Anthurium: Plant With A Big Heart
Every Valentine’s Day I face a dilemma. My wife is allergic to flowers. Roses are a nice gesture, but usually result in sneezing. Last year I wanted to find a hypoallergenic solution that would also be an undeniably Valentines-esque gift. That led me to anthurium.
Anthurium is a genus of plants native to Mexico, Argentina, and parts of the Caribbean. They are grown commercially for their spathe and spadix. The spathe is a modified leaf that resembles a flower. In the case of red varieties, it looks amazingly like a heart. Also, the spadix, a spike containing many small flowers, only produces very minimal pollen for a very short time. Perfect!
Anthurium plants can tolerate all levels of indirect light, but anthuriums growing in low light will have fewer flowers and will grow slower. These plants cannot tolerate direct light however, as this can burn the leaves. It grows best in bright, indirect light. I find keeping ours a few feet away from a south-facing window is just right.
Anthurium also requires that the soil be free draining but hold some water. If you are growing this plant as a houseplant, half and half mix of potting soil and orchid soil or perlite will provide the kind of soil anthuriums prefer. Anthurium plants don’t like continually moist soil.
Make sure to water your anthurium plant regularly, but don’t over water. Only water your anthurium when the soil is dry to the touch. The plant is susceptible to root rot, so too much water can cause the roots to die. I keep my anthurium in a plastic pot with large drain holes inside a slightly larger decorative pot. About once a week I give it a good soak in the sink and let it set until it stop dripping. Then I put it back in the decorative pot.
Anthurium plants don’t require much fertilizer. The plant only needs to be fertilized with a one-quarter strength fertilizer once every three to four months. To get the best blooms, use a fertilizer that has a higher phosphorus number (the middle number).
Anthuriums are pretty easy to grow. Once you have the plant in the right soil and lighting conditions, watering is simple. An anthurium growing in your home will reward you with wonderful, long lasting flowers and beautiful foliage.