Philodendron Imperial Red vs. Rojo Congo: Differences, Similarities, and More

Imperial Red and Rojo Congo are a part of the ever-popular family of Philodendrons. Both have shiny green oval-shaped leaves, so confusing them is easy. Another reason why they are easily confused is that they are related! 

Philodendron Rojo Congo is a hybrid cultivar made by crossing Philodendron Imperial Red with Philodendron Tatei. So although Imperial Red and Rojo Congo share many of the same similarities, a few differences set them apart. 

Philodendron Imperial Red leaves are more elongated and lighter green and the plant grows up to 3 ft (1 m) tall, whereas Philodendron Rojo Congo leaves are wider and darker green and it grows up to 4 ft (1.2 m) tall.

Philodendron Imperial Red vs. Philodendron Rojo Congo

The main traits that set these two Philodendrons apart are their leaf shape, leaf color, and their overall maximum size. Let’s look at each of these differences in detail. 

Leaf Shape

Both plants are self-heading, which means that they grow upward with the help of a thick stem. This support from the stem allows their leaves to grow quite large. 

Philodendron Imperial Red and Philodendron Rojo Congo have large, wide oval-shaped leaves. But if you look closely, you’ll notice that Imperial Red leaves are more elongated and come to a point. Rojo Congo leaves, on the other hand, are wider and rounder. 

At maturity, Philodendron Imperial Red leaves reach a maximum length of 7-10 in (17-25 cm). Philodendron Rojo Congo leaves, on the other hand, have a maximum length of up to 18 in (45 cm). So Rojo Congo leaves are not only wider but also grow larger in general!

Leaf Color

Both of these plants have a characteristic red hue to their leaves. “Rojo” means “red” in Spanish. New leaves start bright red and darken as the plant matures. 

The red hue on the Philodendron Rojo Congo is much more pronounced. The reddish hue of Imperial Red is more of a muted reddish-brown. Though both have green-colored leaves, the Rojo Congo leaves are distinctly darker. This makes their glossiness even more pronounced. 


Philodendron Rojo Congo
Since Philodendron Rojo Congo leaves grow bigger than the Philodendron Imperial Red, it’s no surprise that the plant itself also grows taller. The maximum height for a Philodendron Rojo Congo is 4 ft (1.2 m) tall. It also has a maximum spread of 4 feet (1.2 m) wide. 

Philodendron Imperial Red grows a little smaller, with a maximum height of 3 ft (1 m) and a maximum width of just 2 ft (0.6 m). 

Is Philodendron Rojo Congo Rare?

Since Philodendron Rojo Congo is a hybrid, it can be trickier to track down than its more common mother plant, the Philodendron Red Imperial. However, Rojo Congo is not considered a rare plant. 

You might need help finding Philodendron Rojo Congo in your local nursery. But, it is widely available at online retailers. You can even find full or baby plants on Etsy.

Is There a Dwarf Red Congo?

Dwarf plants have become super trendy in the past few years, and there are plenty of reasons!

Dwarf plants are plants that have been cultivated to favor smaller growth. They take up less space than the original plant, making them perfect for small spaces like apartments. They’re generally easier to manage and require less repotting and pruning.

The Philodendron Rojo Congo does have a dwarf cultivar. It generally only grows about 1/2 ft (15 cm) tall, compared to the full-sized cultivar, which is 3 ft (1 m) tall. 

As for the Imperial Red, this plant doesn’t have a dwarf cultivar. However, it also doesn’t grow as big as the Philodendron Rojo Congo, so it doesn’t necessarily need one.

Philodendron Imperial Red vs. Black Cardinal

Philodendron Imperial Red, Rojo Congo, and Black Cardinal are all considered “red” varieties of Philodendrons. Imperial Red has the lightest leaves, whereas Black Cardinal has the darkest leaves. Red Congo falls somewhere in between the two. 

Red Cardinal leaves are a dark purplish red color that can appear black from afar. Young leaves are bright red, then darken with age. This cultivar has larger leaves than both the Imperial Red and Rojo Congo. This cultivar also grows more compact and bushy, with a short maximum height of just 1.3 ft (39 cm). 

Can You Propagate Rojo Congo?

If you like to make duplicates of your plants, you’re in luck! Philodendrons are easy plants to propagate, and stem cuttings can propagate both Philodendron Rojo Congo and Philodendron Imperial Red. 

To propagate, take a cutting of your Philodendron from the base of the stem. Fill a glass with water and place the end of the stem in the water. Wait three to four weeks for roots to grow. When the roots are at least 2 in (5 cm) long, you can plant the stem cutting in the soil


How Often Do You Water Imperial Red?

watering crops
Both of these Philodendrons are fairly drought-tolerant plants. This means that they can handle dry soil much better than wet soil. You can water them once a week and ensure the soil is well-draining. Let the top inch of soil dry out before watering either of these plants to prevent root rot.

In the winter, you can reduce watering to once every two weeks. Most Philodendrons are dormant during this time and use less energy, requiring less water.  

When Should I Re-pot Imperial Red?

Philodendron Imperial Red is not a fast-growing plant, so you don’t need to re-pot it very often. Philodendron Imperial Red enjoys being pot-bound. The only reason you’ll need to repot your plant is if it has gotten so heavy that it’s at risk of toppling over. 

Generally, a Philodendron Imperial Red only needs to be repotted once every 2-3 years. If you can, use a pot with a heavy material like ceramic to weigh it down. You can also stake your plant to help keep it upright. You should repot your plant in the spring or early summer so the roots have a chance to grow and settle into their new pot. 

How Much Light Does a Rojo Congo Need?

Philodendrons are originally from the rainforests of South America. They can be found growing under the thick forest canopy. To mimic this environment, Philodendrons do best in indirect light and can even tolerate some shade. Philodendrons are not candidates for a south-facing window, as they do not tolerate direct sunlight. 

Keep in mind this family of plants like it warm, so keep your Philodendron away from drafty doors and windows. 

What Does it Mean If My Philodendron Leaves are Curling?

If you’re having trouble with your Philodendron leaves curling, the problem is likely underwatering. Both Philodendron Rojo Congo and Philodendron Red Imperial are fairly drought resistant, but that doesn’t mean they won’t suffer if they’ve been severely underwater. Underwatered plants typically have brown, dry leaf tips, as well as curling or drooping leaves.

If you’ve let the soil dry out too much, it may become compacted and difficult to rehydrate. To remedy this, soak your plant’s pot in water for 5-10 minutes until the soil is fully saturated. Allow the excess water to drain off. 

Another reason for curling Philodendron leaves is a lack of humidity. Philodendrons prefer humidity around 50% but are happiest when the humidity is around 70%. Average home humidity is around 45-50%. This percentage may be even lower if you’re someone who runs the air conditioner or heater often. Consider grouping your Philodendron with other plants to foster humidity, add a humidifier to the room, or mist your plant daily. 


Since Philodendron Rojo Congo is a hybrid cultivar of the Philodendron Red Imperial, the two plants share many similarities. To tell them apart, look at their leaves and their size. 

Philodendron Rojo Congo leaves are rounder and wider, with a maximum length of 18 in (45 cm). They also are darker, with a distinct red hue. Philodendron Imperial Red has more elongated leaves, with a maximum length of 10 in (25 cm). These leaves are lighter green with a reddish-brown hue. 

You can also look at their heights. A mature Philodendron Rojo Congo has a maximum height of 4 ft (1.2 m), whereas Philodendron Imperial Red has a maximum height of 3 ft (1 m).