Proper care for an anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum) keeps this flowering perennial growing strong. Anthurium grows outdoors in tropical climates and as a container plant in cooler locations. Known for their bright, heart-shaped flowers, anthurium can't tolerate direct sun but thrive with proper drainage in bright, indirect sunlight. With easy care and maintenance, anthurium adds color and beauty to your home and flower garden for years to come.
Anthurium Growing Basics
Anthuriums are native to the tropics and grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. They can also grow as houseplants or in outdoor container gardens in other U.S zones as long they're planted in pots with proper drainage.
Plant anthuriums in a mix of equal parts perlite, pine bark and peat moss. When the roots are established and fill the pot, transfer to a larger container. Anthuriums have no serious disease or insect problems other than those that commonly afflict potted plants growing indoors.
Anthuriums contain calcium oxalate crystals which can be toxic to people and pets. Consuming any part of an anthurium can cause irritation to the mouth and digestive system or eye and skin irritation. Place anthuriums where they won't tempt pets or children.
Light and Temperature
To care for an anthurium, place indoor potted anthuriums in bright, indirect light, ideally between 5 and 8 feet from a window. Too much sun can brown the tips of the leaves and bleach their centers. Not enough light will cause slow flowering or no flowers at all.
Anthuriums grow best at 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with night temperatures ranging from 70 to 75 degrees and day temperatures between 78 to 90 degrees. They grow slowly with yellowing lower leaves at night temperatures between 40 to 50 degrees. Their foliage burns and their flowers fade and drop in daytime temperatures above 90 degrees.
Keep anthuriums away from drafts, ventilator grills and heat ducts to avoid temperature fluctuations. In the summer, anthurium pots can be moved outdoors, as long as they're receiving sun without being in direct sunlight. Move them back indoors when the temperatures drop.
Water and Fertilizer
Whether indoors or out, let the soil dry out slightly between waterings when you care for an anthurium. Keep roots moist but not soggy. Mist an anthurium once a week to give it some humidity. For one gallon of container growing mix, spread 1/2 teaspoon of slow-release 14-14-14 fertilizer on the surface once a month and water well.
Too much fertilizer causes salt to build up in pots, causing dry leaves, brown roots and stunted growth. If salt collects on the outside of clay pots and drainage holes, leach the pot every four to six months by pouring twice the amount of water through a pot than it can hold and letting it drain completely.
Care for an Anthurium: Propagation
You can propagate anthuriums by planting cuttings or seeds. As an anthurium matures in a pot, it develops multiple plants, each with its own roots. Simply divide these separate plants early in the spring through the summer growing season and plant them in separate pots in a warm location. Keep the potting soil moist and they will grow and mature.
As an anthurium matures, it will be leggy, having more stem than leaves with what appear to be roots growing at various points on the stem. Cut the stem just below the roots using a clean knife or gardening shears and plant it in a pot. Treat cuttings just as you would if you separated the plant. Planting anthurium seeds will take from two to five years to yield a flowering anthurium.
A one-time farm boy, Richard Hoyt, holder of a PhD in American studies, is a former newspaper reporter, magazine writer and college professor. While writing 27 novels of suspense, he has lived on sugar cane, pepper and papaya plantations and helped keep bees in Belize.