Flamingo Party

Also known as the flamingo flower or flamingo lily, anthuriums are known for their heart-shaped leaves and shiny flowers which are just the thing to brighten up the indoors.

While there are over a thousand varieties of anthurium, the most common is the Anthurium andreanum with its origins in the rainforests of South America and the Caribbean. They are iconic tropical flowers often pictured with a fruity cocktail on an island.

The right conditions

Anthuriums will thrive if given the right conditions:

• Bright, indirect light. No direct sunshine to scorch the leaves.

• Warm temperatures and avoiding drafts.

• High humidity with the occasional misting in dry climates. Grouping plants together can also raise the humidity levels.

• Water when the top 2cm of soil is dry. Water less in autumn and winter. • Repot when the roots are completely pot bound into fresh potting soil with added drainage materials like perlite or vermiculite.

• Feed monthly with a liquid plant food.

• Gently pull out or cut off spent flowers.

• Wipe the shiny green leaves occasionally with a damp cloth to keep them dust-free.

Problem solving

Brown spots on leaves – could mean the plant is getting too much direct sunlight and the leaves are scorched or it could mean the air is not humid enough or the plant is not getting enough water.

A lack of flowers – these plants need a normal rest period lasting a few months before flowering again, or make sure all the right conditions are met including proper feeding.

Flowers changing colours – as flowers get older, they can change colour especially the bicoloured varieties. If flowers start emerging as green, they may need more light or if they start turning green it could be a sign of temperatures that are too low or not enough water.

Pests – look out for the usual suspects with houseplants; mealy bugs, spider mites and scale are the most common and will need to be dealt with firstly by wiping off as much as possible or if severe, treated with appropriate insecticide. When spraying your plants with an insecticide, do so in a well-ventilated area.

About spathes

The flowers of the anthurium plants are actually spathes with the brightly coloured bract to attract insects and the central spadix with tiny little blooms along its length. When the flowers want to attract pollinators, the minute female flowers emit a fluid that insects love. On the other hand, anthuriums contain calcium oxalate crystals in the sap that is a skin irritant and can cause a lot of damage to digestive systems with their sharp edges. This repels any potential animal from eating the plant, making it both an attracting and a repelling plant.

These plants are grown by LVG Plants and are available from retail outlets and garden centres.

The Gardener