Philodendron Dark Lord vs Black Cardinal: Easiest Way to Differentiate

Philodendrons are not a small group of plants. There are thought to be 489 or so known species, with plenty still undiscovered. A lot of these Philodendrons are also considered to be cultivars from one main plant, which means that there are a lot of similarities.

The Philodendron Dark Lord and the Philodendron Black Cardinal are two such species. They have a lot in common, including their dark hue and leaf shape. Thankfully, there are some differences you can use to tell them apart. The easiest way is probably their growth type. 

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a vining plant that spreads out and attaches to whatever is near. The Philodendron Black Cardinal is more shrub-like in its growth and if it does grow a vine, it doesn’t like to attach to anything. 

There are other ways to tell these two plants apart though, and you can use a mix of them to make a solid decision on which plant you are looking at. 

How to Tell Apart Philodendron Dark Lord from Black Cardinal

These two Philodendrons are very similar in appearance and care, which can make them very difficult to tell apart. There are small differences that you can use to identify them as they grow, such as their tolerance to light and humidity. 

However, there are also slight differences between their appearance and growth styles that you can use to tell them apart. 

Care Requirements

Both the Dark Lord and Black Cardinal Philodendron enjoy bright and indirect light. However, the Dark Lord Philodendron can handle a little less light than Black Cardinal, down to low light conditions. 

Both also do best in a high amount of humidity. They thrive most often in humidity which is around 75 to 85%. The Dark Lord can tolerate a wider range, handling lower humidity levels close to 50 or 60%. They can also handle more humidity if necessary. 

Besides those two, their care requirements are fairly similar. 


The Dark Lord is considered a large plant. They can easily reach heights of over 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. However, the Black Cardinal tends to stay a bit smaller, with 4 feet (1.2 m) being its maximum. 


Measuring plants
The Dark Lord, though it grows bigger, tends to grow a lot faster too. The Black Cardinal Philodendron can take up to ten years to reach full height. 


Philodendrons are usually clumped into two categories, which are vining and non-vining. The Dark Lord tends to be a vining or climbing plant. It needs stakes or items to attach to and will often spread out pretty far. 

The Philodendron Black Cardinal tends to be more shrub-like. It doesn’t really spread out or vine. 


Dark Lord Philodendron often has dark green leaves. Their leaves are fairly similar in color across all leaves, ranging from dark green to black. They are deeply lobed, even more so than the Black Cardinal. The leaves are also shorter and wider. 

The Philodendron Black Cardinal plants are usually a mix of dark green or black foliage, with deep red and copper hues. They also tend to have a beautiful copper color in new leaves. The leaves have thinner veins, and are longer and skinnier. 

How Do You Identify a Philodendron Dark Lord?

What Is Philodendron Dark Lord’s Scientific Name?

Like all Philodendrons, the Dark Lord is part of the Araceae plant family. Specifically, the plant is Philodendron Erubescens ‘Dark Lord’. 

Philodendron Erubescens is also known as the Blushing Philodendron or Red-Leaf Philodendron. The reason that the Dark Lord shares this scientific name is that it is likely a cultivar or hybrid of the Philodendron Erubescens.

This plant was hybridized in Colombia and Panama. However, people have let this plant grow out in the wild, and it is now found in areas of Northern Africa, the Philippines, and the Seychelles islands. 

Is Philodendron Dark Lord Rare?

The Philodendron Dark Lord is considered a rare plant. It can be pretty hard to find, though it isn’t so rare that you cannot go and find it in specialized nurseries. You can also find it online from people selling plant cuttings and seedlings from their own plants. 

Since it is fast growing, it is easy to harvest cuttings and sell them online in good quantities. Additionally, a few of them have spread out and been found in the wild, which makes them a little less rare despite being a hybrid species. 

Why Is Philodendron Dark Lord so Expensive?

With Philodendron Dark Lord only being somewhat rare, you may not expect it to be very expensive. There are plenty of other rare Philodendrons that are pretty averagely priced. However, they can run pretty high in price, easily costing close to $100. 

For experienced plant owners, this price may seem low, but those that are getting started may be surprised by the cost. Like most other plants, getting a Dark Lord as a young plant usually drops the price by about half, but the adult ones can be pretty expensive. 

This high price despite not being extremely rare is due to the high demand. Philodendron Dark Lord is a pretty coveted plant, so they sell out quickly and can be hard to keep in stock even though they are fast-growing. 

What may be even more surprising is that the price of the Dark Lord Philodendron species is nothing compared to some other varieties. The most expensive variety of Philodendron is the Billietiae variety, which usually starts with a base price of $300 and goes up from there. 

Variegated species, such as the Philodendron Black Cardinal variegation, often usually cost a lot more than the original plants as well. This is because a lot of the variegations can be unstable and hard to breed. Additionally, the variegation can sometimes disappear in a plant, which makes them hard to grow and reproduce and can increase the cost by a large amount. 

How Do You Identify a Philodendron Black Cardinal?

Philodendron Black Cardinal
What Is Philodendron Black Cardinal’s Scientific Name?

Like the Philodendron Dark Lord, the Philodendron Black Cardinal is part of the same family, Araceae. This in itself isn’t surprising, as the Araceae family is made up of almost four thousand species. 

However, it has something else in common. It shares the scientific name Philodendron Erubescens, and is specifically known as the Philodendron Erubescens ‘Black Cardinal’. 

The Philodendron Black Cardinal, like the Philodendron Dark Lord, are both cultivars or hybrids of the same base plant, the Blushing Philodendron. This is one of the main reasons that they have so many similarities. 

The Black Cardinal Philodendron was established in 1951 when a hybridization project established by Robert H. McColley was completed in Orlando, Florida. 

Is Philodendron Black Cardinal Rare?

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is rare. Since it is a hybrid and not naturally found and bred in the wild, it is harder to find than some varieties of Philodendron. However, it isn’t one of the rarest varieties. 

The Philodendron Black Cardinal is considered rare, but there is an even rarer version of the Black Cardinal Philodendron which is the variegated version. 

Why Is Philodendron Black Cardinal so Expensive?

The Philodendron Black Cardinal, despite being somewhat rare, isn’t terribly expensive. Obviously, the more mature varieties are pricier, ranging around $50. However, smaller, immature plants can be around $10 to $20. 

The variegated version of the Black Cardinal, however, is very expensive. You can expect to pay upwards of $2000, if you can even find it available. While a lot of the price is due to its rarity, it is also considered one of the most beautiful varieties of Philodendron available. This also influences the price quite a bit as the demand is high. 


Many of the popular Philodendron species today are cultivars or hybrids, bred to have a lot of the benefits and highly desired aspects of the plant while being more tolerant for a variety of conditions. 

The Philodendron Dark Lord and Philodendron Black Cardinal are two species that come from the same base plant. Because of this, they have a lot of similarities in their appearance and care, but their growth patterns help to tell them apart.

The Philodendron Dark Lord is a vining plant that spreads out and attaches to whatever is near. The Philodendron Black Cardinal is more shrub-like in its growth and if it does grow a vine, it doesn’t like to attach to anything.