How to grow and care for an anthurium

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How to grow and care for an anthurium

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With striking flowers, anthurium makes an attractive indoor plant. Although it is known for its scarlet flowers, other varieties range from creamy white through pink and orange to deep purple, almost black.

What you need to know about anthurium

Name: flamingo flower, (Anthurium andreanum), a scherzerianum and varieties

Height: up to 60–90cm depending on type and where it is growing

Foliage: large, glossy, deep green; often heart-shaped but variable

Climate: subtropical to tropical; grown as indoor plant in cooler climates; frost intolerant

Soil: well drained, open mix with plenty of bark

Position: good ambient light; avoid direct sun through glass; tolerates medium shade 

Flowering: lily-like spathe with colours from white-green to deep purple

Feeding: use a long-term controlled-release fertiliser every six months

Watering: water only when top 5–10cm of soil/mix is dry; do not allow pots to stand in saucers of water

anthurium plant

Appearance and characteristics of anthurium

Anthurium has large, glossy deep green leaves. Some varieties may have variegated or darker leaves. 

Even without flowers, it makes an attractive indoor plant. However, it is its “flowers” that draw attention. These are not, in fact, true flowers! The large coloured leaf-like part is known as the spathe. The flowers themselves are very small and insignificant, and develop on the central yellow or cream “spear” known as the spadix. Other plants with similar flowers include the peace lily (Spathiphyllum) and calla lily (Zantedeschia).

anthurium pink red flowers

How to grow anthurium indoors

Anthurium is not usually grown from seed at home, because the seed itself is very fine and needs specialised equipment and conditions to grow. The best way to increase the number of plants you have is to divide them while repotting. When your plant has become too large for its current pot:

  • Water it well two or three hours before repotting.

  • Carefully remove it from its old pot.

  • Divide it into individual smaller plants, trying not to damage the roots.

  • Choose a pot size for each piece that just comfortably holds the roots without too much space around them.

  • Use a lightweight potting mix that drains very well. Although the plant is from the tropics, it doesn’t like to be moist for too long—drainage must be good.

  • Cover the drainage hole in the base of the pot with a circle or square of flywire mesh to keep the mix from washing out.

  • Add a good layer of potting mix.

  • Hold the plant in the pot so its crown will be at soil level, then backfill around it with potting mix.

  • Tap the pot gently to settle the mix, then water thoroughly.

  • Place the pot in a shady, protected spot for a few days so the plant can revive.

  • Don’t fertilise a repotted plant for about two months.

Planting tips

As plants outgrow existing pots, move them into larger pots incrementally. Don’t repot a small plant into a pot it “swims” in—it will not respond well!

In the tropics, anthurium can be grown outdoors in much the same way as bromeliads. They do well on rocks or trees where water drains away freely.

Caring for anthurium

Despite its lush appearance, anthurium is not a heavy feeder. Use a controlled-release fertiliser once every 6 or 12 months, depending on its formulation. Extra feeding with liquid or water-soluble fertilisers is not generally needed. In fact, too much food may result in even lusher growth at the expense of flowers.

Water plants only when the top 5cm or so of potting mix feels dry to the touch. Give enough that excess water flows out of the base of the pot. Keep saucers empty. If you need to increase humidity around the plants, place bowls of water next to them.

Anthuriums like good indirect light—do not place them on windowsills where they will be exposed to the sun through the glass, or they will burn. Avoid air-conditioning and heater vents, which will dry out the air.
Keep leaves dust-free and shiny by wiping them with a damp cloth every couple of months. Do not use detergent or other chemicals.

Cut off spent flower stalks and yellowing leaves when necessary.

watering anthurium plant

Diseases and pests

When anthurium is grown indoors pest attacks are minimal, but sometimes mealy bugs or aphids may appear. Avoid using insecticides wherever possible—squash the bugs by hand.

If the potting mix is too moist, anthurium may develop a crown rot at soil level, where the roots emerge. To prevent this, make sure the crown is at or just above soil level when repotting, and don't over-water.

If you like this then try

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum): hardy indoor plant with glossy green leaves and white flowers.

Phalaenopsis: Moth orchid has spikes of showy exotic flowers from pure white to multi-colours; popular indoor plant.

Start planting today

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