Anthuriums, or flamingo flowers, are a genus of tropical plants in the Arum family. There may be more than 1,500 species with new discoveries made regularly, notes The University of the West Indies. They are grown as houseplants and ornamentals for their attractive foliage and colorful flowers. The most common species in cultivation is the red flowered Anthurium andreanum although many cultivated varieties are hybrids. Anthurium flowers are used in the cut flower trade as they are long-lasting and robust.
Anthuriums grow as a rosette of rounded leaves and flowers held on the ends of erect stems. The largest species have leaves up to 3 feet long. The flowers consist of a rounded or heart-shaped modified leaf called a spathe with a spike shaped inflorescence called a spadix. The flowers can vary in color from greenish white to bright red and some species have multicolored spathe or colors that change as the flower ages. Anthuriums produce small berries that are red or black and contain one or two seeds.
While some species of anthurium have become naturalized in Asia, they are originally all from tropical Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Many species of anthurium are epiphytes that grow on branches and tree trunks in tropical forests. Others, known as hemiepiphytes, grow in the canopy and have long, trailing roots that reach down to the forest floor or germinate on the forest floor and grow upwards to the canopy. Some species grow only on the forest floor.
A potted anthurium will thrive on a brightly lit windowsill with no direct sunshine at temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees F. Mist your plant daily to maintain humidity and wipe down the leaves every week with a damp cloth. Water thoroughly only when the potting medium has dried out to a depth of 1 inch and allow all excess water to drain away. Fertilize every two weeks with liquid houseplant fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Soak the pot and compost thoroughly once a year to flush out any excess mineral salts by leaving in underwater for at least 10 minutes.
Split large plants at the root ball during repotting or propagate anthuriums from stem cuttings. Cut the stems of large plants into sections with at least two pairs of leaves and some roots. Pot them up into a peat-based compost with 30 percent sand and grow on in a warm and humid spot. You can also put stem cuttings into a container of water until they produce roots, then plant them. Anthurium seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours before sowing and will germinate with a week if kept warm and moist.