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Philodendron Imperial Red vs Rojo Congo: 6 Major Differences

Today, let’s dive into the world of philodendrons, focusing on two unique varieties: Imperial Red and Rojo Congo. As we move forward, I can confidently say we’ll be exploring plants that are quite distinct from each other.

The difference between Philodendron Imperial Red and Rojo Congo lies in their foliage and growth habits. Imperial Red philodendrons have elongated leaves with a deep red to burgundy hue, while Rojo Congo’s leaves are broader and a richer, darker red. Imperial Red tends to have a more upright growth, while Rojo Congo grows larger and wider.

Philodendron Imperial Red vs Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Imperial Red and Philodendron Rojo Congo

Philodendron Imperial Red Philodendron Rojo Congo
USDA Hardiness zone 9-11 9-11
Mature height 3′ (0.9 m)  4′ (1.2 m)
Mature width 3′ (0.9 m)  4′ (1.2 m)
Growth rate slow medium
Light exposure indirect, bright indirect, bright
Soil well-drained well-drained
Soil pH 5.0-6.0 5.0-6.0
Watering 1-time per week 1-time per week
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

Size

The most apparent difference between these two plants is their size. Rojo Congo stands out as the larger variety, reaching up to 4 feet in both height and width. In contrast, Imperial Red generally stays under 3 feet in both dimensions.

Their growth styles also vary. Imperial Red forms a denser, small bush-like shape, while Rojo Congo tends to grow taller rather than wider.

Growth speed is another distinguishing factor. Rojo Congo grows more quickly and vigorously, particularly noticeable in its swift recovery post-transplant.

If your goal is to cultivate a large plant quickly, Rojo Congo is the ideal choice. For other situations, Imperial Red may be more suitable. However, keep in mind that larger plants require more space in your home, along with bigger pots, making them more challenging to move around.

Color

Rojo Congo stands out with its darker, more vibrant leaves, featuring a striking dark red edge contrasted against a greenish-brown center. This contrast is more pronounced than in its counterpart.

Imperial Red, on the other hand, doesn’t showcase the same striking leaf coloration. Its leaves are primarily a brownish-green, and sometimes just dark green, without the red hues present in Rojo Congo.

The coloration of their young leaves also differs. Rojo Congo’s young leaves are a bright red, while Imperial Red’s are a reddish-brown, adding an extra appeal to Rojo Congo.

Overall, Rojo Congo’s leaves are more visually appealing. Their darker color enhances the glossiness, beautifully reflecting light and creating a stunning effect. Unfortunately, Imperial Red’s leaves don’t offer the same level of aesthetic appeal.

Leaves

The leaves of these plants vary not only in color but also in shape and size. Rojo Congo’s leaves are marginally larger, reaching up to 10 inches in length, compared to the maximum 7-inch length of Imperial Red’s leaves.

The leaf proportions differ as well. Imperial Red’s leaves are narrower, giving them a more elongated and pointed appearance. In contrast, Rojo Congo’s leaves are not only longer but also relatively wider, resulting in a more oval or rounded shape.

Additionally, there’s a subtle difference in leaf thickness. Rojo Congo’s leaves are thicker and denser, giving them a more solid and substantial look. Combined with their unique color, Rojo Congo’s leaves are particularly striking in appearance.

Petioles

The petioles, or leaf stems, of these plants mark a third notable difference.

Rojo Congo’s petioles are both thicker and longer compared to those of Imperial Red. Additionally, they have a vivid dark red-purple color, which, when paired with the leaves, creates a mesmerizing effect.

In contrast, Imperial Red’s petioles are slimmer and shorter, contributing to the plant’s overall more compact form. Their color is a more subdued brownish-green, typical of many philodendron varieties.

Much like their leaves, the petioles of Rojo Congo are significantly more ornamental than those of Imperial Red. This aspect is another characteristic highly appreciated by enthusiasts of these plants.

Blooming

Philodendron Imperial Red and Philodendron Rojo Congo flowers

Philodendron Imperial Red and Philodendron Rojo Congo flowers

The flowering patterns of these two philodendrons show subtle differences as well. Both varieties begin to bloom only upon reaching maturity, typically in the latter part of spring. They usually produce one large flower each.

While both Imperial Red and Rojo Congo have red flowers, Rojo Congo’s petals are notably brighter with a purple tint, as evident from the above picture.

On the other hand, the petals of Imperial Red are a darker red and lack the distinctiveness of Rojo Congo’s petals. In this aspect, Rojo Congo once again stands out as the more visually appealing choice.

Roots

Rojo Congo’s larger size and more vigorous growth translate to a more extensive root system, which can be both beneficial and challenging.

The benefit of larger roots is their ability to absorb more water and nutrients, supporting robust growth. However, this also means they require more space. Unlike Imperial Red, which can thrive in smaller pots, Rojo Congo demands larger containers. I suggest using pots that are at least 10-15 inches in both height and width.

It’s important to choose quality, sturdy pots to accommodate Rojo Congo’s robust root system, as weaker containers may get damaged. While there is a technique for pruning the roots to maintain a more compact system, it’s not recommended for those without experience, as it can be tricky.