Philodendron Imperial Green Care, Explained by an Expert!

If you’ve finally managed to snag a gorgeous Philodendron Imperial Green, you’ll want to know how to keep those broad, glossy green leaves shining bright.

Luckily, I’ve got just the guide for you! As a Horticulturist who worked in many philodendron ‘enclosures’ I’m sharing all my tips and tricks to help make Philodendron Imperial Green care super easy!

Quick Philodendron Imperial Green Care Breakdown

  • Soil: Well-draining, chunky
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Watering: Soil should be kept lightly damp
  • Temperature: Between 18-30°C (65-86°F)
  • Humidity: Between 50-70%+
  • Fertilizer: Once per month during Spring & Summer

Appearance and Plant Identification

The Philodendron Imperial Green is a gorgeous self-heading variety from the Araceae family. Unlike climbing vine varieties (like the Micans), the Imperial Green grows upright, producing a spectacular display of broad, glossy (or sometimes rippled) green leaves.

two philodendron imperial green plants potted
How gorgeous are these leaves?! @gardencenterzonasul, @patchplants

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.

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 even scaling trees…

Fun fact! Even though this plant isn't a natural climber, 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

Care Difficulty: Easy, beginner-friendly. Keeping a Philodendron Imperial Green isn’t difficult! There are far more ‘picky’ and ‘demanding’ plants out there to have in your collection.


Like most Philodendrons, the Philodendron Imperial Green loves bright, indirect light and lots of it.

Ideally, aim for a minimum of 6-8 hours of bright indirect light a day. If you can get 12-14 even better.

Even though philodendrons are prized for being robust with light, too much direct sun exposure (especially the blazing afternoon kind) can result in burnt leaves, whereas not enough sunlight quickly results in stunted growth, overwatering, and dreaded root rot!


🌱 What Exactly Is Bright, Indirect Light?

Measuring light by eye is tricky and often inaccurate. That’s why I recommend investing in a handy light detector so you can make sure your philodendron reaches its full growth potential.

I love and use this one. It measures in foot candles (FC), it’s fairly cheap and does the trick. Since using it, I’ve yet to have a plant die on me because of a light issue. Yay.

🌱 How Much Light Does My Imperial Green Really Need?

For good growth, you’ll want to keep your Philodendron Imperial Green (along with any other self-heading varieties) in 250-500FC.

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 (which is still bright, indirect light!). This just shows how vague the term bright, indirect light truly is.

🌱 How Bright is 250-500FC?

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.

🌱 I’ve Been Told This Plant Hates Direct Sun (& Will Die Instantly!)

So, no plant hates 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 very late evening sun can do wonders for promoting more of that beautiful, glossy foliage growth.

Problems only typically crop up when your plant is kept in direct sunlight for hours on end. The plants below were kept in 3-4 hours of direct, afternoon sunlight. If you don’t do that, you’re good.

a suburnt imperial green plant
This is what *can* happen if your Philodendron Imperial Green is kept in strong, direct sunlight during the late morning and afternoon, @theplantcrazy, @hisplantdiary

Soil Mixture

The Philodendron Imperial Green thrives in a chunky, well-draining mix 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 every day.

🌱 Recommended Soil Mix For Philodendron Imperial Green

I’ve made a note of my favorite DIY aroid potting mix recipe below!

It’s a horticultural formulation I and other Horticulturists used for philodendron ‘enclosures’ (why does this make them sound like dinos in a pen!) when I worked for a botanical garden.

Diy Aroid Potting Mix Recipe

If you want to save time (and support a plant business) you can also opt for a pre-made mix. I’ve had great success with Fox Farms’ Ocean Forest Mix and Noot’s Organic Coir Mix in the past.

My Philodendron Tortum and Philodendron Red Heart absolutely love the stuff!

👉 Friendly Tip: That cacti/succulent mix you’ve got? Ideally, 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.


This beauty doesn’t like super frequent watering, so ideally DON’T stick to a frequent watering schedule.

Watering a plant because a random blog online tells you to once every 5-10 days spells disaster!

Only water when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry to touch, or your plant’s leaves are drooping.

🌱 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 1-3 hours.

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 (👉 dry soil)
  • 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 if this is the case.

This has 100% saved me from overwatering my plants! It’s super easy, stick in and done.


For best results, fertilize your plant 2-3 times throughout the spring and summer seasons, every 4-6 weeks or so. Less is definitely more when it comes to fertilizer!

🌱 Best Fertilizers for Philodendron Imperial Green

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) and feed every time they get a water.

This fertilizer formula contains all 16 key nutrients your plant needs, is urea free, and won’t cause root burn.

In the Autumn (Fall) and Winter, I cut down on both waterings and feedings, so they complement each other nicely.

🌱 How Large Does a Philodendron Imperial Green Grow? Are they Fast Growing?

The Philodendron Imperial Green has a moderate growth rate, and it typically takes about 7-10 years to reach full maturity.

Once the plant reaches full maturity, you can expect its large, broad leaves to drop outwards to the side, and spread up to 3 feet (90cm) wide with a maximum height of around 3-4 feet (90cm-120cm).

a mature philodendron imperial green
How big they can grow with the right conditions, @bahargol012


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 and air conditioning vents.


Aim for 50-60% humidity minimum. 70-90% is fantastic and you’ll see larger leaves because of it, but this is usually only achieved in plant rooms, bathrooms, 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.

  1. Purchase a small humidifier (100% effective)
  2. Group your plants (50-60% effective)

Grouping helps to increase transpiration and evaporation in the immediate area, though you do need a lot of plants to noticeably increase humidity levels.

You can also move them to a more humid space, like your laundry room or bathroom (if there’s enough light).

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.

an imperial green plant with other plants in a hallway

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 so once the plant has matured and the leaves have dropped and become more spaced out. It requires a bit of patience!

🌱 Method – Taking a Stem Cutting + Planting in Soil

  1. Choose a healthy stem that’s around 6 inches in length and has at least 1 node on it.
  2. With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut the stem.
  3. Prepare a small pot of moist potting soil and perlite (2:1 ratio). The mix should be wet, but not soaking.
  4. Dip the fresh stem cutting in rooting hormone. This is optional but I find it helps roots take hold quicker.
  5. Plant the stem into your pre-made potting mix (1-2 inches into the mix).
  6. Fill the rest of the pot with your potting soil and perlite mix.
  7. Place in a warm area that receives bright, indirect light.
  8. Water as usual.
  9. In 3-4 weeks roots should develop. Tug very gently to check for roots.
  10. Transfer to a slightly bigger container or pot once roots have taken hold.
a spadix flower closeup on the roots of the imperial green plant
Sort of a rare occurrence doesn’t usually happen in most household conditions, @komatatakakazu


Due to its moderate growth rate, the Imperial Green rarely needs to be repotted. Once every 1-2 years is sufficient.

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.

🐞 Pests, Diseases & Other Problems

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!).

  • Mealybugs – white unarmored sap-sucking bugs that are round in shape
  • Scale – white, yellow, or orange tiny sap-sucking bugs 
  • Thrips – small, orange or brown slender bugs that suck sap
  • Spider mites – tiny yellow, brown, or red sap-sucking insects that produce thick webbing
  • Erwinia Blight Disease – wet, mushy-looking lesions on stems and leaves

How to Treat Bug Infestations & Diseases

👉 Mealybugs can be treated by pruning and dabbing a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swab on the infested areas.

👉 Spider mites are first treated by pruning infested areas before spraying the leaves with neem oil diluted in water.

👉 Scale, if treating small infestations, responds well to pruning and rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, you’ll likely need to discard your plant (sorry).

👉 Thrips can be treated by pruning and a diluted neem oil treatment.

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.

Is My Philodendron Imperial Green Plant Distressed?!

If you are noticing yellow leaves, you’re looking at a distressed plant, likely from overwatering.

👉 Check the roots of the plant first. If they’re mushy, dark color or smell pretty bad, you’re likely facing root rot.

But…if you don’t notice overly wet soil or mushy roots, 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.

💚 Just Brought Your Plant Home? Read This

If you’ve just brought your new plant home and feel it has everything it needs but still the leaves are turning yellow, it’s likely due to shock. Yes, plants can go into ‘shock mode’.

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 (and cry..).

You might temporarily see:

  • Drooping stems
  • Stunted growth or no growth
  • Even a full loss of leaves

With proper care, some love, and affection, your plant should resume healthy growth in the next growth cycle.

Plant Toxicity – Is This Plant Toxic?

The Philodendron Imperial Green is toxic to cats, dogs, and children if ingested thanks to the little Calcium Oxalate crystals in its leaves.

If ingested, it may cause swelling of the mouth, tongue, stomach, and gastrointestinal tract.

a moss pole with the philodendron imperial green plant with a mouse on top, not safe for pets

Help! Why is My Philodendron Imperial Green Dying?

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.

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.

👉 What to do: 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, trim away really mushy or bad roots, and revisit your soil mixture 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.

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 coloring. If you’re interested in the science behind plants, this is a condition known as chlorosis.

👉 What to Do: By changing at least one of the factors above, you’ll see new growth bloom that glistening emerald green again.

Old leaves already affected won’t revert back, so it’s best to prune them.

Q. My Philodendron Has a Very Open and Leggy Appearance. What Can I Do?

Just to note, this plant becomes quite wide and leggy as it matures, so it might not be a problem, but true legginess is almost always caused by a lighting issue, specifically not enough of it.

👉 What to Do: 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 Buy 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:  The most noticeable way to tell a Philodendron Imperial Green apart from a Philodendron Green Congo is their color. The Philodendron Imperial Green has a more vibrant green color, 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 Philodendron Imperial Green climb?

A: The Philodendron Imperial Green doesn’t readily climb. It is a self-heading variety, meaning it grows upright without support, but you can still provide a moss pole for it, to encourage stronger upright growth. It likely won’t need staking either.

🌱 Continue Your Journey of Discovery

photo of Charlotte Bailey founder of Oh So Garden


Charlotte Bailey

Charlotte is a Qualified Royal Horticultural Society Horticulturist, plant conservationist, and founder of Oh So Garden. Armed with a background in Plant Science (BSc Hons, MSc) and 5 years of hands-on experience in the field, her in-depth guides are read by over 100,000 people every month.

For her work, she's been awarded the title of Yale Young Global Scholar, and been featured as a garden and houseplant expert across major networks and national publications such as Homes and Garden, Best Life, Gardeningetc,, BHG, Real Homes, and Country Living. You can find her on Linkedin.

4 thoughts on “Philodendron Imperial Green Care, Explained by an Expert!”

  1. Hello! My philo only has one stem, like a vine, and it has taken off! What should I do? It looks healthy and is obviously growing well but I thought this variety didn’t vine?

    • Hi Jessica! Hmm, that’s odd. You’re right, this variety doesn’t vine. Is it definitely an Imperial Green? Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a plant nursery only to pick up a plant with the wrong label on. If it looks healthy, I’d leave it be.


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