Anthuriums as houseplants: How to grow and support them indoors

Anthurium is a genus of flowering plant in the Araceae family commonly known as tailflower, laceleaf and flamingo flower.

Anthuriums are a species of herbaceous plant common to tropical parts of Central and South America. Some Anthuriums can grow terrestrially, along the floor but most are epiphytes. Their roots attach to trees and other plants where they grow in a non parasitic way and receive nutrients from the environment.

anthurium hybrid and flamingo flower

Photo by Marina Leonova

 

The first Anthurium ever recorded was a variety of Flamingo flowers in 1876 by botanist Dr. Karl van Scherzer. And since this discovery, Anthuriums as tropical plants have exploded in popularity and trade because of their striking foliage. And with the proper anthurium care, they can thrive.

Anthurium andaeanum flowers
Anthurium andraeanum flowers
Photo by Joydeep Pal on Unsplash

Commonly found Anthurium species

Flamingo flower

The starter Anthurium for plant parents everywhere. The Flamingo flower Anthurium is one of the only Anthuriums you can find in any big box store. Notorious for its big colorful, waxy flowers ranging in colors of red, orange, and black. Its foliage is also waxy but dark green and heart shaped. When the Flamingo flower reaches maturity, it's leaves can be around 18 inches or even bigger.

red flamingo flower

Red Flamingo Flower
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Anthurium Clarnervium

Anthurium clarnervium is best known for it's dark green, perfectly heart shaped, velvety leaves that have a silver veins with a glitter-like effect to them. Anthurium clarnervium is a great beginner plant because its ease of care is similar to a Monstera deliciosa.

anthurium clarnervium leaf

Anthurium clarnervium leaf
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Anthurium Crystallinum

Anthurium crystallinum has large dark green, velvet leaves with silver glitter-like veins running throughout the leaves with an oval-heart shape leaf. Crystallinum is another plant that grew in popularity due to its ease of care. The crystallinum and clarnervium make great beginner Anthuriums and are fairly easy to find online or your local speciality houseplant nursery.

Anthurium warocqueanum

One can't mention Anthurium plants without bringing up the Queen Anthurium--Anthurium warocqueanum. The Queen Anthurium has long arrow shaped leaves ranging in colors from light green to a deep forest green that appears almost black. In its native habitat, it can grow larger than a human. Seeing these specimens in nature will explain how they received Queen status. Anthurium warocqueanum is mostly a collectors Anthurium and requires really specific care to grow it successfully but is well worth the effort.

Anthurium Veitchii

Like the Queen Anthurium, the Veitchii has also reached royalty status with its common name being the King Anthurium. The Veitchii has long, heart shaped glossy leaves but is notorious for the ripples that run down the each leaf. And like the Queen Anthurium, can grow bigger than 6ft in length. A true show stopper.

Anthurium forgetii

Anthurium forgetii is quite different from the common Anthuriums due to its unique shape. Unlike the heart shape sinus (the space that often gives leaves that heart shape) other Anthuriums have, the forgetii has no sinus. It has a raindrop shape. It also has those beautiful white veins running throughout the leaf and has a thicker, leather-like texture.

an assortment of anthurium with a monstera albo

An assortment of Anthuriums with Monstera Albo
Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash


Caring for Anthurium plants indoors

Anthurium plants are known to be more complicated but to successfully grow Anthuriums, they need the right amount humidity, bright indirect light, consistent watering and well draining soil.

Light

Anthuriums are used to being covered by a canopy of trees in the rainforest, they're known as understory plants. Any plant that grows in this condition, likes bright indirect light. In household conditions, you can put your plant in a shaded window where it can see the sky but not where direct sunlight hits the foliage.

flamingo flower foliage in the shade
Flamingo flower foliage

Soil

Anthurium plant roots are thick, chunky and white, they almost resemble Udon noodles. Indoor plants with this type of root system like an especially chunky potting mix. Using a mix of sphagnum moss, coco coir or peat moss will help with water retention and keeping the soil moist. And adding amendments like pine bark, perlite or and orchid mix will add proper aeration the root ball needs. Lastly, always make sure to plant your Anthurium in a pot with drainage holes. This will prevent soggy soil and root rot.

chunky aroid soil with shovel

Chunky aroid soil

Humidity and Temperature

Humidity is key to grow Anthurium plant. Anthurium grows in tropical forests where it rains almost every day and has extremely high humidity. In household conditions 40%-50% will suffice for most Anthuriums. But if your Anthurium has slowed down in growth or has trouble unfurling leaves, introduce more humidity.

Some ways to introduce more humidity would be to top the soil surface with sphagnum moss or using a humidifier. If you still struggle with humidity, you can enclose your plant in a ziplock bag to give it a greenhouse effect. Or if you want to fully commit, a cabinet or grow-tent would make the perfect environment.

For temperature, Anthurium plant thrive in more mild conditions. In my experience, they don't like it too cold and they don't like to bake. Anywhere between 60°F and 70°F would be ideal.

Watering Schedule

As mentioned earlier, Anthurium plants come from places where it rains all the time. While a majority of Anthuriums can tolerate drying out a little, Anthuriums thrive when they're soil stays consistently moist. As long as your potting mix is chunky and it's in a pot with a drainage hole, root rot shouldn't be an issue.

Fertilizer

One uncommon tip I don't hear mentioned enough with Anthuriums is how much to fertilizer. Anthuriums thrive when they're being fed properly. Fertilizing your plant regularly, especially in the growing season, will help support new growth. Proper fertilizer will also help with your Anthurium hold onto more leaves, stay a beautiful color of green and help prevent any disease.

Propagation

Anthurium plant propagation can be a little difficult because they're not a vining plant. To propagate an Anthurium, you'll need to wait for it to put off an off-shoot, or a pup. Cut it at the base and propagate the pup in moss or soil with lots of humidity. Alternatively, you can wait for you Anthuriums stalk to grow tall enough to where you can cut it in half. Propagate the top part and wait for the rooted bottom half to pop out new growth.

Read our blog here to learn more about propagation.

lightly rooted plant

Newly rooted plant
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Common Pests

Anthuriums are no different than other houseplants in the pests department. You'll always want to keep an eye out for any signs of pests; sudden yellowing, misfired leaves or weird growth. However, in my experience, spider mites and thrips seem to be especially attracted to that lush foliage. And they can be more difficult to see with the velvet Anthuriums.

Anthurium clarnervium plant

Anthurium clarnervium plant
Photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

One quick way to identify spider mites, would be to check for any fine webbing. They tend to make their webs between the sinus of a leaf or the space where the leaf meets the stem.

And one quick way to know if you have thrips is if you start noticing lots of yellowing, bottom leaves. They're easily identified in their pupae stage stage where you'll see lots of thin bodied, white bugs.

Check out our blog here to learn about effective ways to treat for pests.

Supporting anthuriums and displaying them indoors

Anthurium plants have the tendency to grow top heavy and unruly, making it difficult to display them. Here's some hacks I use around my plant room with my Anthurium plants.

Sprawling Internodes

Anthuriums like the Flamingo lily and King Anthurium have long stems and will grow in lots of different directions, taking up a lot of space. To help with this, I use plant velcro to tape the stems together. If you plant is more established, you'll have to do this slowly and give the plant some time to adjust. Over time, you'll be able to bring the stems closer, making it easier to display your plant.

Anthurium stems being supported together
Anthurium being held together by plant velcro on
Monstrella trellis by Treleaf

Top Heavy

Some types of Anthuriums will grow top heavy and may not be able to support itself. In this case, I like to use a trellis. It may be a bit cumbersome in the beginning, but the leaves will adjust. My favorite trellis to add are the wooden trellises from Treleaf. A lovely, plant inspired trellis to help display a beautiful plant.

Alternatively, you can make a moss pole to help support your Anthurium. It's not commonly seen amongst houseplant collectors but Anthuriums love to climb. And with the right humidity, you'll see those chunky aerial roots start growing which would be the perfect time to add support. Giving your Anthurium the chance to climb will help produce bigger growth, as well.