Without a doubt, the exuberant Anthurium is my favorite plant of the season. It brings feelings of warmth and joy to me and seems to welcome me back each time that I enter the room. As an added bonus, anthurium is at the top of Nasa’s list of air purifying plants. I guess you could say that anthurium is a boost for both the body and the spirit.
Anthurium, or Heart of Hawaii, as it is sometimes called, is not overly difficult to grow, but it does have some fairly specific requirements. Native to Central America and the Caribbean, these plants are a bit more sensitive to light, temperature and humidity fluctuations. They want bright, indirect light during most of the year. An east facing window is ideal, but in the winter months anthuriums may need to be moved to a west window.
Keep the temperature between 65 and 85 degrees F during the day and don’t let the nighttime temperatures consistently drop below 60 degrees. Consistent cold temperatures will eventually kill this plant. Keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy and mist anthurium daily to keep the humidity level high. Using a pebble tray is highly recommended. (See the Norfolk Island Pine posting, December 9 for more information on pebble trays.) Anthurium thrives in rooms where humidifiers are run.
Like poinsettias, the vivid color that anthuriums sport comes from their spathes, which are actually large, leaf-like bracts. In nature, brightly colored bracts are meant to attract pollinators to the plant. The flowers on an anthurium are tightly clustered together at the top of the slender, fleshy stalks that rise above the spathes. Each flower can last six to eight weeks, and plants will usually rebloom several times a year. To encourage rebloom, experts recommend immediately removing spent blooms near the base of the plant and giving weekly feedings with a high phosphorus fertilizer. Keep the phrase “weekly, weakly” in mind as you mix the fertilizer solution.
Pay attention to the plant’s true leaves. They will help you determine the health of the plant. Yellowing leaves are a sign of either too much sunlight. If leaves and stems are bronze then it is a sign of bacterial wilt. Dark greens leaves mean that the plant is starved for light while floppy leaves signal root rot from overwatering.
One more important thing to know about anthuriums – they are toxic and the sap from their branches can cause redness, rashes and swelling to people with sensitive skin. It’s important to keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Join us tomorrow as we close out this series with a look at our final choice for 2021, cyclamen.