What is Anthurium: Unveiling the Popular Houseplant

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Anthurium is a genus of around 1,000 species of flowering plants, known for their vibrant and unique appearance. These plants are native to Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. Because of their particular care needs, anthuriums are often grown as houseplants or in greenhouses, rather than outdoor gardens in warm climates. Some of the general common names for these plants include tailflower, flamingo flower, and laceleaf.

As perennial plants, anthuriums are characterized by their long-lasting, showy floral structures and are members of the Araceae family. Interestingly, the colorful “flowers” of the anthurium are actually modified leaves called bracts. The true flowers of the plant grow from the center structure, known as an inflorescence. Originally found in the Andes Mountain range in Colombia and Ecuador, anthuriums thrive in warm, humid environments in homes and greenhouses.

Anthuriums are also epiphytes, which means they do not require soil to grow. Instead, they absorb moisture from the air and nutrients from their host, which is usually a tree or surrounding dead plant material. This unique growth habit is an important consideration when caring for anthurium plants, as they require different care compared to traditional, soil-based houseplants.

What is Anthurium?

Anthurium, a genus of herbaceous plants, consists of approximately 825 species. These plants belong to the Araceae family and are predominantly found in tropical regions of America. Known for their vibrant foliage and long-lasting floral structures, many of these species make popular houseplants and some are widely cultivated for the florist trade.

Anthurium Species

There are over 1,000 different types of Anthurium, each with unique characteristics. A few notable species include:

  • Anthurium andraeanum: Commonly known as the Flamingo Flower, it is famous for its bright, heart-shaped floral structures, also known as spathes.
  • Anthurium scherzerianum: Often called the Pigtail Anthurium, this species features a curled, tail-like spadix and colorful spathes.
  • Anthurium crystallinum: This species is mainly grown for its large, velvety, and dark green leaves with striking white veins.

Anthurium plants are also known as epiphytes, which means they can grow without needing soil, and they obtain moisture from the air and nutrients from their surroundings.

Origin and Distribution

Anthurium plants thrive in warm and humid environments found in Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. They are native to tropical rainforests their foliage is sheltered from direct sunlight by the thick forest canopy. Due to their specific care needs, Anthuriums are often grown as houseplants or in greenhouses rather than outdoors, especially in places that do not have tropical climates.

By understanding the origin and variety of Anthurium species, one can appreciate their beauty and unique qualities that make them such desirable additions to any indoor plant collection.

Growing Conditions

Anthuriums are tropical plants native to Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. They thrive in specific conditions to grow and bloom properly. Understanding their requirements regarding soil, light, and water can help ensure your anthurium thrives indoors.

Soil Requirements

Anthuriums prefer a well-draining soil mix, as they are epiphytes that naturally grow on trees and absorb moisture from the air. Consider using a mix of peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark to create an airy, well-draining soil that mimics their natural environment. Maintaining a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 can also support healthy anthurium growth.

Light Requirements

These plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can cause the leaves to discolor and turn yellow. Aim to provide filtered or diffused light, such as placing the plant near a window with sheer curtains. If you notice the leaves becoming pale, it could indicate that your anthurium is receiving too much light. Conversely, if the plant is not blooming, it may require more light.

Watering Tips

When it comes to watering anthuriums, it’s essential not to overwater them, as this can lead to root rot and wilting. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil is dry, allowing excess water to drain away. Underwatering is preferable to overwatering, as mild wilting due to underwatering can be quickly fixed by providing water. Periodically check the soil moisture to ensure you are watering your anthurium properly. Additionally, maintaining a high humidity level can support the plant’s health, as anthuriums originally hail from humid environments near the Andes Mountains.

Caring for Anthuriums

Anthuriums are tropical plants known for their colorful, heart-shaped flowers. They make excellent houseplants and are relatively easy to care for when provided with the right conditions. In this section, we will discuss the proper care techniques for your Anthurium, including repotting, fertilizing, and pruning.


Anthuriums generally need to be repotted every two to three years, as they outgrow their current pot. When repotting, choose a pot that is one size larger than the current one and use a well-draining soil mix. You can create a suitable combine peat moss and perlite in equal amounts to make the mixture, and pine bark. Gently remove the plant from its old pot, being careful not to damage the roots. Place the Anthurium in the new pot and fill in around the roots with the soil mix. Water thoroughly after repotting to settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets.


Anthuriums thrive on a balanced liquid fertilizer applied once every month or two during the growing season. Use a water-soluble fertilizer with a 1-1-1 ratio, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formula. Dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to avoid over-fertilizing, which can cause leaf tip burn or even kill the plant. During the winter months, reduce the frequency of fertilizing to every two to three months, as Anthuriums enter a period of slower growth.


Pruning allows your Anthurium to maintain a tidy appearance and encourages bushy growth. Regularly remove dead or yellowing leaves and spent flowers. To do this properly, use sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears, and cut the stem as close to the base as possible. This helps the plant redirect energy to producing new growth instead of maintaining old, unproductive foliage. Additionally, maintain a consistent pruning schedule, as it helps to prevent the plant from becoming leggy and unattractive. A good rule of thumb is to prune your Anthurium every six months or whenever you notice unhealthy foliage.

By following these care practices, your Anthurium will reward you with vibrant, long-lasting blooms and lush green foliage. Enjoy the process of caring for your beautiful tropical plant and watch it thrive!

Common Problems and Solutions


Anthurium plants may occasionally encounter issues related to pests. Common pests affecting anthuriums include brown scales, white mealybugs, thrips, and aphids. To treat these pests, you can shoot them off the leaves with water or lightly scrub the affected areas using horticultural soap and a soft brush. It’s essential to prevent pest infestations by never letting anthurium plants sit in water as too-wet conditions may lead to bacterial infestations.


Apart from pests, anthurium plants might also suffer from certain diseases. Fungal infections and bacterial diseases can be challenging for anthuriums if not detected and treated early. One common issue is root rot, which is a result of improper watering and can be solved by ensuring that the plant’s roots have access to air and are not flooded with water. Bacterial blight is another disease that can affect anthuriums in overly wet conditions.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to maintain the right balance of water for your anthurium plant. Make sure you don’t overwater or underwater the plant, keep the soil well-drained, and ensure proper humidity and temperature levels. These measures will help prevent common diseases and keep your anthurium plant growing healthily.

Frequently Asked Questions

Toxicity reasons

Anthurium plants contain calcium oxalate crystals, which cause their toxicity. When ingested, these crystals can cause irritation to the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting. If you have pets or small children, be cautious when placing anthuriums in your home.

Poisonous to touch?

While anthuriums are not poisonous to touch, it is still a good idea to handle them with care, as their sap can cause skin irritation. If you come into contact with the sap, wash the affected area with soap and water to minimize irritation. Wearing gloves when handling the plant can also help protect your skin.

Special features

Anthuriums are known for their unique, heart-shaped leaves and vibrant, showy blooms. Interestingly, the colorful part of the anthurium is not actually a flower, but rather a modified waxy leaf called a spathe. Anthuriums have around 825 species, making them a diverse and fascinating group of plants.

Good houseplant?

Anthuriums make excellent houseplants due to their attractive appearance and ability to thrive in indoor conditions. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight and well-draining soil. As tropical plants, they need higher humidity levels and consistent moisture to flourish. Anthuriums can also help purify the air in your home, making them a valuable addition to your indoor garden.

Care tips?

To keep your anthurium healthy and thriving, follow these basic care tips:

  • Place your plant in bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Water regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Maintain a higher humidity level by using a humidifier, misting the plant, or placing it on a tray with water and pebbles.
  • Fertilize every two months with a balanced, liquid fertilizer.
  • Keep the plant away from drafts and cold temperatures.

For more in-depth guidance, check this anthurium care guide.

Common species

There are more than 1000 species within the anthurium genus, but some common ones found as houseplants include:

  • Anthurium andraeanum: Often called the flamingo flower, this species is characterized by its heart-shaped leaves and vibrant red, pink, or white spathes.
  • Anthurium crystallinum: Known for its large, velvety, dark green leaves with prominent white veins, this species is popular as a foliage plant.
  • Anthurium clairinervium: Another foliage plant, this species has rounded, heart-shaped leaves with a distinct white venation pattern.

When choosing an anthurium for your home, consider the plant’s needs and your ability to meet them to ensure a thriving, visually appealing addition to your indoor space.

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