plant of the month
Flamingo flower, Tail flower, Oilcloth flower, Painter’s palette
Anthurium “blooms,” which are actually colored waxy leaf bracts called spathes, are essentially flat and cordate (heart shaped), often with a puckered or ruched texture and either glossy or matte surfaces. Arising from the notched apex of each spathe is a fingerlike protrusion called a spadix. It is the “bumps” on the spadices that are the actual flowers.
Leaves range in shape from cordate (heart) to sagittate (arrowhead) and are most often glossy and dark green; some species (e.g., A. crystallinum), however, have leaves with white or silvery veinlike patterns.
Spathe colors include burgundy, red, hot pink, pink, orange, salmon, brown, purple, green, cream and white. Bicolors and multicolors (called obake [oh-BAW-kee]), one hue of which is always green, also are available.
In an ideal environment and with proper care, Anthurium plants can last for years, and many varieties will bloom almost continuously, taking a break only during the winter months. Each inflorescence can last up to eight weeks.
Potted Anthuriums are generally available year-round, depending on the grower.
in-store and consumer care
These plants require moderate to bright indirect light (moderate in summer, bright in winter). Shield these plants from direct sunlight.
In spring and summer months, water Anthuriums frequently with nonchlorinated water, keeping soil consistently lightly moist. During fall and winter months, water less frequently, but do not allow soil to dry out.
Anthuriums are tropical plants and, therefore, prefer average to warm interior environments, 65 F and 80 F. They grow best when there is little difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. During winter dormancy periods, they prefer lower temperatures—60 F to 65 F.
These plants also prefer moderate to high humidity levels, so mist leaves frequently with lukewarm water, place pots on a pebble tray or place a humidifier in the room.
Low; Anthuriums are fairly resistant to the effects of ethylene gas.
From spring through late summer, feed potted Anthuriums every two to four weeks with a high-phosphorous plant food. In the fall and winter, feed every six weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Newly purchased plants often have time-release fertilizer in the pot and need no feeding until the plant is repotted.
Anthuriums prefer loose, peaty, humus-rich soil, like African violet potting mix.
Cut off any colored spathes and leaves as they fade. To keep leaves glossy and free of pests, wipe them every few weeks with a damp cloth, or rinse them with warm water.
Repot Anthuriums every two years, in the spring, shifting plants to slightly larger pots each time (see “Soil,” below). Place plants so that the crowns sit just above the soil surface. If roots show atop the soil, cover them with moss or a light sprinkling of potting mix. If a plant has produced new crowns, separate them from the main plant when repotting, and plant them separately into smaller pots.
Anthurium blooms and leaves contain oxalic acid crystals and several toxic proteins that, if ingested, can cause severe mouth burning or skin irritation, so keep these plants out of the reach of children and pets.
Aphids and scale insects are the most common. Treat infested plants with insecticidal soap.
If Anthurium plants are kept too moist and cool, Botrytis (gray mold) and root rot can develop.
To view 22 additional Anthurium varieties, please download the PDF.
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WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus name “Anthurium” is from the Greek “anthos” (flower) and “oura” (tail), referring to the slender tail-like spadix that protrudes from the spathe. The specific epithet (species name) “andraeanum” was given in honor of Edouard Francis André, a French botanist, horticulturist, horticulture professor and editor, and landscape architect, who collected the species in Colombia in 1875.
Anthuriums are members of the Araceae (arum/aroid) family. Close relatives include callas (Zantedeschia), peace lilies (Spathiphyllum), Chinese evergreens (Aglaonema), elephant’s-ear plants (Caladium and Alocasia), dumb cane (Dieffenbachia), arrowhead (Nephthytis/Syngonium), pothos (Epipremnum) and Philodendrons.
HOME SWEET HOME
All species of Anthuriums are native to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, with A. andraeanum indigenous to Colombia. sfr
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, The
by Barbara Pleasant
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Houseplant Encyclopedia, The
by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
House Plant Expert, The, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
by William T. Stern
Photos: Anthura B.V.