By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

Anthuriums or “flamingo flowers” make wonderful gifts for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, or any day actually. Get that special person a bouquet or a flowering potted anthurium, either way, the waxy heart-shaped flowers will keep looking good for a long time.

Anthuriums belong to an important family of plants, the Araneae, which includes quite a few of our most popular house plants. Philodendrons, pothos, peace lilies, dieffenbachias, Chinese evergreens and arrowhead vines are all in this family. 

Not all aroid flowers are equally as showy as the flamingo. Dieffenbachia and Chinese evergreen flowers look like little cream-colored canoes and are more a curiosity than anything. You grow them for their foliage after all. Often, people see these blooms and think there is something wrong with their plant. They sure don’t look like flowers.

Peace lilies, loved for their white flowers grow and bloom quite well under low light levels. Potted Anthuriums, however, need a really bright location.  They have spathes in eye catching colors, depending on the variety, white, pink, coral or flamingo red. The cut flowers are even more flamboyant coming in all the above colors plus an apple green and some may even be a mix of several colors.

The plants don’t need direct sun all day, just lots of bright light. Remember, this plant was growing in a green house before you got it. Less light means fewer and smaller flowers and less of the bright colors you wanted. In really low light, they will pout and not bloom at all. They do have attractive foliage, so they look nice even if they aren’t blooming. They want to have moist, not wet soil. Never let them get “bone dry.” Keep your anthuriums looking their best by cutting off any discolored leaves right at the base of the stem. Cut off each flower once the spathe fades to green and the spadix turns brown.

To keep your cut anthurium blooms looking good, make a fresh cut on the slant so the stems don’t touch the bottom of the vase, (preferably under water) as soon as you get them. Then plunge the stems into lukewarm water and add the floral preservative. Put the bouquet in a bright location, but don’t let the flowers get hot, and keep them from a draft from a leaky window or a door that opens often.  They are tropical, they don’t like cold. Cut the stems again if they look brown and keep their water clear; murky water means rotting stems.

Have a floriferous Valentine’s Day.  Yes, that is really a word.