While I’ve spent a fair amount of time tending to outdoor plants, my experience with indoor plants was relatively non-existent. The curiosity of the feline members of my household was such that having plants or even cut flowers was not prudent. After one incident with a broken glass vase, I decided cats and indoor plants did not make a good combination.
Fast forward a number of years when an Anthurium was presented to me as a gesture of thanks for speaking to a neighborhood association in 2015. My cats had passed, so bringing it home would have been an option, but instead, I decided to keep the plant in my office where it has flourished, providing long-lasting color with very little care.
The genus name Anthurium is derived from the Greek words “anthos” and “oura” meaning flower and tail. As a member of the Arum family, Anthurium are characterized by an inflorescence consisting of a spathe and spadix. The colorful spathe is a modified leaf, while the spadix is a stalk of densely packed flowers. The Greek word “oura” refers to the spadix as has a tail-like appearance.
The spathes of Anthurium are traditionally pink or red, hence the common name flamingo flower. As I prepared to write this blog, I visited a local nursery and was in awe of the selection, with spathes in bright red, pure white, salmon, pink, and a combination of white, pink, and green. I had to practice self-control and resist the urge to purchase one in every color.
Here are some tips on Anthurium care:
Light: Provide bright but indirect light for maximum flower production.
Water: Water thoroughly but allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Fertilizer: Very little fertilizer is required. I’ve never fertilized the plant I was given in 2015, and it has flowered multiple times each year.
Repotting and Soil: It’s best to allow the root system to fill the container before transplanting. Since Anthuriums are tropical plants that grow as epiphytes, they prefer a coarse and well-drained medium. The University of Vermont recommends a soilless mix containing peat moss, pine bark, and perlite. I used a 50% cactus mix and 50% orchid mix to provide good drainage and supply organic matter. For more information, see HGIC 1458, Indoor Plants- Transplanting and Repotting
From my perspective, the only downside of Anthurium is that it is toxic to people and pets if ingested. Poisonous plants are not uncommon in the plant world and generally pose little risk to humans, provided safety measures are in place. It would be wise for those with small children and pets to keep plants elevated and out of reach of curious hands and mouths.