A plant with a lot of personality and even more interesting names: I’m talking about 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.
Flamingo Flower Overview
|Common Name(s)||Flamingo flower, heart flower, lady jane, pigtail plant, painted tongue|
|Scientific Name||Anthurium scherzerianum|
|Height||Up to 18 inches|
|Light||Bright, indirect sunlight.|
|Water||Light, let soil dry before watering.|
|Humidity||High, 50% or more|
|Soil||Humus-rich soil that drains well|
|Fertilizer||1x monthy for flowering plants.|
|Propagation||Divide or use cuttings|
|Pests||Aphids, scales, mealybugs, thrips and gnats|
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.
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.
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.
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 too much will result in yellowing leaves and root rot.
This plant likes a little well-draining organic potting soil added to a mixture of three parts peat, one part small gravel, and one part chopped sphagnum moss. The more mature plants need a coarser soil mix than the younger ones, but make sure the soil completely surrounds the roots.
If you just bought your plant, you won’t need any fertilizer for a few months. When it’s time, 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.
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.
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.
Best done in the spring, you can propagate the flamingo flower by division and by offsets. You can also start it from seed if you choose, just keep in mind that it can take three years to see blooms. I don’t know about you, but I am not that patient when I’m looking to be hospitable to my fellow plant lovers.
Expect the typical houseplant issues of aphids, spider mites, scale, and mealy bugs. In many cases, a bit of insecticide can take care of infestation issues, as well as control of household humidity, temperature, and light levels.
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.
At your next bridal shower, if the bride-to-be seems a little lost at what flowers she wants in her decorations and bouquet, tell her about the colorful anthurium flower. She’ll be charmed and delighted with its beauty and uniqueness. And if you’re at a bachelor party, suggest it to the groom so he can be sure to impress his love with his taste in flora. When you bring the plant to their housewarming party, they will remember their happy day every time it blooms for years to come.
Did this flower feature in your wedding? Post pictures in the comments. Do you have experiences and advice to pass on? Please do. Do you have friends that could benefit from a little added color in their lives? Share this article with them. And as always, thanks for reading!Jump to top
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