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Philodendron Leaves Turning Red ( 12 Causes and Solutions)


At times, you will observe that the leaves of your philodendron plant are changing color. The color of a healthy philodendron plant’s leaves is green.

However, this color may vary from green to red. Several conditions could make your philodendron plant turn red. Almost every one of these conditions can be rectified.

Philodendron plant leaves do turn red at times. This reddening could result from Anthocyanins Pigmentation, Phosphorus Deficiency, or Too Much Sun exposure.  In addition, Lack of Light, underwatering can also cause the issue. It may also be a Camouflage to Protect New Growth from Predators. 

Indoor philodendron plant leaves turning red.

Causes Philodendron Leaves Turning Red

A variety of factors causes the red color pigmentation in your philodendron plant. Some philodendron plants are reddish. Others may turn red periodically due to many reasons. 

Anthocyanins Pigmentation

The red pigmentation in any philodendron plant is caused by a red pigment known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins play a protective role in plants. They appear in deciduous plants right before autumn.

This protective role involves preventing environmental damage to the cells in plants. Repair functions in philodendron plants are also associated with anthocyanins. The red color in your philodendron plant is a pigmentation caused by primary factors.

Philodendron plants trigger the production of anthocyanins whenever the plant metabolism deems it proper. All other causes of red coloring in philodendron plants build on the action of anthocyanins.

These secondary causes trigger the plant’s metabolism to produce anthocyanins, the pigmentation responsible for the red color. 

Solution

To keep the concentration of anthocyanins at low levels, the primary causes that raise these anthocyanin pigments’ concentration must be regulated. 

It is not possible to eradicate anthocyanins on their own in a philodendron plant. Instead, it would be best if you determine factors that lead to the production of the red pigment then concentrate on eliminating these factors.

Xanthomonas Leaf Spot

In the philodendron plant, Xanthomonas leaf spot is a bacterial infection on the leaves. This infection starts as a speck of water-soaked lesions at the leaf margin. The lesions are first translucent but later turn brownish or red.

After some time, the lesions migrate to any part of the philodendron plant. They appear to be a water drop surrounded by a red pigment. Some lesions may join to form a large red patch on your philodendron plant.

The relative humidity in the air determines the rate of spread of the lesions. When the air is dry, the lesions spread slowly. They appear dry and very small in size. Your philodendron plant seems to have red spots scattered across the leaves.

When the humidity is high, the rate of spread of the lesions increases, the resulting lesions on your philodendron plant are large and watery. The lesions may merge into a large reddish patch.

To control Xanthomonas leaf spot in the philodendron plant, you could apply a chemical treatment. Just like any other bacterial infection, this one is eradicated by spraying the plant with a water solution of antibiotics. 

Solution

Xanthomonas leaf spot is spread from one plant to the other if they are in close contact. To control it, you should observe a good distance separation between plants. It would help if you moved infected plants away from the rest.

Also, avoid splashing when watering your philodendron plant. Water acts as an agent of bacterial transfer. You should also pluck and destroy affected leaves from your philodendron plant.

The rate of Xanthomonas leaf spot infection is dependent on temperature. Between 82°F to 85°F, the rate of infection is high. To control this infection, keep the average temperatures above 90°F. 

Exposure to Cold Temperatures

Like many other broad-leaved plants, the philodendron plant may turn red during winter. The plant metabolism produces anthocyanins to protect the plant cells from cold damage during the cold weather. The anthocyanin forms a red pigment on the leave.

During cold weather, the anthocyanins could also serve as a cellular antifreeze. This pigment is generated naturally. It has no detrimental effects on your philodendron plant. 

Solution

The production of anthocyanins during cold weather is a natural, harmless metabolic reaction. It, therefore, does not necessitate any correction practice. If you establish that your philodendron plant turned red during winter, they could be no immediate need for intervention.

However, if the philodendron plant suddenly turns red during other seasons, there could be a cause for alarm. If you establish that the room in which your plant is, is cold, you should put measures to correct the abnormality. You should consider moving the plant to a warmer location. 

Phosphorus Deficiency

Lack of certain nutrients may cause a red coloring in your philodendron plant. The most common nutrient deficiency leading to this red coloring is phosphate deficiency. The phosphate nutrient is associated with better leaf development in many plants.

Its absence, therefore, could lead to deteriorated leaf quality. Reddening leaves in philodendron leaves signal this deterioration. 

Solution

To control reddening caused by phosphorus deficiency, add phosphate fertilizer to your potting mixture. However, you should take your soil for testing first. It is necessary to affirm a phosphate deficiency before taking action.

You should take care not to apply too much phosphate fertilizer. Excess of it leads to decreased soil life in the potting mixture. Excess fertilizer may also scorch the roots or kill them. 

Salts and Heavy Metal Absorption

If you apply too many fertilizers or de-icing agents, the leaves of your philodendron plant may turn red. Fertilizers and de-icing agents contain heavy metals such as zinc and aluminum. Again, if the plant metabolism senses these heavy metals, anthocyanins are produced as a protective measure.

The result is reddened leaves in your philodendron plant. The heavy metals may also be naturally located in your potting mixture. 

Solution

You should choose your potting mixture correctly. Test your soil in the lab before planting your philodendron plant. Also, you should avoid too much use of fertilizers and de-icing agents. 

Under Watering

Underwatering leads to a condition known as chronic drought. A variety of other factors may cause this shortage. Poorly developed roots in your philodendron plant can cause chronic drought.

Extreme durations without watering your philodendron plant are the major cause of the chronic drought. When the plant lacks enough water, the leaves experience chlorosis and turn red. Improper planting that exposes the roots of your philodendron plant also causes reddening. 

Solution

Chronic drought necessitates you to provide more water to your philodendron plant. You should irrigate your plant regularly. Also, ensure that your plant roots are well covered under the soil and are free from damage. 

Poor Drainage

Interestingly, both extremes of water availability to your philodendron plant lead to leaf reddening. Excess water in a poorly drained potted philodendron plant leads to a condition called hypoxia. The excess water reduces the concentration of oxygen in the soil, thus suffocating the roots.

Too many compacted soils have poor drainage. Improper soil amendment leads to poor drainage too. In saturated soils, the roots die, and the philodendron plant eventually turns red. 

Solution

You should make sure that the pot in which you plant your philodendron plant has holes at the bottom. These holes serve to remove excess water from the pot. Also, you should use soil with average compaction properties.

You should avoid irritating your philodendron plant too often. Keep your routine irrigation dependent on the moisture content of the soil. Also, use well-drained soil for your potting mixture. 

Mechanical Damage

If you crush or twist the leaves or stems of your philodendron plant, it often turns red. Crushing leads to the accumulation of anthocyanins around the crushed part. The crushed part thus turns red. 

Solution

You should avoid causing physical injury to the philodendron plant. Place it away from paths or places it is likely to be tramped. You should not place your plant too close to the wall.

As the plant sways, it may rub against the wall and bruise the leaves. The injured part will then turn red. 

Attack by Pathogens

Philodendron plant is subject to attack by viruses, fungi, and some bacteria. These pathogens create red “battle zones” on the leaves. The plant metabolism produces anthocyanins to fight the invading pathogens.

Reddening of the leaves of your philodendron plant due to pathogen attack is conspicuous. It appears in patches at any part of the leaf and not just the margin.

Solution

You should apply appropriate chemicals to control the pathogens. It would help if you eliminated pathogen carriers such as insects. 

Too Much Sun

Exposing your philodendron plant to too much sun is a major cause of reddening. Too much sunlight leads to excessive transpiration. Excess transpiration reduces the water content in your plant causing red pigmentation. 

Solution

Keep your philodendron plant away from windows and doors where sunlight concentration is high. If it is not possible to move the plant, you could erect a shade over it. you could also water the philodendron plant regularly to cover water loss through transpiration.

Lack of Light

Philodendron plants, just like any other green plant require light to do photosynthesis. Lack of light leads to loss of chlorophyll, yellowing, and eventual reddening of your philodendron plant.

Solution

Keep your plant at a place it can access enough sunlight. You could carry your plant outside once in a while to allow it to access natural light. 

Camouflage to Protect New Growth from Predators

Philodendron plants often variegate their leaves to prevent damage by animals. You will realize that sprouts in your philodendron plant are reddish. The plant pumps anthocyanins to the new growth making it turn red and more unlikely to be fed on by animals. 

Solution

Reddening caused by protective plant metabolism is not harmful to your philodendron plant. If the new growth in your plant is red, there is no cause for worry. 

Should You Worry About Philodendron Turning Red?

You should worry if your philodendron plant is reddening. This is because of the many factors that could cause the reddening. You should closely examine your plant to determine the cause of the red color.

Consequently, apply the appropriate measures to solve the problem. Philodendron plants are pretty desirable, and you definitely would not like to cause harm to them. Would you?

Key Takeaways

Anthocyanins are responsible for any red pigmentation in your philodendron plant. External factors such as pathogens, water, and temperature lead to anthocyanins production. To avoid reddening in your philodendron plant, you should solve these secondary factors.