How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Anthuriums

Anthuriums make gorgeous houseplants with their special leaves and flashy flowers. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss explains how to care for these fun tropical plants in your own home.

Close-up of a flowering Anthurium plant in a pot against a blurred background. The Anthurium plant is distinguished by its glossy, heart-shaped leaves that emerge from long, slender stems, creating an elegant and tropical aesthetic. Rising above the foliage are vibrant, waxy spathe-shaped flowers, which come in deep red. These striking flowers are characterized by their glossy texture and spadix protruding from the center.


Tropical plants bring a beautiful and exotic element to the home. With their vibrant colors and shocking shapes, it is easy to see why they are so popular. Although many can be high maintenance, seeing these plants flourish and bloom in the home is a joy. Anthuriums fit into this special group of plants suitable for growing indoors. Let’s learn more about caring for these stunning tropical plants

Anthurium Overview

Close-up of an Anthurium flower against a blurred green background. The Anthurium flower, when observed up close, presents a mesmerizing spectacle with its glossy, heart-shaped spathe surrounding a slender, protruding spadix. The spathe is bright red, boasts a glossy texture and a waxy sheen.
Plant Type Herbaceous evergreen perennial
Family Araceae
Genus Anthurium spp.
Species about 1,000
Native Area Central and South America, Caribbean
Exposure Partial sun, bright indirect light
Height up to 3’
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests & Diseases Aphids, mealy bugs, scales, thrips, bacterial blight, root rot
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Coarse, well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic 5.5-6.5

What Are Anthuriums?

Close-up of flowering Anthurium plants against a blurred background. The Anthurium plant is characterized by glossy, heart-shaped leaves that are dark green with a waxy texture. Its flowers, known as spathes, are bright red with a waxy texture, and are typically shaped like a flat, elongated heart with a protruding spike called a spadix at the center.
Brighten your home with these vibrant flowers that symbolize love.

Anthurium is a tropical plant that we usually grow as a houseplant in North America. You may know some species by the more common names flamingo flower, painter’s palette, and flamingo lily. Plant lovers appreciate this plant for its attractive foliage and vivid flowers. It also has an excellent ability to thrive in the home. 

There is a lot of variation among more than 1,000 species of this interesting plant genus. From the tiny ‘Mini Jungle,’ to the extra large ‘Faustino’s Giant,’ is quite a range of plants. They are commonly gifted as symbols of hospitality and love. Let’s take a look at how these lovely plants grow so you can cultivate one at home. 


Close-up of a blooming Anthurium andraeanum, commonly known as the flamingo lily, against a blurred background of a white wall. This plant has glossy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves with prominent veins. Its vibrant, waxy spathes come in deep red with a glossy texture, surrounding a slender, upright spadix.
Trinidad was once a flourishing hub for anthurium cultivation.

Trinidad is where cultivation of anthuriums was most prevalent during the 20th century. Here, these plants grew beneath the canopy of cocoa and citrus orchards.  The most common purpose for growing these plants is generally for the floristry trade. Their flowers fetch a good price and are very long-lasting

The cultivation in Trinidad began to wane in the 1960s. In the 1970s, anthuriums grew popular in Holland and Hawaii. From there, their prevalence expanded to other parts of the world.

In the 1980s, Jamaica was the largest exporter of these plants. A form of blight and general disease management became issues soon after, leading to a decline in the industry as a whole. 

Native Area

Close-up of a blooming Anthurium against a blurred background of dark green foliage. Anthuriums are characterized by their glossy, heart-shaped leaves and unique, brightly colored spathes that resemble waxy, elongated hearts, which enclose a spadix. The spathe has a waxy texture with a bright red color.
This plant thrives as a tropical forest understory or epiphytic plant.

Anthuriums are tropical plants. They are native to Central and South America, as well as parts of the Caribbean, where they grow naturally as understory plants in tropical forests. 

In their native habitat, some species grow on the ground. Others grow in trees as epiphytes. Understanding your species’ preferences plays a significant role in the success of raising these plants.


Close-up of flowering Anthurium plants among green waxy foliage. Anthurium andraeanum features glossy, heart-shaped leaves with prominent veins and strikingly vibrant, red spathes that resemble waxy, elongated hearts, enclosing a slender spadix. These glossy, deep green leaves provide a beautiful contrast to the intense red hue of the spathes, creating a visually stunning and tropical appearance.
Anthuriums, known as flamingo flowers, thrive as tropical epiphytes.

The majority of anthuriums are epiphytes. They grow in trees, under the canopy, where they root to the trunk or branches, gathering water and nutrients from rainwater and humidity in the air. They are not parasitic, and their presence does not harm the host tree. 

Other types are hemiepiphytic. These species root in the ground. They then attach to other plants and climb using the other plant as support. Though they begin their life rooted in the ground, they ultimately end up living as epiphytes. 

Anthuriums are evergreen and perennial. They do not lose their leaves seasonally, and most flower in spring and summer in the wild. Kept as houseplants, they can flower at any time of year, and the flowers are long-lasting. 

The leaves are heart-shaped and hang downward from the end of the stems. The leaves can range in size greatly. The smaller species kept as houseplants commonly have leaves four to five inches long. Meanwhile, some giant types have leaves up to three feet long!

These are flowering plants, though the flowers vary, and some are far more flamboyant than others. Species with vibrant flowers are most coveted as houseplants. 

These plants garner the nickname flamingo flower because of their bright pink, red, or white flowers. The flowers consist of a brightly colored spathe. The spathe surrounds a spadix, upon which many small flowers appear. 


Close-up of a blooming lush plant in a large ceramic flowerpot outdoors. The Anthurium plant is distinguished by its glossy, heart-shaped leaves with prominent veins and its unique flowers, known as spathes. These spathes are bright red, shaped like elongated hearts with a protruding spadix at the center.
Prized for their ornamental value, these plants hold medicinal significance in certain cultures.

Some species of anthurium have traditional medicinal use to aid in arthritis, rheumatism, and muscle and joint pain. Most commonly, though, these plants are loved for their ornamental value. They will grow outdoors in tropical climates, but most often, they are kept as houseplants. 

Where to Buy Anthuriums

Close-up of flowering potted Anthurium plants in a garden center. The Anthurium plant with bright red flowers showcases glossy, heart-shaped leaves and vibrant red spathes that resemble waxy, elongated hearts, enclosing a slender spadix.
Common species are sold locally, while rarer ones are found online.

The availability of anthuriums depends greatly on the species. Some common types are available in nurseries, hardware stores, and even grocery stores from time to time. 

Rarer types are more difficult to find but not impossible. The advent of the internet made it easier to locate rare specimens. I’ve also purchased rarer types from other local plant lovers. 


Close-up of a gardener replanting an Anthurium plant in a plastic pot on a white table. The gardener is wearing a checkered shirt and a black apron. He places the plant in the pot and covers it with fresh soil using a black garden trowel.
Bring the tropics home with versatile, year-round anthurium cultivation.

If you live in zones 10-13, you can grow these plants in the garden. As long as they have the right light and watering conditions, you can plant them at just about any time of year.

For most of us, anthurium is a potted plant that lives indoors for at least part of the year. While you can move your anthurium outdoors in warm weather, it needs to live indoors in the cooler months because it cannot handle frost.

How to Grow

We don’t consider these plants difficult to grow, but they are particular about some aspects of care. I’ve found it easy to overwater them, which can lead to root rot and kill the plant. The proper potting medium, container, and watering routine are key.

For most houseplant gardeners, moisture is the most important determinant of plant health. This includes the amount and regularity of watering, drainage, and humidity. If you can master the right balance with moisture, you should be successful. 


Close-up of a blooming Anthurium plant in a white pot on a light windowsill. The Anthurium plant features glossy, heart-shaped leaves with a prominent vein pattern and waxy texture. Its most distinctive feature is its vibrant, elongated spathe of bright red color, resembling a waxy, heart-shaped flower. Emerging from the spathe, a slender, erect spadix adds to its unique aesthetic.
Simulate native habitats for anthuriums with filtered, indirect sunlight.

Consider the native habitat of this plant when determining the type of light it needs. Anthuriums are understory plants. They grow under tree canopies where they are rarely exposed to direct sunlight. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like light, though.

Anthuriums are a lot like orchids in terms of their growing needs. This makes sense, as they have similar native environments. The best light conditions for these plants is bright, but indirect sunlight. They will survive in partial shade as well but avoid exposure to unfiltered afternoon sun, as this can scorch the plant.

Place your plant near a brightly lit window, just out of the direct exposure. Another way to provide the right lighting is to filter the sunshine. A sheer curtain or window film works quite well. 


Close-up of watering an Anthurium plant on a gray background. A gardener holds a plastic bottle in his hands and sprays a stream of water on the leaves and flowers. The plant produces glossy, heart-shaped leaves and elongated, heart-shaped spathe that are bright red in color with a waxy texture. Emerging from the spathe is a slender, erect spadix.
Carefully balance moisture for healthy, resilient roots.

Because of their epiphytic nature, the roots are very sensitive to moisture. Specifically, the roots cannot stay wet and will rot quickly if they do. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like water. These are not succulent plants. They just need time to dry between waterings

Drainage is a key factor in maintaining the root health of these plants. We will address that in a moment. In terms of watering, if you pot the plant correctly, water it once per week. The soil should dry out between watering. The amount of water you give your plant will depend on the size of the specific plant.


Close-up of a woman adding fresh loose soil to a pot of freshly transplanted Anthurium plant on a wooden table with soil scattered. The woman is wearing a white apron and black rubber gloves. There is a white ceramic bowl full of soil on the table.
Create optimal acidity and drainage with tailored potting mix.

Anthuriums prefer slightly acidic soil. You can achieve this by adding organic material into your potting mix. It is imperative that the soil drains thoroughly and doesn’t hold water close to the plant’s roots. 

A good place to start with potting medium is orchid bark. This is a combination of large particles that allow water to flow through freely. Amend the orchid bark with peat moss, compost, and other coarse potting materials. 

Temperature and Humidity

Close-up of a woman's hands touching a potted Anthurium plant on a white background. The Anthurium plant boasts glossy, heart-shaped leaves adorned with prominent veins and a waxy texture, while its flowers are characterized by elongated spathes of bright red color. Emerging from the spathe is a slender, erect spadix, adding to its unique and elegant appearance.
Maintain ideal indoor conditions for vibrant growth.

This plant can tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures but is not cold-tolerant. The ideal range for an anthurium is between 60°-90°F (16°-32°C). This factor makes the plant great for keeping inside the home, where the temperature remains fairly consistent. 

When it comes to humidity, things get tricky. This is a tropical plant that grows in rainforests. Rainforests are humid places, especially under the canopy, where moisture gets trapped. Different varieties need different amounts of humidity. Some need a level as high as 70-80%. Others will be fine with a level closer to 30%, but this is rare.

For most potted indoor anthuriums, a humidity level between 50-60% is ideal. The species that need very high humidity do not make good houseplants. These plants need to live in a greenhouse if grown in cooler climates. 


Close-up of a woman in a beige apron showing andradium flowers indoors. Anthurium flowers are visually striking, featuring elongated, heart-shaped spathes that come in a vibrant red color. These spathes are glossy and waxy in texture, are complemented by slender, upright spadices emerging from within.
Boost blooms with occasional phosphorus-rich fertilization.

If you plant your anthurium in fertile soil, it technically doesn’t need fertilizer for regular growth. However, occasional fertilizing will encourage blooming. The nutrient responsible for strong blooms is phosphorus. In the NPK fertilizer formula, this is the number in the center.

If you want to encourage your plant to bloom, choose a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. A formula of 1-2-1 is a good choice, and liquid fertilizers are easiest for the plant to absorb. For general plant health, choose a balanced fertilizer instead. 

Because fertilizer is not a requirement for this plant, less is more is the rule. Only fertilize during the growth season. This includes spring and summer. Fertilize your plant once per month during this time at a dilution of one-half to one-quarter strength.


Close-up of dead flowers of an Anthurium plant being trimmed using old pruning shears. The Anthurium plant features glossy, heart-shaped leaves with a distinctive veined pattern. Rising from the center of the foliage is a slender stalk bearing a vibrant, waxy spathe of bright red color with a waxy texture. Some have a wilted appearance, with brown and purple rotten spots.
Regular pruning enhances anthurium’s vitality and aesthetic appeal.

Pruning your anthurium will help keep the plant looking full and healthy. When you prune, the first step is to remove any suckers or stems growing from the base of the plant. These are the start of offsets and will drain the plant of nutrients. 

Remove any dead or damaged leaves next. Since the plant can bloom for a long time, pruning after blooming, as with most plants, isn’t always convenient. You can prune at any time of year when the plant is inside. If you plant your anthurium in the ground, prune in the spring at the onset of the growth period.

Prune any leaves that interfere with the generally pleasing shape of the plant. Never remove all leaves, even if you are hard pruning the plant. You should only hard prune if the plant has become leggy. Always leave at least four leaves, even when you hard prune the plant.

When blooms wilt, remove them at the base. This will help the plant to redirect energy away from the flower and back to producing new growth. Aside from pruning, anthuriums are low-maintenance plants. 

Growing in Containers

Close-up of a man in a brown T-shirt holding a large white pot with an anthurium plant, in a greenhouse. The Anthurium plant is characterized by glossy, heart-shaped leaves. Its most distinctive feature is its vibrant, waxy spathe, which comes in bright red color, surrounding the slender spadix that holds tiny flowers.
Container gardening ensures optimal growth.

As we mentioned, these plants grow well in containers. This is even a common way to grow them outside tropical climates. Make sure to plant your anthurium in a container with adequate drainage. Use a well-draining potting soil as well. 


Close-up of sprouts of the anthurium in a large black plastic pot. These seedlings have short, thin stems with small, glossy, heart-shaped leaves that are bright green in color.
Expand your collection through simple propagation methods.

You can propagate your anthurium by stem cuttings and removing the pups or offshoots. As we discussed in the pruning section, removing offshoots allows the plant to redirect nutrients, yet it also provides you with propagation material. Pruning is the ideal time to propagate your plants.

To propagate from stem cuttings, remove the top portion of the plant with at least one node included. This is similar to propagating a monopodial orchid. Remove the top of the stem with leaves attached. Plant this cutting in its container and keep the soil warm and moist until the cutting has roots. 

It is easier to propagate by offsets, as the plant is essentially propagating itself. To do this:

  1. Simply wait until the offset has produced some aerial roots.
  2. Cut it from the main stem with a clean, sharp tool.
  3. Plant this new, small plant in its container and baby it for a while until you see new growth.
  4. As a rule, wait for your offsets to develop a second leaf shoot before removing them from the parent. 

Here are the best varieties of anthurium for indoor and outdoor gardens.


Close-up of Anthurium andreanum Painter's-Palette flowering plant. The plant is characterized by glossy, heart-shaped leaves with vibrant dark green color. Rising above the foliage are striking spathes, resembling an artist's palette, displaying a spectrum of colors including vibrant pink, green and cream, complemented by contrasting yellow spadices at the center.
Brighten your home with the vibrant ‘Painter’s Palette.’
botanical-name botanical name Anthurium andraeanum
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light
height height 12”-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 11-12

‘Painter’s-Palette’ is the most common type of anthurium to keep as a houseplant. This plant is popular because of its brightly colored flowers and general ease of care. It has glossy, medium-green leaves at the ends of long, thin stems. The flowers are large and waxy, in red, pink, or white, and occasionally a combination of white and red or pink. 

This species is a winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit. It is low-maintenance and easy to find at most nurseries. You may find this plant at the supermarket or hardware store. 

Pigtail Plant

Close-up of a flowering Anthurium scherzerianum plant against a dark background among dark green foliage. The leaves are dark green, lance-shaped. Its distinctive feature is the vibrant, waxy spathe that rises above the foliage, bright red. Within the spathe, a protruding, slender spadix emerges, adding further allure to its exotic appearance.
Add a playful touch with the whimsical pigtail anthurium.
botanical-name botanical name Anthurium scherzerianum
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light
height height 12”-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

This species, which is also known by the name ‘Oilcloth Flower’ is similar to the ‘Painter’s-Palette.’ The primary difference is that the spadix is curly rather than straight. For a fun twist on the common houseplant, this species is perfect. 

Pigtail plant typically has flowers in shades of red, green, and pink. Red is the most common color and the easiest to find. The flowers are waxy in texture, and the leaves are glossy as well. 

Velvet Cardboard

Close-up of Anthurium clarinervium against white background. Anthurium clarinervium, renowned as the Velvet Cardboard Anthurium, showcases large, heart-shaped leaves with velvety textures and prominent silver veins that run along their surface, creating an exquisite contrast against the deep, lush green foliage. Its leaves possess a thick, cardboard-like quality, adding to its unique appeal.
Admire the stunning foliage of the epiphytic velvet anthurium.
botanical-name botanical name Anthurium clarinervium
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light
height height 30″-54″
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

Sometimes called velvet cardboard, the Anthurium clarinervium species is more commonly cultivated for its attractive leaves than its flowers. The leaves are large, heart-shaped, and velvety. The deep green leaves have bright, white veining. The contrast is striking!

This species is entirely epiphytic and never touches the ground. It needs very well-drained soil to maintain healthy roots. The plant does flower, but it is uncommon for a plant kept indoors. The flowers are purple and smaller than the more decorative types. It is still a very attractive and desirable plant. 


Close-up of Anthurium luxuriant on a purple background. The plant has large, wide, oval, oblong heart-shaped leaves with pointed ends. The leaves are a dark green, almost black color with a wrinkled texture and a waxy sheen.
Dive into anthurium collecting with the exquisite Luxurians species.
botanical-name botanical name Anthurium luxurians
sun-requirements sun requirements Bright indirect light
height height 18”-24”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12

Anthurium luxurians is a species for the collector rather than the beginner. Anthuriums are stunning plants, and once you get started, you may find yourself on the hunt for rarer varieties. This is one of the more popular and highly sought-after. I recommend starting with a more common and less costly species, and working up to the rarer types. 

Luxurians has stunning, glossy leaves with deep veins and a highly textured appearance. The new leaves are light with a reddish tint. They gradually lose the red tint, and the color deepens to dark green as the leaves age. It’s a remarkable plant and very satisfying to grow. 

Common Problems

A handful of issues can crop up with these plants. They are not considered low-maintenance, so keeping a close watch on your anthurium is a good idea.

Root Rot

Close-up of the root ball of an Anthurium plant on concrete pavement. The roots are light, thick, and wrap around the soil. The leaves are heart-shaped, green, glossy.
Prevent root rot with proper air circulation and watering habits.

The most common issue with anthuriums is root rot. Because they are epiphytes, they are adapted to having exposed roots. As a result, they need a lot of air circulation around their roots. The best defense against root rot is to maintain this air circulation around the roots and avoid overwatering. The right container and potting soil are a great start. Establishing a good watering routine is very helpful. 

Not Flowering

Close-up of a potted Anthurium plant on a windowsill illuminated by sunlight. The plant has glossy, heart-shaped leaves of bright green color.
Enhance indoor blooms with adequate sunlight and fertilization.

Not all anthuriums are big flower producers, especially when kept indoors. They all produce flowers, but some are far less showy than others. If your species is one that commonly flowers indoors, and you’re not seeing blooms for a year, there is a problem. 

The first potential issue is the amount of sun the plant receives. If your plant isn’t getting enough bright, indirect sunlight, you may need to move it closer to a light source. Nutrient availability is the second consideration for a plant that isn’t blooming. If you haven’t fertilized in a while, give your plant a dose of a high-phosphorus fertilizer.

Bacterial Blight

Close-up of an Anthurium plant affected by Bacterial Blight on a light windowsill near a window. An Anthurium affected by Bacterial Blight displays symptoms such as dark, water-soaked lesions on its leaves, surrounded by a yellow halo. Some leaves are completely wilted and browning.
Treat bacterial blight promptly with targeted pruning and copper spray.

Bacterial blight is another disease issue that can affect these plants. This shows up as lesions on leaves that appear wet, then turn yellow and ultimately brown. If you see this issue crop up, remove the affected tissue right away.   


Close-up of a woman's hand showing an anthurium leaf infested by pests. The leaf is medium in size, heart-shaped, green in color with yellow spots and holes.
Prevent and treat pests early with diligent plant inspections.

The same household pests that many houseplants deal with can be an issue for anthuriums. Most of the time, these pests come into the home on new plants. Be certain to inspect any new plants before introducing them.  

If you need to treat a plant for a pest infestation, it is best to do it as soon as possible. Neem oil is a great treatment for many pests. If this doesn’t work, horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are a good second line of defense. Wipe down your plant regularly to get a good sense of what kinds of pests there are.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Anthuriums Toxic to Pest?

Yes, these plants are toxic to humans and pets and should be kept away from curious furry friends and children. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when pruning them.

Will Anthuriums Grow in Water?

Yes! Even though they don’t like wet soil, this plant ironically can be grown in water culture.

Will My Anthurium Bloom Again?

Yes, these are perennial plants and should bloom yearly if they receive the proper care.

Final Thoughts

With their beautiful foliage and flashy flowers, anthuriums make great houseplants. They have low light needs and a preference for mild temperatures, and with proper care, will provide years of enjoyment. Once you get started with these lovely plants, you just might want to become a collector. 

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