Flamingo flowers are also known as anthuriums, laceleafs, or tailflowers. With their large, shiny leaves and colorful inflorescences, they are very attractive houseplants.
No wonder they keep coming back into fashion again and again. Their cultivation can succeed well with a little attention.
The anthurium, or flamingo flower because of its striking inflorescence in reddish colors, originally comes from the neotropical areas of Central and South America and the Caribbean islands.
It is therefore an absolute rainforest plant. You can only keep it as a houseplant in most regions.
Of the 1000 species of the genus, only the large and small flamingo flowers (Anthurium andreanum and Anthurium scherzerianum) are widely used for window sill cultivation. But there are also hybrids of these two, which are quite common as houseplants.
The flamingo flower belongs to the Arum family that also contains plants like the calla or the arum lily.
Flamingo flowers grow as evergreen perennials and reach growth heights of 15 to 40 inches (40 to 100 cm) with a width of about 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm).
They belong to the epiphytes, so in the wild, they usually settle on trees. However, there are also terrestrially growing species.
Biologically, flamingo flowers are primarily foliage ornamental plants. The most striking thing about them is their leaves.
Especially, of course, the colorful bracts under the flower, the spatha. It serves as an attention-getter to the actual flower.
But the foliage leaves are also a splendid sight, with their flat, elongated heart-shaped form and rich, medium-green color. They have a slightly leathery texture and are glossy.
The bracts shine in white, pink, rose, or bright red. And, at least in the case of the Anthurium andreanum, they are also shiny.
In the many species besides the Anthurium andreanum and Anthurium scherzerianum, there is a much more diverse array of leaf shapes.
Let’s keep in mind:
- The leaves are elongated heart-shaped and shiny.
- They have a leathery consistency.
- The bracts are colorful during flowering.
The actual flower, to which the colorful bracts are usually felt to belong, is only the small spadix, which sits in the axil of the spatha.
It usually has an elongated cylindrical to club-like shape and a pale yellow, orange, or red color. An inflorescence can form on any inflorescence stem.
So in late spring to early summer, from about May to June, the flamingo flower presents itself in a veritable firework of color that contrasts attractively with the rich green foliage.
Which Location is Suitable for Flamingo Flowers?
Flamingo flowers, like so many other rainforest plants, require a bright, warm, draft-free location without direct sunlight. So you should place the flamingo flower in a window spot where it will receive some shade from other houseplants.
The temperature should preferably be 68 °F (20 °C) upwards, but the anthurium thrives best at around 73 to 77 °F (23 to 25 °C).
In winter, however, it should be a little cooler, about 60 to 64 °F (16 to 18 °C). This way you provide it with the necessary temperature stimulus that leads to good flower formation after the winter break.
As a tropical plant, the flamingo flower naturally also benefits from high humidity. It’s best to treat it to a fine misty spray from the water disperser on a regular basis.
- The location must be warm and bright
- Protect it from direct sunlight and drafts
- The plant favors high humidity.
- Temperatures in summer should be between 68 and 77 °F (20 and 25 °C).
- Temperatures in winter between should be between 60 and 64 °F (16 and 18 °C).
What Kind of Soil Do Flamingo Flowers Need?
As an epiphyte, the flamingo flower does not necessarily need a soil substrate. It can also be placed in pure peat. In that case, however, a regular supply of nutrients is necessary.
A loose mixture of slightly acidic orchid soil is best, which you can loosen up with sphagnum, or leaf mould. A high humus content is also highly recommended, so mix in some compost as well.
In any case, the substrate should be loose and well-drained.
You can also keep flamingo flowers well in hydroponics in expanded clay substrate over a water-nutrient solution.
Watering Flamingo Flowers
The water requirement of the flamingo flowers is relatively high. So you should water it abundantly.
However, it is also important not to create a permanent foot bath. Otherwise, root rot might occur. But still, make sure that the substrate is always moist.
During the winter break, reduce the watering somewhat.
Important: Use water as low in lime and lukewarm as possible. The flamingo flower is very sensitive to lime and generally does not like the cold.
Watering practice at a glance:
- Flamingo flowers are quite thirsty.
- Always keep the pot root ball moist.
- Avoid waterlogging.
- Water less in winter.
- Use lukewarm water with low lime content.
Fertilizing Flamingo Flowers Properly
You should fertilize the flamingo flower in moderation, but evenly. It is best to add some liquid fertilizer in low concentration to its watering once a week during the growing season from spring through fall.
During the winter break, greatly reduce fertilizer application or stop it altogether.
- Fertilize moderately but evenly throughout the growing season.
- In winter, fertilize only very little or not at all.
Pruning Flamingo Flowers Properly
You do not need to prune the flamingo flower. In this respect, it is a truly low-maintenance plant.
Propagating Flamingo Flowers
The best way to propagate the flamingo flower is by root division. This method is particularly suitable in view of its densely caespitose roots, which make repotting necessary every year anyway.
So you can use the repotting in spring for propagation at the same time.
When cutting up the root ball, make sure that the new section to be planted has at least one leaf with well-formed, healthy roots.
Place it in a pot with loose, slightly acidic, and peaty soil substrate and place it in a bright and warm location. For an even, warm moist growing climate, it is recommended to cover the plant with a foil bag at the beginning.
- Division is the best method of propagation flamingo flowers.
- It is best done in spring when repotting.
- Divided piece must have at least one leaf with developed roots.
- Plant it in species-appropriate substrate and place it in a warm and bright place.
- Keep the new plant moist, and possibly allow it to grow under foil.
Diseases are not really an issue with the flamingo flower. If it shows unhealthy symptoms, care errors are usually the cause.
The plant can be affected by leaf spot disease, though. This is a fungal disease that manifests itself in brown spots on the leaves. Countermeasures are the removal of the diseased parts of the plant and the application of a fungicide.
Especially when the indoor air is too dry, the flamingo flower can be attacked by certain pests. Potential candidates are mainly spider mites and scale insects.
These small parasites often appear on houseplants that are exposed to excessively dry heating air, contrary to their high humidity requirements.
The mites are very small, but quite visible to the naked eye, especially if they are of the reddish variety.
However, there are also greenish to white-yellowish species that are barely visible on the leaves.
The infestation is clearly recognizable by the fine webs with which the mites cover the leaf axils and stems.
Fortunately, fighting spider mites is relatively simple and at the same time corrects the causal care error. Water is the element that can drive these annoying comrades away best.
And lack of water was the reason for the plant infestation in the first place.
First, you can simply rinse off the spider mites mechanically with a strong jet of water. Then, close the whole plant under a foil in a wet state.
In the moist, low-air climate that develops underneath, the mites usually die within a week.
Scale insects are also one of the most common pests of houseplants. They suck the plant sap from their host and secrete honeydew, which, aside from worrying about their plant, can gum up the window and windowsill for the amateur gardener.
Like spider mites, you can also tackle scale insects mechanically at first. Wipe the leaves of the flamingo flower thoroughly with a damp cloth.
Since the leaves are quite robust, you do not need to proceed too timidly. If the infestation is more stubborn, you can additionally apply a spray treatment with garlic, tansy, or nettle decoction.
In very hard cases, resort to oil preparations that suffocate the scale insects.
Yellow Leaves in Flamingo Flowers
If your flamingo flower develops yellow leaves, it’s usually due to a lack of light or a substrate that’s too wet.
Providing the flamingo flower with the right light conditions is truly not trivial. Plenty of brightness without direct sunlight is somewhat difficult to achieve.
However, natural light shading by a neighboring plant on the windowsill or by a thin sun sail can be good solutions.
Meticulous consideration is also the name of the game when it comes to watering practices. Strictly regular watering, where the substrate is always moist but never in water, requires a lot of attention.
If you do not want to spend this effort, you can resort to hydroponics. In it, flamingo flowers generally thrive very well.
Brown Leaves in Flamingo Flowers
The leaves of the flamingo flower, on the other hand, tend to turn brown in cases of too little sun protection, too impermeable substrate, root rot, or overfertilization.
Lack of Sun Protection
Be sure to protect your flamingo flowers from strong sunlight. Otherwise, you risk sunburn, which will weaken the plant in the long run.
As an epiphyte, the flamingo flower needs plenty of air at the roots. It does not feel comfortable at all in a substrate that is too dense.
Brown leaves may indicate that the plant cannot breathe sufficiently through the roots. So place it in as loose a peaty substrate as possible.
Brown leaves can also indicate an advanced condition due to overwatering in the form of root rot. This condition is quite critical and requires repotting as soon as possible.
Before placing the plant in the new pot, remove all rotten root components as thoroughly as possible. From then on water only to the extent that the substrate does not dry out.
Brown Spots in Flamingo Flowers
Brown spots usually indicate leaf spot disease. The best way to fight this fungal disease, as with most other houseplant fungal diseases, is to carefully remove the affected plant parts and then apply a fungicidal spray.
Is Flamingo Flower Poisonous?
Unfortunately, flamingo flowers are mildly toxic in all parts of the plant.
The leaves in particular, like other anthuriums, contain the saponin aroin and calcium oxalate, which the plant spreads to potential attackers via tiny needles.
Therefore, even touching it can cause skin irritation in the form of redness, swelling, and even blistering. However, the cultivated forms are usually not as toxic as the wild forms.
Eating parts of the flamingo flower is even more critical. So you should keep the plant away from young children and pets in particular.
Symptoms of eating parts of flamingo flowers are initially redness and blistering of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, as well as painful swelling of the tongue.
If swallowed, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea also soon occur.
A suitable first aid measure is to drink plenty of fluids to support the elimination of the poison. In most cases, however, the symptoms subside by themselves after 2-3 hours.
If a person consumes larger quantities, gastrointestinal bleeding can occur in the worst case. In this case, at the latest, you should consult a physician.
Is Anthurium Poisonous for Cats?
Due to their small body mass, cats show symptoms of poisoning similar to those in humans even with small doses of ingested parts of flamingo flowers. You will also notice increased salivation.
Try to get the animal to drink. If the symptoms are severe, visit your vet as soon as possible.
When deciding which cultivar to put in the room, it is best to be guided by the color of the spatha. After all, it is the most characteristic of the different varieties. The other characteristics are largely the same.
The varieties are often hybrids but nevertheless are often attributed to the small (Anthurium scherzerianum) or large (Anthurium andreanum) flamingo flower.
Varieties of the Anthurium Scherzerianum
The Anthurium scherzianum develops somewhat smaller, but has more numerous inflorescences. In height, they grow to about 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm).
The foliage leaves are rather lanceolate and the spatha is also only slightly heart-shaped in the axil. It usually has little or no shine. The flowering period is between May and June.
- Anthurium scherzerianum Artus: This cultivar shows an intense scarlet, dull-glossy spatha and a cob flower that usually also turns reddish.
- Anthurium scherzerianum Rothschildianum: The bracts of this cultivar have white spots on the red base color, making it a particularly attractive, eye-catching sight.
- Anthurium scherzerianum Amaretti: With its pink spatha, this variety is a slightly more delicate appearance.
- Anthurium scherzerianum Album: This cultivar produces snow-white bracts with yellow spadices.
Varieties of the Anthurium andreanum
Varieties of Anthurium andreanum produce larger, but less numerous inflorescences. The foliage leaves are also larger, with a spread of up to 16 inches (40 cm). They have a leatherier texture, a shinier surface, and a pronounced heart shape.
In height, the great flamingo flower reaches up to 40 inches (100 cm). The flowers form between May and June.
- Anthurium andreanum Princess Amalia Elegance: This variety looks particularly noble and almost diva-like due to the scarlet, fine veining on the white spatha. The flower bulb also shows the same scarlet hue.
- Anthurium andreanum Rosee Choco: This cultivar has a spatha of deep, reddish brown. This gives it a very sublime appearance.
- Anthurium andreanum Acropolis: The inflorescences of this cultivar show up with a beautiful, large spathe in creamy white. It has a white spadix flower that fades into yellow at the top.
- Anthurium andreanum Calisto: This variety looks very interesting with light green spatha and accents and flower bulbs in pink.