Anthurium, a perennial houseplant also known as tailflower or flamingo flower, produces waxy spathes in shades of red, pink, white and orange almost year round. When not in bloom, anthurium's deep green, heart-shaped foliage provides a dramatic display. The plant reaches up to 18 inches in height and width, and its long-lasting flowers remain for up to eight weeks. Native to tropical American rain forests, the plant requires warm, humid growing conditions to thrive. Gardeners in the United States grow the plant indoors to prevent cold damage during the winter months.
Site and Soil
Anthurium requires a porous, peaty potting soil, such as an African violet mix. The soil must have good drainage to prevent standing water from accumulating, as this can cause rotting. Bright, indirect light is best, and a south-facing windowsill provides an ideal location for anthuriums to thrive. Failure to bloom usually means the plant needs more light and yellowing leaves may indicate too much light.
Anthurium prefers a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The plant performs well, however, even with little to no difference between the daily and nightly temperatures. It may survive in colder environments for a short time, but temperatures below 50 degrees Fahreneheit will cause chilling damage. Anthurium also requires protection from cold drafts, which may result in leaf drop.
For optimal growth, anthuriums require consistently moist soil. The plant will survive if the soil dries slightly, but it should never dry out completely. Watering once every three to four days during spring and summer, and once every five to seven days during fall and winter typically provides adequate moisture. Pouring away any excess water after each application helps prevent root rot.
Because of its tropical nature, anthuriums require moderate to high humidity at all times. If the humidity drops below 50 percent for more than a couple of days, the plant may begin to shed leaves. To raise the humidity near the plant, gardeners either place the plant's container on a tray filled with water and pebbles, mist the plant several times a day with lukewarm water or run a humidifier in the room near the plant.
A heavy feeder, anthurium needs regular fertilization to stay healthy and continue producing blooms. An equal analysis liquid fertilizer formulated for houseplants, such as 10-10-10 NPK, applied once every other month, supplies optimum nutrition. Lightly watering the soil prior to feeding prevents burning the plant's roots and helps distribute the nutrients throughout the soil so the roots can better absorb them.
Repotting anthurium once every two to four years ensures the plant doesn't become root bound. If the roots begin growing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the container, this indicates the plant needs repotting. Using a container 2 to 3 inches larger in diameter than the previous pot will allow plenty of room for new root growth. In most cases, anthurium will never require a container larger than 8 inches in diameter, especially for more compact varieties.