Flamingo flower is a particularly attractive houseplant. Also known as Anthurium (Greek for tail flower) or ‘Painter’s Palette’, it is grown for its usually red flowers which sit above glossy green leaves.
As the name ‘Painters Palette’ suggests the waxy red flower, really a leaf, can resemble the shape of an artist’s palette. For other people the foliage, particularly with it’s rich red color, can resemble a heart. Pleasingly long lasting, a red leaf can last for at least three months.
From the colorful leaf, which sits on a long stem above the green foliage, a spadix, or fleshy spike, protrudes. The spadix can feel rough to the touch. This roughness is in fact lots of tiny flowers. If pollinated these small flowers can produce small clusters of red, berry-like fruit. However, as the plants are commonly grown as houseplants, this is uncommon.
Despite its elegant appearance, flamingo flower is a pleasingly easy to care for plant.
The distinctive, waxy foliage of the anthurium, or flamingo flower, can add drama and interest to a room or windowsill. Despite their eye-catching appearance the plants are pleasingly easy to care for.
Warning: The flamingo flower contains calcium oxalate crystals. These are toxic to cats, dogs and humans if ingested. The plants can also irritate eyes, skin and mucous membranes. If you have pets or small children keep the plant well out of their reach.
How to Plant a Flamingo Flower
Usually grown as a houseplant, flamingo flower plants can be ground outside in USDA zones 10 and 11.
As the anthurium grows and produces more foliage, its root system also expands. This means that like other houseplants and plants growing in containers, the plants require regular repotting. You will need to repot your flamingo flower once every two or three years, depending on how quickly it grows.
One of the most obvious signs that your plant is becoming too large for its container is that its roots will emerge from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Pot bound plants also dry out more quickly. Growth may also slow or cease.
Choosing the Right Flowerpot
To repot your plant, select a flowerpot that is slightly larger than the one currently holding the plant. Ideally the new container should be about 2 inches deeper and wider than the old pot. Repotting a plant into a significantly larger container can cause it to enter shock.
When choosing your container pay attention to the material it is made from. Clay or terracotta pots are more porous than plastic plant pots. This means the soil tends to dry out more quickly in terracotta pots.
Flamingo flowers will happily grow in any sort of container. Just be aware that your choice of container will affect how frequently you need to water the plants.
Finally, the new container should also be clean and have drainage holes in the bottom.
How to Repot
Fill the container about a third full with coarse, well-draining fertile soil. A fresh, general purpose soil mix is fine. If you want to further improve the soil, try mixing it with either perlite, pine bark or peat. Any of these combinations can help to improve the soil. Alternatively, an orchid mix also works well.
Don’t use a potting soil mix. Potting soils are heavier than other soil types. This means that they are very good at retaining moisture. Overly wet, or heavy soil, can cause flamingo flower plants to develop root rot.
Gently remove the flamingo flower from its container. If the plant is difficult to remove, try placing one hand around the plant and turning the container upside down. Squeeze the container with your other hand. This helps to loosen the soil around the roots, releasing the plant.
Once removed, brush away any dirt that still clings to the root system. Place the plant in the middle of the container. Don’t plant your flamingo flower any deeper than its original depth. If you are unsure how deep to plant, remember that the root system should sit about an inch below the level of the soil.
When you are happy with the position of the plant, fill the container with more of your chosen potting mix. Gently firm down the soil and water well.
How to Care for Flamingo Flower
Flamingo flower plants are pleasingly easy to care for. However there are a few things you can do, such as maintaining humidity levels, to help the plants thrive.
Flamingo flower plants are native to the tropical, humid regions of Colombia and Ecuador. Here they are classed as tropical perennial evergreens. In the wild anthuriums grow upwards, using the jungle trees as a support. This is known as epiphytes.
As their natural habitat suggests, these plants require humidity to thrive. A humidity level of 80% is ideal.
Regularly misting the plant helps to maintain humidity levels. A hand held mister such as the Yebeauty Plant Mister is ideal. Alternatively, using a humidifier or placing the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water, can also help to maintain humidity levels. Just make sure that the plant isn’t sitting in the water.
A tropical plant, flamingo flower does best in temperatures between 60 and 90 °F. Ideally the daytime temperature should average 86 °F. At night, the temperature should average around 68 °F. If your home is too warm for your flamingo flower, there are plenty of affordable and easy ways to cool a room down.
During the warmest summer days you can place your plant outside. Just remember to bring it back inside before the nighttime temperatures begin to fall.
Finding the right position can be difficult. However, if you persist your plant will reward you with an eye-catching display of waxy red foliage. Remember, the happier your plant is, the richer its colors will be.
When growing a flamingo flower as a houseplant, make sure it is sitting in a place filled with medium to bright indirect light. This is particularly important during the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing. When it is dormant the plant will tolerate a slightly darker position.
While the plant is happy to receive bright light, it should be shielded from the intense afternoon sun. Moving the plant away from the window, or shielding it with a net curtain, is a great solution. Plants exposed to the intense heat of the afternoon sun can develop scorched or burnt foliage.
If the plant doesn’t receive enough light its color will fade. If you struggle to provide enough natural light, artificial solutions such as grow lights are just as effective.
Water and Feeding
Wait until the top inch of soil feels dry before watering your flamingo flower plant. Sticking your finger into the soil is an easy way to tell if the plant requires water.
A soil moisture gauge can also be used, if you want a more accurate measure. The Bearbro 3-in-1 meter not only measures the moisture level of your soil, it also provides accurate readings of the soils pH levels. This meter can also tell you how much light your plant is receiving. This is particularly useful if you are growing light loving plants like the flamingo flower.
Water the plant well. If you are unsure how much water to give the plant, hold it over the sink or a bucket. Water until water begins to seep from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. When this begins, cease watering. Allow the water to finish dripping from the container before returning the plant to its position.
During the growing season, March to September, water your flamingo flower once a week. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again. In warmer climates you may need to water more regularly, so check the condition of the soil a couple of times a week.
Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of your plant will help the soil to retain moisture. An organic mulch also gives the plant a nutrient boost as it breaks down.
Commonly used outside on raised beds or borders, organic mulches can also be applied to houseplants. Here they can help the soil to retain moisture while slowly breaking down, adding beneficial nutrients to the soil.
During the winter period the plant’s growth will slow or become dormant. Dormant plants require less water.
Don’t overwater your plant. Wait until the soil is dry before watering again.
Never allow the plant to sit in standing water. This can cause root rot. In the worst cases root rot can destroy a plant’s root system, causing the plant to die.
During the growing season fertilizing the plant once every two months. This helps to promote flowering and healthy growth. The fertilizer should be rich in phosphorus. A water soluble feed is easily incorporated into your watering routine. If you don’t want to purchase a commercial product, liquid fertilizers and plant feeds are easy to make at home. These are just as effective as commercial products.
Dilute the feed until it is at half strength and apply to the soil around the plant. Try not to get the foliage wet as you water. Damp foliage, particularly in cool temperatures, can become a breeding ground for disease.
Cease feeding when the plants enter dormancy in the fall.
Every few months your flamingo flower plant may appreciate you flushing the salt from its soil. As you feed plants, in particular container plants, soluble salts found in many commercial fertilizers can build up. A buildup of salt in the soil can cause the foliage to burn.
To flush the salt from the soil take the container to a sink or outdoor tap. Slowly water the soil, until water drains from the bottom of the container. Continue to water for several minutes.
Once the soil is thoroughly soaked cease watering. Wait until water has stopped draining from the bottom of the container before returning the plant to its usual position.
Flamingo flower plants require little regular pruning. Simply remove or cut away spent flowers to keep the plant looking neat and healthy. Damaged and dead foliage should also be removed.
Flamingo Flower Propagation
Propagation is best done in early spring. The easiest way to propagate a flamingo flower is by division. This method of propagation is best done in conjunction with repotting. As well as being a great way to acquire more plants, division also helps to control a plants growth habit.
To divide the plant, carefully remove it from its container. Separate the root system into smaller sections. Each section should have at least one leaf and some healthy roots. While this can be done by hand, if you have trouble separating the root system use a sharp, clean knife.
Once you have divided the plant, plant each section in its own container. Water well and allow the plants to grow on as before.
Common Flamingo Flower Problems
Anthuriums are generally easy to care for plants. A change in the appearance of your flamingo flower may be a sign that the plant is not as healthy as it could be. For example, yellowing foliage is usually a sign of overwatering. To correct this issue, cease watering the plant until the soil is completely dry. Once the soil has dried out, resume watering but at a reduced level.
Leaves becoming brown is a sign that the plant is not receiving enough water. This issue can be cured by simply watering the plant more often. Brown leaves will not return to their original healthy, green color. Instead trim them away, the plant will soon produce new, healthy foliage.
The foliage of the plant will tell you how healthy and happy it is. If the foliage seems faded, or not as vibrant as it should be, reassess your plant’s position and care routine. If a problem is identified early enough it can be rectified before the problem becomes too serious.
Leaves fading in color and becoming brown are indicators that the plant isn’t receiving enough light. These changes are also indicators that the plant is being over-fertilized.
Foliage that is dull, or has lost its vibrancy, is a sign that the plant is lacking in humidity.
Bacterial blight can develop if the plant is in an overly humid position. Bacterial blight can also develop if nighttime temperatures remain too high.
Prune away afflicted leaves and reduce humidity and temperature around the plant. Improving air circulation around the plant also helps to keep it healthy.
Pests and How to Cure Them
Spider mites can target flamingo flowers, particularly if the plants are in overly wet conditions. To rid your plants of the pests reduce watering. Applying warm soapy water, or insecticidal soap to the foliage of the plant will cure infestations. Severe cases may require a few applications of the solution before the plant if fully pest free.
Another sap sucking insect that targets flamingo flowers is the aphid. Again an application of insecticidal soap or warm water will cure most infestations. Insecticidal soap is commonly available and easy to make at home.
Mealy bugs may also target your plants. These are noticeable by the cotton-like masses they spread on leaves. If left untreated, like aphids and spider mites, the bugs will spread to other nearby plants. As when treating other infestations, an application of insecticidal soap will rid your plant of even the most persistent pests.
Easy to care for, the long lasting, colorful foliage of the anthurium is an attractive addition to any home or houseplant collection. The happier the plant, the better the display it will produce.
Long lasting and attractive, the waxy flowers of the flamingo flower come in a range of reds, pinks and whites, complimenting the plants vivid green foliage. If placed in a large enough container, a fully mature flower can reach up to 3 ft in height, filling a light space with color and interest.
Houseplants, such as flamingo flower or pothos are a great way to add interest and life to a space. One of the easiest houseplants to cultivate, the flamingo flower is a great addition to any collection or living wall. It is also a great place to start if you are new to caring for houseplants.