The Philodendron Imperial Green is a gorgeous self-heading variety from the Araceae family. Unlike climbing vine varieties, the Imperial Green grows upright, producing a spectacular display of broad, glossy-green leaves.
If you’re wondering where you’ve seen this plant before, it’s likely you’ve already spotted a philodendron imperial red. The green variety is extremely similar, so similar in fact, it has the same care requirements.
If you can’t locate an Imperial Green at your local nursery or greenhouse, there is a large online plant market, with many vendors specializing specifically in Philodendron varieties.
Whether you’re planning for a future purchase or simply want to learn about your new addition, you’ll find all the information needed for optimal care. Let’s dive right in.
In this complete care guide, you’ll discover:
- Your plant’s history & natural habitat
- True light & watering requirements
- Which soil mixture to use
- How & when to fertilize
- Humidity & temperature needs
- Propagation technique
- Common pests & diseases
- Troubleshooting – what’s wrong?
A Brief Look at The Philodendron Imperial Green’s History & Origin
Although the species was first notably discovered in Florida in 1977, it’s widely believed that the philodendron imperial green is a cultivated variety of Philodendron Erubescens, from Columbia. The first known sample of the Erubescens dates as far back as 1854!
Naturally sheltered from the jungle canopy, the imperial green thrives in warm, humid climates. In the wild, you’ll find this beauty growing near river banks, on the side of rocks and potentially even climbing.
Fun fact! Even though this plant is self-heading, in the wild, it will eventually become a fully epiphytic species, meaning it completely detaches its roots from the ground and slowly creeps up a nearby tree in search of more sunlight.
Philodendron Imperial Green Care Guide (A-Z)
You’ll be glad to know that keeping a Philodendron Imperial Green isn’t difficult! There are far more ‘picky’ and ‘demanding’ plants out there to have in your collection.
The key to discovering what your plant really wants is to take notes on how it grows in its natural environment; in this case, the dense canopy of a tropical jungle, and try to mimic that as much as humanly possible.
Like most Philodendrons, the Imperial Green prefers moderate to bright, indirect light. Although philodendrons are prized for being robust and tolerant of many different environments, very quickly adjusting to shady or direct light for short periods, it’s important to not overdo one or the other.
Too much direct sun exposure (especially the blazing afternoon kind) can result in burnt leaves, whereas not enough sunlight may result in stunted growth, overwatering and dreaded root rot.
How Much Light Does My Imperial Green Really Need?
You might have been told that there’s no possible way to measure light, but there is. A light meter measures the overall intensity of room light in foot candles (FC).
For good growth, you’ll want to keep your philodendron imperial green (along with any other self-heading varieties) in 400-600FC.
200FC is the absolute minimum, anything less than this and you’ll see severely stunted growth, not to mention have a miserable plant on your hands.
Fun Fact! Nurseries grow self-heading philodendrons like the imperial green under 1500 to 2500 foot-candles beneath a shaded cloth. This just shows how vague the term bright, indirect light truly is.
How Bright is 400-600FC?
Probably much brighter than you think! That shady corner you’ve got that only sees a sliver of sunlight a few hours a day isn’t it. To find that sweet spot, you’re likely looking at somewhere relatively close to a window.
The Major Sign Your Plant Isn’t Getting Enough Light (!)
If it’s been a few months since your Philodendron Imperial Green has sprouted a new leaf, it’s time to find them a comfier, brighter spot in your home. Place your plant near a window that receives a lot of light during the day, but where they won’t be in direct light all day long.
I’ve Been Told This Plant Hates Direct Sun (Absolutely Loathes It)
No plant loathes the sun. It’s the plant’s food provider! Despite what you’ve been told, it’s not a hard and fast rule to keep philodendrons in strict indirect light.
1-2 hours of cool morning or late evening sun can do wonders for promoting more of that beautiful, glossy foliage growth. Problems only crop up when your plant is kept in direct sunlight for hours on end. If you don’t do that, you’re good.
Soil and Substrate
The Philodendron Imperial Green thrives in a well-draining substrate that can also hold moisture. Yes, you read that right. Philodendrons are tropical plants, and so need that moisture; they just don’t like to left sitting it a soggy mess all day everyday.
Ideal Soil Mix For the Philodendron Imperial Green
Mix a premium potting soil or coco coir (my preference) with perlite, orchid bark, activated charcoal and worm castings. If you love mixing your own soils, try this formula:
- 40% coco coir
- 20% orchid bark
- 10% perlite
- 10% worm castings
- 10% pumice (optional – add another 10% perlite if taken out)
- 10% activated charcoal
Or, support a local planty business and grab yourself a pre-made bag of aroid, philodendron or monstera mix.
Friendly Tip: That cacti/succulent mix you’ve got? Don’t pot in that unless you want to be watering your plant every 2 days. It’s way too dry for your philos. Succulents and cacti hold water in their bulbous leaves so can cope with a much drier mix, philodendrons however, don’t.
If you have provided your plant with the right amount of sun and the proper substrate mix, the plants’ water demand should be minimal. Coco coir and potting soil hold a decent amount of moisture. There is no need to water your plant until the top 1-2 inches of soil have begun to dry out.
How to Tell When Your Planty Friend Needs Watering
What I do and recommend is to use a bamboo chopstick or a small piece of wood, dig it into the soil, a good few inches deep, and leave it for 1-6 hours. This has 100% saved me from overwatering my plants! It’s super easy, stick in and done.
Once that time has passed, remove the stick and observe what you notice. You’ll likely notice a gradual change in the stick’s color.
- The top will be lighter and drier with no soil stuck to it.
- The middle of the stick darker (= moist soil).
- The bottom of the stick will be very dark and will have soil clinging to it (= wet soil).
Only water when the middle layer is showing signs of drying out. If the entire stick is dry, you’ve got a very dry philo on your hands, not to mention possibly compacted soil. The soil might need changing before you attempt to water again.
Just like with watering, less is more. While using fertilizer is vital to growing a strong Philodendron Imperial Green, a conservative schedule is ideal. For best results, fertilize your plant 2-3 times throughout the spring and summer seasons, every 4-6 weeks or so.
During these seasons, I fertilize my plants every time they need watering. This mimics how they naturally feed in the wild.
To do this, I dilute 1/4 or 1/2 half a teaspoon of premium liquid fertilizer (I use 7-9-5NPK Dyna Gro) with 1 gallon of water (4.5 litres). In the autumn and winter, I cut down on both waterings and feedings, so they compliment each other nicely.
Since the Philodendron Imperial Green originates from a hot humid climate, the plant will achieve optimal health and growth in that setting.
However, the plant is quite resilient in terms of temperature. As long as your home maintains a temperature between 60-85°F (16-30°C), it will be pretty happy.
Once the temperature drops below 60°F (16°C) you run the risk of stunted growth and cold damage, so it’s important to be mindful of drafts.
The Imperial Green is also tolerant when it comes to the humidity in their environment. Although they prefer more moisture in the air, they adapt well to drier conditions.
If you want to create optimal conditions for your Philodendron Imperial Green, aim for 40-60% humidity, minimum. 70-90% is fantastic and you’ll see larger leaves because of it, but this is usually only achieved in plant rooms or conservatories where lots of plants are grouped together.
A small hygrometer can help you determine the humidity level if you want precision.
How Can I Boost Humidity Levels in My Home?
If you find your home is on the drier side, there are a few things you can do to help boost the humidity around your plants.
A quick fix is to keep your plants grouped together. This helps to increase transpiration and evaporation in the immediate area.
You can also move them to a more humid space, like your laundry room or bathroom (if there’s enough light), or introduce a humidifier.
Rate of Growth – What to Expect
The Philodendron Imperial Green has a moderate growth rate when it is provided with the best possible conditions. If you notice your plant has not produced new leaves for a few months, it’s likely due to a lack of lighting. Generally, it takes the Imperial Green about 10 years to reach full maturity.
As the Philodendron Imperial Green grows in height, its leaves slowly drop to the sides exposing the sturdy stem beneath. Once the plant reaches full maturity, you can expect its large, broad leaves to reach a spread of up to 3 feet (90cm) wide with a maximum height of around 3-4 feet (90cm-120cm).
Pruning – Should I Prune This Plant?
The only time you should prune your Philodendron Imperial Green is when there are diseased or damaged leaves present. Unlike vining varieties, this self-heading beauty doesn’t grow out of control if not tended to regularly.
If there are severely yellowed or dying leaves, use a pair of sterilized clippers to carefully remove the leaf at the lowest part of the stem possible, without affecting others nearby.
Propagation – A Simple How to Method
Propagating the Philodendron Imperial Green can be a challenge for newer hobbyists. The best way to propagate the plant is with a stem cutting, which to be successful, must contain a node. A node is where you’ll see those lovely aerial roots sprouting from.
However, because of the density of leaf growth in immature plants, it’s difficult to clip a stem that contains a node. Often it’s much easier to do once the plant has matured and the leaves have dropped and become more spaced out. It requires a bit of patience!
Propagated stem cuttings can be directly planted in soil, however, there is often more success when you ‘root’ clippings first. To do this, you’ll want to place the clipping in a glass of unchlorinated water near a window that receives lots of bright, indirect light until the roots reach 2-3-inches long.
The warmer the room and the higher the humidity, the better – clippings need a little more care than their established counterparts.
A fair warning, there’s still a 20% chance the clipping won’t survive with this method, which is why expert horticulturists result to cultivating the philodendron imperial green with tissue samples.
Due to its moderate growth rate, the Imperial Green rarely needs to be repotted. In fact, the plant is resilient to becoming rootbound, and since early potting can cause more damage than good, it’s suggested to wait until the philo is snug in its pot before uprooting.
Repot it in a pot that is max 1-2 inches bigger in size. It’s best not to go too big, as it can potentially lead to overwatering with more soil being able to hold more moisture.
Pest Problems – Are They Common With This Plant?
Although it’s uncommon for the Philodendron Imperial Green to have issues with pests, it’s still important to keep watch for them (they are easily transferable!).
Spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids, and scale are the main residents that may make your plant their new home. It may be difficult to see the pest itself as most of these are smaller than the tip of a pen, but you can look out for tell-tale signs, such as holes in leaves and irregular yellow spotting.
If you notice pests or signs they’re present, immediately quarantine your plant from others to prevent spreading. You can wipe or shower your plant to rid it of pests, but it may need more diligent treatment, like horticultural soap, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted neem oil.
To help you spot mild pest infestations early, be sure to regularly remove any dust from the leaves of your Philodendron Imperial Green with a damp cloth.
Disease and Distress
Unfortunately, the most common issue Philodendron Imperial Green owners run into is a result of their own hand. If you are noticing the leaves of your plant are turning yellow, you’ve likely been overwatering. Overwatering is always the first suspect to check for, especially if you’re a beginner.
If you don’t feel you’re overwatering your plant, the problem could lie in the size of the pot, the amount of light it’s receiving, or the type of soil and substrate used.
Be sure your Imperial Green has plenty of drainage and never sits too long in water. Along with yellowing leaves, overwatering can cause root rot in your plant. Reassess your plants living conditions if you suspect root rot, ensuring there is plenty of aeration.
Just Brought Your Plant Home? Read This
Overwatering may not always be to blame for yellowing leaves, however, so be sure to investigate. If you’ve just brought your new plant home and feel it has everything it needs but still the leaves are turning, it’s likely due to shock.
Every plant will go through some form of shock as it readjusts to its new living environment. This can mean drooping stems, stunted growth and even full loss of leaves.
It’s the equivalent of us going on holiday somewhere exotic and warm, only then to return home to a much, much colder and darker environment. We need time to readjust.
With proper care, some love and affection, your plant should resume healthy growth in no time.
When growing Philodendron Imperial Green in your home, it’s extremely important to be aware that this plant is toxic.
If ingested, it may cause swelling of the mouth, tongue, stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Keep your plant in a spot that is out of reach from children and pets.
Help! What’s Wrong With My Philodendron?
Q. I Think I’ve Overwatered My Plant. What Should I Do?
Just to clarify, overwatering isn’t a one-time scenario where you use a lot of water to water your plant. If you’ve got well-draining soil mixture, doing this once or twice is okay as long as you’re seeing water drain out into a saucer and then hold off on watering for a while.
True overwatering is a long-term problem caused by many factors such as poor soil aeration, chronic underwatering combined with chronic overwatering and watering too frequently.
If you’ve truely overwatered your plant, you’ll notice yellowing leaves, a pungent smell emitting from the lower layers of soil and root rot. With root rot, roots look black rather than a healthy white and will give off a bad smell.
The best and quickest way to fix this problem is to simply replace the soil so your philodendron imperial green isn’t sitting in boggy soil. Secondly, you’ll want to revisit your soil mixture and watering schedule to see what needs tweaking.
Q. My Philodendron’s Leaves Are Pale and Losing Color. What’s Wrong?
Winter frosts or cooler temperatures can cause a pale color to show up on lower leaves first. Sometimes, you’ll spot black dots or speckles too. Remember, this plant is tropical so what seems ‘warm’ to you, might be a little on the lower side for your plant.
Another cause for pale leaves is excessively high light levels (i.e. too much direct sun) where leaves become bleached or washed out. Low nutrition can also cause the same issue – if a plant isn’t receiving enough magnesium or calcium, it can lose its signature green colouring. If you’re interested in the science behind plants, this is a condition known as chlorosis.
By changing at least one of the factors above, you’ll see new growth bloom that glistening emerald green again. Old leaves already affected likely won’t revert back, so it may be best to prune them.
Q. My Philodendron Has a Very Open and Leggy Appearance. What Can I Do?
Legginess is always caused by a lighting issue, specially not enough of it. Move your plant to a brighter location to encourage new growth to form in a more compact and tight manner.
FAQs – Your General Questions Answered
Q: Where can I find an Imperial Green, and what’s their average cost?
A: They can usually be found at your local nursery, floral shop, or garden centre, but if you have no luck there are many vendors online, including Etsy which has become a popular marketplace for enthusiasts.
The price will vary depending on where you make your purchase, and the plants’ size and maturity, but generally they can be found for $27-$70 (£19-£50).
Q: Imperial Green vs Green Congo – what’s the difference?
A: It’s no surprise that these two philodendron varieties are confused for one another, there are few differences between them. The most noticeable way to tell an Imperial Green apart from a Green Congo is their colour. The Philodendron Imperial Green has a more vibrant green colour, whereas the Green Congo is much deeper and darker green.
Q: Should I Mist my Philodendron Imperial Green?
A: As I mentioned before, the most common challenge with Philodendron Imperial Green care is overwatering. Misting isn’t necessary as it doesn’t do much (if anything) to raise humidity levels and can actually cause bacterial or fungal infections if overdone.
If you feel the leaves need to be cleaned, an occasional wipe with a damp cloth is more than enough.
Q: Does the Imperial Green climb?
A: This variety of philodendron does not climb. It is a self-heading variety, meaning it grows upright without support. It won’t need staking either.