Anthurium Is Glad to See You

January 4, 2010 | By | Comments (3)

They call it “Hawaiian love flower.” From the looks of things, they might as well call it Cialis love flower.

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Now the true scientific name for this beauty (which all enlightened Grumpians recognize) is anthurium. Native to the rainforests of tropical America, anthuriums are prized for handsome, heart-shaped, dark green leaves and colorful, remarkable flowers. And what most folks think are the flowers aren’t really blossoms at all.

No, the colorful part is a specialized leaf called a bract (this is also the showy part of a poinsettia). The tiny, true flowers responsible for reproduction cluster on an (ahem) erect, clublike structure called a spadix. As Shakespeare (who apparently is very popular in Hawaii) wrote, “Love is a many splendored spadix.”

Irrespective of the spadix, there are several really cool things about anthuriums that you should know. First, they come in lots of different colors. A visit to the greenhouses of Costa Farms in south Florida showed me that. Here are a couple of photos I took there that show you what I mean.

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A lovely pink

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A bodacious white (check out the red spadix!)  

The second cool thing is that these jungle plants make really good houseplants. Because they evolved under a rainforest canopy, they don’t need direct sun to flower — in fact, they hate direct sun. What they want is bright, indirect light like you might provide to a bromeliad, African violet, or peace lily. They’ll respond with nearly continuous bloom, each bract lasting up to 6 weeks.

The third cool thing is that, if you are so disposed, you can cut the blooms for fresh arrangements. Cut blooms in water last for up to 3 weeks. (Warning: To avoid permanent damage, see your doctor immediately for a cut flower lasting longer than 3 weeks.)

Have I aroused your interest in Hawaiian love flowers? Here’s what they need to grow.

1. Like I said, give them bright, indirect light from a nearby window, but no direct sun. Direct sun fades the leaves. With too little light, they won’t bloom.

2. Fertile, moist, well-drained potting soil. Let the soil surface just barely dry between through waterings.

3. Humidity. Dry, indoor air just won’t cut it. Increase the humidity around the plant by placing it on a pebble-lined saucer filled with water.

4. Mild temperatures. Don’t let the air drop below 65 degrees or the plant will stop growing. Let it drop below 50 degrees and you may lose the plant.

5. Feed monthly with general-purpose, houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength.

COMMENTS

  1. Jeff

    I was going to comment on this but, no.

    January 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    C’mon, Jeff, you need one of these!

    January 5, 2010 at 7:39 am
  3. helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    I wonder if this spadix lead to the common name – dix? H.

    January 6, 2010 at 9:26 am