These beautiful plants grow naturally in South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, festooning the tree branches in lush tropical forests. Also referred to as ‘flamingo flower’ or ‘boy flower,’ the anthurium has over 700 species that bloom in long-lasting vibrant colors and have waxy, heart-shaped petals called spathes. Anthurium plants can remain healthy for years and flower year-round when you practice a few tricks to its care.
Anthuriums thrive in well-lighted spaces, but avoid placing them in direct sunlight to prevent sunburn. If the room is too dark, the plant won't have many flowers. Whether potted or in a cut arrangement, the anthurium is happiest when residing in a room with a temperature higher than 55 degrees, preferably between 70-to-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The key to keeping your anthurium healthy is proper watering. During the March-September growing season, allow the top layer of soil to dry. A good rule of thumb to determine if plants need water is to gently dig into the soil with your finger once or twice a week. If the soil feels barely moist it’s safe to water, but if it's wet wait and retest in a few days.
Anthuriums prefer humid conditions, so this plant makes an ideal addition to your bathroom décor or near the kitchen sink. If these areas are not practical, you can periodically mist it, place a pebble tray under the pot, or run a humidifier near it to imitate a tropical environment. Protect your plant from drafty areas near air conditioners, heaters, and fans.
When the leaf tips and edges turn brown, your anthurium is either receiving too much water or not enough. Yellowish leaves indicate your plant may be getting too much sunlight, so try moving it to a shady location. When new flowers are forming but stay green, the plant is not getting enough light. Be sure to trim the dead flowers and old leaves from the plant so it can use its energy to produce new flowers.
To keep your anthurium in prime condition, be cautious when fertilizing. If uncertain how much is too much, it’s better to underestimate. The worst that can happen is that the flowers grow more slowly. You can choose a slow-release fertilizer, which only needs to be applied once every six months. If you use a liquid fertilizer, apply it once a week.
Your anthurium plant generates flowers year-round, but generally flowering runs in cycles. Anthuriums flower for three months before hibernating for approximately another three months to restore its energy and food supply. There are fewer flowers during winter, but as the weather warms and sunlight lingers longer, the plant begins to flower again.
Due to its tropical nature, anthuriums are susceptible to pests--aphids, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites--all of which suck the plant’s fluids, leaving it limp and faded. If you notice leaves that are distorted in shape or have yellow stippling, isolate the plant immediately and wash your hands to avoid contaminating other plants. Dislodge and drown the pests with sharp blasts of water or safely treat the plant with horticultural soap or use a natural oil spray.
Anthurium spathes are an attractive addition to flower centerpieces, but the plant is poisonous, so keep it away from pets. If your pet shows signs of drooling, oral pain, pawing at its face, lack of interest in food, or vomiting, it may have ingested leaves or flowers. The level of toxicity is generally mild to moderate but contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice these symptoms.
Anthuriums need to be repotted every two to three years, preferably in the spring when increasing light prompts budding. If the roots are growing through the drainage holes or wrapping the surface of the potting mixture, it’s time to move it to a larger pot. Use special anthurium soil mixed with a bit of feed to give the plant an energy boost to stimulate growth.