Philodendron El Choco Red is an amazingly stunning and most desirable Philodendron species originated from the Choco region of Columbia and Ecuador which is where the name comes from. This plant has deep-green satiny or almost velvety incredibly striking leaves with prominent light green veins running throughout, having a typical heart shaped Philodendron kind of look.
What makes it look interesting is its unique bright red to brown undersides of their leaves which starts to fade out with maturity. It has a kind of bumpy round and smooth petiole dark burgundy in colour. It is distributed in semi shaded jungles of their native regions. It is an evergreen plant with a tropical habitat.
It can be found growing as an epiphytic climber growing up in the trees which can even reach about 6 meters in length in their natural habitat. It is preferred for its magnificent foliar beauty. Some of them grow upright and compact while some trail and sprawl out their vines. They are aroid climbers but in some cases, acts as a crawler in absence of support.
Philodendron El Choco Red can be kept both indoors as well as outdoors. If kept outdoors, it should be placed in a shaded area with indirect light and if kept indoors, it should be placed a few inches away from an east facing window or under the grow light. They are sensitive to cold and are not frost-hardy.
They act as a vigorous grower in their peak growing season, producing a new leaf every 3 weeks or so during summer and spring. When grown under suitable conditions, this Philodendron species can reach up to 3 feet or even more. So, it consumes more space as the leaves grow broader and the plant grows taller. This houseplant is indeed rare and is still quite difficult for collectors to come by.
The El Choco Red is often confused with the Philodendron Verrucosum and Philodendron Luxurians due to their strong resemblance. There’s still a lot of questions as to what the actual name is. For a while a lot of people were calling it pseudo-verrucosum or even thinking that the El Choco was a type of Verrucosum. Apparently, the name that is being proposed for this plant is Philodendron Rubrijuvenile and Philodendron Triumphans. It is mostly called Philodendron Rubrijuvenile now.
It is grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11. This houseplant is easy to take care of and is clearly a jaw-dropper making it an ideal choice for first time plant owners. What makes this plant special is their giant gorgeous velvety leaf texture with a red bottom and green top.
Is It Toxic?
Unfortunately, this Philodendron species is no different from other Philodendrons in terms of toxicity. Like other houseplants, Philodendron El Choco Red is toxic when ingested. The insoluble oxalate crystals are present on their surface, which when ingested causes severe damage to childrens and pets.
Symptoms like mouth irritations, burns, nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal discomfort is observed on its consumption.
Seek for immediate medical help in case of appearance of such symptoms.
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Philodendron EI Choco Red Care
It is an easy going Philodendron species. However, there are some favorable conditions you need to maintain in order to see your plant thrive in your space. Here are some care tips you can follow to keep your Philodendron vibrant.
This Philodendron is found growing under the shade of trees in its natural habit. So, it doesn’t prefer direct light but it does need a pretty bright, indirect light. It can tolerate lower light but not overexposure.
The ideal temperature for El Choco Red is 77 degree F or 25 degree Celsius. However, it can tolerate temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is cold sensitive and the temperature should be at least 65 degree Fahrenheit.
Being epiphytic in its native environment, it needs highly aerated, quickly draining organic potting mix. Their roots are not suited in a dense potting mix. So, this plant prefers more of a super chunky mix.
Other materials like orchid bark, perlite, pumice, charcoal, etc. can be added to increase the drainage of the potting mix. Make sure the pot is also well draining and proper air circulation is maintained inside. The roots get rotten in case of suffocation. You can use sphagnum moss to increase water retention and mix compost to hold essential nutrients for the plant.
Coming from the rainforests area, this house plant needs a slightly humid soil to thrive. Never let it dry out completely to protect from blanket effect which arises when soil gets too dry shielding off the roots from water. Watering it once a week is sufficient for normal days.
But when the temperature increases, the watering frequency also increases. Watering almost halts during the winter as humidity is maintained naturally. Also, make sure the water is draining quickly and not to let the soil remain wet or soggy for a long period.
Again being a tropical inhabitant, this plant needs high humidity ideally above 60%. One should go for the option of using a humidifier to grow this plant to its best living in the non-tropical regions. The plant does very well under higher humidity.
Also Read: Alocasia Sinuata: Care And Propagation
You can apply the liquid houseplant fertilizer to half strength or any slow release fertilizers or organic fertilizer once a month during their active growing period. Halt fertilizing in winter and make sure not to let it get fertilizer burn.
Potting And Repotting
While potting, choose terracotta pots or the ones with drainage holes to retain excess moisture. Use airy, well-draining soil mix rich in organic matter content.
Repotting should be done if you see any roots coming out from the drainage holes. Use fresh soil and a larger new pot to repot it. Spring is considered an ideal time for their repotting.
Trimming And Pruning
Since this plant produces a large broad leaf in a single stem, there’s not much to trim or prune. However, the rotted stems or dead, damaged and yellowed leaves should be trimmed off using a sterilized pruning shear to avoid further risk.
Philodendron El Choco Red Propagation
Propagating the El Choco Red is very time consuming compared to other house plants. You can propagate this philodendron through stem cuttings as well as air layering. Propagation through seeds is also possible, however it is more time consuming and a complicated process.
A. From stem cuttings
When you see some aerial roots kicking out or some growth point coming out from the nodes, you can make a cutting in between the two nodes to let the formed node to root.
1. First, take a sterilized blade or pruning shear, identify the right position in between the nodes and trim out a stem cutting.
2. Prepare a chunky potting mix adding perlites, orchid barks, and pumice making sure there is enough airflow.
3. Also, you should prepare your moss pole beforehand if you’re planning to propagate them.
4. Now, insert the moss pole into the pot and then put the cutting into the potting mix dipping in the node.
5. Tie the plant to the moss pole to let it climb upright and you can even insulate the whole plant with some plastic cover to maintain the humidity level high.
6. You should give it fresh air for an hour every day and keep it under the bright indirect sunlight.
7. You can observe your plant getting new roots after 4-6 weeks.
B. From air layering
The El Choc Red is difficult to root. So, you can perform air layering in this Philodendron beforehand with sphagnum moss to ensure more success for your propagations.
1. First, identify the growth points or aerial roots.
2. Gently rub the surface of the node with a small ball of moist sphagnum moss.
3. Wrap the moss with a plastic bag poked in to make some holes for air circulation.
4. Twine the bag on both sides keeping the moss in the middle.
5. Continue watering it for a few months.
6. After about 4-5 months of keeping the moss in it, you can extract a new rooted plant in between the nodes.
7. Transplant it into the potting soil mix prepared according to its requirements.
In general there is no specific pest problem on this plant. But, it’s a Philodendron and you should be concerned about the typical ones such as
- Spider Mites
- Fungus gnats
You can dump the plant into an anti-bug solution with some insecticidal soap and some peroxide to remove these pests. You can also use neem oil and dubbed alcohol to rub the pests out from the leaf surfaces.
Washing the leaves every two to three weeks with a hose of water is an easy way to discourage the pest infestations.
Plant diseases are a very rare problem in case of philodendron. The improper or unbalanced watering results in the main problem i.e. Root rot. It results from a potting mix that does not drain quickly or from overwatering.
Yellowing of leaves may occur in case of insufficient sunlight or overwatering.
Why are the leaves of my Philodendron El Choco Red drooping?
The dropping of the leaves may be caused by over watering as well as under watering. You should check the potting mix for excessive dry or wet soil. You can use a moisture meter to determine the watering time or use finger dipping method to prevent the leaf drop of Philodendron El Choco Red.
You can buy this pretty house plant within the range of $35 to $100 from different online purchasing sites like Etsy, Carousell.
Pros And Cons
[i2pc pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-up” cons_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” show_title=”false” title=”Pros & Cons” show_button=”false” pros_title=”Pros” cons_title=”Cons” heading_pros_icon=”Pros” heading_cons_icon=”Cons” ][i2pros]The major plus point of this plant is its beautiful and classic velvety leaves.
It is easy to take care of.
It doesn’t get pests and diseases often
[/i2pros][i2cons]It is a rare house plant. So, it may not be found easily.
It is very time consuming to propagate compared to others that you may have at home.
Philodendron El Choco Red is definitely one of the most popular house plants among many gardeners. It’s just stunning, velvety and beautiful with the massive leaves on it. This is one of the exciting plants which thrives in the typical tropical environment. It takes a longer period for propagation. However, watching this plant grow new roots and leaves is itself a fun process. So, go, get it now and fill up your collection with this happy plant. You’ll find it super worthy everyday you see this gorgeous plant in your space.