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Question
Hi, I have a red emerald philodendron who seems to be "development challenged" and I was hoping you could help me figure it out. I have over 100 houseplants so I'm not a newbie but this plant has me stumped!  I've had the plant for about a year. It's a foot tall and just as wide in a 4 inch pot. It grows new leaves regularly BUT once they're all the way out, **they won't unfold!** I have 4 unfolded leaves on it now, the oldest unfolded leaf is over 4 months old!!  I've tried a brighter location, nitrogen fertilizer (diluted) and it's in a room that stays about 70 degrees and I only water it when the soil feels dry about 1-2 inches down.   I just don't understand why the leaves won't unfold.  
Any thoughts of yours would be helpful!
(I have no way of getting a pic of it onto my laptop, sorry)

Thank you for your time,
Debi

Answer
Debi,

A red emerald Philodendron can grow almost anywhere except in the direct sun. In low light the plant often looks stretched out as it tries to reach for the light.

I think water is your problem. As large as the plant is in that small a pot if you are waiting until it is dry 2 inches down it is getting too dry. You should always allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering a Philodendron but in such a small pot it is too dry at that point. Then when watering, cover the entire surface of the soil with water to prevent leaf problems because of dry soil areas. You want all the soil in the pot to be moist and an hour later you should empty the drain tray under the pot.

Normally I would tell you not to repot until after April 1st but in this case, since the plant is obviously struggling I suggest that you repot it now into a 6 inch pot, no larger. Red emerald Philodendron are usually found in 6, 8, and 10 containers. They are slow growers and do not need frequent repotting. It should not need transplanting again for 2 years.

Fertilize monthly only when the plant is actively growing with a balanced food at 1/2 the recommended strength. If the plant is not producing new leaves, it doesn't need plant food.

Red emerald Philodendron grow well in normal household temperatures between 70-85 degrees. Keep these plants away from cold drafts and air conditioners.

Higher humidity is a plus, but Red emerald Philodendrons do well in basic household humidity.

Aphids and Mealy Bugs are the main pest problem.

Although high humidity helps a Red emerald grow well, it should be getting enough humidity with as many plants as you have.

Use a rich quick-draining soil for Red emerald Philodendrons. You may have to add a little sand or extra perlite to your usual soil mix. If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck.

Darlene  

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Darlene K. Kittle

Expertise

I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.

Experience

I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Organizations
Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

Education/Credentials
I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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