Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.
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I have a confession to make: I’m not much of a houseplant person. My husband, Dave, is much better at taking care of indoor plants than I am. That being said, I’m amazed to see that an Anthurium plant I purchased a year ago is thriving in my house despite my inattention to it. Half the time I forget to water it, and the plant has outgrown the pot and the soil it sits in, yet it looks beautiful with new flowers that come out every couple of months.
There are more than 800 species of Anthurium with flowers that range from pale pinks and whites to vibrant oranges and reds. The plant was discovered in 1876 in Columbia by Edouard Andre, who sent it to Belgium to a friend, who in turn forwarded the plant to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. It was introduced into the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1800s and is one of the showy plants widely considered to be a tropical Hawaiian plant, even though it was introduced there and is not native to the islands.
As a house plant, Anthuriums like a coarse potting medium that allows for good drainage. An equal mix of peat moss, pine bark and perlit is ideal. The plant handles dryness well (thank goodness) and needs to be watered thoroughly then allowed to dry slightly before watering again. If it dries out too much, the growth cycle will slow and the tips of the leaves may wither and burn. Overwatering can cause root rot and sudden yellowing of the leaves.
As a rule, Anthuriums like indirect sunlight and can tolerate shade and low light areas. My plant sits on the dining room table in front of our east-facing window. So it receives a bit of morning sun but is in indirect light most of the day.
Fertilizer isn’t needed to any great extent, perhaps a light solution at quarter strength.
The Anthurium is a plant that can be toxic to children and pets, so take care to keep it in an inaccessible location.
So if you are looking for a colorful, easy-to-care-for plant for yourself or to give to a friend or relative, consider this exotic beauty as the local flower shops start getting in their holiday inventory.
Deb Babcock is a master gardener through the CSU Extension Routt County. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.