Red hearts for your valentine

Tis the season of candy hearts, chocolate, and roses. Let’s add Anthurium to the list.

With deep red hearts shooting above dark green leaves this plant is a good choice when red roses might be overkill. This is something to give a friend, neighbor, teacher, or kind soul who has had a rough day.

Anthurium (Anthurium andreanum) is a tropical plant originally from South America. Although a perennial in Zones 10b and above, for most of us, it is a popular houseplant that adds a shot of color and thrives in warm temps and humidity.

What I like about this plant is the structure. My garden tends to be loose and free-flowing; this plant is statuesque and controlled. Expect a mature plant to reach as high as 18 inches and 9-12 inches wide.

There are hundreds of types of Anthurium, some have large leaves (Anthurium magnificum), and some can be trailing vines (Anthurium scandens), which work well in hanging baskets. Flamingo Flower is the common name for my plant. Other common names are laceleaf, flamingo lily, or painter’s palette.

I mentioned the waxy green arrow-shaped leaves and red heart blooms. That’s misleading. The red heart-shaped bloom is not a bloom but red leaves or spathes. The bright color helps to attract insects. The spadix or central spike is the actual bloom.

The leaves and flowers form a beautiful red heart. Blooms can last up to 8 weeks and are followed by a rest cycle of up to three months before new blooms appear. Not a fan of red, look for white, pink or rose varieties. 

Place your Anthurium where it will receive indirect sunlight. Direct sunshine may burn the leaves. As with most plants, lighting is a delicate balance. Too much and they burn, not enough, and they don’t produce steady blooms. When finding a spot for your plant, keep in mind it can be harmful to children and pets, so place accordingly.

Remember, this is a tropical plant. It likes humidity, so don’t be afraid to keep near other plants; clustering will add humidity. So will misting. Give it a spray every few days to recreate a humid environment.

Although it enjoys misting, be careful when watering. This plant doesn’t like wet soil and can easily develop root rot. Use well-draining potting soil and fertilize once a month to keep your plant healthy. 

When it is time to repot, choose a container only slightly larger than the original. This is also a good time to propagate by dividing the roots. The plant has a shallow root system, so you will notice the stems grow directly from the root ball, not a central stalk.

Red roses will express your love and passion. Candy will make her happy; stop by the Holl’s store and ask for Laura (she also knows my favorite). Anthurium, symbolizing an open heart, will be a gift that lasts past the holiday.