Anthurium the plant

by Andrew Street

Anthurium is a genus of plant in the Araceae family-also known as the aroids. Aroids are well known, largely cultivated tropical plants; Alocasia, Amorphophallus, Caladium, and Colocasia, are probably familiar names, with Philodendron possibly being the most familiar and closest in relation to Anthurium.  The main morphological difference is that  Anthurium has a 'perfect' flower ; this means the structure contains both male and female parts-an 'imperfect' flower would only have either or-which is the case for Philodendron.

 Anthurium flower

Anthurium in general make great house plants and when the right horticultural practices are followed, make for an amazing addition to the tropical l ook.

Also known as the flamingo flower or laceleaf, 
Anthurium are versatile plants that in many ways are more manageable and rewarding than the more common Philodendron. 

For one thing, Anthurium tend to be much smaller and do not vine nearly to the extent a common Monstera (swiss cheese plant) or Philodendron often does. They also work incredibly well as houseplants, due to their ability to handle low humidity.  A few steps must be taken to have success but they are simple: one note is to keep the plant on the drier side but not like a succulent or cactus would like. Bright light is great but the overall light exposure, given to your plant, can be flexible as most Anthurium are quite forgiving. Maybe one of the most important keys to success is a specific watering technique-always water the base of the plant or inside the container, not the plant itself; the reason for this is Anthurium have very sensitive leaves that do a lot of respiration. 

With tap water or any other hard water source, 
the minerals inside the water are left behind during watering and that accumulates on the leaf, eventually suffocating the plant. 

They also can benefit from a light but occasional leaf wiping with a damp cloth. You may find quite a bit of dust, collected as houseplants make excellent home filters. Naturally pure or bottled water can be used on Anthurium leaves
Anthurium flower

 Anthurium is the largest group of plants in the aroid family. With roughly a thousand species ranging from Mexico to Argentina, Anthurium plants come in all shapes and sizes. Most are epiphytic but some are terrestrial in nature. The fairly common Anthurium cubense is an easy terrestrial species to grow. It is often referred to as a birds nest fern, but it is not a true fern. This plant can be quite large as an adult, with some standing six feet tall or better. Many of the smaller species work great in orchid baskets, outside. Keep them humid and moist when they are in baskets.
A very big part of the fun of growing Anthurium seems to be the ease of growing them. Germinating them is also quite easy-many species will produce viable seed on their own. The fruits come in many colors but usually are red. When the fruit is ripe, it will protrude from the rest of the seeds, making it easy to harvest. Most fruits contain two seeds. The best germination rates come when the seeds are cleaned before sowing. Place them in a well-drained mix that is kept moist. Little sprouts can be seen in about a month. 
If you grow more than one species, don't be surprised if the offspring don't look like the parent plant; even with only one species, Anthurium can display variation in the leaf. 
Hybridization occurs quite often in garden settings and many nurseries have taken a step in this direction, creating some really interesting plants with  various  species crosses.
Some of these plants can be found in local nurseries in South Florida and can be some of the most tropical and impressive plants in the tropical landscape.
Questions about Anthurium (or any other aroid)?  

Drop us an email with your questions or come by and ask us in person. We are always glad to help our community, and growing more plants can only be a help!

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