Anthuriums go by many names. The flamingo flower sounds dynamic and festive, and the Hawaiian love plant makes us think of a summer fling. This popular house plant has gone through ups and downs over the years—it went through an unfair phase of being called tacky, but that moment has thankfully passed.
You can easily grow these gorgeous plants that produce spathes throughout the year. They hail from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America and will add a hint of the jungle to your home's interiors.
Healthy anthuriums have firm, green, shiny leaves and glossy spathes with sturdy spikes. These spathes or bracts are not flowers but contain flowers. They should be brightly colored—red and pink are common. When looking for an anthurium to purchase, the foliage should be unblemished—spots are a sign of sun or cold damage.
Avoid specimens that are droopy or have odd-smelling soil.
Place your anthurium in an 8-inch plastic or terracotta pot with drainage holes. A clear nursery pot can help you observe the roots. Although it's better to plant in a shallow pot, anthuriums are not too fussy if they have good drainage. The soil should be rich in organic matter.
Anthuriums enjoy the brightness and heat provided by indirect sunlight—direct sun can burn the plant. Indoor temperatures around 60ºF should be fine, but your anthurium will thrive if it's warmer than that (up to 85ºF) inside your home. Pop it about five feet away from an east or south-facing windowsill, and don't place it near a heater in winter.
Soil is your anthurium's anchor and foundation. It shouldn't be soaked, so water gently to keep the soil moist. You can hydrate your plants about once a week. Stick your finger in the pot, and when the top inch is dry, go in with some H2O.
Yellowing leaves can be a sign of overwatering—water less frequently and see how the plant responds.
Because anthuriums are tropical plants, they thrive in humid conditions. If you live in a dry climate, daily mistings will make your anthurium think it's in the rainforest. Alternatively, if your plant lives in a room of its own or others of its kind, switch a humidifier on. The room should be at 80% humidity—you can use a hygrometer to check.
Don't be overzealous with fertilizer, especially when you've just planted your anthurium. Applying fertilizer can result in better growth and richer color. A slow-release 3:1:2 fertilizer should do the trick, but you'll want to dilute it to a quarter of its strength and use it according to the package instructions.
Fertilize weekly throughout the growing season.
You don't want your anthurium to waste its precious resources on dying leaves. Prune brown leaves off with sterile secateurs and snip faded flowers at the base of the stem. Top-cut a leggy anthurium and shape your plant for a balanced look, but don't go overboard.
Monitor your anthurium to see whether it needs to be moved to a larger pot. Air roots are a good indicator it's time to up-size. Pick a vessel that's two inches larger, fill it a third of the way with potting mix, and gently place the plant inside.
Water your anthurium's new home lightly to help it settle. There's no need to transfer your plant more frequently than every two years.
Anthuriums can be divided for propagation. You can multitask while repotting, or propagate using stem cuttings or air root cuttings. Use sterilized pruners to cut off a 6-inch stem with leaves, or a few air roots.
Dip the cut side in rooting hormone and plant it in fresh potting soil. Water, provide a cozy spot, and wait six weeks.
Plant enthusiasts come up against a few diseases with their anthuriums. The plant is prone to developing bacterial and fungal issues. Bacterial blight, for example, can result in death. Black nose disease leads to a darkening spike. The best way to prevent most issues like this is to be really careful not to overwater your plant without adequate drainage.
Pests that can affect your anthurium include thrips, mealy bugs, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, and aphids. They can cause various symptoms, including yellow, shriveled leaves. Take care of a pest problem by spraying the insects off with cold water. Use a pesticide as a backup measure.
You have so many options when it comes to this beautiful indoor plant. Pick a color that suits your decor and pop it in your bathroom or living room. Give it a boost by placing it atop a side table, or leave it on the ground. You can even hang your anthurium or create a floral arrangement with greenery and a neutral vase.
The peace lily is another low-maintenance plant with a spathe. They clean the air just like anthuriums do, but they're more common than white anthuriums if you're working with a neutral palette. Philodendrons are a lovely vining alternative, too, if you like the trailing aesthetic.
All the above-mentioned plants are toxic to various degrees. Chewing any part of the anthurium causes an uncomfortable burning sensation, as well as blistering and swelling, and your pet or child's breathing could become impeded, requiring urgent medical attention. In addition, contact with the plant's sap can irritate the eyes and skin.
Keep this option up and out of the way of curious snackers, or opt for alternatives if you have a particularly monkey-like cat.
There are more than 800 species of anthurium. Some are known for their blooms, while others are favored for foliage. A. andraeanum and A. scherzerianum have colorful, long-lasting spathes. A. clarinervium and A. crystallinum have large leaves with interesting markings.
Other varieties to try indoors include Superbum, which grows up to four feet tall, or Veitchii, with its leathery texture.