Anthurium is a genus of around 1,000 perennial plants native to Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. While they can be grown outdoors in the garden in warm climates, anthurium is more often grown as houseplants or in greenhouses since they have particular care needs. They grow at a slow or moderate growth rate, depending on getting ample light without getting sunburned.
Also called flamingo flower for their unique tropical shape, you can plant them year-round and they bloom throughout the year. The blooming varieties are distinctive for their colorful, heart-shaped waxy spathes and red or yellow tail-like flower spikes. Other varieties feature large-leaved, deeply veined foliage. This plant's long-lasting bright red, green, and white colors make them a popular centerpiece during the Christmas holidays. Many anthuriums are climbers, and all need high humidity and warmth to thrive. Anthurium is toxic to humans and pets.
|Common Names||Anthurium, tailflower, flamingo flower, laceleaf|
|Botanical Name||Anthurium spp.|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||12-18 in., 9- to 12-inch spread|
|Sun Exposure||Bright indirect light|
|Soil Type||Coarse, moist potting mix|
|Soil pH||Acidic (5.5 to 6.5)|
|Bloom Time||Flowers year-round, usually 3-month intervals|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, white with a contrasting spadix|
|Hardiness Zones||11 to 12|
|Native Area||Central America, South America, Caribbean|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and pets|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for an Anthurium Plant
Anthurium plants thrive in bright, indirect light, and they do not like exposure to direct sunlight, except in the winter months or in plants that have been carefully acclimated. Wild anthuriums generally live in temperatures at or above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the foliage types prefer temperatures even warmer. If temperatures dip below this level, the plant will suffer.
Potted anthuriums prefer a rich but well-draining potting mix that should be kept moist but not wet. Potting mix tailored for orchids, with a few handfuls of sand and a few handfuls of peat moss mixed in, is ideal.
Many anthurium plants are "epiphytic" in natural settings—they grow on other plants instead of in soil. If your plant fails to support itself, give it a stake or small trellis to climb on.
Indoors or out, anthuriums grow best in bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sun, which can burn the leaves.
Anthuriums prefer coarse, well-draining potting. An orchid mix with additional sand and peat moss mixed in makes a perfect potting mix for anthuriums.
The soil should be kept slightly moist and never allowed to dry out completely. Set the pot in a tray with rocks or gravel that has water. The plant's water can drain there and help keep humidity levels higher around the plant. Allow the top of the soil to dry out to the touch before watering again. Indoors, this is about once a week. If outside, during hot days, it can be every two or three days between waterings.
Temperature and Humidity
All species of anthurium are native tropical plants, and mimicking those conditions will give you the best chances for success. This plant prefers high humidity and temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants can be grown outside in zones 11 to 12 and will likely perish at temperatures 40 degrees or less.
In dry climates—or during dry winter months—mist the plant daily to keep humidity levels high. You may find it necessary to run a humidifier constantly during dry months.
It is safe and recommended to use liquid fertilizer throughout the growing period. Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus, dilute it to 1/4 strength and feed the plants every week. The phosphorus-rich fertilizer will help encourage blooms. The common gardening expression, "Weekly, weakly" applies to how often to fertilize and the strength or concentration of fertilizer to water.
Types of Anthurium
- A. andreanum: Common species; heart-shaped leaves that grow up to 1 foot with red, white, pink, and variegated flowers; distinguished by a straight flower spike
- A. scherzerianum: Common species; most forgiving of anthuriums, features a curling orange flower spike and arrow-shaped leaves
- A. crystallinum: Less common species; deep green, velvety leaves with pronounced white ribs; leaves grow up to 2 feet across
- A. faustinomirandae: Less common species; monster-sized plant with cardboard-stiff leaves, grows up to 5 feet long; almost exclusively a greenhouse plant
When a plant has dying or wilting leaves, it puts its energy into trying to revive those dying leaves. You can help your plant focus its energy on creating new leaves and flowers by removing the browning leaves. If they're not easy to pluck, use hand pruners to trim them. Remove faded flowers by snipping them off at the base. Only leave faded flowers on longer if you want the plant to produce seeds.
Take some time to shape your plant; snip off errant leaves or shoots that make the plant look off-balance. Do not remove too many leaves; leave at least three or four.
Anthuriums have a way of telling you that they're ready to propagate; they send out "air roots." Anthurium roots are fleshy, appearing almost knobby or tuberous. They'll start jutting out from a stem above the soil line in the pot. This can happen during any season. Propagating is a good idea for plants that have stopped blooming or decreased bloom frequency. You can propagate from air root cuttings or stem cuttings—here's how:
- You'll need a clean pot, fresh well-draining soil, and a sharp, sterilized knife or pruners. Optionally, you may want to use rooting hormone, to increase your rooting success.
- Using your sharp implement, cut off the air roots or select a stem at least 6 inches long with two to three sets of leaves. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone, if you want.
- Plant the cut end of the step or the air root in fresh potting mix. Water the soil thoroughly, keeping the soil moist. Place the pot in a warm spot but with indirect light. It should take about 4 to 6 weeks before you notice new growth.
How to Grow Anthurium From Seed
You can also grow anthurium from seed; however, it can take up to four years before you see flowers, which might discourage those looking for a colorful plant. The best planting medium is for this seed is moist vermiculite. Lightly press the seed into the vermiculite an inch apart. To speed up germination, cover the plant with a clear plastic bag. Place the plant near a window, but no direct light. If the water beads up within the plastic, open one side and allow some air; the plant needs to breathe. Remove the plastic cover entirely after you notice new growth.
Potting and Repotting Anthurium
When an anthurium fills its pot with roots and begins to send plentiful air roots, it is time to repot. Usually, this is necessary every two years or so. Transfer the plant to a pot that is only slightly larger than the old one—no more than 2 inches larger.
Get a container based on your watering habits. Overwaterers should get a terra cotta pot that can allow the water to seep out of the container. If you tend to forget about your plants, use plastic or ceramic to hold in moisture. No matter your habits, you need a container with multiple drainage holes.
To repot an anthurium, fill the new pot with about 1/3 potting mix, then set the plant onto the soil and lightly pack additional soil around the base, up to the level the plant was buried in its old pot. As new air roots form above the soil over the following weeks, lightly pack additional potting mix around the exposed roots.
Anthurium will not survive outside in non-tropical zones during the winter. If your plant lives outside for the winter, bring it in as soon as the temperature drops below 60 F. The plant will need a sunny window, temperatures that hover around 75 F, and high humidity. A bathroom environment is perfect for this plant.
These plants are subject to the same pests that commonly affect most houseplants: mealybugs, spider mites, whitefly, and scale. Aphids leave distorted mottled leaves over time. If you also get a trail of ants on your plants, it's a good sign you have an aphid infestation. Ants feed on an aphid's sticky residue.
Leaves that have yellow stippling can be spider mites. Thrips also cause mottled leaves and feed on new growth, as do mealybugs. If the insects remain on the plant, they will become faded, limp, fail to produce new growth, and die. You can often control insects naturally with short, sharp blasts of water, which dislodge and often drown the pests. Stubborn insects may respond to horticultural soap or oil sprays, which are natural and don't harm the plant. You can use horticultural oils and soaps to treat these pests.
How to Get Anthurium to Bloom
Anthuriums are picky. But, their uniquely beautiful flowers make them worth the extra effort. Each flower can last for about six weeks, and they may return, flowering every few months. You might not see blooms If your plant has soggy soil, insufficient lighting, or your plant is too rootbound. You will need high humidity and weekly feeding with a high-phosphorus fertilizer to get this plant to bloom. You can try to tweak other conditions, including using a different potting mix (orchid mix is good) and removing plants from nearby drafty windows or HVAC vents.
Common Problems With Anthurium
This plant has some special needs, but once you figure out its sweet spot and you nail down a routine, anthurium is an easy plant to keep.
Too much direct sunlight may cause Anthurium leaves to turn yellow. Bleached and brown tips also indicate that it is receiving too much light. Move the plant a little further away from the window. Also, yellowing leaves can be bacterial wilt. It can change the color of stems and leaves from yellow to bronze.
Deep Green Leaves
An anthurium may also be getting too little sunlight. Dark green foliage is a clear sign. Relocate the plant to a sunnier location.
Rhizoctonia is a fungus that can take hold in roots and lower stems. It makes young, delicate stems weak and floppy because they're waterlogged.
Are anthuriums easy to care for?
Best as an indoor plant, they may seem difficult, but once you figure them out, the beautiful flowers make them worth the effort.
How fast does anthurium grow?
They are slow to moderately paced growers and can grow up to 2 feet long in one growing season.
Can anthurium live indoors?
Since anthurium is a tropic plant, in a majority of the U.S., if you cultivate this plant, it must be raised as a houseplant. It can't withstand temperatures much cooler than 60 F.