meter. Test strips and moisture meters are available from most gardening stores and are very easy to use. Don’t stress- it sounds more sciencey than it actually is!

The potting mix you buy from the store is usually pH 7 (which is neutral) unless stated otherwise. Adding peat moss, coffee grounds, pine needles, or pine bark to the soil will maintain the pH acidity. If the acidity is too high, add a teaspoon of lime to your mix and re-test until it has reduced.

Create your own rich organic mix with the following:

  • 1-part all-purpose potting mix (main substrate)
  • 1 part peat moss, coco coir, or sphagnum moss (this chunky material will keep oxygen in the soil)
  • ½-part perlite (this helps with water retention)
  • ⅓-part orchid bark (extra chunkiness to keep oxygen in the soil)
  • ⅓-part worm tea or organic fertilizer (Added nutrients)

hand holding soil in hands

Parts can be measured with any container – a cup, pot, yogurt tub, garden trowel, etc.

It is important to avoid using loamy, clay, or sandy soils from the garden. These soils tend to compact over time which will cause stunted growth and cause the plant’s roots to rot. Feel free to add any organic compost to your mix. The Dark Lord will thrive in extra nutrients, and it will keep the plant looking beautiful.

What Temperature Does the Philodendron Like?

hand holding philodendron dark lord being attached to a tree

As the Dark Lord is native to the tropical environment of the rainforest, it thrives in year-round warm temperatures of 65-80 F (21-29C). Most tropical plants experience stress in a temperature lower than 55F (12C). So if you live in an area where the winters are colder than this, you can follow a few steps to ensure your potted plant is kept happy.

Add a heat mat under the Philodendron Dark Lord plant pot or a frost blanket to keep the soil and leaves warm. Alternatively, you can add a layer of mulch to the top of the soil to insulate it.


Fluctuations in temperature can affect the growth of the plant and when choosing the perfect position, ensure it is away from any drafty areas or heat sources. Drafty areas include frequently opening, and closing doors or windows and heat sources such as radiators.

Fan heaters and fireplaces will cause dramatic temperature changes for the Dark Lord Philodendron, which will cause stunted growth and yellowing leaves. This can potentially hinder water consumption and cause nutrient deficiency. How do you keep your PDL happy?

My Philodendron Dark Lord stands proud in the corner of my entertainment room where entryways and windows are opposite. That way, the surrounding temperature doesn’t change drastically.

philodendron dark lord in white pot in shady corner

Are There Any Tips for Fertilizer?

Fertilizing is important to keep it healthy and promote growth. Use a balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 (NPK) with micro-nutrients. Feed your Philodendron Dark Lord every four to six weeks during the growing season (spring to fall) with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half the recommended strength.

Avoid fertilizing during the dormant period (winter), as the plant will not be actively growing. Always water the plant thoroughly before fertilizing it to avoid burning the roots. If you are new to fertilizing plants, follow the fertilizer package instructions for proper application rates.

young philodendron dark lord on red stool

Over-fertilizing can cause leaf burns and can harm the plant. Correcting the soil after over-fertilizing can be a bit of a nightmare and takes a lot of flushing out or even re-potting the plant.

Try to avoid using cheaper fertilizers with all plants growing too. They tend to have heavy salts that can damage the roots and possibly kill the plant.

I always err on the side of caution with fertilizer. It’s best to apply a small amount first and see how the plant goes.

man holding philodendron dark lord outside in a park

Is High Humidity Preferred?

The perfect humidity level for the Philodendron Dark Lord is between 70-80%. When you consider the muggy rainforests of Panama and Columbia, you can understand that this is a little higher than the average household. Although this is the case, it is not unachievable.

To increase the humidity levels for the tropical plants in your home, you can follow a few simple options:

Use a Humidifier:

This is one of the most effective ways to increase humidity levels in your home. A humidifier will add moisture to the air, which can help your Philodendron Dark Lord thrive.

Group Plants Together:

Placing your Philodendron Dark Lord near other plants can increase humidity levels in its immediate area. This is because plants release moisture into the air through a process called transpiration.

grouping different plants together in white pots
Different Plants Together

Mist the Leaves:

Misting the leaves with water can also help increase humidity levels. However, be careful not to mist too much, as this can lead to leaf rot. Leaf rot is when the leaves turn yellow, start to wilt, and finally drop off.  

Use a Pebble Tray:

Place a tray of water and pebbles near your Philodendron Dark Lord. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity levels in the area around the plant. *Remember to change the water every couple of days to avoid any nasty pests!

Keep Your Philodendron Dark Lord in a Bathroom:

When you are taking a shower, the humidity levels in the bathroom will increase, therefore it will benefit your plant.

These are some signs that your Philodendron Dark Lord is experiencing low humidity:

  • Brown or crispy leaf tips– Dry air can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown or crispy, which is a sign of low humidity.
  • Drooping leaves– If your Philodendron Dark Lord’s leaves are drooping, it could be a sign that the plant is not getting enough moisture.
  • Dry soil– When the soil is dry, it can be a sign that the humidity levels in the air are low.
  • Yellowing leaves– Low humidity can cause the leaves of your Philodendron Dark Lord to yellow and wilt.
  • Slow growth– A Philodendron Dark Lord in low humidity may not grow as quickly as it should.
  • Spider mites– Low humidity can cause spider mites to appear on the leaves of your Philodendron Dark Lord.


Some signs to look out for when the humidity is too high are yellow or brown leaf spots. High humidity in turn leads to fungal or bacterial spot infections, which appear as yellow and brown spots on the leaves. 

Powdery mildew (white powdery fungal layer over the leaves) develops on the stems, leaves, and other areas of the plant, which blocks photosynthesis. It is a real challenge to control and can spread to other plants in no time at all!

Root rot due to too much moisture in the air will stop the soil from drying out and cause the roots of your Philodendron Dark Lord to rot, which can lead to wilting and yellowing of the leaves for instance.

hand holding philodendron dark lord leaf

Which Propagation Method is Recommended?

Multiplying your plant collection is priceless; plants make a great gift for your friends, family, or neighbors.

There are a couple of ways to propagate Philodendron Dark Lord, including stem cuttings and air layering.

I prefer stem-cutting just because it doesn’t affect the look of the mother plant. I will review both methods, and so you can decide which suits you:

Stem Cuttings:

  1. Take a stem cutting using a pair of clean pruning scissors and choose an area with at least one leaf node (the point where the leaves grow from the stem).
  2. Follow this up by removing the lower leaves and dip the cut end in the rooting hormone (optional).
  3. Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix, preferably the same mix as the mother plant, and ensure the leaf node is buried.
  4. Keep the soil moist and put it in a warm, shaded area near the mother plant.
  5. Once roots have formed, transfer the cutting to a larger container with proper drainage and a well-draining potting mix.

7 different pots with stem cuttings in
Stem Cuttings

Air Layering:

  1. First, choose a stem at least one-year-old with at least one leaf node.
  2. Make a small incision on the stem, about 1/4 inch deep, above the leaf node.
  3. Then apply rooting hormone to the incision.
  4. Next wrap the area with moistened sphagnum moss and then wrap it with plastic wrap to keep the moss moist.
  5. Lastly when roots have formed, which can take several weeks, cut the stem below the moss and plant the rooted stem in a pot with a well-draining potting mix.

Both methods test patience and care, as roots can take several weeks or even months to form. Keep the cutting or air layering in a shaded and warm area with high humidity, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Treat Pests Organically with Neem Oil

bamboo with neem oil leaves and fruit

Like many other plants, the Dark Lord can be susceptible to various pests and other diseases.

Here are a few to look out for:

Spider Mites:

These tiny pests can cause yellow or white spots on the leaves of the Philodendron Dark lord and can also cause the leaves to become dry and discolored. You will also notice fine webbing around your Philodendron Dark Lord plants.


The small, white fuzzy insects appear on the leaves and stems of the Philodendron Dark Lord plant. They can cause leaf discoloration and wilt.

Scale Insects:

These pests appear as small, brown, or gray bumps on the leaves and stems of the Philodendron Dark Lord plant. They can cause leaves to discolor and wilt.

Root Rot:

This occurs if the plant is overwatered or if the soil does not have good drainage. Symptoms include yellowing and wilting of leaves and a mushy or rotten smell coming from the soil.

Leaf Spot:

This fungal or bacterial infection causes small, dark spots on Philodendron Dark Lord’s leaves.

Powdery Mildew:

This fungal disease causes a white, powdery coating on the plant’s leaves and stems.

Erwinia Blight Disease:

Erwinia Blight disease is a form of bacterial infection due to overwatering. The leaves appear to have a wet clear look to them with mushy lesions. The infection spreads rapidly, and the infected leaves should be removed to control the infection.

an example of erwinia blight disease on a tomato leaf

To prevent and treat these problems, ensure the plant has proper drainage, avoid over-watering and keep the humidity level around 60-70%.

You can treat pests and diseases by using a neem oil and soap solution. Mix one teaspoon of neem oil with four drops of dishwashing soap into 1 liter of water. Apply the foliar spray once a week, and you will disturb the little critters. In turn they will find somewhere else to live.

About the Philodendron Dark Lord

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a variety of the Imperial Red Philodendron erubescens and originates from the tropical canopies of the Panama and Colombian forests. It has grown in areas such as Northern Africa, the Philippines, and Seychelles.

Being a member of the Araceae plant family, it in fact has over 3500 relatives and is known to grow faster than its cousins. Other names you might stumble across when looking for this plant are Dark Knight Philodendron (which sounds like something from a batman movie!), Dark Lord Plant, and Pink Dark Philodendron for example.

Reaching a staggering 6 feet tall (182cm), this potted plant grows upright and can easily fill an empty space when indoors. The leaves of the Philodendron Dark Lord start from a deep orange to bright red. Over time it subsequently evolves into a deep dark green with a maroon underside.

The dark green leaves themselves are arrow-shaped and can reach a diameter of 2 inches (5cm) and a length of 18-22 inches (45-55cm). Although this rare tropical plant can hold its weight when standing upright, you will need to maintain its stability by giving it a climbing pole.

FAQ About the Philodendron Dark Lord

Is Philodendron Dark Lord rare?

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a rare plant within the Philodendron family and is recognized by its dark, almost black leaves. 

Is Philodendron Dark Lord a climber?

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a climbing plant that sends out long trailing vines. The aerial roots along the stems attach to structures and can reach several feet in length. 

What is the rarest Philodendron?

Philodendron Spiritus Sancti is a rare and highly sought-after hybrid with large, glossy leaves that are dark green with silver-white veins. It’s considered one of the most unique Philodendrons due to its unusual leaf shape.

What is the darkest Philodendron?

The Philodendron Dark Lord is regarded as one of the darkest Philodendrons. Known for its large dark glossy leaves, it is highly desirable among enthusiasts and collectors who love dark plants. 

Add Dramatic Contrast with the Philodendron Dark Lord 

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a Dark Lord you can make a spectacular feature in your home. In addition the dark coloration paired with this plant’s sizable leaves and staggering height creates a dramatic statement.

The Philodendron Dark Lord is adaptable to varying indirect light, giving the plant owner options when choosing the perfect spot. Although you may need to rearrange a new space in your home to situate this towering plant, the overall look it creates is second to none!

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Photo of author
Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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