I finally got my hands on the super rare Philodendron Red Moon (eek!), and whilst it’s pretty easygoing care-wise, it does need a little extra TLC in certain areas!
As a botanical Horticulturist, I’ve put together this ultimate Philodendron Red Moon care guide so you know exactly how to keep its gorgeous deep red streaks shining bright for years to come.
Quick Philodendron Red Moon Care Breakdown
- Soil: Well-draining, loose, airy
- Light: Lots of bright, indirect light
- Watering: Soil kept lightly damp
- Temperature: 65-80°F (18-27°C)
- Humidity: 60-80%+
- Fertilizer: Balanced or nitrogen-rich for better leaf growth
Appearance and Plant Identification
The philodendron Red Moon is characterized by its brilliant pale lime and sunburnt orange foliage that occasionally has deep red streaks running throughout.
If you’re lucky, these leaves can sometimes grow in full red with glowing yellow splotches or they can look like half-moon varieties where one leaf shows equal red and yellow coloring.
If your plant has matured, you’ll typically see beautiful darker red stems on some leaves too!
In-Depth Philodendron Red Moon Care Guide
My philodendron red moon loves its moist aroid potting mix! The key is to make sure it’s chunky for roots to attach and well-draining.
I’ve listed my DIY aroid potting mix recipe below! It’s a horticultural formulation I used to use for philodendron ‘enclosures’ when I worked for a botanical garden.
- 40% coco coir (or high-quality potting soil)
- 20% perlite (drainage)
- 10% orchid bark (philos LOVE this, acts as a hotspot for roots to attach)
- 10% coarse pumice (drainage)
- 10% activated charcoal (purifies soil and helps beneficial bacteria)
You can also top the soil with some worm castings (it’s basically earthworm manure) which acts as a natural fertilizer and is an optimal soil enrichment.
If you want to save time 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 Pink Princess and Philodendron Atabapoense love the stuff. I’ll occasionally just add a little more perlite, but that’s it.
Pro Tip: If you've purchased your plant online and it needs to be shipped, I highly recommend adding some diluted superthrive to your soil (usually just 1-2 drops with water), which acts as a natural stress reliever after long transits.
Recommended Light Intensity
6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight.
What is Bright, Indirect Light Exactly?
Perhaps brighter thank you think! Measuring light by eye is tricky and entirely subjective. That’s why I love and use my light meter when deciding where to keep a plant.
It measures overall light intensity in a room in footcandles (FC).
How Much Light Does This Plant Need in a Home?
The lowest light level this plant will tolerate is 200FC (this is the absolute bare minimum) and is best for maintenance. For optimal growth, 300-500FC is ideal.
This little houseplant is a tropical variety and so does like moist soil, but one thing it hates? Waterlogged soil. Big no-no. Too much water and it’ll eventually cause root rot.
Ideally, you’ll only water when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry to touch. Sticking to a routine schedule is the faster way to kill a plant. Only water when it’s showing signs it really needs it.
Tip: If the soil is clumping together or pulling away from the sides of the pot, it needs some water asap.
If you’ve got a well-draining potting mix (as talked about above) the entire root system should receive water because the little air pockets will allow for thorough drainage.
To keep your plant looking its best during its growth stages, you’ll want to keep your plant in a fairly warm environment. Between 60-85°F (15°C-29°C) is ideal.
This plant is more of a warmth lover, so erring on the warmer side of that range will lead to richer colors.
The temperature should never drop below 55°F (12°C) otherwise you risk shocking your plant, causing a slow, stagnant, and less than stellar growth.
Can I Grow This Plant Outside?
If you live in USDA zones 9-11, yes, but the other zones are just way too cold. If planted outside, the Philodendron Red Moon will function as a perennial (dying off in Winter and coming back in Spring).
If there’s one thing I’ve found is that this plant isn’t too hot on low humidity levels. I tried pushing the boundary with it (around 50%), and it just looked lifeless.
To keep those smooth, thick leaves looking glossy and healthy, you’ll want to make sure your philodendron red moon is receiving medium to high humidity. Think 70%+. Yes, really.
This mimics its natural growing environment in the tropical forest canopies.
Higher humidity levels lend to thicker, broader, and bigger leaves.
I recommend using a digital hygrometer to check the humidity level surrounding your plant’s new location.
If you need to increase the humidity level you can try the following:
- Use a humidifier
- Group other tropical plants together to create a ‘humidity sharing biome’
- Line a tray of water with pebbles, place the plant pot on the pebbles (not in the water). As transpiration occurs, it will naturally increase the humidity level surrounding your plant.
Best Fertilizer Suggestions for Philodendron Red Moon
For best results, I recommend purchasing a complete liquid fertilizer free of urea. Dyna grow pro, the 7-9-5 formulation, does exactly that. It contains all 16 macro and micronutrients your philodendron will need.
Plus, it’s very low in heavy residue salts which over time will lead to root burn.
How to Fertilize your Red Moon Plant
Simply dilute 1/4 teaspoon of dyna grow with a gallon of fresh water to feed your plants. This volume feeds my entire plant collection! It also keeps well in storage for future use.
So far, I’ve noticed leaves unfurling with brighter colors, thicker foliage, and an overall healthier root system.
What Nutrients to Look Out For
As far as nutrients go, check that your chosen fertilizer has a good ratio of:
- Nitrogen (leaf growth)
- Phosphorus (converts nutrients into energy the plant can use)
- Potassium (healthy stem, root, and leaf development)
A high-quality or complete fertilizer will also include these key micronutrients: zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
Is More Fertilizer Better for My Plant?
Nope! Whilst no fertilizer can cause extremely slow or even no growth, too much fertilizer can kill your new houseplant. This is because fertilizers contain salts which in large amounts can burn the root system of your plant.
Can I Pick a Cheap Fertilizer? What’s the Difference?
I’m all for saving a few pennies here and there but you’ll want to choose a high-quality fertilizer for your philodendron.
Cheap fertilizers are typically loaded with heavy nitrogen salts which over time leave a residue on and in the soil.
As it builds, this residue causes significant damage to the leaf, stem, and root system by scorching it.
It’s the equivalent of pouring a whole tub of salt into your favorite meal – it would ruin the dish.
Pro Tip: Added too much fertilizer? You can flush the salts out of the soil by slowly introducing a steady stream of water through the soil until it runs out of the drainage holes.
The philodendron red moon doesn’t cope too well with overly bound roots, at least not for long in my experience.
This plant typically needs repotting every one to two years, or at least until it has matured to its full size which can be around 3 feet in height.
To keep your plant healthy and happy, you’ll definitely want to check for signs that your plant needs repotting.
These signs include:
- The plant physically looks too big for its pot
- Its foliage is growing dense and bushy
- Its root system is bound (you can see this through a clear decorative pot)
- Its showing signs of stunted or poor growth
- Roots are showing through the drainage holes
When repotting, try to remember to do the following:
- Repot in the beginning of spring when it’s just starting a new growth phase
- Choose a pot that is max 1-2 inches wider than the last pot.
- Select a pot with drainage holes.
- Pre-make a mix of high quality potting soil with organic content
Important Note: Just bought your little red moon philodendron? It's likely it will need repotting immediately. Sellers tend to sell plants once they've maxed out their current growing capacity.
Growth: What Can I Expect?
In optimal conditions, the philodendron red moon can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
One thing to note is that new leaves will look curled up. Some may look green whilst others will carry that gorgeous splattered red variegation.
The Philodendron Red Moon doesn’t need really need pruning, it’s not a vining variety like the Philodendron Heartleaf or Scandens Brasil.
Prune immediately: You’ll always want to remove a leaf that is dead, damaged, turning brown, turning yellow, or has signs of pest infestations.
Consider pruning: Leggy foliage to encourage better growth
To prune, you’ll want to use a clean pair of pruning scissors and cut at the smaller stems that hold the individual leaves, not the main ‘trunk’.
Q. My Philodendron Red Moon Has Come with Aerial roots – Should I Prune Them?
Nope! These aerial roots add stability to your plant. Pruning them will cause damage to the overall root system.
My honest opinion? It’s best to leave them. I’ve found aerial roots can make their own way into the soil if left alone.
How to Propagate a Philodendron Red Moon
The easiest way to propagate your red moon is by taking some stem cuttings and planting them in a rich, organic soil.
You can also use the water propagation method for this plant, but I’ve found the red moon to develop stronger roots when in a high-quality potting mix.
Before propagating, check for any damaged or diseased leaves and prune away.
Make sure not to cut away a new leaf – these look curled up and can be either green or red in color. New leaves won’t work for propagation.
You’ll want to choose a mature stem.
To propagate, you’ll want to do the following:
- Choose a healthy stem that has a good, strong leaf on it.
- Prepare a small pot of moist, well-draining potting mix (see the soil section)
- With a clean pair of pruning scissors, cut the stem to around 3-5 inches in size
- Dip the freshly cut stem into a rooting hormone solution or powder
- Plant the stem into your pre-made potting mix
- Place in a warm area that receives bright, indirect light
- Water as usual
Within 3-5 weeks, roots should develop. To tell if roots have started to form, gently tug (and I mean gently), on the base of the stem.
If there’s some resistance you’ve got roots. If not, you’ll need to leave it in the soil longer before moving to a bigger container.
Common Pests & Diseases to Watch Out For
You’ll be glad to know that philodendrons in general are pretty resilient to most pests and diseases. The main ones to watch out for are:
- Spider Mites
- Erwinia Blight Disease
All of these can be avoided if the plant is cared for properly and kept in an optimal growing environment.
How to Treat Common Houseplant Pests
Mealybugs, scale, thrips, spider mites, and aphids are common houseplant pests and often develop because of contaminated soil, poor sanitation pre-purchase or from contact with other plants.
Luckily, these can all be removed with a hose down and some neem oil. Neem oil is a vegetable oil that when pressed has natural insecticidal properties. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to most synthetic insecticides.
Dilute to the recommended strength of the brand you buy. Neem oil can be found in most garden centers, on Amazon, or Etsy.
How to Treat (+ Prevent) Erwinia Blight Disease
Erwinia Blight Disease, however, is a little more tricky to treat. It’s much easier to prevent than it is to cure.
It’s a bacterial infection that causes wet, see-through mushy-looking patches on the plant. It typically starts on the stems and if left untreated will spread to the leaves.
It’s a very serious infection and can kill your plant in days. Erwinia is caused by too much overwatering from overhead (this is why I recommend you don’t water or mist the leaves).
Prune the infected leaves immediately, change the potting mix and refrain from watering too much. If the disease has spread to lots of leaves or many parts of the stem, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to save it.
Common FAQ – Your Philodendron Red Moon Care Questions Answered
I’ve Imported this Plant – What Do I Need to Know?
Caring for an imported plant that’s arrived in the mail is vastly different to caring for a plant you’ve bought from a nursery, at least in the initial stages.
Here are some key things you’ll want to know about your red moon after importation:
#1 Your plant’s roots will probably be wrapped in moss. Don’t plant it with it.
Moss is wrapped around the root ball to keep it moist during transit. Moss is great at holding water but once the soil is dry, it doesn’t absorb moisture well.
The moss compacts which leads to a great risk of waterlogged soil when watered. Not good. Remove before planting.
#2 Your leaves might die (all of them) – but this is completely normal.
This makes many plant owners panic, but don’t worry it’s fairly normal. The stress of transit means you’ll likely lose some if not all the leaves your plant came with.
It might take months, maybe a few growth cycles, before you see new leaves emerging.
#3 You’ll need to isolate and sanitize it before adding it to your plant collection.
To stop potential pests or diseases from being transferred to your entire plant collection, you’ll want to isolate it for 2-3 weeks and brush some neem oil over its leaves and stems just in case.
Some plant owners dip their plant in a heavily diluted hydrogen peroxide solution for a few seconds to thoroughly kill anything that they might have missed. (I’ve never done this personally, but I’ve seen many botanists do this).
#4 It will suffer some transit shock – but you can mitigate its effects.
Transit shock is common, especially if you’ve imported your plant. You can apply some diluted superthrive to your soil which acts as a natural stress reliever.
Help! What’s Wrong With my Plant? – Common Red Moon Philodendron Problems
Problem #1 – Leaves are turning yellow
Yellowing leaves are usually a sign of overwatering, poor drainage, and waterlogged soil. Change the potting mix and prune the dead or damaged leaves.
Yellow leaves can also be a sign of pests or not enough bright sunlight. It’s possible to have more than one problem at once.
Leaves not getting enough sunlight tend to deepen in color at first as they adjust to lower light conditions, but over time will turn yellow.
Problem #2 – Leaf edges are turning brown
Browning edges on philodendron leaves are a sign of underwatering. Luckily though, this is usually the first sign your plant isn’t getting enough water.
When the leaves start to curl or drop off, this is indicative of extreme dryness.
Check the quality of your potting mix, making sure there are no compact, dry lumps. If the mix is pulling away from the sides of the pot, it needs some water as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Problem #3 – New Leaves are curling
This actually isn’t a problem, but some plant owners think it is. In fact, this is a good sign that your plant is healthy!
New leaves on the philodendron red moon curl as they shoot out. They tend to be either red and yellow in color or pure green.
This is its normal variegation and these leaves should not be pruned.
Problem #4 – The Red Variation is muted, is this bad?
If everything else on your plant looks healthy i.e no yellowing leaves, browning edges, signs of pests etc, this is perfectly normal.
A muted red coloring can signal that this leaf is simply older and more mature. Newer leaves are the ones that produce that striking, glowy red hue. As they age, they mute.
Problem #5 – The variegation is disappearing and its leggy
Disappearing variegation can be normal, after all this plant can revert back to its ‘mother’ plant if its genetic mutation isn’t stable, BUT if your plant is losing its variegation and its leggy, this is a sure sign your plant isn’t getting enough bright, indirect light.
Try placing in a medium-light spot, prune some of the legginess and see if that improves the overall condition of the plant.
Toxicity – Is the Philodendron Red Moon Toxic?
Yes. As with most philodendron varieties, the philodendron red moon is a toxic plant to cats, dogs, and small children if ingested due to the calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves.
Is the Philodendron Red Moon a Climbing Plant?
Yes, given the opportunity, it will climb! As it spreads, you can provide a pole for it to climb if you wish.
How Much is A Philodendron Red Moon to Buy?
Expect to pay a pretty penny for this houseplant. I’ve only seen 3 for sale over 1 year! The cheapest was $432 with just one stem cutting. The others ranged between $1800 to $2400.
Oh, and don’t be surprised if you have to join a waitlist or go to an online auction to get one.
It’s a very rare variegation, and although it slowly reverts over time because its genetic mutation isn’t stable, it’s a coveted find that many, many plant owners want in their collection.
I was super lucky and found a woman who was emigrating and so couldn’t take her entire collection with her. She sold it at $80 with a certificate, but it did need some revival.
Where Can I Buy a Philodendron Red Moon?
It’s an extremely hard-to-find plant, but on occasion, you can find stem cuttings and mature plants for sale online at either reputable philodendron nurseries or on Etsy. Local garden centers don’t tend to stock this rare find.
Tip: Please make sure you’re buying from a licensed nursery or grower that provides phytosanitary certificates. There’s been an increase in crimes relating to rare plant theft, hence why I recommend you fully check out who you’re buying from.
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