THE COLORFUL, WAXY, HEART-SHAPED SPATHES of anthurium (FLAMINGO FLOWER), which are often seen in cut-flower arrangements, are the reward for growing this tropical plant.
Older anthuriums were temperamental, but advances in breeding in the last few decades have resulted in plants that are much more lush, compact, and willing to flower.
Blooms, which are really bracts, last for up to 8 weeks, and many vigorous hybrids bloom nearly year-round, taking a brief break in winter.
Very compact plants grow to only 12 in/30 cm tall, but larger ones may grow to 18 in/45 cm tall and wide. Flower colors include white, orange, and pink.
Do provide ample humidity by keeping your anthurium on a tray filled with damp pebbles or in a room with a humidifier.
To keep leaves glossy and free of pests, wipe leaves clean from time to time with a damp cloth or clean plant with a fine spray of warm water.
Do not allow pets to chew on anthurium foliage, as it contains calcium oxalate crystals and several toxic proteins that can cause severe mouth burning or skin irritation in all mammals, including humans.
Light: Bright to moderate, with no direct sun.
Temperature: Average to warm (65–80°F/18–27°C). Plant grows best when there is little difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Fertilizer: From spring through late summer, feed plants monthly with a high-phosphorus plant food. In fall and winter, feed every 6 weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Newly purchased plants often have time-release fertilizer in the pot and need no feeding until plant is repotted.
Water: In spring and summer, water frequently to keep the soil lightly moist. Leach pots once or twice in summer. In fall and winter, water less, but do not allow the soil to dry out. Maintain moderate to high humidity.
Soil: A peaty potting soil, such as African violet mix.
Repotting: Repot annually in spring, shifting plant to a slightly larger pot. Set plant high, so the crown sits just above the soil line. If roots show at the surface between repottings, cover them with moss or a light sprinkling of potting soil.
Longevity: 5 years or more; indefinitely when propagated by division.
Propagation: When plant produces a new crown more than an inch away from the main one, gently pull it away when repotting plant and set it in a small container. With good care, it should begin blooming after about a year.
Selections: Look for named varieties, many of which will have trademarks on the plant tags. These are hybrids bred for compact growth and heavy flowering.
Display tips: Keep plant in a handsome ceramic pot that coordinates well with the color of the blooms. Snip out central flower to prolong the life of the colorful spathes and to avoid pollen on tabletops.
Plant does not bloom.
CAUSE: Young age; too little light; too much nitrogen fertilizer.
REMEDY: Plants do not bloom until they are about 1 year old. To promote bud formation, move plant to a bright place, such as filtered light from a south or west window.
After buds open, move plant to lower light. Check the fertilizer analysis to make sure the second number (phosphorous) is higher than the first one (nitrogen).
Leaves turn yellow.
REMEDY: Check drainage holes to make sure they are not plugged by debris. Water less, and consider repotting plant using a peaty soil mix that includes perlite. Anthuriums need a little air around their roots.
Lower leaves are yellow with brown tips.
REMEDY: Resume feeding after a month, mixing fertilizer at half the normal strength. Brown leaf tips without yellowing may be a sign of extremely dry air. In this case, increase humidity.
Small insects flit about at soil’s surface.
CAUSE: Fungus gnats.
REMEDY: Allow surface to dry between watering.