The star features of an Anthurium are its shiny and colorful flower clusters, and under ideal circumstances, these beautiful plants can bloom again and again throughout the year. So what can you do if yours isn’t flowering? Is there any way you can make your Anthurium bloom again?
Anthuriums are sensitive to environmental conditions, so you’ll need to make sure yours has the proper lighting, temperature, and humidity to encourage flowering. It’s also worth checking whether your plant is in the wrong type of soil and whether you’re overwatering it – two easy mistakes to make with epiphytes.
If adjusting those factors isn’t enough to restore your Anthurium’s vivid blooms, then you can also give it some encouragement through the careful application of fertilizer. Or, if it’s been in the same pot for a while, it might need a soil flush or a larger container. We’ll cover all these possibilities in more detail below.
How Anthuriums Flower
The Anthurium family is actually enormous, containing a huge array of different plants. What these plants have in common is their habit of producing tight clusters of flowers surrounded by colorful leaves.
What most people think of as the “flower” of the Anthurium is actually a specialized leaf called a spathe. The flowers themselves are tiny, growing in dense clusters on the spadix – that slender “tail” you can see emerging from the middle of the spathe. The structure that contains all these elements is called an inflorescence.
That can be a bit of a handful to type over and over, so we’ll sometimes refer to them simply as “blooms.”
The inflorescence usually grows above the plant’s actual foliage – the green and leafy parts of the plant. The types of Anthurium most commonly found in the United States have big heart-shaped leaves which are quite attractive in their own right.
These popular varieties bloom in red, pink, white, or some combination of those colors – part of the reason for their nickname, the Flamingo Flower. When healthy, the foliage should be a vivid green, and the spathes should have a waxy, shiny appearance.
Because these are tropical plants, they don’t have a built-in seasonal cycle. Instead, Anthuriums typically flower in a pattern of three months on and three months off. If they’re happy, they can keep this up year-round.
Unfortunately, that can be a big “if”! Though Anthuriums aren’t especially difficult houseplants to keep alive, there are some common mistakes that can prompt them to withhold their beautiful blooms.
If you’re encountering this problem, read on for our tips on encouraging Anthuriums to show off their flair.
1: Avoid Overwatering
We’re starting with this advice both because proper watering is trickier than many houseplant owners realize, and because messing this up can have such disastrous consequences.
Not only can overwatering your Anthurium suppress its flowering, if it goes on long enough, it can cause your plant to develop root rot. This condition is the bane of indoor plants, and in some cases, it can damage your Anthurium beyond repair before you even realize there’s a problem. The most common cause? A fixed watering schedule.
While it might seem logical to water your Anthurium regularly, you can’t assume that the plant will absorb exactly the same amount of moisture every time. If the roots get more water than they can handle, the excess will remain in the soil. And soggy soil is the perfect breeding ground for disease.
A much better method is to test the soil every few days with your finger (or with a moisture meter, if you want to be more exact) and water only when it’s dried out to roughly the depth of your first knuckle. When you do water your Anthurium, pour until you see the excess water escaping from the pot’s drainage holes.
If you’re afraid you might be giving your Anthurium too much water, an important warning sign to watch for is yellowing leaves. This can often be an indicator of overwatering, especially when seen in conjunction with brown and shriveled leaf tips.
2: Use A Pot That Drains Well
This is the other half of preventing root rot. Even if you’re not watering your plant excessively, you can get the same problems if the pot is trapping too much liquid.
Remember how we said to water until it comes out of the drainage holes? Yeah, your Anthurium’s pot should always have drainage holes! This will allow any excess liquid to flow out and away from the roots of your plant.
Another good way to enhance drainage is to include a layer of pebbles in the base of the container underneath the soil. But remember, the drainage hole is still the most important thing. A pebble layer can work with a drainage hole and should not be used as an alternative for a pot without a hole.
3: Use A Loose Potting Mix
Speaking of soil, another cause of improper drainage is planting your Anthurium in dirt that’s too dense for its roots.
These plants appreciate a coarse potting soil. Your best bet is to start with an orchid mix and enhance it with some additives to loosen it up even further. Some good additions include:
There are many recipes available on the web claiming to be the perfect Anthurium mix, but in the long run, you’ll probably want to experiment and figure out what works best for your plants.
4: Provide Plenty Of Indirect Light
Outside of watering issues, the most common reason why Anthuriums fail to flower is that they aren’t getting enough light. They can survive even in fairly dim conditions, but they aren’t nearly as motivated to show off the goods unless they’re well-lit.
That doesn’t mean you should plunk them down right in front of your south-facing window, though. Anthuriums are jungle plants used to the diffused sunlight that filters in through the rainforest canopy. If they get too much direct light, you’re likely to see their foliage and spathes develop a pale, bleached look.
Anthuriums bloom best in a location where they receive bright, indirect light throughout the day. Depending on your local climate, this might be hard to achieve with natural light alone. There’s no shame in using a grow lamp! Our recommendation is the Sansi 15W LED bulb, which is an inexpensive full-spectrum light, powerful enough that you don’t have to place it right next to your Anthurium’s leaves. For more information on grow lights, read this article.
5: Keep It Humid
Once again, you’re dealing with a rainforest plant – it thrives in humid environments. If the air is too dry, your Anthurium is unlikely to feel confident producing flowers.
If you happen to have a bathroom that gets lots of indirect light, this can be an ideal place for your Anthurium. If not, try keeping a spray bottle next to it and misting it whenever you pass by. You can also set up a small humidifier nearby.
A humidity tray is another useful trick. This is basically a shallow dish filled with smooth rocks or beads, with a bit of water placed in the base to gradually evaporate. Set your Anthurium’s pot on top of the pebbles, which will keep the roots elevated above the liquid.
It might seem strange that we’re advising you to keep your plant moist after we stressed the dangers of overwatering, but there’s a big difference between wet soil and humid air.
Anthuriums are epiphytes, meaning that in their natural environment they climb along the sides of trees and get most of their water by absorbing vapor from the air around them. They’re not well-adapted for dense and soggy soil, but moisture-rich air will make them feel right at home.
6: Keep It Cozy
Temperature fluctuations can also stress out your Anthurium and keep it from flowering. Place it in a location that isn’t subject to frequent drafts and where the heat level is fairly consistent.
The temperature range you should strive for is 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. For those who prefer metric units, that’s roughly 21-29 degrees Celsius.
7: Prune Wilting Blooms
Deadheading is a simple way to keep your Anthurium in shape for flowering. Every inflorescence on the plant is drawing on some stored energy for maintenance, even those that are already fading. By pruning these off, you’re helping your Anthurium focus on producing new, healthy blooms instead.
It’s a good idea to sterilize your pruning shears after cutting each bloom. That way, if any portion of the plant is diseased, you’re not spreading germs to other stalks.
Wiping down the blades with a rag or cloth soaked in disinfectant is a quick and effective method. Common mixtures include 70% isopropyl alcohol or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
8: Fertilize Frequently, But Not Too Strongly
If you’re following the tips outlined above, but your Anthurium is still not producing blooms, you can try boosting its diet.
Wild Anthuriums take in a steady, weak stream of nutrients from rainwater and decaying scraps of other plants. Fortunately, you can simulate this without moving to the jungle by providing regular doses of diluted fertilizer.
Select a formula high in phosphorus – orchid fertilizers often work well. Then water it down to roughly 10-20% strength. Feed this to your Anthurium about once a week, just after watering.
9: Flush The Soil
If you’re following tip #8, be aware that salt compounds from fertilizer can accumulate in the soil over time. When these reach high enough concentrations, they can put a real strain on your Anthurium – another factor that can discourage the plant from producing its lovely inflorescences.
So if you fertilize, you should flush your Anthurium’s container out every few months. Place it under the faucet and turn the water on. Use a fairly low pressure – thoroughness is more important than strength here.
Once the water is leaking out of the drainage holes, let it run through for a few minutes and then return your Anthurium to its location. Remember tip #1 – wait until the upper layers of the soil dry out before watering again.
10: Repot Your Anthurium
Another way to restore your plant’s enthusiasm for blooming is to repot it. Over time, container-grown Anthuriums tend to become root-bound. The usual advice is to move yours to a slightly larger container once every two years. A good sign that it’s time to move your Anthurium is that it’s poking roots up through the surface of the soil.
The new pot should ideally be deeper as well as wider – you want to bury most of the exposed portion of the stem. Those aerial roots growing from the woody part will adapt to conditions underground and give your plant some extra energy.
Repotting can also help with the problem of mineral buildup that we referenced in tip #9.
If your Anthurium is comfortable and well-fed, it should bloom beautifully all year round. The tips we’ve outlined should help you ensure that it’s primed for success.
In general, you should check for lighting and overwatering issues first, as these are the most common reasons that Anthuriums fail to bloom. Then move on to the more finicky issues on the list.
Above all, don’t give up on your plant! Even an Anthurium that hasn’t flowered in a year or more can often be coaxed back into its former exuberant beauty with a little bit of TLC.