In the world of houseplants, the Philodendron El Choco Red is among the rarest ones. It’s not only because it’s native to certain countries, but also because it’s an endangered species that you can only buy if you come across it.
Generally, it’s easy to plant and grow, and the good thing is that it always has a gorgeous appearance. The plant has attractive leaves that are pretty delicate, though the plant is forgiving and very hardy.
Philodendron El Choco Red is a stunning addition to the philodendron family. It’s a renowned plant because of its textured and broad leaves with vibrant red pigments and safe green tops on their undersides.
The plant grows commonly in Ecuador and Columbia, but most specifically in the Choco area in Columbia, where its name comes from. It’s an epiphyte, and it also grows from other plants, also known as “hosts,” though it’s not a parasitic plant. Even though the plant originates from tropical regions, it’s very prevalent globally as a household plant.
The Philodendron El Choco Red is very rare, making it necessary to treat it with a lot of care and love. This blog discusses everything you need to know concerning the characteristics, caring tips, and the required growing conditions of this beautiful plant.
How to Care for the Philodendron El Choco Red Plant
Since this plant grows in arid areas, it’s essential to grow it in similar climate conditions. Some of these conditions include:
1. Plant Lighting
Even though this plant doesn’t require any direct light, it doesn’t need very bright light. It should probably be kept in a window facing east or in a place where it can grow near a natural light source.
There’s a common misconception that plants do well in shades or semi-shades and that the same conditions should be applied to indoor houseplants.
If you do this, you’ll assume that the light in your house or the indoor setting is similar to the intensity that comes from direct sunlight.
It’s recommendable that you use a light meter and perform specific measurements from time to time. The El Choco Red plant usually grows under a rainforest in situ canopies; it grows in natural habitats.
It means that it’s safe to assume that semi-shaded environments translate to bright indirect lighting if you plan on keeping it indoors.
To achieve these results, you should strategically place this plant near a window to allow it to enjoy sunlight.
If this isn’t possible, you must supplement the light with a grow light. Indirect light is crucial for its growth since too much light intensity from direct sunlight scorches its leaves, which doesn’t do any good.
It’s important to expose the plant for a few hours to indirect sunlight, especially in the morning, is essential. Avoid exposing the plant to the afternoon sun; the sun tends to be very strong and intense. Also, placing the plant under direct sunlight the whole day isn’t ideal.
The best location for the Philodendron El Choco Red plant is on a window facing east; this meets all these conditions.
If you decide to place the plant outdoors during summer, adjust it to the direct sunlight intensity in tiny increments and begin by keeping it in shaded areas. Then, you can increase the light intensity gradually.
Generally, El Choco Red is very forgiving. It’s essential to allow it to dry out before each watering. If you aren’t sure when the right time to water this plant is, you can purchase a moisture meter that shows when your plant has dried out.
It’s important to note that this plant is prone to root rot, which is necessary to learn about under-watering methods compared to over-watering ones.
Just think about the fact that this plant grows ideally in tropical rainforest conditions, where it rains almost daily and many times a day.
If you can water the El Choco Red plant daily, it’s bound to experience root rot and die out very quickly. So, why does the plant survive in rainy tropical conditions but die out if you water it each day?
The simple reason is that it’s exposed to plenty of wind in the tropical climate outdoors, meaning that there’s enough airflow. There are also beneficial insects and bacteria in the outdoors that improve the plants’ growth conditions dramatically.
The best comparison to this plant would be bioactive vivarium; it also grows very ideally in damp soils.
It’s a good idea to use tiny insects like isopods and springtails to keep your soil tidy by eating mold and any other elements that could result in root rot. Additionally, you can add ventilators that can go off and on at different intervals daily.
It’s impossible to achieve all the climate conditions in the tropical regions, hence, watering these plants severally in a day is the wrong way to go.
It’s important to emulate the rainforest conditions, but not all the time, when you’re growing the El Choco Red plant. Remember that if it rains in tropical conditions, it’s plenty of rainfall. Just ensure that you water the plant thoroughly, and that the water drains through the pot’s drainage holes.
Individuals like putting the El Choco Red plants into their showers to mimic the rain in tropical conditions. Try to keep your soil slightly humid, though you shouldn’t allow it to dry out completely.
The Philodendron El Choco Red plant does well in humid areas. Do your best to maintain humidity levels below 60% when you introduce the plant to new surroundings.
As it gets used to the new environment, you can then assimilate it to the standard, typical climates. But, when it’s adjusting to your home, it’s important to increase the humidity, to ensure that the plant grows well.
A few ways that you can increase humidity include:
- Try growing Philodendron El Choco plants
- Set the plants on pebble trays containing some water
- Add water jars around the plants
- Mist around the plants. To ensure continued moisture supply
Given that the plant can grow from other plants, you can try rooting it with other plants; this allows the humidity levels to remain high, though it’s crucial to allow it to dry out before watering it again.
Perlite and Sphagnum moss are suitable mediums that you can add to the soil. If you don’t like the idea of working with moss, you can create an aroid mix; you can do this by mixing 1/3 portion of orchid bark, 1/3 part of soil, and 1/3 portion of perlite.
The most essential factor to consider when preparing soil to plant the Philodendron El Choco Red plant is to mix it in the right proportions.
Ensure that your soil is either airy or chunky and you’ll be on the safe side. Also, remember that if your mixture is compact and dense, you will most likely encounter problems as the plant grows.
The most common setback you can experience in such a scenario is their roots rotting; the problem mainly arises if the roots become suffocated in densely mixed soils.
Exceptionally dense mixes become very soggy since they don’t drain easily; they remain wet, causing the roots to suffocate. A clear indication that your pot is well aerated is if the water drains quickly from the pot’s drainage holes when watering the plants.
Water must flow quickly from the pot once you pour water into it; this ensures that the plant isn’t overwatered since most of the aroid plants need to be intensely watered. These plants don’t do well in wet soils since they are epiphytes.
Epiphytes are plants that grow on rock surfaces or other plants; their roots aren’t ideal for enclosures in dense potting mixes.
There are several ingredients that you can use when developing a suitable soil mixture. Some components, such as chunky materials, assist the plants’ roots in absorbing oxygen. Continuous airflow to their roots is very essential for the Philodendron El Choco Red.
Other ingredients that you can include in the soil mix include sphagnum moss, that increases water retention or compost, which holds nutrients that play a crucial role in the plants’ growth.
The following are some of the common ingredients used in aroid soil mixes that do very well for El Choco red plants:
- Charcoal (10%)
- Perlite (30%)
- Orchid Bark (30%)
- Potting Soil (30%)
Additionally, the recommended PH levels should range from 5.1 – 6.0.
This plant appreciates a man-made or a natural atmosphere ranging between 65-80 degrees F.
Philodendron El Choco Red plant is likely to do well if you feed it as follows:
- During spring, ensure that you give the plants nutrients in each watering
- During summer, give the plants nutrients in after watering them for 2 times or three
- During Fall, give the plant nutrients after watering for 3-4 times
- During winter, there isn’t any need of adding nutrients, but it’s necessary after watering the plant for a month or s0
7. Pest and Diseases that Affect the Philodendron El Choco Plant
Though the plant isn’t as affected by pests, there are a few notable ones that you should be aware about:
In most cases, the plant is mostly prone to Thrips, Whiteflies, and Mealy Bugs. When trying to prevent or treat pest infestations, it’s important to quarantine each novel plant in a different room for approximately 2 weeks, before you can introduce it to the other plants.
8. Propagation of the Philodendron El Choco Red Plant
There are different ways that you can propagate this plant. For instance, you can do this by rooting it by yourself. You can mix 25 percent perlite with 75 percent sphagnum moss. You can also stick it above a heat mat or below a humidifier.
The El Choco Red seems to appreciate its moss since it makes it to remain fairly damp when you are first trying to root it.
Generally, the plant is very easy to plant and maintain. Remember that the plant’s leaves are very delicate, though the plant itself is very forgiving and hardy. Keep in the mind the following facts when propagating it:
- Use sphagnum moss for rooting it
- Ensure that there’s an airy mix in the pot
- Ensure that you allow the soil to dry out between each watering
If you’re a rare plant and passionate collector, you can try out adding this plant to your collection.
- Is it hard to take care of theEl Choco Red Plant?
The answer to this question is that it varies from one individual to another, though it has a good success rate.
- Does the El Choco Red Plant Grow Fast?
Yes, the plant grows very fast. Once it has pushed out a leaf, you’ll notice another one coming out almost immediately. It’s safe to say that the plant puts out about 2-3 leaves on a monthly basis.
- Is the El Choco Red Plant Safe?
Though it’s a fairly safe household plant to grow, it’s advisable to keep it in a safe distance from your pets. Just to be on the safe side. Additionally, keep it away from toddlers! After all, they may be tempted to chew on the plants’ beautiful leaves.
- Why is the El Choco Red Plant So Expensive?
The simple reason why this plant is very expensive is because of its scarcity and increasing demand. Once the COVID 19 came into existence, the price for this plant skyrocketed.
Though it’s an expensive plant, it’s a totally rewarding hobby. The price mostly ranges about $200 on Ebay, Etsy, and FB purges.
If you want to get the plant at a lower price, you can look for unrooted cuttings or its seeds. It requires additional work, but it ensures that you get it at an affordable price.
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Like all the other plants in the philodendron family, the Philodendron El Choco Red plant is a very hearty and forgiving plant that flourishes if it’s grown in the recommended conditions.