Brightly colored leaves, exotically shaped flowers, and low maintenance nature are some words that aptly describe anthuriums. The plant is highly coveted for its multiple uses, sophisticated look, and symbolic value.
No wonder they’re among the best houseplants for indoor spaces. But, while anthuriums are mostly grown indoors, gardeners in USDA zones 10 and 12 can grow them outdoors.
You’re probably wondering, “how long do Anthurium plants live?”. Generally, anthuriums live for about 3 to 5 years, depending on their exposure to environmental factors, plant care, and other conditions.
We will go into more detail about the anthurium plant, the conditions influencing its growth and lifespan, and how you can make them live longer. Let’s dive in!
What Are Anthuriums?
Native to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, Anthurium is a tropical plant featuring over 1,000 species. The name “anthurium” originates from the greek word ” anthos,” meaning flowers, and “oura,” meaning tail. “anthos” and “oura” translates to flowering tail, an odd-looking spathe resembling an animal’s head or muzzle.
The houseplant usually grows as epiphytes on the surface of other plants, but a few grow on rocks. Anthuriums are also known as flamingo flowers, laceleaf, or tail flowers. They are characterized by beautiful, large, thick leaves with oval or arrowhead shapes.
These plants are not just stunning; they purify the air, removing toxins from the atmosphere and creating clean air for breathing. In addition, anthuriums may have red, white, pink, yellow, or green flowers, depending on the species.
Types of Anthuriums
As earlier stated, anthuriums belong to a genus of 1000 species. Let’s consider some of these species, especially the most common and affordable ones.
- Anthurium andraeanum: This plant is widely seen in homes. Its flowers are usually colored and stay fresh-looking for months. Anthurium Andraeanum grows at 18 inches, with spathes varying colors from orange, white, and pink.
- Anthurium scherzerianum: This species shares some similarities with the Andraeanum, except that it has a distinct, curly spadix. Anthurium Scherzerianum has cultivars with pink, red, or green flowers.
- Anthurium superbum: This anthurium species is sophisticated. It has broad, rounded, glossy green leaves with exotic undersides. Anthurium Superbum also grows 18 inches long and doubles as a bird’s nest.
What Influences the Lifespan of Anthurium Plants?
The lifespan of a plant, including anthurium, depends on several factors, including plant location, climatic changes, quality of care, environmental conditions, etc. Let’s consider how these factors influence the lifespan of anthurium.
Plant Location and Lighting
Generally, the plant location is an essential factor determining the years your anthurium plant will live. Anthurium plants grown indoors live longer than those grown outdoors because you can easily control the conditions of the former.
These plants thrive in bright, indirect light at temperatures between 27 to 32°C. Therefore, south or west-facing windows are the perfect places to place your anthurium. In addition, placing the plant in a southward direction is preferable as the sun won’t have much effect on it.
Also, growing anthurium in a container on the patio or porch seems like a good idea since you can move the potted plant around to get adequate shade.
Environment and Climate
Like every plant, environment and climate play a role in the longevity of anthurium. These elements are pivotal in the growth of a plant, starting from when the seed germinates and when the plant dies. As a tropical plant, anthurium thrives best in warm, humid environments.
The ideal humidity level for the plant ranges from 60% to 80%. According to studies, Anthuriums kept at 80% humidity level have well-developed roots, stems, leaves, and flowers compared to those kept at 50% humidity.
Subjecting flamingo plants to humidity levels less than 65% for a long time can damage the plant. High humidity helps the plant absorb the much-required nutrients, thereby supporting metabolism. Meanwhile, low humidity makes roots weak and dries up plants.
To keep humidity levels high, mist the plant regularly with lukewarm water at least once a day. During application, avoid spraying the flowers. Furthermore, consider placing a humidifier close to the anthurium, especially in the dry months. It helps to add moisture to the air, aiding the plant’s normal functioning.
Moreover, you might want to place anthurium on a humidity tray and avoid placing the plant close to heating vents or furnaces, particularly during spring or summer. Generally, the humidity tray contains pebbles and water.
To raise humidity levels using a humidity tray, ensure that the edges of the tray are dried and the pebbles float on water. In addition, ensure that anthurium isn’t oversaturated with water, as this harms the plant.
Quality of Care
Besides climatic conditions, another factor determining an anthurium’s lifespan is how well you care for it. This care includes timely pruning, water quality, timely repotting, temperature, soil medium quality, pest control, etc.
Let’s see how these factors affect the health and lifespan of anthurium.
Soil Medium Quality
Mixing potting soil with the right ingredients contributes immensely to anthurium’s survival. The best growing media for anthurium is a coarse, well-drained potting mix comprising equal amounts of peat, perlite, pine bark, and peat moss.
On the other hand, you can use an orchid potting mix with coconut husks, charcoal, pumice, and perlite. You can also use a coarser potting mix, including crumbled aquarium charcoal, small pieces of broken brick, and coarse river sand.
Typically, the soil should be light and loose, with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5. Regardless of the soil mix you choose for your plant, it should be nutritious, well aerated, have moisture retention, and support gas exchange.
Like light and potting mix, water plays a massive role in the healthy growth of anthurium. Underwatering can cause your plant to wilt, leaves to wither, and cells to shrink. Although watering anthuriums seems easy, you should know when to water them. They’re tropical plants that do best in high humidity and have light water requirements.
Having big, fleshy roots that are easily waterlogged, you’ll need to water the plants once weekly in their growing season (March-September). During winter, you’ll need to water once every two weeks.
In addition, the humidity, temperature, and light of your environment determine the watering schedule. So, you might need to feel the topsoil to know if it requires watering. If it’s dry to the touch, water the plant and allow it to dry. Ensure that the water dries out before watering again.
Another method to check water requirements is using a moisture meter or probe. In this case, you won’t have to put your fingers in the soil; gently push the probe into the soil. Within 30 to 60 seconds, the meter shows readings indicating whether you need to water the plants or not.
You will need to prune anthurium regularly to keep it erect and balanced. Pruning helps to remove discolored leaves to make room for more growth. Typically, some leaves can grow in the wrong direction or appear bent, leading to stunted growth.
Timely pruning enables the plant to maintain its shape and stimulates flowering. To trim anthurium, cut from the top and snip off wilted flowers from their stem. Also, trim only small suckers as they absorb energy from the plant, reducing flower size.
Meanwhile, pruning time depends on why you’re trimming anthurium. It’s best to prune plants early if you’re doing it to remove discolored or diseased leaves. Nevertheless, you can prune any time of the year so long you’re not cutting many plants at once.
It is best to prune in early spring to shape the plant or stimulate new growth. This timing will enable the plant to recover quickly as that period is its growing season. Pruning in winter isn’t advised because the plant won’t recover fast, predisposing it to growth issues.
When pruning, take precautions like using clean cutting tools to prevent bacterial infection. Bacteria and other microorganisms that hide on dirty tools can easily spread to plants. Wipe cutting tools with alcohol or bleaching solution before using them on plants.
Also, remember that anthurium contains chemicals that can irritate the skin and harm pets. So, wear gardening gloves when pruning anthurium to protect your hands and pets.
Even in a healthy state, anthuriums don’t grow quickly. Like other plants, you need to apply fertilizer to boost their growth. During the growing stage, liquid fertilizer is best for anthuriums since it’s easily diluted compared to granular fertilizers. Experts suggest the former because it’s more measurable. Within this period, apply the fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks.
Note that you shouldn’t fertilize budding plants until they’ve developed roots. That said, high phosphorus fertilizer with a ratio of 10:30:20 supports plants’ blooming. Besides, irrespective of your chosen ratio, you’ll need to dilute the chemical to about one-quarter strength.
Though some growers advise higher concentration, this isn’t suitable for anthuriums considering it leads to burns when applied in excess. Note that over-fertilizing anthurium has more adverse effects than under-fertilizing. Applying excess fertilizer to soil can cause buildup, affecting moisture retention.
Although it’s best to apply fertilizer in their growing season, the time to fertilize plants can differ depending on the plant’s response and type of fertilizer. If you’re using slow-release fertilizer, you’ll need to apply it once in summer and once in spring.
If fertilizer burn occurs, flush the soil with an aggregate substrate layer. Then, place the plant in a tub or bowl to allow water to drain out. Repeat the process until the fertilizer is completely removed.
At some point, you need to repot your plant when it outgrows the pot. When anthurium grows to about 20 inches tall in a pot, replant it in a new pot. Ensure the pot is slightly larger than the former to prevent roots from waterlogging. Repotting gives room for new growth and blooms.
Usually, gardening experts advise repotting every two or three years. While it’s recommended, how do you determine the time to repot? When roots encircle the soil, the plant has low moisture retention and wilted foliage or stunted growth. Then it’s time to repot. Preferably, it’s best to repot in spring before the growing season.
Here’s how to repot your anthurium.
- Get a larger pot ready for repotting: As a rule of thumb, the diameter of the new pot shouldn’t be more than an inch or two larger than the previous pot. Ensure the pot is well cleaned before adding your potting mix, which should be ⅓ of the container.
- Remove the plant from the existing pot: Carefully remove your anthurium from the current pot by snipping off extended roots with pruning shears. Also, check that the root is in good condition before planting.
- Replant your anthurium: Gently place the anthurium into the new pot and add more soil mix. Use your fingers to smoothen the potting soil and water the plant thoroughly. In addition, check the drainage level before placing it in the same position as the former pot.
You should know that growth may slow after repotting. Also, don’t add fertilizer to the plant immediately after repotting. Give anthurium some time to settle in its new pot before applying fertilizer.
Anthurium adapts to warm, humid conditions rather than cold temperatures as a tropical plant. Therefore, they thrive best as indoor plants with temperatures between 65 and 85°F.
However, Anthurium undergoes stress and may eventually die when the temperature drops below 60°F. For this reason, try to keep the temperature of your home or office constant. Once you notice a drop in temperature, move the plant to a warm area.
How to Make Anthurium Plants Last Longer
Now you know the factors that contribute to the lifespan of anthurium, how can you make it live longer? Indirect bright light, nutritious growing medium, and consistent watering are crucial to the longevity of anthuriums. Here’s how these elements increase the lifespan of anthuriums.
Nutritious Growing Media
Fertilizer and soil with good aeration and drainage are nutritious growing media that helps anthurium live longer. Consider fertilizing your plant monthly, especially during the growing season.
Typically, anthuriums grow among a canopy of trees. So, the light they receive is usually indirect, which is suitable for their survival. To prolong the life of your anthurium, you must provide indirect light.
You might have to use an alternative if your region doesn’t receive abundant sunlight. For example, you can use a full spectrum LED grow light to supply light to your plant for approximately 10 – 12 hours daily.
Use a light meter app on your phone to evaluate the light intensity. Generally, 1500 – 2000 ft is the recommended light intensity range for anthuriums.
Depending on your region’s climate and environmental factors, you may create a watering schedule for your anthurium. This schedule is crucial to its lifespan. For example, watering the plant weekly isn’t a good idea, especially if it’s in a warm, humid region. Likewise, watering anthurium daily in a colder region has a damaging effect on it.
As earlier stated, climate and environmental factors influence the lifespan of anthuriums. Therefore, you can decide to grow your anthurium indoors or outdoors but ensure you create suitable conditions that support its growth and development.
Climatic conditions like temperature and humidity are parameters that determine how long your anthurium lives. If you’re growing the plant indoors, temperatures ranging from 65 – 85°F and humidity of 60% are best suited.
Use a room heater/air conditioner to change the temperature when it’s too high or low. In addition, use a humidifier or pebble tray to increase humidity.
If you grow your anthurium outdoors, you have little or no control over the climatic conditions. All you need to do is move the plant to a better temperature and humidity location.
After considering all factors, you must maintain them for proper growth and development. Over time, anthurium will outgrow its pot, and you’ll need to repot it. Prune when necessary, and keep pests and diseases at bay using pesticides and other pest control. With proper maintenance, your anthurium will bloom and live longer.
How Anthuriums Bloom
Not only are anthuriums popular for their lovely heart-shaped leaves, but they also have colorful, striking blooms. Each bloom seems to have a single petal with a tapered end. Unlike other flowers with delicate pistils and stamens, anthurium flowers feature a single blunt spike.
Furthermore, anthuriums have modified leaves called spathes which act as covering for flowers and support pollination. During summer, anthuriums bloom for eight weeks or more. Moreover, they can produce flowers throughout the year under the right conditions. That said, some growers can flower 3 or 4 times a year.
Typically, the lifespan of anthuriums depends on the environmental factors, climatic conditions, and care they receive. Are you looking to add a houseplant to your garden? Expand your plant collection with the gorgeous blooms of anthurium. Let the glossy green leaves and heart-shaped flowers give you a feel of paradise in your home.
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.