An Introduction to Anthuriums: Our 5 Favorite Species and Anthurium Care
Somehow both elegant and bizarre, Anthuriums have a certain undeniable magnetism about them. They are certainly charming like their more easygoing cousin the philodendron, but there is a wildness in those hulking leaves and neon flowers that says unmistakably, ‘I belong to the jungle’. While Anthurium care is a little different than that of most houseplants, with a few adjustments these plants can happily grow indoors.
Anthuriums are aroid plants originating in the neotropics (South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean), where most species grow epiphytically on the branches of trees in lush, tropical forests. With a little care, these wild things can be tamed and make lovely additions to the home. They command our attention with their strange, candy-bright blooms and foliage ranging from the delicate, palmate Anthurium ‘Fingers,’ to the velvety, almost black leaf of Anthurium ‘Queen of Hearts’ that is so massive and dark, it seems to look back at you with the intensity of a wildcat.
Few genera offer such varied and beautiful options for indoor growing. They are a must for any houseplant collector and a great choice for someone who feels like they’ve mastered philodendrons and are looking for a new challenge. A few key factors distinguish Anthurium care from that of other houseplants. Read our guide to see if you’re ready to take one of these strange beauties home with you.
A jumble of Anthurium magnificum x crystallinum
Anthurium Care: How to Care for Anthuriums as Indoor Plants
To thrive in our homes, anthuriums need medium to bright indirect light, although they’ll accept less during their dormant period in winter. They are sensitive to direct light and burn easily, so take care to protect from hot afternoon sunbeams.
Proper watering is key to Anthurium care (and to the care of all your houseplants!). Keep the soil lightly moist during the growing season (March-September), letting the top layer just approach dryness between waterings. Make a habit of checking on it at least once or twice a week by gently digging a finger into the soil. It should feel barely moist. If it still feels wet, wait a bit longer.
Remember that your plant’s watering needs depend greatly on the unique light and humidity of your home and can also change drastically with transitioning seasons and weather. In winter, your Anthurium may only require water every few weeks or so, while in summer it may require water every few days. Get to know your plant and its needs by keeping a close eye on it the first few weeks after bringing it home and using your senses: How does it look? How do the leaves feel? How does the soil feel? Listen to what your plant is telling you and gently adjust your care regimen accordingly.
Proper Anthurium care means keeping a watchful eye in winter and protecting your plants from drafty doors and windows. They will suffer or even die below 55 degrees and are happiest between 65-70. It’s also important to protect your Anthurium from forced air. Heaters, fans, and air conditioners can damage plants if they are too close, but gentle air circulation (such as an open window on a warm, humid day) will benefit them.
A trio of juvenile anthuriums from left to right: Anthurium clarinervium, Anthurium veitchii, Anthurium pedato-radiatum ‘Fingers’
Humidity is definitely a factor to consider before bringing home an Anthurium, and very important to Anthurium care. The foliage varieties especially require high humidity to thrive and will suffer without it, often getting brown edges. Consider keeping your Anthurium in a well-lit bathroom or near your kitchen sink. If that’s not practical, you can run a humidifier near your Anthurium, mist it periodically, or use a simple pebble tray under its pot.
With careful watering, some hybrids can be grown successfully in potting soil by treating them similarly to philodendrons, letting the soil dry out a bit between waterings. However, because Anthuriums grow in the moss and leaf litter of tree branches in their native environments, they prefer something more akin to an orchid mix. This is usually a loose, breathable mix of potting soil, peat moss, bark pieces and/or mulch, charcoal, gravel, perlite or pumice, and sphagnum moss. Using this type of soil mix will make Anthurium care a bit more manageable.
Anthuriums benefit from regular but restrained fertilizing. Once every 6-8 weeks March through September with an indoor plant formula is adequate for foliage varieties, while a formula for orchids or flowering indoor plants used more regularly (every 3-6 weeks) will encourage blooms in flowering varieties.
Many Anthuriums are grown for their unique flowers, which come in brilliant colors and have an almost lacquer-like shine. What we call the flower is actually many very tiny flowers growing along the spadix (the thin, finger-like center) while the heart shaped outer “petal” is really a modified leaf called the spathe. These “flowers” are some of the longest lasting on earth, which means that lustrous color can last in your home for months after you being one home from the nursery. Getting your Anthurium to re-bloom is doable, although it requires some patience and care. They will require bright filtered light (lower light will dissuade plants from blooming), consistent but careful watering, and regular fertilizing. Gently clip spent flowers so your plant can use its energy on new growth.
Propagation is best done during repotting in the early spring by carefully dividing the roots. Gently pull the plant into pieces, feeling for roots that separate easily. Make sure each piece has healthy roots and at least 1 or 2 leaves.
A little extra care will keep your Anthurium thriving, but they are survivors and will usually tolerate imperfect conditions when they have to. All in all, they can be quite easy to maintain and bring such unique beauty to a space.
Our 5 favorite Anthuriums
Anthurium veitchii (“King Anthurium”)
Why we love it: Simply stated, Anthurium veitchii has one of the most magnificent leaves we’ve ever seen in our years of loving tropical plants. The leaves grow to 3′ long, bright green in color and deeply quilted/pleated in texture.
Anthurium magnificum x crystallinum
Why we love it: This hybrid of two equally awesome species has gorgeous velvety leaves with bright white venation. The new leaves often emerge bright red!
Anthurium ‘Ace of Spades’
Why we love it: This velvet-leafed hybrid has dark purple-green leaves that can be nearly black, with some lighter green venation. Dark, mysterious and lovely!
Why we love it: One of numerous “bird’s nest Anthuriums,” A. superbum grows in a dense rosette, with delightfully rounded, ruffled and upright leaves.
Why we love it: You always want what you can’t have, right? This compact Anthurium with velvety heart-shaped leaves that are delightfully perky is unfortunately very hard to find in the states. That doesn’t mean we’ll stop looking, though!
Are you as excited as we are about Anthuriums yet? Ready to bring home one of your very own? They are undoubtedly one of our personal favorites and we often have them available for sale here at Pistils. We’re always looking for rare and unusual varieties, and happen to be expecting some exciting shipments in the near future. Follow us on social media to be the first to know when new shipments arrive or call today to see what we have in the shop!