Anthurium

OFFICIAL NAME

Anthurium adraeanum or scherzerianum

ALSO KNOWN AS

Flamingo Flower, Tail Flower, Laceleaf

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

South America | Subtropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

Prized for their heart shaped green leaves and the showy pop of color from the long lasting spathes (often confused for flower petals, these are modified leaves) with their funny spike, or spadix.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

moderate, bright indirect, goldilocks, clusters, petite, bushy or dense, tabletop, shelf, aroid, flowering, subtropical, color, heart-shape

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Anthurium

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Anthurium will not tolerate waterlogged soil, so best to err on the side of less water.

Water

Preferred Light

Your Anthurium will thrive in bright, indirect light. Try to keep away from rays of direct light as this will likely scorch the leaves. Growth and likelihood of flowering will decrease drastically in low light.

Light

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity. Very dry conditions will likely lead to browning leaf tips.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Anthurium generally prefers temperatures above at least 60°F, but will thrive in even warmer temps. Keep in mind, some fluctuation into slightly cooler temps at night and in winter (only a couple degrees cooler) will encourage your plant to give you plentiful blooms!

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Anthurium leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. Some people experience skin irritation when handling.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to 12-18 inches tall with a 9-12 inch spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with dense clusters of long stems spreading slightly outward and topped mostly with perky green leaves, but best known for the spathes that provide a pop of color. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

Perky heart-shaped green foliage and the occasional spathe (a modified leaf) in a glossy red, pink, or white. These special leaves also have an intriguing lace-like texture and a funny little spike in the middle known as a spadix (this is where the many teeny-tiny flowers live).

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

In order to achieve plenty of blooms, Anthurium need a resting period in winter. You'll have to keep them in slightly cooler temperature ranges (around 60°F) and a bit less light (and therefore less water). You may even allow the plant to get rootbound. A little bit of stress is actually a trigger for the plant to flower more vigorously.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

The only real difference between Anthurium andraeanum and scherzerianum is the spadix. The andraeanum variety has a straight spadix, while scherzerianum has a curly one.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Anthurium will not tolerate waterlogged soil, so best to err on the side of less water.

Light

|

Bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

Your Anthurium will thrive in bright, indirect light. Try to keep away from rays of direct light as this will likely scorch the leaves. Growth and likelihood of flowering will decrease drastically in low light.

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

This tropical epiphyte (plants that grow in the mossy nooks of trees) will certainly appreciate a boost in humidity. Very dry conditions will likely lead to browning leaf tips.

Temperature

|

Enjoys warmer temps.

Ambient Temperature

Anthurium generally prefers temperatures above at least 60°F, but will thrive in even warmer temps. Keep in mind, some fluctuation into slightly cooler temps at night and in winter (only a couple degrees cooler) will encourage your plant to give you plentiful blooms!

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Anthurium leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. Some people experience skin irritation when handling.

Size

|

A petite plant pal.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to 12-18 inches tall with a 9-12 inch spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Densely packed upright stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with dense clusters of long stems spreading slightly outward and topped mostly with perky green leaves, but best known for the spathes that provide a pop of color. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Bright green and heart-shaped with a unique inflorescence.

Leaf Look

Perky heart-shaped green foliage and the occasional spathe (a modified leaf) in a glossy red, pink, or white. These special leaves also have an intriguing lace-like texture and a funny little spike in the middle known as a spadix (this is where the many teeny-tiny flowers live).

Pro Tip

|

Wanna see more blooms? A little stress can help.

Pro Tip

In order to achieve plenty of blooms, Anthurium need a resting period in winter. You'll have to keep them in slightly cooler temperature ranges (around 60°F) and a bit less light (and therefore less water). You may even allow the plant to get rootbound. A little bit of stress is actually a trigger for the plant to flower more vigorously.

Fun Fact

|

It's all about the spadix.

Did You Know?

The only real difference between Anthurium andraeanum and scherzerianum is the spadix. The andraeanum variety has a straight spadix, while scherzerianum has a curly one.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for orchids or supplement a standard indoor mix with orchid bark. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2-3 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. Keep in mind, a mature and lightly rootbound plant is more likely to flower! More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. Try something with more potassium (K) if you're specifically looking to see blooms. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests. You'll also want to dead-head any spent flowers.

Propagation

Since Anthurium grow in dense clumps, you can always divide these into multiple plants when repotting. You'll simply pull apart the roots into your desired clumps. Or, if a bit rootbound, you may need to cut them apart. You can then pot each one up into their own appropriately sized vessel. If you'd like to propagate without dividing your plant, you can also try a stem cutting. You'll need to take an apical stem cutting (the top of the stem where there is new growth). Try to cut a decent section with 3-4 leaves and cut just below the lowest leaf. Remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting in water or another medium. Once the roots are a few inches long you can pot up your new Anthurium! It may take about a year for your new plant to flower. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

There are Anthurium that are less likely to flower and prized instead for their large leaves with striking contrast veining (like like crystallinum or clarinervium) or interesting textures (like veitchii). These are usually rare finds in the houseplant world!

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why does my Anthurium have so few flowers?

Symptom

A complete lack of flowers or very few flowers.

Cause

Anthurium need a resting period in winter in order to produce plenty of blooms. A little bit of stress is actually the trigger for a plant to flower more vigorously.

Solution

In the winter, keep your Anthurium in slightly cooler temperature ranges than you normally would—aim for around 60°F. While this should happen naturally, make sure they're also getting a bit less light (and therefore less water). You may even allow the plant to get rootbound. Don't forget to return to your normal care routine when spring comes around and you should be rewarded for your efforts!

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Why are the leaf tips on my Anthurium browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Anthurium wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Anthurium have mold on the surface of the soil?

Symptom

A white mold covering the surface of the soil or full-on mushrooms sprouting in the soil or even popping out through drainage holes.

Cause

It can be frightening to notice mold or mushrooms growing on the soil. However, these fungii are usually benign and won't harm your plant directly. The real danger is that you're creating an environment that promotes fungal growth and is quite likely overly wet. Ultimately, these could be warning signs that you are overwatering.

Solution

If you want to eliminate the mold and mushrooms, you can simply remove and replace the top inch or so of soil. You can also try a soil soak of neem oil, which acts as a fungicide. But try not to overdo it, since you're delivering neem oil in a water-based solution, too much will do more harm than good. The most important factor will be to evaluate your watering frequency and ensure you aren't overwatering. While the visible fungii aren't problematic for your plant, sustained overwatering will eventually lead to a fungal infection at the roots, the cause of dreaded root rot.

More on watering here.
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