Typically, anthuriums (also called Flamingo Flower) are hardy plants, but that doesn’t make them immune to problems. From time to time, your anthurium may experience some setbacks resulting from bad plant care habits that may impede its growth or cause it to lose its vibrant color.
Anthuriums are also susceptible to pests and diseases, especially when they’re grown outdoors. Aphids, mealybugs, scales, and thrips are some of the most common pests that can infest anthurium plants. As a gardener, you should do everything possible to prevent, minimize, or control these attacks.
Whether you own an anthurium or want to grow one, this guide uncovers everything about the common anthurium plant problems and how to control pest infestation and diseases. Let’s get started!
Common Anthurium Problems
While anthuriums can easily adapt to any condition, these plants cannot withstand nutrient deficiency, waterlogged soil, pest attacks, lighting problems, temperature, and humidity issues.
Therefore, you might need to identify the problem soon enough and address it before it worsens. Below are common problems associated with anthuriums.
The most common problem for gardeners and houseplant owners is usually watering issues. Though experts recommend watering schedules, many gardeners get it wrong sometimes.
Overwatering and underwatering are prevalent issues among plant enthusiasts, with the former common among intermediate and experienced gardeners, and underwatering is associated with beginners.
Overwatering supports fungi and bacteria growth, leading to root rot.
In addition, excess water can cause slow growth, wilting, leaves turn yellow, and browning of leaf tips. To prevent waterlogging, allow the soil to dry before watering again.
Underwatering can result in dry and dead leaf tips, dropping leaves, and wilting. To fix this issue, increase watering and check that the soil isn’t too dry before watering. If the soil dries out completely, you’ll need to soak the root ball to rehydrate it.
Typically, if you’re strictly following the once-a-week watering plan, you won’t have an underwatering issue. That aside, to tackle root rot, trim all the infected roots and disinfect the cutting shears in between the snips.
You might need to discard the contaminated old soil and repot the plant in a fresh potting mix or soil.
Finding the right amount of light can be tricky for anthuriums. Exposing plants to sunlight for a long time can cause them to wither. While anthuriums have fairly thick leaves, they don’t require direct light, as this can burn the leaves.
Scorched leaves may develop yellow and brown patches and wither over time.
Ideally, anthuriums need indirect sunlight to thrive. If your plant grows slowly and barely flowers, it’s not receiving adequate sunlight.
Also, bleached and brown tips of leaves are usually a result of too much light. To fix light issues, you must first identify if your anthurium is receiving too much or too little light, considering the symptoms.
For a sunburned anthurium, you’ll have to move it to a shady area for a few weeks with access to indirect light. You can try placing your plant south or westward of your window. Meanwhile, place anthurium receiving low light eastward of your window or a sunny room with few perches away from windows.
Alternatively, you can use an LED grow light.
Poor Soil Structure
Besides water and light, soil plays a huge role in plant growth and development. The right potting soil mix nourishes the plant and prevents overwatering.
Conversely, using a poor soil medium can slow plant growth, affect flowering, give a foul smell to the soil, and lead to leaf discoloration and wilting.
To fix this issue, repot your plant with the right potting mix for anthuriums. You can also prepare your soil mix using peat moss, perlite, and leaf mold.
Temperature and Humidity Issues
Like light, temperature and humidity issues may arise when they’re low or high. For healthy growth of anthuriums, you need a location with an average temperature ranging between 70 to 90°F.
Likewise, as a tropical plant, anthurium prefers high humidity, preferably about 60% or above. Some common temperature and humidity problems that may occur are:
- Sunburn (keep out of direct sunlight)
- Dry soil
- Quick drying of leaves (all caused by high temperature)
- Slow flower growth
- Fading of leaves (resulting from low humidity)
If you’re growing anthurium as an outdoor plant, you might have difficulty controlling temperature and humidity.
Meanwhile, you can control these conditions if you’re growing anthurium indoors. Depending on the situation, you can use a humidifier, room heater, air conditioner, or dehumidifier.
Though fertilizer improves the growth of anthuriums, it can affect development when applied to soil in excess. Over fertilization results in salt buildup and leaf burn, which starts with the browning of foliage.
Generally, Nitrogen, a constituent of fertilizer, supports blooming, but when applied in excess, it can impede flower production.
To reduce salt buildup in soil, flush the root ball with water, maybe every 3 or 4 months.
You can also place the pot in a sink and allow water to run over the potted plant while draining out from the holes.
Besides the problems mentioned above, there are some anthurium diseases to be aware of.
These diseases may be classified into fungal and bacterial diseases. Bacterial diseases include bacterial blight and wilt, while fungal diseases affecting anthuriums are root rot and black nose disease.
This bacteria can infect hundreds of various plant species, which, when not treated, can stay in the soil for years. If your plant is infected with bacterial blight, it exhibits yellow, wet spots on the leaves.
After a while, the yellow lesions become brown or black, taking on a v shape.
Xanthomonas eaxonopodis, the disease-causing organism, transmit disease through insect bites, tears, and pruning. Furthermore, plants grown in hot, humid environments with wet soil are prone to blight.
Treat bacterial blight by removing infected anthurium leaves and applying fungicide. Also, consider keeping plant foliage dry and sterilizing pruning tools before use.
The yellowing leaf is a characteristic feature of anthurium infected by bacterial wilt. After some time, the leaf will become brown and crispy, with the stem turning black. Bacterial wilt may prove difficult to manage, so you’ll need to make drastic decisions once detected.
First, remove and discard infected plants. After removing the plants, ensure you disinfect tools to prevent contamination. Fungicides containing phosphorus can help treat the disease.
This disease mainly affects the rhizomes of anthurium. Root rot is a common gardening problem that can harm your plant.
This disease is caused by many factors, including the fungus Rhizoctonia solani, which contaminates water and soil. The fungus can live in the soil for many years, lying dormant.
Rhizoctonia solani are usually active under the right conditions, especially in waterlogged soil. This fungus targets the roots and lower stems but may attack the plant’s foliage in extreme cases. After a while, root rot causes brown, discolored roots and weak stems.
Preventing root rot and fungal problems includes planting anthurium in a well-drained potting mix, avoiding overwatering, and repotting regularly.
Black Nose Disease
Tropical plants like monstera and anthuriums are prone to contracting this disease. While the causative agent, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, attacks roots, leaves, and stems in other plants, the fungus targets the spadix region of the anthurium flower.
The spadix is also called the nose, informing the disease name.
Black nose disease starts as a dark ring around the spadix, increasing with time. The symptoms further progress, turning the spadix to brown or dark brown. This fungal disease is more likely to occur under humid and hot weather conditions.
Fortunately, if detected early, you can manage the disease using fungicide. Moreover, you might want to improve air circulation, especially where the anthurium is located. Consider planting cultivars that are resistant to the disease condition.
Pest constitutes a nuisance in the environment; even anthuriums aren’t left out. Though pest infestation is usually associated with anthuriums grown outdoors, those planted indoors are also at risk.
Common pests that attack anthuriums include mealy bugs, thrips, scales, aphids, and spider mites. These pests are mainly piercing insects that suck plant sap and cause damage to plants.
Signs of pest attacks include brown dots on leaves and stems, dark yellow burn spots around leaf tips, and transparent, shell-like bumps.
In the early stage of the attack, you can misconstrue the infestation as nutrient deficiency or dehydration. So, it’s essential to closely examine the infested plant before drawing your conclusion.
Let’s consider the various pests that attack anthuriums and the level of damage they cause.
Pests That Attack Anthuriums
Aphids exist in colors like green, red, brown, or black. These piercing and sucking insects are common culprits that cause damage to anthuriums.
They are prolific, laying new eggs a week after hatching. Aphids also release a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew which doubles as a medium for breeding sooty mold or fungus.
To identify aphid attack, check leaves for sticky honeydew. Also, check for yellow or distorted leaves, stunted growth, and black sticky substances.
These symptoms indicate the presence of aphids. To keep these insects at bay, handpick them, and wipe anthurium with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol. For pest infestation, treat plants repeatedly with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
These small, sap-sucking bugs hide around the undersides of leaves and small crevices of plants. Mealybugs can quickly overrun your anthurium plant, causing yellow leaves, stunted growth, and drooping plant. Because of their white, fuzzy bodies, you can easily identify mealybugs in their juvenile stage.
Nonetheless, they can be difficult to eradicate once established. So, the best way to eliminate these pests is by handpicking them in the early stage. Then, like aphids, you can use insecticidal soap or cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to rub the plant.
The tiny, brownish-black insects have hard, waxy shells that attach to plant foliage, sucking the sap. Like mealybugs, scales live on plant stems and undersides of leaves.
Usually, scale infestation looks like a bacterial infection since the armor appears like tiny, smooth bumps on leaves and stems. It can also result in yellow and drooping leaves.
Over time, the plant may die if the infestation is left untreated. To get rid of scales, use systemic insecticide and suffocate adult insects with neem oil and canola.
These insects are so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye except through an electronic microscope or magnifying glass. Mottled leaves or flowers, black specks, and blotchy reddish brown discoloration are prominent features of a plant attacked by thrips.
Other signs of thrip infestation include white stripes, scars on the front and back of the spathe, and tanning of injured tissue. Unlike other insect pests usually seen on the underside of leaves, thrips attach themselves to the top.
Spider mites are destructive, targeting the tiny pores in the leaves of anthuriums. Depending on the situation, small yellow or brown spots may appear on leaves, affecting plant growth. These spots are most times clustered around the veins and tips of the leaves.
An infestation of spider mites represents webbing in the spaces between the petioles and stems.
How to Control Anthurium Pests
There are many ways to control these pests, from quarantine to pruning, spraying bugs, and applying horticultural oil. The first few steps will control minor infestations, while the other steps down the list manage severe pest attacks.
Quarantine may be the best way to reduce the spread of diseases among anthurium plants. Move the affected anthurium to an enclosed room and wash your hands each time you tend to it. If using any tool on the plant, ensure you sterilize it regularly with a disinfectant, isopropyl alcohol, or bleach solution.
If the infestation is at its early stage, you can use the spraying method to eliminate bugs on your anthurium. Using a garden hose or spray nozzle, spray the undersides of leaves, nooks, and crannies.
This method makes use of water force to eradicate pest infestation. Experts recommend room temperature water which your anthurium can tolerate.
Spray blast may not be a good option for too delicate plants; however, there’s a way to go about it. After spraying your anthurium, turn it upside down while holding the stems firmly.
Then, put all the leaves in a bowl or bucket of water to reduce the side effects. Depending on your preference and severity of the condition, you can combine this method with another step in the list.
If insects ravage your anthurium, pruning may be an effective control measure to adopt. Trimming plants help conserve energy and limit infestation. Ensure you prune with gloves on because anthurium sap irritates the skin.
Apply Alcohol on Leaves
Add four parts of water to one part of 70% alcohol to create an alcohol solution. Dip cotton swabs in the solution and rub the leaves and stems of the plant. This may work on mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites.
According to reports, using alcohol on scales may yield good results but not without some resistance due to their tough shells. These insects can still attach themselves to the plant even when dead. To successfully remove them, use soaked cotton swabs to loosen their grip.
Note that anthurium sensitivity differs from one to another; therefore, some species may respond negatively to isopropyl. So, it’s best to test the alcohol solution on some flowers before applying it to the whole plant.
Use Soap and Water
While the steps mentioned above may work against soft-bodied insect pests, liquid soap or water and soap are more effective.
Many horticultural soaps kill bugs but are gentle on the leaves. Homemade soaps are preferable since they don’t have additives like degreaser, which strips off anthurium’s protective covering.
First, use homemade soap, rub the leaves with alcohol, then wait a day or two before proceeding with the next step.
Next, add a teaspoon of liquid soap to a liter of water. Mix thoroughly, pour it into a spray bottle, and mist your anthurium. Using this method, concentrate on badly affected areas. After 10 minutes of application, rinse off the soap residue.
Apply Horticultural Oil
Neem oil doubles as a powerful insecticide that impedes insects and mites’ feeding and mating behavior. Ingesting this substance disrupts physiological processes in bugs, reducing their population over time.
You can apply neem oil to your soap or alcohol solution for effectiveness. Ensure you use neem oil sparingly on anthuriums, as this hurts them. Diluting neem oil reduces its effects.
Mix one-third of a teaspoon of liquid soap in a liter of warm water to prepare a diluted neem solution. Next, add a teaspoon of neem oil to the mixture. Pour into a spray bottle and shake well before use. If the solution doesn’t emulsify, add little oil.
A single application usually doesn’t give lasting results; you may have to repeat treatments for desirable outcomes. Consider applying treatment thrice, waiting 5-7 days before subsequent treatment.
Pay attention to where you’re keeping the plant and how much water and nutrients it’s absorbing. It helps you identify any potential problems before they arise. So, if you see something like the leaves turning brown, use this article to control the brown leaves before things get worse (or the plant dies).
Have fun tending to the lovely foliage and multiple blooms!
Resources + References
Neem oil safety; npic.orst.edu – PDF
Mango anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) – PDF
Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. eucalyptorum pv. nov. Causing Bacterial Leaf Blight on Eucalypt in Brazil —PDF