A Beginner’s Guide To Anthurium Care
Those familiar with the beautiful anthurium plant know that due to its affinity for the tropical environment, proper anthurium care is essential to its survival.
Naturally found only in the tropics of South and Central America, as well as Mexico, the Anthurium species is estimated to exist in close to 1,000 forms. The species that are raised in places such as Hawaii are not indigenous to that area, existing there only in hybridized form. As such, misinformation about anthurium care and propagation exists in all quarters.
For example, since it thrives in tropical climes, many people believe it is an aquatic plant. As such, they try to grow anthuriums in aquariums or water-filled vases. The same confusion about growing conditions leads others to plant them in pots full of moisture-retaining soil. Since neither of the above-mentioned methods reflects the plant’s ideal environment, this type of anthurium care will doom the plant to slower growth cycles and eventual death.
Anthuriums typically grow best on tree branches, especially in canopies high above the forest floor, their roots exposed in order to easily gather rain, followed by a period of root drying. Some plants also grow well on volcanic rocks, but the constant watering involved can be too labor-intensive for the casual plant owner. Having said that, anthuriums can be trained to grow in potted soil.
The two primary methods of growing anthuriums involve either starting with an existing plant or raising one from seed.
With this in mind, anthurium care involves several factors, the first being location. If you live in a tropical area, you can plant an anthurium directly in the ground. Depending on the type of plant it is, it may start climbing up a nearby tree or spread out on the ground before eventually growing leaves 5-6 feet in length.
If you live in a non-tropical climate, potting of the plant is still a viable method, providing it is grown inside and given the proper care.
Two other ways to raise anthuriums involve either growing a plant that is attached to volcanic rock, or planting one inside a hanging orchid basket that is full of sphagnum moss. In either case the material around the roots needs to be kept moist.
One of the factors affecting plant growth is potting soil composition. The soil should be composed of compost added to a mixture of 50% moisture control potting soil (Miracle Grow brand), 10% Perlite, 20% orchid potting media, and 20% peat moss.
Another factor important to the plant’s growth is the quality of available light. Anthuriums do best in bright, but filtered or diffused, light. Grow light and fluorescents don’t provide enough illumination, while direct sun will prove to be too much for the plant.
Water requirements vary depending on the season and temperature. An overhead mister or water-filled pots placed underneath the anthurium’s leaves will provided the moisture it needs. If necessary, moisten the leaves with a hand-held mister, but never over-water them. Balance is the key. A plant that is too dry will develop root damage and tip burn, while too much water can also damage roots and cause leaves to turn yellow.
Fertilizer is another area where the home grower must exercise caution. Anthuriums in their native habitat rely on decayed vegetation for most of their growth material. As such, plant owners would be well advised to apply liquid fertilizer at 20% of the manufacturer’s recommended dose, and then only once a week.
While anthuriums tolerate temperatures ranging from 55° - 90° F, they thrive in the 70-85° F range. During the winter, in preparation for the new year’s growing season, plants need a six-week rest period, at 60° F and with little watering.
Humidity in the rain forest approaches 100%. As such, your anthurium will need a similar atmosphere- 85% or higher- as well as a way to circulate the air on a regular basis.
As to pests, anthuriums attract mealy bugs, scales, thrips and aphids, all of which must be detected as soon as possible. The longer they remain with the plant, the greater damage they will do.