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How to Care for Philodendron Congo

I have more than eight years of hands-on experience in the horticultural maintenance industry and shares many tricks of the trade.

Philodendron Congo comes in many colors. Philodendron 'Rojo' is pictured above.

Philodendron Congo comes in many colors. Philodendron 'Rojo' is pictured above.

The Philodendron Congo and Its Many Colors

Philodendron Congo is a large-leafed houseplant that, at first glance, embraces the feel of the jungle. This member of the Philodendron family has smooth-edged, oval-shaped leaves and can be found in a wide variety of species such as Rojo (red leaves), Emerald (dark green), Moonlight (washed-out light green), and Green. There are many new hybrids of this species that do not grow into a vine, resulting in one upright plant, as opposed to a plant that grows out horizontally on a vine in search of new places to lay down its roots.

This Philodendron can be a great choice if you have been searching for something to add a colorful accent to your home or office, or even if you just want something a little different than the same old, same old. It is most typically used as a large floor plant, but it can also make an interesting table piece or arrangement accent when found in smaller sizes.

Here's how to keep your Philodendron Congo happy and healthy.

Philodendron Congo is native to tropical America.

Philodendron Congo is native to tropical America.

Where to Place Your Philodendron Congo

Congos, like most other Philodendrons, need moderation in pretty much every way. Like Goldy Locks, conditions should be neither too hot nor too cold; neither too bright nor too dark, and neither too moist nor too dry—everything should be just right.

When selecting a space for your Congo, moderate natural lighting conditions are ideal, and diffused natural light and northern exposure are best. Artificial light can also work well as long as there is significant exposure time to the light.

A Congo can tolerate bright conditions, but its productivity and growth will increase in such conditions. This, in turn, may increase the need to fertilize in order to keep the plant from developing symptoms of Chlorosis. Also, the amount and frequency of watering may need to be increased to counter the added light and heat. Also be aware that a Congo leaf that touches a hot window will get burned, so try to avoid letting your Congo to grow towards the window by rotating it frequently.

Low light is the worst choice for a Congo. In low light, its leaves and stems are prone to rot, and symptoms of overwatering can become prevalent. Since the plant's productivity will decrease with less light, a Congo is less capable of using its water effectively and efficiently in low light.

How Much Water Does a Philodendron Congo Need?

When watering your Congo, keep moderation in mind. Its moisture content should remain regular and consistent. If its environment has moderate heat, light, and airflow as recommended, you should only need to water about every week or two.

When watering, feel the surface of the soil; if it is dry to touch, water your Congo just enough to moisten the soil through. In ideal conditions, there should be no excess water in the liner. More light and heat may change the need for excess water. Allow the soil surface to become dry to the touch before watering again. For best health, it is important to have regular and consistent periods of moisture and dryness.

Make sure not to overwater your plant.

Make sure not to overwater your plant.

Philodendrons Are Considered Toxic, So Wash Your Hands After Caring for It

If the primary vining stem becomes overgrown, it can be cut back. After a few months, a Congo should begin to sprout leaves at the point of the cut. It can also be rooted before cutting in order to create a new plant.

The plant may lose leaves here and there with acclimation and age. As the leaves yellow, remove them by snapping them away from the primary stem or soil at the base of the leaf stem. It is also a good idea to periodically check for dried up leaf husks left by new leaves after they open. Keeping soil free of dried dead organic material like this helps prevent irritating fungus gnats.

As a member of the Philodendron family, Congos are considered a poisonous houseplant. Be sure to never ingest any part of a Philodendron, and wash your hands thoroughly after pruning or cutting to avoid cross-contamination.

A Philodendron Congo is fairly easy to care for as long as you follow some simple guidelines. It can be a stunning plant, and it has many color varieties. It is available at most interior nurseries. Enjoy watching your Congo thrive in your well-selected interior environment.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: When you say "water in moderation" would I still let water drain down through the holes?

Answer: If a situation is being experienced in which issues of overwatering have presented allow the water to drain through, but avoid letting the plant sit in standing water in the liner.