Philodendron El Choco Red Care Made Simple! (Guide)

El choco red is a stunning addition to the philodendron family! This plant is well-known for having wide, textured leaves with velvety green tops and a vibrant red pigment on the underside. Talk about the best of both worlds! 

The philodendron el choco red is found in Columbia and Ecuador, particularly the Choco region of Colombia – hence the name!

This gorgeous plant is an epiphyte, also known as a plant that can grow from another plant or “host” without being parasitic. While it has tropical origins, it is a popular houseplant all over the world.

They are a relatively rare find in the plant world, so make sure you treat yours with love and care!

Follow everything to learn everything you need to know about caring for your lovely philodendron el choco red.

Caring For Your Philodendron El Choco Red

Like the rest of the philodendron family, the el choco red is a hearty plant that can flourish with the right conditions.

They will fit into and brighten up pretty much any space! However, while they are stubborn and strong plants there are still conditions and rules of care to follow if you really want them to shine.

The best thing you can do is research, research, research! After all, that’s why you’re here! Let’s go over all the different aspects of philodendron el choco red care to get you started.

Light

Since the philodendron el choco red comes from a semi-shaded area of the jungle, it will function best in your household with indirect sunlight.

Extended periods of time in the direct sunlight will make them wither and lose their color, and too much shade can stunt their growth. Don’t worry; finding indirect sunlight is not as hard as it sounds.

Our eyes are not the best judges of the amount of light in a room. Instead of eyeballing it, consider using a light meter to measure the amount of sunlight in a room.

Light meters measure in foot-candles, shortened to FCs. An ideal amount of indirect sunlight would be a room with about 400 FCs.

If you have an east-facing window, it would be the perfect resting place for this plant.

A few hours of direct sunlight from the rising sun followed by indirect sunlight for the rest of the day would be an ideal amount for the philodendron el choco red.

If you plan on keeping your plant outside, try to find a similarly shaded area that offers protection from the hottest hours of the day.

Soil and Mixture Type

Soil is one of the most important aspects of plant growth, and the right mixture of soil can make a huge difference.

The best soil for this plant would drain quickly to prevent root rot without losing moisture. Aroid soil, available at most stores, is a good example of the best type of soil.

Here is a good mixture recipe to look out for, whether you are buying soil or making it yourself:

  • 30% standard potting soil
  • 30% perlite for moisture
  • 30% orchard bark for drainage
  • 10% charcoal for root growth

Water

Philodendrons can be a bit of a diva when it comes to water. They need to drain water without losing moisture, and over or under watering can be dangerous.

For the el choco red, watering once a week is the recommended schedule. This can be increased to two or three times a week in warmer weather and once every few weeks in colder weather.

Proper watering is incredibly important. The philodendron el choco red draws in water from the soil and not from the leaves.

Don’t water from over the plant, but down directly onto the soil, dampening the entire area. You can use a moisture meter to determine when the soil is dry, or simply check about a third of the way into the soil for dryness.

Check for water coming through the drainage holes during the process to make sure water is going through all layers of soil!

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

As a tropical plant, philodendrons love the heat and humidity! Try to keep the temperature above at least 68°F (20°C) at all times, with an ideal temperature being around 75°F (24°C).

You should also be aware of outdoor temperatures if you want your plants to be outside.

As far as humidity, the higher the better! Humidity levels of about 60% will be the ideal range, going no lower 40%.

If you’re wondering how to increase humidity, try buying a humidifier to help this plant thrive! Grouping plants together also raises humidity, so your philodendron will fit in perfectly with other plants around the apartment.

Some people may recommend misting as a way to increase humidity, but be careful. Fungal or bacterial infections can come from overmisting since circulation inside a house is fairly stagnant.

Fertilizer

Ah, fertilizer! Great for plants, occasionally annoying for people. For the philodendron el choco red, fertilizers that are rich in nutrients will increase growth like you won’t believe!

You’ll want a fertilizer with a combination of the following nutrients:

  • Potassium
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur

The first three are the most important. Fertilizers such as EarthPod, Indoor Plant Food, and the aptly named Philodendron Fertilizer are easily available on Amazon and rich in nutrients.

In the summer when growth is maximized, fertilizing with every other watering is recommended. In slower months like winter, it is only needed once a month at most.

Growth

The philodendron el choco red is a very good grower! Summer and spring are peak growing seasons, and this plant can sprout a new leaf and grow a few centimeters every 2-3 weeks! This is a fast growth rate in the warmer months before slowing down to crawl in the colder seasons.

Philodendrons tend to grow vertically and climb, so something for it to latch onto will prevent the vines from creeping across the floor.

If you’re truly hoping to nurture fantastic growth, you’re in luck! Mature philodendron el choco reds can grow up to at least 3 feet or 90 centimeters!

Propagating

The el choco red is a quick settler and can put down roots just about anywhere! This makes it ideal for propagating.

Here are some steps to propagate your philodendron el choco red using stem-cutting, which is the most common method.

  1. Select where on the plant you want to make your cut. Choose an area with at least one node.
  2. Make the cut with a small, pre-disinfected knife. This prevents contamination.
  3. Clean the cut area of the plant and set it aside. It’s job is done!
  4. Place the cut stem in a plastic bag or container filled with soil. Perlite or sphagnum moss are good choices.
  5. If possible, stick the container over a heat mat in a room with plenty of humidity.

After that, all you need to do is wait! It can take up to 4 weeks for new sprouts to begin.

Repotting

Though you won’t see them often, the philodendron el choco red has fantastic red roots that will grow fast as long as certain conditions are met. This means it takes little effort to repot!

Typically, you will be repotting about once a year. The prime growing season is in the summer, so after the seasons change you’ll be free to repot until next year.

You’ll notice that it is time to repot if roots are poking out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the current pot. This is a clear sign the plant has outgrown its home and is ready for a new one!

Try to find a new pot that is only one size up, maybe a few inches deeper and wider. A large pot could be bad for the roots.

Pruning

One reason so many love philodendrons: little to no pruning is needed! The exception is if you notice any leaves or stems beginning to wither, change color, or otherwise show signs of disease that means they will need to be pruned away.

In addition, if you notice any wayward vines or leaves growing out of the pot and into undesired areas they can easily be pruned back.

The philodendron el choco red is definitely a grower, so growing sticks and vertical grasps are a great way to channel those vines up instead of out.

This keeps the plant within its space without limiting it’s growth.

Plant Toxicity

All philodendrons (not just the el choco red) can be toxic to humans and animals if they are consumed.

This is definitely a plant that should be kept out of the reach of small children and pets. As long as the plant is not eaten or otherwise ingested, there is no danger.

Accidental consumption of a philodendron can be risky for children, but adults will often not see harsh side effects.

Common symptoms include swelling of the mouth as well as nausea and vomiting. If any family member or pet ingests part of the philodendron, make sure to get cleared by a professional.

Common Issues To Be Aware Of

Q. Why are the leaves turning yellow?

If you notice recent leaves on your plant becoming yellow, you are most likely overwatering. Try adjusting your routine and water amount and see if the problem subsides. Older leaves near the bottom may also yellow and fall off naturally.

Q. Why are the leaf edges turning brown?

Brown leaves and curling edges are classic signs of underwatering. Increasing the water intake and humidity should solve the issues.

Q. Why are the Leaves Drooping?

Drooping leaves can be possible signs of both under and overwatering. You’ll need to check the soil for excessive dryness or moisture to be sure.

Pests and Diseases

This plant is very resistant to pests, but there are always some that slip through the cracks.

Here’s the best way to tackle common pests.

  • Mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids are insects drawn to the sap of philodendrons. They are small and white. Washing the leaves gently with soapy water or rubbing alcohol is an efficient way to get rid of them
  • Root rot is a huge issue and can be deadly for plants. The rot spreads quickly through a root system, so it is vital that your soil drains well. Check the drainage holes to make sure!
  • Erwinia leaf spot is noticed by the tiny spots that appear on leaves. The best thing to do is remove or cut away the infected areas and check the soil for root issues.
  • Powdery mildew is a fungus that can grow on plants. You can treat the infected areas with a baking soda solution or prune them away. A mixture of potassium bicarbonate will also help heal infected areas.

FAQs – Care Questions Answered

Are philodendron el choco red rare?

In the houseplant world, the philodendron el choco red is indeed rare. This is because it is native to only a few countries. Luckily, it is not endangered and so can be found and bought despite the rarity.

Where can I find or buy a philodendron el choco red?

International nurseries often have these unique plants and can ship them to you. Do some research and find nurseries or greenhouses in your area with philodendrons, and chances are they will have or can procure an el choco red.

How much do they cost on average?

Due to their rarity and special coloring, they are a bit more expensive than most. The typical price for one of these plants will be between $100-$200 dollars. Fully grown plants in their prime can retail for even higher.

Philodendron El Choco Red versus Philodendron Verrucosum – What’s the Difference?

The philodendron el choco red and the philodendron verrucosum are indeed similar in size and coloring. However, the el choco red has a more vibrant pigment.

The verrucosum also has small hairy petioles on the leaves. In addition, the el choco reds are usually bigger and climb as opposed to creep.

Does the philodendron el choco red climb?

Yes, this plant is a climber! The leaves and vines will grow upwards and will work best with a special totem or growing stick to grasp.

If cared for properly, it is truly a sight to behold! These vibrant plants are definitely something you don’t see everyday.

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