How to Grow Anthurium (Beginner’s Guide)

Anthurium, also known as laceleaf or flamingo lily, is a gorgeous plant that can bring some mesmerizing, striking colors to your household.

This herbaceous perennial is known for its waxy surfaces and stunning spathes surrounded by huge foliage.

Sadly, a lot of folk are confused about this plant entirely. It looks exotic and hard to care for, but it’s not.

The Flamingo plant is actually a good choice for those looking for something unique, but doesn’t take too much time to care for.

Since it does have a somewhat nasty rep because of its poisonous coat.

While true, you can still safely tend to it and enjoy those flowers with care.

Let’s dive in and see how to care for and grow it!

Last updated: 6/23/22.

Quick care guide: Anthuriums (laceleaf)

Plant typePerennial herb
OriginEurope, Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Jamaica, Asia
Scientific nameAnthurium sp.
Other namesAnthurium, tailflower, flamingo flower, and laceleaf
Soil typeFertile, loamy, well-draining
Soil pH5.0-5.5 (acidic)
Sunlight requirementPartial sun, 6-8 hours per day
Bloom seasonSpring, summer
ColorsPurple, white, green, pink, red, yellow, blue, black
Max height20 inches
Max width12 inches
Low temperature tolerance60F
High temperature tolerance90F
Ideal temperature range75-85F
HumidityModerate (60% or higher)
Watering requirements1-2" per week
Fertilizer requirementsModerate feeding during spring, summer
Plant food NPK5-10-5
Days until germination1 week
Days until bloomBlooms in June or July for 2-3 months, up to 6 times per year
Speed of growthModerate
Hardiness zones10, 11, 12
Plant depth0.25" from seed, 3-6 inches from cuttings, same depth if root ball
Plant spacing24 inches
Plant withAfrican violet, aglaonema, bonsai, ferns, orchids
Don't plant withPlants in the same family
Propagation methodSeeds, cuttings, root ball transplants
Common pestsSpider mites, mealybugs, aphids, thrips, scale
Common diseasesBlight, leaf blight, root rot, nematodes, anthracnose, leaf spots, bacterial blight, bacterial wilt, and stem rot
Indoor plantYes
Outdoor plantYes
Grown in containerYes
Flowering plantYes
Beginner friendlyYes
Care levelLow (easy)
Best usesHouseplant, centerpiece, garden piece, pathing, bordering, foreground plant, background plant

What is anthurium?

Did you ever want a houseplant that requires barely any care and you can pretty much ignore entirely, yet will continue to produce gorgeous flowers for you all season?

Pardon the run-on question, but that’s exactly what Anthurium spp. is.

It’s a genus that includes some 800 species that have distinctly shaped spathes that add tons of bright colors to your house with little care.

  • Want colorful flowers? Check.
  • Doesn’t need constant care and TLC? Check.
  • Grows well on its own? Check.

Anthurium is one of those pretty houseplants that thrive with minimal lighting, so you can enjoy the flowers all year even during winter. It thrives in shady household conditions.

It doesn’t need to be next to bright light so you’re not tied to a specific location for it. The shades of orange, red, yellow, pink, purple, green, and everything hybrid are just mesmerizing to look at.

With their glossy and unique flowers, they really look like a plastic houseplants.

But they’re real.

And they’re spectacular.

Poison warning

Anthurium makes a good houseplant, but they ARE poisonous to people, dogs, cats, and other species.

The plant will cause burning, swelling, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and more if ingested even in small quantities.

This is due to the calcium oxalate, which is found in the plant. Always handle protective equipment and wash your hands upon contact.

When you water, prune, or otherwise contact it, you need to be careful not to transfer the poison. The danger is there, so take no risk.

Read up here for more info. Keep pets away at all times.

Types of anthurium

There are many different types of anthurium to choose from.

You can mix and match endlessly as their multitude of sizes, colors, and spathe shapes vary.

Here are some of the most popular cultivars to get you started:

  • Velvet cardboard (large lobed veiny leaves)
  • Anthurium scherzerianum (curly spathe)
  • Black anthurium (purple leaves)
  • Bird’s nest (dark green leaves)
  • Flamingo flower/lily (waxy pink foliage)

There are 800+ different types in the genus. So it’s not an easy task!

I’d suggest finding one that grows well in your zone. Then breaking it down from there by something that complements your garden or household. It’s hard.

Is it easy to grow?

Yes, these plants are extremely easy to grow and care for. Anthurium requires very little maintenance other than basic watering, pruning, and enjoying!

They’re a good choice for a beginner looking for a houseplant that flowers with ease.

If you want some foliage-oriented indoor color that grows like crazy with little work, this is it.

Plus, you can enjoy them all season as they produce those gorgeous blooms for you.

Perennial or annual?

Anthuriums are perennial plants.

They’re considered to be herbaceous.

With the right care, they’ll grow every season whether inside your house or in your garden. For those growing this plant outside in the colder zones, they can be grown as annual plants.

The cuttings can be used to regrow future generations. Anthuriums will not do well in the winter outside, so consider it annual if you do grow it in the elements.

How to grow anthurium

Waxy anthurium plant.
These waxy flowers are their signature look.

This section of the guide covers the basics for anthurium (laceleaf) care.

Depending on the type of anthurium cultivar you’re growing, your plant’s needs may vary.

However, use these guidelines as general advice so you can see how difficult or not it is to grow and care for them (see if they’re your type of thing).

Hardiness zone

Anthurium grows in USDA hardiness zones 10 or higher. They’re a warm weather plant so it’s ideal to grow them in a warm weather zone.

If you’re in a cooler zone, you can still grow them indoors, within greenhouses, or even in your garden if you mulch it properly.

There are ways around the poor cold tolerance of laceleaf!

Propagation

Propagating anthurium is similar to any other root ball plant, such as Cuban oregano, or even bluebells.

The easiest way to get a head start is to use an existing plant and then divide it.

But if you don’t have one, you can always start from seed. Then once you get a nice strong plant going, you can harvest the root ball and divide it for your next batch.

We’ll cover both methods below.

From seed

Starting from seed takes quite some time and is not for the impatient.

It may be worth your time to just invest in a grown one from the nursery if you’re in a hurry. If not, then sowing from seed can be a neat little project for the winter.

First, find out which strain you like, then read about it.

Buy a packet of seeds online or locally. Read the package. It contains useful info about that specific cultivar.

Anthurium plants don’t reliably germinate, so it makes it difficult. Use flats or starter kits to sow. Choose a loose well draining substrate such as vermiculite, peat moss, or coconut coir.

Press the seeds into the substrate with 3” between each seed with 0.25 inches of depth between.

Place the starter kit somewhere with temperatures above 70F at all times.

Humidity should be high with a humidity cover. Water when the soil is near dry. Keep an eye on the moisture level. It shouldn’t be to the point where the plants are constantly sweating.

Germination should take 2-3 weeks.

When the seedlings sprout, remove the cover. Move each seedling to its own containers or your garden, whichever one you plan to grow them in.

Spathes will produce in about 3-4 years, so it’s not quick. This is why if you’re in a rush to see those spathes, buying is the right choice!

Starting from cuttings (rooting)

Starting off with cuttings is the easiest way to propagate this plant.

It’s much faster than starting from seed as you already have a baby plant that just needs to root.

You’ll also need an existing anthurium, whether it’s from a friend or from last year’s foliage.

Keep in mind that this requires a grown plant for it to work. If you don’t have any of these resources, you can buy a grown one from your local nursery or online. Or you can just start from seed. It’s up to you.

For those that have access to existing anthurium, you’re in for a treat. You’re going to see how easy it is to grow it from cuttings!

First, get a sterile pair of scissors. You can sterilize it by soaking it in rubbing alcohol for a few seconds.

Locate a stem that’s fully grown.

This is usually at least 7 inches in length, as a rule of thumb. There should be at least a few leaves on it. If you use a smaller stem, you risk no new roots which will be a total waste of time. The longer they are, the higher their chance of success. Generally.

Using your pair of scissors, cut the stem off from the plant. Get rid of all the husks, spathes, or other plant matter stuck to it. You can leave a few pieces of foliage on it.

Cut the stem into small pieces. Each piece should have at least two leaf nodes for rooting. If you don’t know what this is, it’s where the roots will come out of. They look like small black bumps on the stems.

The leaves should be opposite to the nodes. Each cutting should be 3-4 inches in length.

Get your container of choice. Fill it with a half mixture of peat moss and sand. Place the cuttings into the substrate with the leaf nodes 1 inch below the substrate. The leaves should stick up above the soil line.

Space each plant a few inches from each other. It doesn’t really matter at this point since it’s temporary.

Put the pot somewhere that has filtered sunlight. Keep temperatures around 75F. Mist often to keep humidity high. Check regularly for mold or pests.

The cuttings should root within 4-5 weeks. You can check by gently tugging on the stem and seeing if it’s firmly in place. If you accidentally uproot it, put it back. It’s obviously not ready yet or the roots are too small.

Depending on the temperature, the rooting may take some time.

Warmer temperatures with more sunlight roots quicker.

So if you’re rooting during the winter, you can supplement with a grow light to speed it up.

When they’re a few inches in length, they’re ready to go to their new planter.

Rooting over water

For a really cool little experiment, try rooting your anthurium in water.

Place the stem cuttings into a mason jar filled with 3 inches of distilled water.

They shouldn’t stand up on their own just by leaning on the edge of the jar. The small nodes should be submerged underwater, but the leaves should be sticking out of the jar lip. Do NOT submerge the leaves.

This is neat because you can watch the roots grow out of the nodes in real-time.

Well, maybe not all day. Doing it using glass jars makes it easier to watch for roots.

Transfer when the roots are a few inches.

Soil

Use a well-draining potting mix made specifically for houseplants.

It should be free draining, but able to reserve water for slow feeding.

Don’t use garden soil for indoor plants. It’s not made for it. If you’re growing anthurium in a pot or indoors, get a high quality potting mix made for flowering plants.

If you’re growing in the garden, then use well-draining garden soil with moisture retaining properties. You can make your own mix with potting soil and perlite to create a well-nourished substrate for your plants to enjoy.

Ensure that potting containers have plenty of drainage holes. You can put a layer of rocks at the bottom of it so it doesn’t clump or get clogged. The soil should be water-retaining, but not completely wet. Limit watering.

Don’t overwater or you’ll introduce mold, mildew, pests, and other nasties. Use coarse, porous soil such as pine bark, coconut coir, or peat moss.

pH

These plants prefer a soil pH of 5.0-5.5.

They like acidic soils rather than basic or neutral. You can lower the pH of your soil using soil amendments.

For ideal growth, use a pH meter to get your soil’s metrics and adjust it as necessary. Anthurium is very specific with its range.

Though it’ll still grow outside of it, it won’t flourish.

Depth

Seeds should be planted 0.25 dep. Root balls should be planted to be completely covered with substrate.

Spacing

Plants should be planted in their own containers if potted. Or spaced at least 24” apart in the soil so they have plenty of room for their roots to grow.

Sunlight

Anthurium likes indirect sunlight but can tolerate even lower light conditions.

Just note that the less light you provide your laceleaf, the slower and smaller it grows.

These plants do NOT like direct sunlight, as this will easily scorch their precious pink leaves.

You should only offer filtered sunlight through a window if you’re growing indoors or in a full shaded area in your garden.

Direct light will ruin the leaves and you’ll be left with curled, browning, or dried foliage, which aren’t exactly pretty!

Provide indirect, bright sunlight or use a grow light. Set up in a west-facing dappled window if possible. Bright, but indirect light is key.

Place away from HVAC, drafty windows, or other areas where temperatures fluctuate often.

Watering

Caring for anthurium.
Basic TLC is all they ask for.

Water on a regular schedule, but never overwater it.

Feel the top 1-2 inches of soil with your finger. Water when it’s completely dry. Anthurium likes to be dried out between each watering session. You can use a moisture meter or a watering bulb if you can’t tell when it’s time to water.

Account for rain, drought, and temperature fluctuations. Adjust as needed

Overwatering will cause root rot which can kill your plants.

On the other hand, if it’s too dry, the plant grows slower.

However, that’s preferable to introducing some kind of rot at the root level.

The root ball may also dehydrate if you don’t water enough. If this happens, gently soak the root ball for 1 hour to kickstart it again.

It needs to be ‘rewet’ or else it won’t grow properly.

You’ll get a feel for how much water it needs by observing the foliage.

If they become droopy, try adding more water.

If the soil is constantly wet and takes time to dry, reduce your watering frequency.

Water at the stem, not the leaves.

Water deeply, but don’t go crazy!

Plant food

For fertilizer, use general-purpose balanced plant food. 5-10-5 NPK will do well since anthurium likes a good amount of phosphorus. This will encourage blooming so you can get those colorful rich petals.

Dilute the fertilizer to half dose and use once every 120 days during the growing season.

Note that fertilizer is optional. If you’re using nutrient-rich perlite or orchid soil mixture, you’re OK.

Do replace the substrate every few years when you move it into a bigger pot, but a good quality soil should be good enough. That’s why you don’t skimp on it.

Temperature

Keep temperatures between 70-90F.

If it’s cooler in your home, you can let the temps dip to the 60-degree range and that’s OK.

But ensure that daytime temperatures pick up so that it gets the warmth it needs to produce those pretty flowers.

Don’t let the temperatures fluctuate if you’re planting indoors. Choose a location that does not experience much change in ambient temperature. The baseline temperature should be at least 61F at all times.

Humidity

If you notice curling leaves, mist your plant regularly. Otherwise, there’s no need, or else you can introduce pests if overdone.

Mulching

Putting a layer of organic mulch can help insulate your plant from temperature swings. This can be useful for saving outdoor plants. Indoors can benefit from it too if temperatures drop below 61F.

Pruning

Get your favorite pair of gardening gloves, some sleeved shirts, and other protective gear on. It’s time to prune!

I’d be lying if I said that anthurium doesn’t require maintenance. Even though it does, it’s so little that you can finish in just a few minutes a week.

Plus, pruning your anthurium is zen-like so it’s basically meditation. Does that count?

Prune off the spathes after they’ve been spent and tied up. This will encourage the anthurium to grow more. Cut off any damaged, wilted, or browned leaves. The same goes for scorched or burned parts.

Next, get a small duster and dust the leaves. Over time, the plant leaves will accumulate dust that can stunt their growth. Use a duster or cloth to clean it up. Don’t use a vacuum. This risks damage to the spathes or foliage if you accidentally suck it up.

That’s it! Other than wintering it, you’re all set. Prune regularly.

You’ll find that your anthurium will regularly show off its dried spathes on a schedule. Prune accordingly to your individual plant.

Cutting back for the winter

When the leaves wane for the wintertime, cut them back to prevent pests from infesting them.

The same should be done for leaves or spathes that are dried or spent. The plant will refocus its energy on growing new blooms/leaves rather than trying to remedy the dried ones.

When winter rolls around, indoor plants can be pruned. Outdoor plants should be cut back to a few inches above the root ball. Most people only grow them outside for a single season, then collect the seeds to propagate next spring.

Overwintering

Overwintering anthurium usually can be done with a layer of mulch to protect the root ball from temperature swings.

Cut it back so that only the stem is left. Make it so you don’t trample it accidentally until it grows back in the spring.

If you plan to collect the seeds, it needs to be done before the wintertime comes, or else the fruits will rot.

Saving seeds

Getting your anthurium to seed isn’t easy.

It involves multiple steps, plants, and sizes of said plants. Let me explain.

You need both female and male parts flowers.

This means you need several anthurium plants, with at least one of each sex. They also need to be in different development cycles.

If you only have a few plants, it’s very unlikely that you’ll get them to fruit. Fruiting is necessary to produce seeds.

You need to get it to fruit to get seeds, does that make sense?

The flowers grow as females then turn into male flowers, which generate pollen.

You need to collect the pollen from the male flowers by dusting them with a cotton swab. Put it into a bag, then store it in the fridge.

Find a female flower. Look for the spadix (it’s got tiny little visible bumps). Sometimes, the spadix may be emitting some liquids.

Grab the pollen you harvested earlier from the male flowers.

Use a small paintbrush and then “paint” the female spadix. This will pollinate it, which will generate fruit. Be sure to mix it up. Use different plants at different development periods. Be random.

If successful, the spadix will change in shape. Fruits should appear within 8 months or so. They bulge from the spadix, turn orange, and can be removed from it when grown.

Cut the fruit to harvest the seeds.

They are in the pulp, which needs to be removed first. It’s very sticky. Soaking the seed in water helps loosen the pulp. Dry seeds. Store in a dark area or plant immediately.

Here’s a video that shows the entire process of pollinating it:

How to plant anthurium in pots

Anthurium is preferred to be planted in containers because they generally fare well indoors.

Rather than being scorched in the elements, keeping your anthurium as houseplants is nice because you can “enjoy” them more.

The process is simple:

  • Choose a suitable pot
  • Fill it with high-quality peat moss, coconut coir, or any other fertile soil. You can mix your own.
  • Get a cutting from a grown plant, or transplant your seedlings.
  • Feed plant food during the growing season.
  • Water weekly when the soil is dry (or use cubes).
  • Keep it under bright, dappled light.
  • Check for pests regularly.
  • Mist if humidity is low.
  • Upgrade the pot if the roots touch the edges or come out of the drainage holes.
  • Clean the leaves from dust regularly.
  • Prune spathes, leaves, and other foliage.

That’s all there pretty much is to it.

What container should I use?

The container choice doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that it needs to have drainage holes with a saucer so it can easily shed water.

Use a rolling plant stand if you’re putting it outside. Use a saucer if you’re growing it indoors. Plastic, ceramic, or stone are all good choices.

Choose something that complements the color of your decor.

When should I repot anthuriums?

If you spot any compacted or leggy roots, that’s a sign that you need to upgrade your planter size.

Roots that are coming out of the drainage holes are a sure sign that it’s time to get a bigger container.

When your plant reaches about 20″ in height, it’s time to repot it.

Repotting anthurium

Transferring your anthurium between containers is easy:

  • Put on protective equipment to avoid contact with the plant
  • Lean the pot on its side. This works well if the soil is completely dry, so you may want to let it dry out for a few days.
  • Shake the pot gently and remove the plant by sliding it out. Grip both sides of the soil to loosen it. You can use a knife to loosen any soil that’s stuck to the potter.
  • While the plant is out, do a complete inspection of the roots. Clean out any debris. Check for mold or pests. Prune any wilted foliage.
  • Get your new pot ready by filling it up with substrate. Don’t re-use the same dirt from the previous pot because it’s likely depleted of necessary nutrients. Use a new, fresh substrate.
  • Fill the bottom inch with pebbles or rocks to help improve drainage.
  • Fill with soil. Put the root ball back into the new soil. Cover the ball with 1-2 inches of soil. Firm soil around the roots.
  • Water generously to establish water pathways.

That’s it! Repotting flaming plant is easy, right?

Companion plants

These plants go well with bonsai, aglaonema, African violets, ferns, orchids, and nepenthes since they use similar soil types and complement each other.

You can also pair with other flowering houseplants that sprout pink or white leaves to really bring out their color.

Although you can plant different houseplants in the same pot, you shouldn’t. Separating them keeps them from competing for nutrients. And it makes handling pest infestations easier.

Don’t plant with

Anthurium shouldn’t be planted with sun-loving plants. They’ll scorch up and curl their leaves.

Otherwise, there are not many restrictions on what you can and can’t plant.

Pests

This plant is venerable to mealybugs, aphids, thrips, scale, spider mites, and more. You’ll notice yellowing, shriveled, or dry leaves as a result of their destruction.

Similar to most other indoor plants, anthurium has no defense mechanism. Sadly, the poisonous film on the plant doesn’t protect it against bugs. Sorry.

If you suspect a pest infestation, move the plant outdoors and then isolate it. Identify the bug, treat it using home remedies if possible, remove all infested foliage, and then monitor.

Mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites may require some powerful bug killer to kill. They’re the more prevalent ones.

Other bugs can be managed by manual removal, pruning, spraying with a hose, or DIY essential oils.

Diseases

Fungal issues such as leaf blight, root rot, nematodes, anthracnose, leaf spots, bacterial blight, bacterial wilt, and stem rot are all common.

You’ll have to identify it by doing some research online. The majority of issues can be fixed by regular pruning and not overwatering.

When you overwater your plant, it gets humid which brings in a host of mold, mildew, or fungus. This is why ensuring that the soil drains well is critical.

Best uses

Putting it in your house to brighten up the room is the ideal use, of course!

But that’s personal preference.

You can use this gorgeous flowering perennial as a decorative centerpiece, tabletop piece, or even outside as a foreground plant.

The flamingo plant is meant to be enjoyed. The leaves and their spathes are what makes it the one and only laceleaf. You only grow it to look at it, right? This is why you should put it nearby!

Other common questions about anthurium care

Here are some other commonly asked questions from readers about caring for this gorgeous plant.

Do Anthuriums do well indoors?

Yes, they’re more often grown indoors as a decorative house plant rather than a garden.

Their need for filtered light makes them good for homes that don’t get much sunlight. And for those that have sunny days, it scorches them, so it’s best to just keep them inside.

With low light requirements, they can still grow those pretty glossy flowers.

Pair that with low maintenance, minimal pruning, and no fertilizer requirements, these spathe-ridden plants are ideal for growing as a houseplant any season you wish.

Does anthurium like sun or shade?

Anthurium likes a mix of both. Preferably, dappled sunlight.

Too much shade and your plant will grow too slowly with smaller flowers. Too much sun and you’ll scorch the leaves.

Filtered, bright light works well. It can be from a grow light or a sunny window.

How do I get more flowers on anthurium?

Give it the right amount of bright light with a balanced fertilizer. It should be high in phosphorus (the “P” in “NPK”). Water when it almost dries out.

Provide ample space in the potter. Use a high-quality substrate with plenty of nutrients. They’re not hard to grow, but can be hard to optimize. Watch for overwatering. Prune regularly to encourage more flowers over time. It’s an art that takes time to learn.

Should I mist anthurium?

This raises the humidity, which can be good if your home is dry.

Just be careful that you don’t overdo it because it can introduce rot, mold, mildew, or pests. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in the vicinity. It should be around 60% or higher.

Is Miracle Grow good for anthurium?

Sure, why not? But it doesn’t have to be Miracle Grow. Any brand that uses a high-quality substrate made specifically for flowering plants should do the trick.

Get organic if possible. Make sure it’s a potting mix if you’re growing potted plants. And garden mix if you’re growing in your garden.

They’re not the same. You can make your own mix using peat moss with coconut coir in a 50/50 mixture. Add some compost, mulch, and balance the pH using limestone.

Then you’ve got yourself a DIY soil perfect for anthurium!

Homemade fertilizer for anthurium

You can make your own fertilizer using a few basic compounds. This gives you flexibility in what goes into your plant so you can get the biggest blooms possible.

Grass clippings, tangerine peels, and even weeds can all be good fertilizers. There are tons of resources online that you should check out for recipes.

Here’s a good video chock full of tips:

It depends on what you need to supplement in your situation.

If your soil profile lacks some nutrients, adding them to your plant food will help. You may need a soil tester to accomplish this. You can get one for cheap and they tell you precise metrics of the soil profile.

Do you water anthurium with ice cubes?

Yes, you can use cubes to water it slowly. Place the cubes next to the stem, not touching it.

Why are my anthurium leaves curling?

Curled leaves are often caused by scorching from light. Remember that anthurium doesn’t like too much direct light.

It likes bright, but not direct sunlight. It should be filtered or placed away from direct windows.

Try moving it towards the center of the room.

The leaves are brown or yellow. Why?

If the leaves of your anthurium turn brown, this is usually because it’s in direct sunlight or receiving too much light.

Move it somewhere that has less direct light or filter it using blind, curtains, etc.

Try moving it away from the light source and feeding it a balanced plant food with extra phosphorus.

Yellowing leaves can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Supplement with plant food and water once a week (half cup).

Further reading/references

Now you can grow anthurium at home easily!

Anthurium spathe.
The spathe is what these plants are all about.

Anthurium is super simple, but a super pretty herbaceous perennial that’s perfect for beginners.

If you’re looking to spice up your rooms by adding some of that signature waxy color, this plant makes a simple addition to it. It looks great without requiring a ton of work. Who wants that?

Do you have any questions? Post them in the comments and lemme know!

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