UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail: indianco@ufl.edu 

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Tropical Anthuriums for Holiday Color

Daniel F. Culbert, UF/IFAS Extension Horticulture Agent

For Release: December 7, 2005

A common complaint given for folks not wanting to buy traditional holiday plants like poinsettia is that they look good for the holidays, but they go bad soon afterwards.  Over the past few years, UF horticultural researchers and the nursery industry have been developing a new colorful plant suitable for holiday giving and seasonal colors.

Anthurium have the additional good points that they will last well into the new year, and they are an affordable way to add a new tropical Florida look to traditional holiday greenery.  Today’s column will tempt you with news about this “Flamingo Flower”, and suggest how to select and care for this up and coming Holiday gift.

There are between 800 and 1000 known species of Anthuriums, which are native to the tropical Americas, from Mexico, Costa Rica, and Cuba to Brazil and Argentina.  Different species have different growth habits; some climb up trees, others are firmly planted in soil, and there are still more that are airplants.

The common names of this plant, Tail-flower, Cockscomb, Flamingo Flower, Hawaiian Love Plant, and Tongue of Fire,  all attest to the beauty of most Anthurium species.

Anthuriums have shiny dark green, oblong, heart-shaped leaves.  However, it is their colorful and long-lasting flowers consisting of brightly colored “leaves” or spathes, and contrasting or complementary bumpy flower-stalks, know as spadices.  These showy plastic-looking flowers come in many shades, including red, rose, pink, and white.  The protruding tail-like flower can be white, yellow and sometimes pink.





There are a wide variety of colors and sizes of Anthurium blooms available.  Graphic courtesy of Southern Tropicals

Not only are the bloom cut and included in floral arrangements, they are now commonly available as flowering houseplants that will rival many other holiday plants for color, texture and ease of care. Anthurium can flower year round; poinsettia flowers are only a seasonal visitor.

Lots of breeding research with this plant has resulted in many new Anthurium cultivars, bringing consumers a whole new world of colors, sizes, shapes textures.  Other research has improved the methods to grow these plants in Florida and Hawaii tissue culture labs and greenhouses.  UF/IFAS research and nursery innovation now make our state the number-one producer of this potted plant in the world today.

Among new cultivars are plants adapted to growing in small containers.  Repotting may actually discourage the production of  flowers, as that these plants will -do well in a root bound confined condition.   I recently purchased a “Volcano PlantTM, grown in Hawaii, that is growing on a piece of volcanic rock; the root ball is no bigger that 2 inches in diameter. (For those interested, I have placed a webpage on-line that shows the diversity of colors, sizes and textures of these tropical beauties.)

According to former UF Extension Specialist Dr. Rick Schoellhorn, three myths have discouraged consumers from choosing Anthuriums as houseplants:

These are (NOT) low-light plants.  Research has shown that one reason why these plants stop blooming is a lack of light.  Bright, indirect light (80% to 90% shade) is the right amount of light in Florida.  It is necessary to keep them away from direct sunlight, which will burn the leaves.

Anthuriums (DON’T) need lots of water.  In fact, it is best to let Anthuriums dry out between waterings.  This will cut down on root-rot disease and gives the roots a chance to breathe. Once dry, don’t forget to water these tropical beauties, as they are not drought tolerant, and the leaf tips will scorch if left dry. Misting with water is also recommended to dislodge dust and temporarily increase relative humidity.

Anthuriums (DON’T) need lots of fertilizer.  Actually, a lot of problems can occur when too much fertilizer given to these plants. Over-fertilization, especially with nitrogen, leads to leaf burn and may discourage flowering.  Use a soluble fertilizer with a 1-2-1 ratio, and occasionally flush the root ball with water to remove fertilizer salt buildup.

Finally, since they are tropicals, keep them in pots so they can be moved inside when temperatures soar above 90 degrees F or drop below 70 degrees F.  Avoid placing them near drafts and excessive heat or cold, especially from televisions, refrigerators, and similar appliances. Follow these care instructions and few pest issues will occur.

Some small words of caution: there is the potential for irritation of the mouth and digestive symptoms if large quantities of the plants are eaten.  Sensitive persons may receive minor, short term irritation of the skin and eyes if they come in contact with the sap.  Place Anthuriums in the home out of reach of kids and pets to avoid these issues.

I’ve placed more information on our Okeechobee web page,  http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.  If you need additional information on Anthuriums, please email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee. 



Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida. Nick Place, Dean.  Last update: 12/13/2012 .  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert Hit Counter


Chen, Jianjun,  McConnell,Dennis B., Henny, Richard J. and Everitt, Kelly C.  Cultural Guidelines for Commercial Production of Interiorscape Anthurium [ENH956] . Apopka: UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research & Education Center, August 2003. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP159 

Croat, Thomas B. The Genus Anthurium Schott. (Araceae). South Miami : International Aroid Society, undated (12/2005). http://www.aroid.org/genera/Anthurium/anthwel.html

Culbert, D.F. Eight Plants for 2005.  Okeechobee: UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service, 12/22/2004. http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu/News%20columns/2005%20Plants.htm

Gilman, E.  Anthurium andraeanum [Fact Sheet FPS-42].  Gainesville:  UF/IFAS Florida Cooperative Extension Service, October, 1999. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/shrubs/ANTANDA.PDF   

Resslar, Paul M. Cultivated Anthurium – Hawaii.  Norfolk: Virginia Wesleyan College, 10/04. http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~presslar/CultivatedAnthurium/page1.htm

Schoellhorn, Rick.  Anthuriums reinvented.  Des Plaines,IL:  Scranton Gillette Communications, Greenhouse Product News,  Volume: 12 Number: 12, December 2002  © Web Version | PDF Version: http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/floriculture/gpn/Anthurium.pdf