Anthurium is a genus containing more than 1,000 separate species. The genus is indigenous to Central and South America and the West Indies. The plant Anthurium andraeanum is the most widely recognized plant within the genus and is cultivated ans an ornamental house plant. Anthurium is also known as Tail Flower. Flamingo Flower, Painted Tongue and the Hawaiian Love Plant.
Anthurium are erect plants that produce many large, heart-shaped or lance-shaped leaves on long stems. They are dark green in color, glossy and deeply veined. The plants also produce brightly colored, waxy, heart-shaped spathes, specialized leaves that surround the flowers. The tiny flowers themselves grow on a finger-like inflorescence that projects out from the spathe. These are typically bright red, although they also come in pink, white, burgundy and variegated.
Anthurium are slow-growing perennials that prefer partial shade or bright, indirect light. The plant can tolerate a wide range of temperatures from 45 to 90 degrees F. Anthurium tend towards being epiphytes, plants that grow on or very close to trees. The plant grows from an underground rhizome in two phases. The first phase produced the foliage of the plant the second phase, the flower.
Anthurium stems reach from 15 to 20 inches tall. The leaves are usually large. The plant is relatively compact with many leaf stems emanating in a bunch from the underground rhizome. The flowering stalk grows within that bunch of leaves and reaches a similar height.
Anthurium can grow in a wide range of soil types, but require soil rich in organic material with good drainage to prevent the stems and roots from rotting. Anthurium are typically cultivated in raised beds around 6 feet wide and 8 inches deep. The plants should not be planted deeper than 2 inches to prevent rotting and should be watered immediately after planting. A layer of mulch should be applied to encourage new growth.
Anthrium come in several varieties. White types include White Frost, Limona, and the White Gemini, which has a huge inflorescence. Pink varieties include Cotton Candy, Favorita and Peaches N Cream, which are relatively small and the very large Bronze Beauty. Red varieties such as SunDial, Pacora and Red Hot are common, and purple types include Purple Plum, Krypton and Valentine.
Anthurium are usually raised as potted plants and are commonly sold as house plants in nurseries and garden centers. Because the flowers with their colorful bracts, and their foliage, are long-lasting, they are also prepared as cut flowers offering an exotic touch to floral arrangements.