The anthurium plant, also referred to as laceleaf, tailflower, the flamingo flower and flamingo plant, is most recognizable because of its beautiful red “flowers.” If you’re not familiar with the anthuriums specific care requirements growing one can be difficult. But don’t worry, by the time you finish reading this article you’ll have all the information you need to grow and care for an anthurium that thrives and blooms.
Here’s how to care for an anthurium:
- Water when half its soil dries out
- Provide bright, indirect light
- Use loose, well-draining potting mix
- Put in a semi-porous pot like glazed terracotta
- Provide temps of 70 to 90°F and 80% humidity
- Fertilize once per month during growing season
Ahead, you’ll learn the proper care requirements per the points above so that not only will your anthurium grow, but it will flourish!
First, I want to delve into the interesting plant species that is the anthurium.
The anthurium is known as the laceleaf, flamingo flower, and tailflower. Its in its own genus, which includes roughly 1,000 other species.
Hailing from the Americas, the anthurium also grows natively in some areas of the Caribbean as well as northern Argentina and northern Mexico. The average size of an anthurium is 12 to 18 inches tall in maturity with a spread of nine to 12 inches.
The anthurium is beloved for its appealing red flowers, but those aren’t flowers at all. In that regard, the anthurium has something in common with the peace lily, which also sprouts faux flowers.
Okay, so if the red growths from the anthurium aren’t flowers, then what the heck are they? They’re leaves!
Each leaf has a bract or spathe as well as a spadix. The anthurium’s spadix is usually yellow, long, and spiky.
Although the anthurium is known for producing red “flowers,” sometimes they’re lighter red, pink, creamy white, or green. As I said before, there are many anthurium species, so this makes sense.
Pet owners, take heed. The anthurium has calcium oxalate crystals that can seriously irritate cats and dogs alike. They can experience gastrointestinal tract pain as well as mouth irritation. Even chewing on the plant can lead to symptoms.
Watch how much you touch this plant too. The sap it releases can lead to numbness and sores. Always wear gloves when you must be near your anthurium. It’s not a bad idea to wash your hands after handling too.
Caring for Anthurium
You’re excited to get started growing your first anthurium. Per the information in the intro, here’s everything you need to know about caring for your Anthurium plant.
Watering an Anthurium
The fingertip test will tell you how often to water your anthurium. The first inch of its soil should be dry, but many indoor gardeners let it go a little longer.
You can wait until about 50 percent of the anthurium’s soil is dry, even 75 percent. However, in those conditions, your anthurium is probably starving for water.
Look for signs like crisp, browned leaves and leaf curling or wilting. These symptoms indicate dehydration.
In the future, don’t wait quite so long to water the anthurium. This houseplant is not drought-resistant and isn’t even drought-tolerant.
When you do water the anthurium, especially if you let more than 50 percent of its soil dry out, you should water it generously. Its pot must have drainage holes, and this plant needs well-draining soil too.
The anthurium is sensitive to root rot, which occurs from frequent overwatering. Since root rot can kill your plant from the roots up, by the time your anthurium begins manifesting symptoms, the plant is usually in pretty bad shape.
Anthurium Light Requirements
Although your anthurium species is one out of a thousand, many species such as the Anthurium Big and Bold and the Anthurium Ruffles have the same lighting requirements.
You may have heard from a friend of a friend (or a coworker of a coworker) that increasing the anthurium’s light will cause it to produce more of its red “flowers.”
This is true, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick your anthurium on a sunny windowsill with no curtains.
Direct sun can cause this plant’s leaves to scorch, and that means losing its flowers too. Remember, the trademark red flowers are only leaves, so what’s bad for the leaves is bad for the flowers of the anthurium.
Bright but indirect light like from a southerly-facing window is perfect for this plant. Your anthurium will get plenty of bright light but not so much that it burns in the sunlight. Avoid northerly-facing windows, which aren’t bright enough for the anthurium.
An anthurium that’s starved of light will grow more slowly. The flowers, if you see any, are going to be smaller than usual. They’ll also be fewer and farther between and they might lack the expected depth of color.
Best Soil for an Anthurium
Since the anthurium requires lots of aeration, regular ol’ potting soil might be a little too constricting. Instead, I recommend a loose potting mix.
You can use an orchid potting mix if you prefer, which is available at many gardening supply stores as well as online. Commercial orchid potting mix will include ingredients such as fir bark, perlite, and/or peat moss.
If you decide to make your own potting mix, using some of the above soil amendments is within your plant’s best interest.
Fir bark, which comes from conifer trees, is coarse for air circulation. The best fir bark species for soil amending are the Douglas fir and coastal redwood.
Perlite, which includes small particles of volcanic glass, can encourage soil drainage. It’s also good for water retention, so use only a small amount in your anthurium’s pot. This plant does not need to hold onto too much moisture.
I also recommend coconut coir, which comes from coconut husks. Since coco coir is so fluffy, it keeps the soil loose, airy, and spongy.
Pumice, which is a byproduct of molten igneous rock, is excellent at increasing soil aeration. Like perlite, it can boost water retention too, so use a small amount.
The ideal soil pH range for the anthurium is 5.5 to 6.5, which is more acidic than basic. Before adding any soil amendment, check that it won’t impact the anthurium’s pH too much. For example, the pH of coco coir is between 6.0 and 6.8, so it makes a good fit for the anthurium.
Best Type of Pot for an Anthurium
The anthurium, being sensitive to root rot, does best in a somewhat porous pot such as treated clay or terracotta.
A plastic liner at the bottom of the pot will hold onto some water, which will help. Otherwise, untreated terracotta and clay pots will suck up all the water in your anthurium’s soil. This will require you to have to water the plant more often.
As you can imagine, what you’re doing is laying the groundwork for root rot, which you’re trying to avoid.
If you can’t find a clay or terracotta pot with a plastic liner, then buy a pot that’s covered in glaze.
I would not recommend porous pot materials for the anthurium. You will pay more money for a clay or terracotta pot than you would a plastic one, but your plant will be happier.
Anthurium’s Ideal Temperature and Humidity
The anthurium grows in very warm regions around the world, so unsurprisingly, it enjoys higher temperatures of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
This appealing flowering plant has almost zero heat tolerance. In 60-degree environments, the plant is already cold.
If the temperatures go even lower than that, then your plant could suffer from frost damage. In a worst-case scenario, your anthurium could even die.
To be on the safe side, I wouldn’t set your thermostat lower than 70 degrees if you can help it, especially during the colder times of the year such as autumn, winter, and early spring.
Heat tolerance is where this houseplant shines. Temperatures of up to 90 degrees and even a smidge over are A-okay, but don’t crank the temps too much higher.
The anthurium is a moisture lover through and through, so you need to provide very high humidity for this plant, at least 80 percent.
As a reminder, the standard rate of relative humidity in a home or office is between 30 and 50 percent, so you can’t just put your anthurium in your living room and assume it’s okay. Your anthurium will begin to dry out and shrivel up. It could even shed some leaves.
How do you provide 80 percent humidity for your anthurium? You have a few options.
You can buy a humidifier and plug it in where your anthurium grows. You can also put this plant in a warm environment such as your bathroom or the kitchen.
If you do choose to make the anthurium’s home in your kitchen, watch out for other sources of hot and cold air. These include your fridge (which blows cool air but has heating elements that make it warm), your windows, and any vents.
Best Fertilizer for an Anthurium
To fuel up the anthurium for growth, fertilize it once per month when its active growing season begins in the spring. Continue this through summer.
Use liquid fertilizer for the anthurium. Some indoor gardeners buy fertilizer with an equal balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It’s okay for the anthurium if the formula has a little extra phosphorus.
The phosphoric boost can cause the anthurium to produce more of its lovely faux flowers.
Don’t just dump the liquid fertilizer straight into the anthurium’s pot. Instead, dilute it with water until it’s at quarter strength. How much water will be required for dilution varies depending on your brand of fertilizer.
Overfertilizing the anthurium is an easy mistake to make but can be very damaging to this houseplant. Try not to do it!
Anthurium Common Questions
Do you still have more questions about the anthurium? No problem! Here is some more information to help you out in your anthurium growing journey.
How Long Do Anthurium Flowers Last?
Once you see the beautiful red blooms of an anthurium, appreciate them while they’re around, because they don’t last forever. The blooming period for this plant is two to three months.
After that, the flowers could begin to fall off your plant. If you’re otherwise taking good care of your anthurium following the information in this guide, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Your plant is just going through a cycle.
However, lack of humidity, dim lighting, cold damage, underwatering, and overwatering can each cause the flowers to die off too. Make sure none of these issues are occurring!
Although it’s sad when the anthurium sheds its flowers, they will return. If you care for your anthurium especially well, then it could bloom all year long, up to six times a year!
Why Is My Anthurium Dying?
Uh-oh, is your anthurium not doing so well? Whether the plant is drooping, browning, or shedding leaves, you’re starting to get very concerned. What’s going on and why is your anthurium dying?
The poor condition of your anthurium could be attributed to several things. Root rot as caused by overwatering could be ravaging your plant beneath the soil. An unidentified pest infestation can also wreak havoc on your anthurium.
If the plant is weakened, it could be prone to bacterial diseases. Fungal diseases can develop as well.
Identifying the root cause of your anthurium’s poor health is integral in determining how you can help it. I always recommend trying to save your plant, but sometimes, you just can’t.