"It's easy," they said. "It's impossible to kill," they said. So, what happened? Well, we will just say... it isn’t exactly foolproof. There's plenty of mishaps that can happen with any plant, especially if you are a new plant parent! It doesn't matter how many labels tell you that you've selected the 'perfect plant for beginners.' And the Anthurium is no exception. So how do you keep your mini Anthurium alive and happy?
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This is the #1 plant parent rule. If you start panicking, you will likely make too many changes too quickly. Remember, even if you notice that your plant's health takes a downward spiral, you might not be doing everything wrong. Adjusting multiple conditions all at once won't help you diagnose the real problem (and it may even cause more issues). Patience is key. So, put on your detective's cap and take a deep breath!
Watering and Soil
Overwatering your Anthurium can cause root rot. What does that look like?
The roots will be brown and mushy, and the stems will discolor. This could be caused by a couple things: watering frequency issues or soil issues.
What kind of soil should I use?
The first step would be to take a good long look at your dirt. Chances are, if you used a traditional potting mix, your soil retains too much water. Anthuriums are related to orchids. Neither of these kinsmen appreciate their chunky roots sitting in sopping soil. What's the solution? Repot your plant in a 50/50 mix of traditional potting mix and orchid mix.
How often should I water?
What if you've already used the proper soil, but are still experiencing the symptoms described above? Now it's time to look at your weekly watering routine. Chances are, you are watering your mini Anthurium too frequently. Just because a plant is small doesn't mean it's always thirsty. Resist the temptation to continually water it day-after-day.
You should allow your Anthurium to partially dry out before watering. Many online resources to water on a strict 7-day schedule during the summer. There are a few questions and mistakes that can commonly come up with this advice.
Generally, we would say to water only after the "first inch" of soil is dry.
You could use a moisture meter to help you understand how dry the soil is. These tools are reasonably inexpensive nowadays and can make life simpler. If you're determined to use the 'good old fashioned way,' take a few of your fingers and rake them across the topsoil.
This is what you should feel:
Starting to dry out: Topsoil is crumbly and cool to the touch.
Dried out: Topsoil is crumbly and neutral temperature.
Too dry: Topsoil is very dry, crusty, and stuck together.
When watering your Anthuriums, you want to hit that 'sweet spot,' right in the middle! Chances are, you won't have a perfect 7-day watering schedule. And remember, these plants are susceptible to root rot. So, if you aren't sure, wait a day or two. Ultimately, it's better to underwater than overwater.
How should I water?
There are plenty of different methods of watering this family of unique plants. In the wild, Anthuriums come from the rainforest. They naturally grow on top of things (like mossy trees) instead of in the soil. That's why they hate wet dirt surrounding their roots. So, how do we make them happy?
The watering method we prefer is bottom watering - it's more homogeneous, less prone to overwatering, and won't drain nutrients out. Place the plant in a drip tray about 2cm (3⁄4in) deep, and fill the tray up. Leave the plant there for 20 minutes – eventually, the water will be drawn up into the dry root ball. Do it until no more water is drawn up, then remove and drain.
A popular solution is to use ice cubes. They are a good 'slow-release' watering method that won't overwhelm your plant with too much moisture at once. You'll want to take into consideration that your mini Anthurium is just that... mini, so use discretion when deciding how many ice cubes (and what size) to put on your plant. Remember, you don't want to overwhelm it cold temperatures. So, less may be more, especially at first. With this method, it may be necessary to water your plant more frequently.
The most common solution is to 'let it rain.' (They do come from the rainforests, after all.) Pour water from above making sure you are covering the whole surface of the soil, and let the water to filter through the pot by gravity. This method would require you to water your plant less often. Make sure not to shock the root system, and use room-temperature water. Soak it thoroughly, until water comes out the drainage hole.
Anthuriums enjoy bright, indirect light. If your anthurium stops producing "flowers" (they're actually fancy leaves, but that's a different topic), it's likely not getting enough sunshine. This comes with a warning, however. Don't place your "plant baby" in the direct sunlight. You will start to notice brown, crusty patches on the leaves because they have been sunburnt!
Humidity and Temperature
Remember, your Anthurium is native to the rainforest! It loves warm, humid conditions. If you have the perfect spot in the kitchen or bathroom (the two most humid rooms of the house), your "plantie" will love it there.
Anthuriums can thrive in "normal" conditions in other areas of the home as well. If you notice that your plant's growth has slowed down extremely, or that the new growth comes in somewhat deformed, you may need to help it out in the humidity department! Set it on a tray of pebbles, invest in a humidifier, or spray it every few days with a mister. Whatever your budget and commitment level, there's a pretty easy solution for you!
If you're a new mini Anthurium parent and are experiencing issues, repotting probably isn't your problem. Anthuriums are slow to moderate growers and require repotting every two or three years.
Keep in mind that there's more to the "world of pots" than what meets the eye! We, as plant parents, may have the perfect pot in mind. "It's so cute! It matches our decor." But guess what? Our plantie hates it. Anthuriums need a well-draining pot. As already noted, they hate soggy soil. So, if your pot is thick-walled, lacks drainage holes, or just seems to retain water for whatever reason, you may need to consider repotting your mini Anthurium before it's too late.
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