The Philodendron Imperial Green (scientific name: Philodendron Erubescens ‘Imperial Green’) has waxy green leaves that fan out from a central stem.
Kept indoors, the Philodendron Imperial Green reaches about 30-35 inches (0.8-0.9 meters) tall.
We’ll be honest – this plant isn’t particularly eye-catching or dramatic. It’s a simple plant with lush green leaves. But given that it is SO EASY to care for and is honestly very low-maintenance… why not give it a go?
- They are suited to indoor temperatures and can tolerate dry spells.
- Avoid drafts – temperature fluctuations are not good!
- Water only when the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry.
- Bright indirect light, with a few hours of morning or evening light, is ideal.
- Do not mist. Bacterial Leaf spot, caused by wet foliage, is a common disease that plagues Philodendron Imperial Greens.
- Do note that this Philodendron is toxic when ingested by pets and children. So place it on top of a high shelf if you need to!
Caring for your Philodendron Imperial Green
The Philodendron Imperial Green isn’t too demanding about light levels. Like many houseplants, it does best in bright, indirect light for most of the day. Some (up to 3 hours) of direct light is beneficial too, but don’t go overboard. 🙂
Too much sunlight results in damaged leaves.
Personally, we like placing our Imperial Green next to an East-facing window. Here, it receives some direct morning light and indirect light for the rest of the day.
It’s also a good idea to rotate your plant for even growth. We’ve found that the stems like to lean heavily towards the light source… so rotate your Imperial Green for that round, bushy look!
The Philodendron Imperial Green is well-adapted to store water efficiently in those thick stems and waxy leaves (called cuticles). The waxy covering reduces water loss from its leaf surfaces, and funnels rainwater down to the soil level to be absorbed.
As a result of such adaptations, you’ll notice that your plant needs less water than many others.
The Soak and Dry Watering method is the way to go:
- Using your fingers, check that the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry before watering. Around your first finger knuckle is a good gauge.
- If the soil is dry to the touch, you should water your plant. If not, don’t water!
- Water deeply and slowly until the soil is saturated and excess water starts escaping from the drainage hole. Soaking thoroughly in this fashion nourishes roots deep in the soil.
- Be sure to empty the saucer so that roots are never left sitting in a pool of stagnant water.
- Hold off from watering again until your plant’s topsoil is dry again.
Since watering is a crucial aspect of care, take time to observe your plant for “feedback.”
- Curling leaves and brown leaf tips indicate that your plant needs watering.
- Soft stems, yellowed and droopy leaves usually indicate overwatering.
Avoid Wet Foliage
Though your Philodendron Imperial Green is generally a low-maintenance and happy-go-lucky plant, one area to be careful with is its susceptibility to bacterial leaf spots and blights.
The cause of spots and blights is bacteria, which tends to breed on wet leaves and starts to infect the plant.
So, to avoid this, there are 2 important things to note:
- Do not mist this plant! If you want to increase humidity, please just use a humidifier.
- Use a long-spouted watering can when watering. Water at the base of the plant, near soil level, to avoid wetting the leaves.
Make sure you have a sufficiently deep container so that roots can grow deep. Deep roots ensure your plant is sturdy and enable nutrients and water to be drawn through the plant.
Starting with around 10 inches (25 cm) deep is a good gauge for a small rootball.
The Philodendron Imperial Green also tends to have thick, heavy, and numerous leaves. Being top-heavy, choose a heavier pot (Terracotta pots are a good idea) with some bulk to it to avoid toppling over!
As with most tropical plants, the higher the humidity, the better. They live in rainforests where moisture levels in the air can exceed 90%!
For the lushest variegation, humidity >60% is ideal. You’ll also notice more aerial roots form at these levels.
Having said that, though, your hardy plant can tolerate average room humidity thanks to its waxy leaves. So don’t fret if you don’t have a humidifier. It’s definitely a nice to have, but not a requirement.
If you are in the market for a humidifier, this is our favorite. It is quiet, has a high capacity, and has easy %humidity settings that make it so easy to use.
Stable and warm indoor temperatures are ideal for your Philodendron Imperial Green. Keeping temperatures between 65-85 degrees F (18-29 degrees C) is ideal. Remember, your plant is tropical… it is not at all cold-hardy!
Dips below 55 degrees F (12 degrees C) causes growth to slow. Extended periods in the cold will cause drooping and wilting… and will eventually kill your plant.
Importantly – keep away from air vents and cold drafts! Dark patches on leaves result from cold drafts, even if your plant was only exposed for an hour or two. Philodendron Imperial Greens are really sensitive in this way.
Dark patches cannot heal, so you’ll need to trim off the damaged leaves and relocate your plant to a warm spot, protected from winds and drafts.
Philodendron Imperial Greens aren’t exactly fast growers, but they aren’t slow either. Growing upright, you can expect your Philodendron Imperial Green to grow up to 30-35 inches (0.8-0.9 meters) tall and about 15 inches (0.4 meters) wide.
Being a tropical evergreen, you can enjoy its leaves year-round…. as long as you place it in stable indoor temperatures!
Being self-heading, leaves grow very closely together. From the top view, the plant forms a rosette. 😊
Flowers are non-showy on your plant. They form inflorescences – a spathe and spadix, along which will grow tiny, numerous flowers. Chop them off if you wish. This allows your plant to focus its energy on new growth.
Soil or Growing Medium
We like using a simple mix of:
- 1 part indoor potting mix
- 1 part succulent potting mix
- 1 part coco coir
The succulent potting mix improves the drainage qualities of the indoor potting mix. Coco coir lightens the mix whilst still retaining some moisture.
Overall, we find this creates a well-draining mix that our Philodendron Imperial Green approves of!
When it comes to fertilizing, a little goes a long way.
- Apply a dilute solution of Dyna-Gro Grow during the spring and summer growing months.
- Add ¼ teaspoon for every 1 gallon.
- Use this every time you water so that your plant receives a steady stream of nutrients.
- Hold off fertilizing in the fall and winter months.
If you prefer an organic option, worm castings are also a great choice. Apply a thin layer, around a quarter of an inch or 0.6 cm, to your pot at the start of Spring.
Being ever the low maintenance plant, your Imperial Green doesn’t need much repotting.
Expect to need to repot once every 2-3 years. Of course, you’ll want to watch out for symptoms of being root bound first and foremost to know that repotting is in order.
They are tolerant of being slightly root-bound, so you can take your time.
- Water the day before repotting. This reduces transplant shock.
- Place your plant on its side.
- Using your fingers, gently work through any compacted soil to loosen your plant. Wriggle your plant free from its pot.
- Prepare fresh soil and a new pot that is just 2 inches (5 cm) larger. Choose a pot with drainage holes, always.
- Re-plant in its new home.
Wiping Down Leaves
Your heavily foliaged plant has thick leaves that we all love! But unfortunately dust easily settles in this foliage…! Dust prevents your plant from photosynthesizing effectively.
We like to apply a dilute solution of neem oil to wipe away dust and grime and, at the same time, ward away pests. Do this every week or two. It’s also a good opportunity to inspect your plant for any pests or diseases, particularly Bacterial Leaf Spot or Leaf Blight (see below for details).
Another plus is that the leaves turn out nice and shiny 🙂
Unfortunately, the Philodendron Imperial Green is toxic when ingested by pets and humans. This is due to calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin burns, vomiting, and nausea.
We like keeping ours on top of a bookshelf, out of reach when my mom’s dog comes over.
Propagation is a little tricky with the Philodendron Imperial Green. Unlike other climbing Philodendrons, they have nodes that are very close to each other, making it difficult to make a stem cutting.
Tissue culture and seed cultivation are methods used by commercial growers, but are not easily done at home.
For us home growers, propagation through plantlets is the easiest option. However,
- This can only be done only when you spot plantlets growing at the base of the stem of a mature plant.
- Do propagate only in Spring – this dramatically increases the chance of success.
If you have a young plant, you’ll have to wait!
Propagation through Plantlets
In this method, we’ll encourage plantlet’s aerial roots to grow into damp sphagunm moss, while still being attached to the mother plant.
Once the roots are established, we’ll cut off the plantlet from the parent and repot it.
Part #1: Air Layering your Philodendron Imperial Green
- Look for plantlets at the base of the plant, near the stem.
- Prepare a clean blade, clear cling wrap, sphagnum moss, and garden ties.
- Make small holes in the cling wrap, and lightly wet the sphagnum moss.
- Place the sphagnum moss on top of the cling wrap.
- Identify small aerial roots at the base of the plantlet.
- Now using the blade, make a cut around 1/16 inch (2mm) deep, under the node where you want your plantlet to root.
- Wrap the sphagnum moss and cling wrap onto the incision such that only the moss is in direct contact with the incision. The cling wrap is to secure the moss in place.
- Use gardening ties to lightly secure the cling wrap and moss in place so that it doesn’t fall off.
- Keep the sphagnum moss evenly damp, watering through the holes in the cling wrap.
- In a few weeks, you should see the aerial root growing through the moss.
Part #2: Separate the Plantlet from the Mother Plant
- When the roots are about 1 inch (2.5cm) long, it’s time to separate the plantlet from the mother plant.
- Use a clean blade to cut the plantlet below the aerial root to separate it from the mother plant.
- Re-plant the rooted plantlet into potting soil.
- Keep the plant in the shade for about a month until the roots are well-established.
- Treat as you would any other Philodendron Imperial Green.
Your plant doesn’t need much pruning but trim off any diseased or yellow leaves.
This helps your plant focus on new growth.
Common Pests and Diseases
The Philodendron Imperial Green is bred to be a pest-resistant variety, so pests are not usually a big issue.
Of course, no plant is immune from the occasional infestation. If one does occur, the chances are that they are from mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, or fungus ghats.
That’s why we recommend applying a dilute neem oil solution when you wipe down those leaves. This kills off and wards away these pests!
Yellowish, brown or copper-colored spots on leaf edges: Leaf Blight or Leaf Spot Disease
Something you definitely need to look out for is the Leaf Blight of Leaf Spot disease. These may present as:
- An irregular spot or two on the edge of the leaves that quickly multiply;
- Translucent spots with a yellow, brown or copper-colored halos;
- Water-soaked legions;
- You may also notice a foul smell.
These are signs of Erwinia Blight or a related Leaf Spot bacterial disease. Such diseases are mainly caused due to overhead watering, according to PennState University.
Bacteria thrive in warm, humid, moist environments that don’t have good air circulation. So,
- Keeping foliage dry is important. Do not mist!
- When wiping the leaves, wipe dry after using a damp cloth.
- Don’t overwater!
It’s important to be aware of this bacteria ASAP, as they can overcome your plant in a matter of days.
- Quarantine your plant away from all other houseplants.
- Diseased foliage cannot heal, so the best option is to use sterilized garden shears to trim off the diseased portions to avoid further spread.
- Importantly, sterilize your garden shears with 70% isopropyl solution, and sterilize again afterward. The last thing you want is your dirty garden tools to contaminate other plants!
- It will likely take a few months for your plant to recover. Ensure you follow the care guide to give your plant the best growing conditions for survival.
Yellow leaves most commonly indicate an overwatered plant. However, if you’ve just brought a new plant home, acclimatization can also produce yellowing leaves (in this case, just leave it be and it will adjust).
- Check that you’re only watering when the top 2 inches of soil is dry. Though it’s tempting to water your plant more frequently, resist!
- Make sure your potting soil is well-draining. But you also need a mix that retains some moisture or else you’ll run into other issues. We like using 1/3 indoor potting mix, 1/3 succulent mix and 1/3 coco coir.
If you have an overwatered plant on hand, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to rescue it before root rot takes hold.
Curling Leaves with Brown crispy edges
This is a sign of a lack of moisture – either from underwatering or from too-dry air. Soil that is compacted and cakey confirms that the problem is underwatering.
Using a humidifier is the easiest way to solve too-dry air.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Philodendron Imperial Green Climb?
The Philodendron Imperial Green doesn’t readily climb. They are a self-heading and non-vining species. They grow upright!
You don’t need a moss pole.
Where can I buy a Philodendron Imperial Green?
Being quite a less common plant, you’ll likely need to look online to get your hands on one! We like looking for rare plants on Etsy.
Other easy-going Philodendrons
- Philodendron Warscewiczii – known as the snowflake Philodendron for its snowflake-shaped mature leaves.
- Philodendron Giganteum Variegata – a very large leafed, climbing Philodendron with marbled cream variegation.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.