Houseplant of the Month: Anthuriums
Common Name: Flamingo Flower, Tail Flower, Painted Tongue Plant
Botanical Name: Anthurium andraeanum
Here’s a little secret: the beautiful heart-shaped “flowers” are not flowers! What makes these durable, easy-care houseplants so appealing are red, white, pink, or purple waxy leaves called spathes that flare from the base of the fleshy spike where the actual tiny flowers grow. These indoor plants are epiphytes, a type of air plant that comes from warm, tropical regions where they either grow on the surface of other plants or in rich organic humus. Therefore, as a houseplant, the Anthurium is extremely durable and requires little care. Simply repot with a peat moss or a coco coir-based soil mixture, provide bright, indirect sunlight, and allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. For more robust, repeated “flowering,” allow the Anthurium to rest for six weeks with little water during the winter at approximately 60°F. If you notice that the “flower” is green rather than the color you were expecting, it may be a new sprout that was forced to bloom when it should have been resting. If a “flower” is fading, it is likely an older bloom that is ready to dry up and fall off (see below for care).
Important! Anthurium are poisonous if ingested, so be very careful if you have pets and/or small children. The sap can also cause skin irritation.
Flowering Anthurium needs bright, indirect light (direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and flowers!). Low light will slow growth and produce fewer, smaller “flowers.”
Water thoroughly when the first inch of the soil becomes dry to the touch, stopping when water starts draining from the drainage holes. Avoid overwatering (Anthurium roots are susceptible to rot!). The more light and warmth that your Anthurium gets, the more water it will need, so check the soil for dryness every few days. These plants will provide signs of stress or thirst, so pay attention: thirsty plants will be light if you lift them and will have droopy or puckering leaves. You will not need to water as often in the winter when the plant is not actively growing.
The Anthurium prefers very warm temperatures (70-90°F), but don’t worry – these plants are extremely adaptable and can flourish in typical household temperature ranges. However, be careful of temperature extremes: if your thermostat drops below 50°F, the Anthurium will stop growing; if your house gets too hot, your Anthuriums will wilt.
Most Anthuriums thrive on humidity, but the flowering varieties can tolerate more dryness. If your humidity level is less than 50%, then consider using a humidifier to increase the level to at least 60%. Filling small trays with pebbles and water and grouping indoor plants together can slightly increase the humidity immediately surrounding your plants.
During the growing season (spring and summer), feed your Anthurium once a month using a complete, ¼-strength liquid fertilizer. Note — too much fertilizer can do more harm than good. To encourage more blooms, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorus during the growing season.
Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus to promote blooms in flowering varieties.
Use a soil that drains well to avoid root rot, but holds enough moisture for root absorption.
Don’t be alarmed when you see roots growing from the stems! These are simply aerial roots that would benefit from occasional misting. If you don’t like the look of these roots, you can cut them without hurting the plant.
As your Anthurium grows, place it in a bigger pot. Crowded roots will stunt the plant’s growth!
When the flowers fade and you want to remove them, cut at the base of the flower stem, closest to the base of the plant.