Caring for Anthurium
Give your home a touch of the tropics with the exotic blooms of anthurium. Caring for anthurium isn’t difficult, and the rewards are flowers that linger for weeks.
Expand your tropical plant collection with the beautiful blooms of anthurium, also known as flamingo flower. Anthurium leaves are pretty with their bright green hue and glossy shine, but it’s the flowers that really earn this tropical houseplant rave reviews.
This popular houseplant brings the color with blossoms that last about six weeks. Anthurium flowers open in shades of red, pink, purple, orange, white and black. Bright light and fertilizer are the keys to flowering. Individual flowers should last for six or more weeks. Snip flower stems at the base when the central bloom spike begins to turn brown.
Caring for anthurium is easy — this is an undemanding houseplant that thrives in indoor conditions. It’s a natural air purifier, removing pollutants from enclosed settings. Botanically, anthurium is related to other popular houseplants, including Monstera deliciosa, pothos and peace lily.
The secret to successful anthurium plant care is understanding a little about this plant’s native environment. In the wild, it grows like an orchid or bromeliad, growing on and thriving beneath other plants. In USDA Zones 10 and higher, anthurium can thrive outdoors as a landscape plant. But it’s best known as an indoor plant for most gardeners. It typically has a slow to medium growth rate, although it will take off when conditions are ideal.
Look for anthurium varieties wherever houseplants are sold, including supermarkets and garden or home centers.
When you’re caring for anthurium, you can really give it any level of light, and it will survive. But if you want it to thrive and flower, you need to provide bright, indirect light. Remember that in the wild, anthurium grows like an orchid, on or under another plant. That means it receives filtered sunlight — the kind it might receive in a western or southern window. Don’t place it in direct, hot light. Brighter light is the key to getting anthurium flowers to appear. Plants in low light grow slowly and don’t really bloom.
Aim to water your anthurium when soil is dry to the touch. These tropical plants like a moist growing medium, but if soil stays soggy, root rot disease may develop. The more light and heat your plants receive, the more often you’ll need to water. Typically tropical plants like anthurium need to be watered more frequently in summer, when sunlight is brighter and temperatures are warmer. You’ll also need to water your anthurium more often if you place it outside for the summer in a shady spot (something these plants love).
Caring for anthurium houseplant means you’ll need some kind of fertilizer, especially if you want your plant to stage a strong flower show. The best time of year to feed these plants is in spring and summer, during seasons when they’re actively growing. Stop feeding plants in fall and winter to give them time to rest. Choose a houseplant fertilizer that’s highest in phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer label), and use this to feed your anthurium once a month from spring through early fall. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer label for how to apply.
One tip to keep in mind when you’re mixing anthurium fertilizer is that it’s okay — and even better — to mix fertilizer at a reduced rate (one-half to one-fourth the suggested rate) and apply it every other week instead of once a month. If you use a less concentrated fertilizer solution, you won’t risk hurting the plant if you forget when you last fed it and accidentally feed it again too soon.
Humidity is key to success with anthurium plant care. These tropical houseplants hail from the rainforest, where humidity is high. They prefer humidity around 50 to 60 percent, which is usually not the case inside our homes.
To raise the humidity around your plant, set it on a tray filled with pebbles and a little water. Keep water below the top of the pebbles — you’re not trying to water the anthurium. As water evaporates from the tray, it will raise humidity around the plant.
Other options to increase humidity include using a humidifier, spritzing plants lightly with water a few times a week (do this early in the day so leaves have time to dry), using a diffuser nearby or simply setting a glass of water beside the plant. Anthurium is a great plant to use in a bright bathroom or kitchen, where humidity is higher.
Best Temperature for Anthurium
Probably the easiest part of caring for anthuriums indoors is temperature. Generally they thrive in the same temperature you do. Aim for night temperatures above 65 degrees, and your anthurium should grow well. Make sure heating or cooling vents aren’t blowing directly onto plants. In winter, locate anthuriums away from doors that open to the outside, where cold air spills in whenever the door opens.
If you’re transplanting an anthurium, plan to use a soil mix that’s high in organic matter and drains well. A typical bagged houseplant soilless mix containing coir fiber or peat moss works well to provide organic matter. Mix it half-and-half with something that improves drainage, like orchid bark, perlite or cactus mix. Remember that anthurium won’t grow in soggy soil, so avoid any soil mixes that tend to hold water like a sponge.
Red-flowered flamingo flower is the most common, but you can find anthurium varieties that open blooms in shades of pink, orange, white, purple and black. There are also many anthurium species available on the market.
- Anthurium andreanum — Common flamingo flower with red (or other color) blossoms.
- Anthurium clarinervium — Deep green heart-shape leaves with white veins (above).
- Anthurium crystallinum — Deep green leaves with striking white veins.
- Anthurium warocqueanum — Very elongated green leaves with white veins.
- Anthurium regale — Large green leaves up to 3 feet across have contrasting white veins.
Common Issues With Anthurium
Anthurium plant care is relatively simple. If you get the light and watering right, you’ll have easy success. But even with the best care, anthurium plants may display some problems. Use this quick troubleshooting guide to help solve your anthurium plant care questions.
- Brown spots on leaves — Too much fertilizer burns roots and causes anthurium leaves to develop brown spots. Make sure plants aren’t too wet or too dry when applying fertilizer. Soil should be slightly moist before you pour on any fertilizer solution.
- Brown leaf tips — Crispy brown tips develop on leaves when humidity is too low. Raise humidity around plants.
- No flowers — Give plants more light and remember to fertilize anthurium regularly during spring and summer.
- Plant falling over — As anthurium plants grow, they tend to hoist themselves out of soil. You’ll see a long stem with visible roots. Wrap the roots with damp sphagnum moss and cover with plastic wrap. Keep the moss moist and eventually roots will grow into the moss. When those roots are visible, cut the long stem just below the moss and plant the newly rooted stem section into fresh soil in a clean pot.
- Leaves have lost shine — Dust accumulating on leaves reduces the pretty sheen that anthurium leaves naturally have. To clean leaves, spritz diluted natural soap (something like Dr. Bronner’s or Mrs. Meyer’s) onto a cloth and wipe each leaf. Cleaning leaves like this helps plants breathe and restores the glossy finish.