Anthurium (Anthurium sp.) plants are easy to grow houseplants with attractive foliage and long-lasting flowers. They are called flamingo flowers because of the colorful flowers. Plants with bright red flowers are the most common, but other plants have white, pink, orange or green flowers. More than 800 species of anthurium plants are native to Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay and the West Indies. They grow on the sides of trees and in the tree canopies in rain forests. The foliage on juvenile forms is different than that of mature forms.
Anthurium plants are sensitive to extremes in temperature. They grow best in temperatures of 78 to 90 degrees during the day and 70 to 75 degrees during the night. Temperatures above 90 degrees can result in leaf burn, faded flower color and shorter flower life, while temperatures below 50 degrees slow plant growth and cause yellowing of the foliage. Anthurium plants will not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures.
Other Growing Conditions
Anthurium plants should be grown in well-draining coarse potting media that contains a combination of soil, peat moss and charcoal, hard wood or perlite. The plant should be located where it receives diffused bright light from a window.
Water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again. If the plant dries out completely, the plant's growth will slow and it will suffer tip burn and root damage. Over-watering also causes root damage as well as sudden yellowing of the foliage.
Although anthurium plants tolerate low humidity, a light mist of water occasionally will improve their growth. Fertilize sparingly with 1/4 strength all-purpose slow-release liquid fertilizer. Anthurium plants should not be re-potted until the roots fill the current pot.
Very tiny flowers grow on the spadix, the long slender portion surrounded by the glossy, colorful spathes. The spathe is a modified leaf or bracket that protects the spadix. The heart-shaped spathe is the most popular, but spathes are also tulip or butterfly shaped. An obake spathe is bi-colored green and another color. The spathes vary with the variety and age of the plant.
Long Vase Life
The spathes of anthurium plants are commonly used in floral arrangements because they last up to three weeks as a cut flower. The stems of anthurium spathes are easily bruised and susceptible to stem blockage, which prevents the spathe from drawing up water. Most of the water evaporates from the spathe, so applying silver nitrate or a layer of wax to slow down evaporation prolongs the vase life of the spathe.
Pests and Diseases
Wipe the foliage periodically to remove aphids, mealybugs, scales or thrips. Use an insecticidal soap following the manufacturer's directions on severe infestations.
High humidity and temperatures and poor drainage cause rhizoctinia fungus. Provide good drainage and air circulation and the proper temperatures to prevent the disease. Use a fungicide at the rate recommended by the manufacturer to treat the disease.