Flamingo Flower (Anthurium Scherzeranum) Care

Let’s talk about a plant with a lot of personality and even more interesting names: the Flamingo Flower, or Anthurium.

Green, heart-shaped leaves with white, pink, lavender, orange, or red spathes that inspired names like Pigtail Plant, Painter’s Palette, and Painted Tongue. If you want to show true hospitality, you’ll bring this plant to your next housewarming party.

So let’s talk about the Flamingo Flower, and cover all you need to grow one yourself. Read on to learn more!

Quick Care Guide

Common Name(s)Flamingo flower, heart flower, lady jane, pigtail plant, painted tongue
Scientific NameAnthurium scherzerianum
FamilyAraceae
Height and SpreadUp to 18 inches tall and 1 foot wide
LightBright, indirect sunlight.
WaterLight, let soil dry before watering.
SoilHumus-rich soil that drains well
Fertilizer1x monthy for flowering plants.
Pests and DiseasesAphids, scales, mealybugs, thrips and gnats, bacterial blight, root rot

All About Flamingo Flower

The anthurium flower name comes from two Greek words, oura and anthos, or “tail flower.” This most likely came about from the flower protuberance in the center of the spathe looking like a tail of sorts.

How did this particular plant become associated with hospitality? It can live just about anywhere in your home or office, and consistently graces all with beautiful, colorful spathes throughout the year. In bridal bouquets or in your favorite room, the tropical anthurium plant boasts of happiness and abundance.

The different colors each carry their own special emphasis. For example, the red anthurium stands for passion and the white for purity. So if you’re choosing a “Please forgive me” plant to give to your wife after a spat, consider the color carefully. You don’t want to end up back in the doghouse because your color choice told her something fishy.

One could write a book on the 1,000 species in genus Anthurium (which Heinrich Wilhelm Schott did in 1860, the Prodromus Systematis Aroidearum.) As of 1983, there are about 19 sections, from Belolonchium to Xialophyllium.​

All parts of the Anthurium are poisonous if ingested. Symptoms will occur as mild stomach disorders. Coming into contact with the sap might cause skin irritation for some people. Therefore, keep it away from curious pets and children. Wear gloves when you’re handling them for pruning and repotting.

Anthurium Care

What makes this plant so hospitable is its easy-going nature. Care is so simple that even your friends who claim to lack green thumbs will have no trouble with it.

Light and Temperature

This plant will tolerate most amounts of light, though it does have a preference if you want those gorgeous blooms. Bright, indirect sunlight is the best. Too little and it won’t bloom for you. Too much and you’ll have leggier leaves.

Ideal temperatures for flamingo flowers range between 75 and 85°F (24 to 29°C) during the day and 70 to 75°F (21 to 24°C) at night. Cooler and warmer temperatures are tolerable, but freezing weather will quickly kill a plant. High heat is not ideal and can damage your flamingo flowers.

Water and Humidity

The leaves will tell you when your watering habits need to change. It likes to be watered thoroughly but allowed to dry a bit between times. Don’t let it go too long or the leaf tips will burn brown and the roots will suffer. Watering more than every 3 days will result in yellowing leaves and root rot. Watering once per week is often sufficient.

Because this is a tropical plant, you’ll need to provide at least 80% humidity. A daily spritzing with distilled water will help. Plant humidifiers are also great for providing adequate humidity.

Soil

This plant likes a little well-draining organic potting soil added to a mixture of three parts peat moss, one part small gravel, and one part compost. The more mature plants need a coarser soil mix than the younger ones, but make sure the soil completely surrounds the roots. The ideal pH for flamingo flowers is 5.5 to 6.5.

Fertilizer

If you just bought your plant, you won’t need any fertilizer for a few months. Then you can use a slow-release kind specifically for blooming plants, with a 3:1:2 ratio at a quarter of the recommended strength. Apply once a month for a happy, pretty plant during the spring and summer. Do not fertilize in fall and winter.

Repotting

If your plant is showing signs of being rootbound (roots poking out of the drainage hole is definitely a sign), it’s time to repot. Springtime is the best time, as long as the plant is not severely rootbound. If that’s the case, don’t wait. You might lose the plant.

Water your baby well a few hours beforehand to make it easier on you and the roots. After sliding it out of its old pot, give the roots a little tickle to loosen them. If you hear giggles, see a doctor.​

With a bit of soil in the bottom of the new pot, fill in around the root ball with more soil. Water to settle, then add more soil as needed. Be certain the top of root ball is at the same level as it was in its old container to avoid rot.​

Skip the fertilizer for a month or two. Don’t be surprised if your anthurium flower seems a little depressed and wilted at first. It’ll perk up as it settles into its new digs.​

Pruning​

Not a lot of pruning is needed, except for the odd removal of dead foliage and blooms near the base of the plant. Take extra care not to damage the stem during removal.

Propagation

Making new flamingo plants is best done in the spring. You can propagate the flamingo flower by division and by offsets. I don’t know about you, but I am not that patient when I’m looking to be hospitable to my fellow plant lovers.

Simply remove the plant from its pot, and locate the offshoots. Then divide them by gently pulling them from the mother plant. Then pot them up in separate pots suited to their size in the same kind of potting media the parent plant is in.

Troubleshooting

Flamingo flower plants do not have a ton of problems, but they can attract a few pests and may develop a few diseases. Let’s discuss those now.

Growing Problems

Too little light and your flamingo flower plant won’t bloom for you. Too much and you’ll have leggier leaves. Couple too much light with little water, and you may see leaf scorching. Those plants in too little light with too much water may have brown and wilted leaves.

Pests

Expect the typical houseplant issues of aphids, spider mites, thrips, scale, and mealy bugs. In many cases, a bit of neem oil can take care of infestation issues, as well as control of household humidity, temperature, and light levels.

You can start your treatment, however, by wiping spider mites and aphids off the plant with a damp cloth. Scale insects and thrips of all kinds can be popped off the plant with a q-tip soaked in alcohol. Lightly mist the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil after ridding it of pests.

Fungus gnat larvae may damage roots and weaken the plant overall. Try soaking the soil with neem oil diluted in water to 1/4 strength. If the problem persists, applications of beneficial nematodes helps.

Diseases

Root rot is a condition that can develop in times when the plant remains damp for too long. In cases of rot, you may notice brown, wilted leaves, and a browning, mushy stem. Stop watering and remove damaged foliage for a while to see if the problem persists. If it does, take the plant out of the pot, and repot it in fresh media. Continue to monitor until the problem has passed.

Blight can develop on leaves, making the margins look browned with an amorphous yellow border. There is no cure for this disease. Your best bet is to give your plant the best possible care, and remove any blight affected areas as they crop up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a spathe? Is it a type of flower?

A: Actually, spathes aren’t flowers, although the Flamingo Flower certainly looks like it. They are the colorful leaves flaring out from the base of the stem. The rough “tail” part in the center of the spathe is the flower in this case.

Q: Is this plant poisonous?

A: Unfortunately, yes. Calcium oxalate crystals cause stomach disorders if ingested and skin irritation for some people when they touch the sap. If you plan on giving this plant to someone with cats, make sure they have a place to keep it where their precious pets can’t reach it. Otherwise, consider a more feline-friendly plant for your friend.

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