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A beautiful plant is like having a friend around the house - Beth Ditto
Margaret Wolfe Hungerford once wrote that beauty was in the eye of the beholder, and so it was rather apt that the first time we noticed an Anthurium Crystallinum plant was in the conservatory of a friend’s home while engrossed in the pages of Her Last Throw.
Far from being conventionally beautiful, Crystallinum is, nonetheless, a striking plant, and there was something about its unique charm that spoke to our soul.
At that moment, we knew that having been transfixed by this oddly beguiling plant, it would almost certainly end up playing a role in our lives.
And six years later, we can happily say that there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t find some solace in the gentle, unassuming company that Anthurium Crystallinum provides.
A Little History - Anthurium Crystallinum 101
With more than half a decade of experience of looking after this wonderful plant under our collective belt, we found that the best way to care for it was to truly understand it, where it comes from and what it needs in order to flourish.
It probably comes as no surprise that this plant isn’t native to North American shores and that it actually hails from the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, and seems to have a particular fondness for the jungle areas of Peru.
Part of the Araceae family, it’s often called an aroid by experienced horticulturalists and is part of an incredibly diverse botanical clan that includes nearly four thousand different species.
And like every single member of its family, it has its own set of special requirements that it needs in order to thrive.
It took us years to finally discover what this plant does and doesn’t like, and the conditions and environment that it prefers.
And everything that we’ve learned along the way, we’re going to share with you so that you can find as much pleasure in the quiet and undemanding fellowship that the Anthurium Crystallinum offers as we do.
Growing Your Anthurium - Soil Requirements
As it’s found in the rainforests and jungles of South America, Anthurium grows in both the treetops, on the side of hills, and in the rich vegetation of the forest, to successfully grow it and give its roots the room they need in order to grow and expand, so far from its natural environment, it needs the right sort of soil to really take root.
We found that using a specialized orchid potting mix provided the best platform for it to firmly establish itself in any home.
You’ll also need to bear in mind that as it’s native to rainforest and jungles, it is used to a very humid, moisture-rich habitat, with organic drainage, and to best replicate that, you’ll need to add some loose gravel to the soil.
This should help your new plant to make the most of its new home, by providing enough room for its roots to breathe and sufficient drainage so that they don’t absorb too much water from the soil that they’re planted in.
If you do find that your new best friend isn’t taking to life in the soil mix as well as you hoped it would, it might be due to it needing a little more room to grow than the average houseplant does.
A good tip is to do what we did, and over-estimate the size of the pot that it needs rather than underestimate it. The bigger the pot that we used the more the Anthurium seemed to like it.
Let There Be Light
Like all rainforest and jungle-dwelling plants, Anthurium prefers a little shade to direct sunlight, so if you’re going to keep it indoors, it’s best to keep the plant out of direct sunlight and either ensure that it lives in the middle of a room or underneath a window ledge.
It isn’t a fan of direct sunlight and can, if left for too long under these conditions, begin to dry out. And that’s something that you don’t want to happen. It needs just enough sunlight to feel it and know it’s there, but not too much.
While the amount is cause for debate among Artuturim fans, we’ve always found that around seventy percent or so is adequate and more than enough for it.
It can also live and thrive outside providing you live somewhere a little warmer than we do, like Florida, which is closer to its natural climate and provides it with the heat and sunlight that it needs.
If you are going to attempt to grow it outside, planting it in the shade of a larger tree will definitely help and will give it a kick-start as it will closely replicate the rainforest floors and dense hillsides that it’s found on in Peru.
Again when you’re planting it outside, make sure to use a rich organic soil that’s packed with enough loose gravel to aid with drainage so that it doesn’t absorb too much water,
Room To Breathe
Before we move on to the water and nutritional needs of Anthurium, as we’ve briefly mentioned letting it grow outside in more temperate areas, we thought it might be prudent to mention how much space you’ll need if you want to grow the plant inside - which is almost certainly where you will end up growing and keeping it.
It’s far from being the largest of tropical houseplants, and when it’s fully grown shouldn’t be more than half a meter across, so as long as it has adequate space to reach full maturity, it should do so easily within a couple of years.
That timeframe might sound like a lot, but Anthurium does take a long time to reach full maturity and isn’t exactly the fastest growing plant in the rainforest.
So be patient, and it will get there in the end. It just might not get there as fast as you’d like it to.
Watering Your Anthurium
The rainforests and jungles that Anthurium calls home are always incredibly wet, so naturally, you’d assume that the plant needs a lot of water, in order to survive.
While it’s true that it is exposed to a lot of rainfall in its original environment, because of the shelter provided by the jungle canopy, the close proximity of other plants, and the natural drainage provided by the hills on which it tends to grow, it doesn’t need as much water as you might think it does.
Watering it two or three times a week, providing that you’ve packed the soil in which it’s growing with material to replicate the drainage that it’s used to, should provide all the water that it needs, and requires to sustain itself.
Never over-water it as too much is as dangerous as too little. A neat trick that you can use to see if you need to water your Anthurium is the dampness test.
Touch the soil in your plant’s pot, and if it feels damp, you don’t need to water it, but if the soil feels dry, it’s time to break out your watering can and add a little moisture, and let your plant drink it in.
As you’ve probably surmised, as it’s a native of a more temperate climate, Anthurium adores high levels of humidity, which is why it’s an ideal garden plant for Floridians.
It’s also why a lot of Anthurium devotees will happily tell you that if you want to raise your plant the right way, the best room in your house to grow it in is the bathroom.
We think that takes all of the fun out of hanging out with and talking to your plant, which is why we’ve always located a small indoor humidifier close to ours.
A humidifier will provide the right atmospheric conditions for your plant, and you won’t even notice that it’s there, doing what it does in the background, but believe us, your Anthurium will and it’ll be eternally grateful for it.
Some Like It Hot…
Again, it should come as no surprise that a rainforest plant that also flourishes in a jungle environment likes the heat.
Ideally, any room it’s being grown in should be kept at a steady twenty-two to twenty-four degrees centigrade.
Unless you live in the South, it isn’t advisable to even attempt to let this plant grow outside, but if you do to grow it outside and you want it to grow up to be big and strong, you’ll need to let it live in a well-lit, heated greenhouse.
Otherwise, you’ll need to do what the rest of us do; set the heating and keep it switched on.
Like all plants, Anthurium absorbs a lot of its nutrients through the soil in which it’s planted, and it will drain the soil in which you’ve planted it of all of its nutritional value if it’s left unchecked.
That’s why you’ll need to regularly boost the nutrient level in the soil you’ve planted your new friend in and there are two ways that you can do it.
You can either sprinkle nutrient-rich fertilizer like Joyful Dirt directly onto the soil that your plant is growing in and let nature and your Anthurium do the rest, or you can add a little plant food to the water that you use to keep the soil and your plant moist.
Either way will suffice and should provide your plant with everything that it needs to thrive in your home.
While we’re usually as uncomfortable as the next person when discussing reproduction and the inevitable three-letter word that always seems to be associated with it, when it comes to plants, we’re a little more comfortable with the whole process.
Anthurium reproduces asexually and grows plantlets on its roots, which if left unchecked will make their home in the same pot as their parent.
And as there’s only so much available in that pot, they'll end up competing for food and space with their parent in a small area, which won’t end well.
That’s why it’s important to gently but firmly separate the plantlets from the parent plant.
If you’re unsure how to do it, it’s worth spending a couple of hours watching some of the many instructional videos on YouTube that will show you, in great depth and detail, how to do it before attempting to do it yourself.
Once you separated the plantlets from the parent plant, you should then plant them in small pots that have been prepared with rich, organic soil.
Simply plant them using the same method that you did to plant their parent plant and while they won’t need the same amount of room as their fully mature plant does for a long time, you will need to keep checking the plantlets and upgrading the size of the pots that they’ve been planted in every couple of months until you settle them in their final home.
Potting And Repotting
It’s a given that you’ll want your Anthurium to remain as healthy and happy as it possibly can be, which will mean replanting and potting it every three or four months.
We rotate our plant between two separate pots so that it has fresh, rich soil and fertilizer every quarter.
It’s a simple, straightforward process that involves preparing one pot with everything that our Anthurium needs (soil, gravel for drainage, and a little fertilizer), before gently digging it out of the other pot and replanting it in the new one.
When you do repot your Anthurium, make sure that you spread its roots out, and take your time to rehome it. It isn’t a race and as long as you work at a steady pace, no harm will come to your plant, and it will continue to prosper in its new pot.
Obviously, your repotting schedule is entirely up to you, as some home horticulturalists do it every six months and others have a yearly schedule.
We prefer to replant and repot as often as we possibly can and while it isn’t strictly necessary to do it as often as we do, we think that the fact that our plant is healthy and robust, speaks volumes for the frequency at which we regularly replant and repot out Anthurium.
Warning Signs To Watch Out For
Anthuriums, while being a relatively hardy plant, are susceptible to fungal infection and disease.
And nearly all of the blights and infections that they can succumb to are due to overwatering and the environment in which they’re being cared for and nurtured being too humid.
We’ve put together a brief list of the three things that your Anthurium could succumb to and the warning signs that’ll make you aware that they’ve reached out to embrace your plant.
Cigarette Burn Blemishes - If you suddenly notice cigarette burn type blemishes appearing on the leaves of your plant, this is due to a bacterial infection that’s caused by overwatering and spreads quickly and viciously.
The best thing you can do to save the plant is to remove the leaves as quickly as you can and reduce your watering schedule. It could take months for your plant to get better, but if you catch it early enough, your plant should be fine.
Bacterial Blight - This is another infection whose symptoms manifest as long yellow lesions on the leaves, it’s also caused by overwatering and should be treated the same way as the previously mentioned blight.
Sudden Wilting - If the leaves on your plant suddenly start to wilt and die, even though the plant seems to be healthy, it could be because the soil in which your plant is resting is too wet, which has led to some of the roots becoming infected.
The best course of action is to repot your plant as soon as possible and again, reduce the watering schedule.
Anthuriums are, as every house plant is, also susceptible to parasitic insects like spider-mites, which can be successfully treated with an appropriate insecticide
The Last Anthurium Word
And with that, you now know as much as we have learned about successfully rearing and raising Anthurium Crystallinum.
It’s been a rewarding journey for us, one that was and is filled with endless discovery and joy and frustration, but it’s been a journey that we wouldn't change for anything.
We hope that you learned something new and that your own voyage of discovery with your Anthurium will be every bit as successful and happy as ours has been, and continues to be.