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Philodendron tatei ‘Congo Rojo’

Botanical Name —  Philodendron tatei ‘Congo Rojo’

Common Name — Rojo Philodendron, Congo Rojo, Red Congo

Plant Family — Araceae

 

Background

Philodendron tatei are native to South America, and Congo Rojo is an attractive tropical cultivar of the species.  Understory plants, they are low maintenance and slow growers that can reach up to 4 feet tall indoors. They are not climbers like other philodendrons but instead are “self-heading” plants, meaning they grow new foliage in layers from a single stalk. They have thick glossy burgundy to green leaves and have a compact clumping growth habit. New leaves unfurl red, but mature into a verdant green while the stalks remain red.

Growth Requirements

Sun

  • Congo Rojos prefer 3 to 4 hours of bright indirect light. They can adjust to medium light as well.  Avoid the leaves from receiving too much direct light since that can burn the leaves.  They can be placed on an East facing window sill.  If you have South or West facing windows, place a couple of feet away from the window and or provide shade with a sheer curtain. 

  • Avoid placing the Philodendron Congo Rojo in low light.  The leaves and stems are prone to rot in these conditions, and symptoms of over watering can become prevalent.


Temperature/ Humidity 

  • Congo Rojos like room temperatures around 65 to 80 F.  Night time temperature can go down to 60 F.  They like to be warm and are not cold tolerant. 

  • Though philodendrons like high humidity, they can tolerate and thrive where there is low humidity. If your home is dry, especially during the winter months, your plant can benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier. 


Water

  • Allow the soil to completely dry to 2 inches down between waterings.  Water thoroughly when dry and let the excess drain out the bottom of the planter.  Water more frequency during the spring and summer months.  Reduce watering as often in the fall and winter months.


Soil/Roots

  • Use a well aerated, quick draining rich organic potting mix.


Flowering

  • Mature plants occasionally produce green color spathes with white spadix. The flowers on this plant can appear at any time of the year but mainly in summer but it is common for houseplants not to flower.

  • The red stems are of interest.


Fertilization

  • In Spring and summer, fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer.


Propagation

  • Philodendrons are easily propagated by stem cuttings.  Cut a stem at the base of the stalk. Place the stem in a glass of water making sure no leaves are in the water. Plant in a small pot when the roots are at least two inches long.  Regularly water and drain for a couple of weeks until your cutting feels firmly rooted in the soil.  The soil should be just barely moist to the touch at all times.


Health

Diseases

  • The most common insect pests for philodendron in homes are scale and mealybugs. Spider mites can occasionally be a problem as well.

  • Overwatering can cause root rot.


Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • With clean snips, prune any dry or dead leaves. It is normal for Red Congos to shed old leaves every month or two, so if you notice a sad leaf, you can trim off. 

  • Repot your philodendron every two to three years to refresh the soil.  These are slow growers and if the plant does become root bound you can repot in a planter that is two sizes larger than your current planter.  Make sure to add fresh soil when repotting. 

  • The stems can become leggy if placed in a very low light area.


Toxicity

  • Philodendron leaves are toxic to pets and humans since they contain calcium oxalate. Swelling of the lips and tongue, and stomach irritation with possible vomiting can occur when ingested.