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Anthuriums are members of the Aroid family (Araceae), as evidenced by the distinctive arrangement of the flowering parts—a spathe-and-spadix inflorescence. Other popular aroids include caladium, calla lily, Chinese evergreen, dieffenbachia, elephant ear and peace lily (Spathiphyllum).
In anthuriums, the elongated spadix bears the many tiny flowers (Anthurium means “tail flower”), while the spathe, a modified leaf, serves to attract pollinators. In “flowering” anthuriums, those that produce showy inflorescences, the spathe may be fairly large and colorful, as in the Hawaiian Flamingo Flower. Foliage anthuriums tend to have unusual, but less showy flowers, with a plain green spathe that is much less noticeable than the long, skinny spadix. Their decorative value lies in the great variety of leaf forms, textures, and sizes (some varieties sporting leaves of up to four feet in length.)
Basic care for anthuriums includes avoiding too much direct sun, most types preferring bright indirect light. The humus-rich potting mix should drain well—try mixing one part potting soil to one part sphagnum moss, adding some tree fern fiber, horticultural charcoal, or coarse perlite for drainage. Anthuriums, especially flowering varieties, will perform better with increased humidity and warm temperatures. Use deep, rather than wide, pots, transplanting when the root system fills the container. Water thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings, and fertilize every six to eight weeks, March through September, with a flowering formula for flowering varieties, and a 3:1:2 formula for foliage types.
Long-lasting flowers come in reds, pinks, lavender, salmon, and whites, with generally heart-shaped, shiny green leaves. Remove spent flowers (faded or brown) and unsightly foliage to maintain an attractive appearance.
Some pretty flowering anthuriums to try include smaller flower types like ‘Sangria’, ‘Smalltalk Salmon’ or ‘White Gemini’: medium sized flower types like ‘Miss June’ or ‘Red Hot’; and the larger flowers of the Andraeanum varieties, such as ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Red Giant’, and ‘Miami Beauty’.
Anthuriums make great cut flowers, often lasting 2–3 weeks. Change the water in the vase every three days, making a fresh cut on the base of the stem.
Few genera offer a wider variety of foliage shape than anthurium. Foliage types can have tiny to huge heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped leaves, skinny to wide long strap-like or oblong leaves, upright lanceolata leaves, and a range of lobed to sharply cut compound leaves. The color and texture of the leaves offers more diversity, from the rich, velvety-crystalline green leaves of King Anthurium (A. warocqueanum) to the quilted heart leaves of Anthurium radicans.