Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anthurium anthem

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For sheer flamboyance and in-your-face attention grabbing, few flowers can beat Anthuriums (Anthurium andreanum). I think I'm a little prone to drama myself because I love growing these very sophisticated-looking beauties.

Of course, it really helps that they are some of the easiest plants to grow in the tropics. Just give them bright shade (which makes them the perfect indoor plant) and a medium that doesn't choke them to death and they really take off. Here in Mumbai, I grow them potted up in a mix of river sand and broken chunks of brick but I've heard of them being grown tied to trees too... they're epiphytes, after all.

I first saw anthuriums being grown in my childhood home. My grandmother loved plants and the more exotic they were, she would try her best to get hold of at least one to work her magic on. Anthuriums were not really easily available those days but somehow she managed to build up a decent collection which was the pride of the garden and the subject of much oooh-ing and aaah-ing from visitors.

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The anthuriums available nowadays seem to be unlimited in colour and size. I've seen them in all colours from brilliant red to bubble-gum pinks (see the photo above), pure whites, vivacious oranges, and even brown, green and yellow. The absolute favourite though, seems to be the bright red anthuriums.

Their brilliant colours make them a favourite among florists. That, and their longevity . The flowers I cut from my garden to brighten up my rooms, easily keep looking their best for at least 2-3 weeks in just plain water and no added floral preservatives. And that's saying a lot!

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The very colourful, textured spathes (that's what they are called) are actually modified bracts. If you want to see the actual flowers, you've got to search for them on the spadix (that's the fleshy white part of the 'flower'). See those little bumps on the spadix in the photo above? Those are the flowers.
Hmmm.... you may want to get the magnifying glass out if you want to spot them.
(By the way, ignore those whitish faint splotches you may see on the flowers and leaves, will you? That's from a liberal dose of neem oil applied rather enthusiastically by the guy who helps me with this.)

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The spadix can be quite colourful too, changing from yellow to white as the flower matures and then to green as it ages even more.
Somehow I find the white anthuriums very tranquil , unlike its red counterparts which seem to literally vibrate with drama.

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If a flower is called the 'sweetheart flower' it has to live up to its name, don't you think?

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Sometimes, just sometimes, you find a plant that likes to add a few twists of its own. A couple of my plants sometimes are a little confused whether they want a spathe to become a leaf instead. The result is a large leaf with splotches of colour in them and a spadix which sticks to the crown of the plant.
I have no idea whether this a mutant version but it is definitely interesting. It doesnt seem to be caused by any disease because the plants kept close to it show no such inclination. Sometimes the splotches of colour literally fill the leaf-spathe and it looks like my plant has a spathe which is about a foot long!

Just about the only minus point I can think of in the anthurium is its lack of fragrance (which those prone to allergies may applaud) . But I'm sure the numerous anthurium breeders are working on that. Till they come up with a solution, I'll just enjoy the visual drama.


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52 comments:

  1. Wow. They are so dramatic! I've seen them as cut flowers in posh hotels but never growing. They're the kind of thing I'd love to have in the garden when I'm in my more flamboyant moods!

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  2. When I first read the title of your post I thought ferns. The Latin name is similar. Then I saw the flower and realized differently. I see these mostly in shopping malls here. I think them most pretty and yours sure look healthy. I would miss the scent too.

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  3. I think they are very neat plants. They look plastic almost.

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  4. Lovely flowers. And that beautiful arrangement with the heliconia is simply eye-catching.

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  5. I have this plant in my living room.Did not know the name till now! They are gorgeous.

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  6. Emily, dramatic is what would describe them from tip to roothairs :D
    Hotels seem to love using them to up the glamour quotient.

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  7. Tina, there are several foliage anthuriums if I'm not mistaken. But I've always stuck to growing the flowering ones.

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  8. I think its the extra-glossy spathe which gives it that look, Dirt Princess. That and the fact thatthey last for days and weeks!

    Thanks, Raji. The arrangement was a very improptu thing. I had brought a bunch of flowers over to the apartment from my other garden and realised too late that I didnt have a vase big enough to hold them. So I dumped my collection of rocks out of the fishbowl and ... voila!

    Hi Shails!Thanks for dropping by. Well, now you know, right? Isn't the blogosphere a wonderful thing? :)
    They should do very well in your living room. Here's a tip : when they're in bloom, make sure there aren't any fruits in the same room. The ethylene gas which the fruits emit will cut short the bloom time.
    By the way, which colour anthurium do you have? Mine are mostly red.

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  9. Spectacular! I only have the pink variety...they're less dramatic- looking than the reds.

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  10. The visual drama in the last one is superb, indeed!
    I've never seen them grown on trees, they really do, don't they?
    I have them, too but the color is not as bright as yours.

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  11. Very pretty plant indeed. I've seen this in big churches or hotel... but never growing in a garden.. Strangely!! But they look great! Also, the last arrangement is very beautiful!

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  12. I would love to be able to grow all the tropicals you talk about! The arrangement at the end is stunning!

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  13. Hello there Sunita : )
    These plants amaze me with that hit of colour and such unique design !
    Talk about eye candy for gardeners ? : )

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  14. Hi Kanak! If you've got one ... any one ... you're well on your way to anthurium-itis. Watch out! :D
    The pinks are usually very profuse bloomers. At least, the ones I have are.

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  15. Thanks Precious. I haven't seen them growing on trees either but some internet friends from South America grow them that way. And since that's the home of Anthuriums, I suppose it's worth trying out.

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  16. Thanks Patricia.
    I know, its surprising why so few people grow them in India. I think they have this misconception that they're very difficult to grow.

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  17. Hey ... hi CG! Its good seeing you here again :)
    Why dont you give it a try? I'm sure with a bit of tweaking, all of them will do really well for you.

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  18. Eye candy is right, Joy :) And when you see a whole group of them bunched up together, its amazing!
    Can one's eyes overload on visual calories?

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  19. Lovely, Sunita! I have only ever seen the red ones, but the pale pinky white ones are gorgeous - really romantic-looking. I have the misconception about them being hard to grow as well. I should try one and see!

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  20. Wow! Your flower arrangement is stunning. It almost looks too colorful and shiny to be real. Everything in your garden is fascinating to me.

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  21. Hi Sunita, oh so exotic and oh so exquisite! I didn't realize these were epiphytes, always seeing them potted. I can imagine what your garden must be like with these angelic flowers! :-)
    Frances

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  22. Very dramatic, Sunita. AND exotic... and brilliantly colored. They are really stunning. I have one lone plant in a mixed container pot... didn't realize they were epiphytes. Mine is blooming in spite of me I guess.

    I can see why you love these tropical beauties.
    meems

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  23. Great refreshing shots!!!We had never seen the white ones.Thanks for sharing.

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  24. Really refreshing shots!!!love the'sweetheart flower'.

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  25. They are beautiful, and very dramatic Sunita! (and very tempting too!) We are definitely not in the tropics in Chicago(!) but I do have a soft spot for tropical plants, and overwinter them indoors. I especially like tropical plants that do well in shade, since that's mostly what I have in my garden.

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  26. I'm sorry I took so long to reply but I've been travelling again. To Kerala, at the southern tip of India this time.

    Genevieve, that is literally a blush that you see on the white anthuriums. When they're exposed to a bit more sunlight than they're used to, the whites get that slight tinge of pink. Its pretty isn't it?
    They're not difficult to grow at all in the tropics. In other places, if you can give them warmth and enough humidity, you'll have very happy anthuriums growing for you.

    Thanks, Becky. I'm so glad you liked it :)The anthuriums really brighten up a room like nothing else can.

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  29. Frances, they really come in handy to fill up the shaded areas in my garden. Almost like a burst of colour!
    I ususally grow them potted up too but I'm dying to grow them like they do in South America. I'm sure they'll look even more dramatic on a piece of driftwood.

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  31. Meems, I'm sure they'll grow beautifully for you in Florida. Take your anthurium out of the normal garden soil if it is potted like that. They do much better in well-aerated medium. Coarse river sand is good. So is coconut husk chips.

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  32. Nature Stop, white is literally the tip of the iceberg where anthuriums are concerned. White, hot pinks, coral, salmon, green, chocolate brown, yellow... the variety is almost endless.

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  33. Garden girl, maybe you could indulge in a potted anthurium in your garden as long as summer lasts. Just make sure you take it indoors as soon as it starts getting cold. Your own patch of tropical paradise! :)

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  34. WOW this is so beautiful.

    since they are growing in your garden, you might want to try taking this shot with a -1 to -2 EV, it will bring more depth into the colors/ image and if that's not possible try a f8-f11 f-stop.

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  35. Thanks, Thomas.And thank you so much for that tip. As soon as I get back to Mumbai I must try it out. but first I must read up on the necessary photo-ese ;D

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  36. Wow, what a visual treat!
    They really are pleasing in the eyes! My mom likes them a lot but she does not have such a collection.

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  37. Thanks, Amila. I've heard they grow really well in Sri Lanka. I've got over 500+ anthuriums but my collection is still growing. Its still a pang, though, when someone buys my plants.

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  38. Sunita am in awe of these flowers. Even though we grow some of them here, they seem to give each country their mystical aura. They give me a feeling of life on another realm, paradise found and a feeling of nirvana.

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  39. Hi Helen! Its great to see you here again.
    I'm sure you have anthuriums growing all over the place for you. You're right ... they're very unusual flowers arent they? Almost architectural! And as you said, quite mystical.
    Paradise found would be walking into a garden space filled with a patch of anthuriums, all blooming their heads off!

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  40. Hi Sunita,
    Now , are you into nursery bussiness ... 500+ collection of Anthuriums ... wow ... Hey lady you never mentioned that before ... great to read all about them ... I enjoy a salmon pink one ... but I was wondering what is that neem oil thingy you mentioned ... whats that for.

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  41. Nursery business? Not really, Rajee. I'm an incurable collector but I do get persuaded at times to sell some of my orchids, anthuriums and heliconias. It's a real wrench ... feels like sending your first-born to school for the first time ;D
    But it helps to fund my ever-growing collection so I shouldn't really be complaining.
    Neem? Its the wonder drug for plants as far as I'm concerned. Its a fertiliser-cum-pesticde-cum-fungicide-cum-bactericide. And the best part? It doesnt harm you or Mother Earth. Now do you know why its my favourite plant cocktail? All my plants get a liberal dose of it regularly.
    Just one drawback though... you may want to plug up your nose while mixing and applying it! ;D
    Still, its worth it.
    Its available in Mumbai as crushed and dried neem seeds and also in oil form. I use whatever is available.

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  42. Nursery business? Not really, Rajee. I'm an incurable collector but I do get persuaded at times to sell some of my orchids, anthuriums and heliconias. It's a real wrench ... feels like sending your first-born to school for the first time ;D
    But it helps to fund my ever-growing collection so I shouldn't really be complaining.
    Neem? Its the wonder drug for plants as far as I'm concerned. Its a fertiliser-cum-pesticde-cum-fungicide-cum-bactericide. And the best part? It doesnt harm you or Mother Earth. Now do you know why its my favourite plant cocktail? All my plants get a liberal dose of it regularly.
    Just one drawback though... you may want to plug up your nose while mixing and applying it! ;D
    Still, its worth it.
    Its available in Mumbai as crushed and dried neem seeds and also in oil form. I use whatever is available.

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  43. Aaah.... now that explains a lot ... did you do any orchid shopping while vacationing ... I was very excited to hear about that ... and I in the meanwhile picked up one from Mapro farms (o.k so it cost an arm and a leg ) and I kept thinking of you all along ... sunita do mail me how not to kill it ... I don't want to block your comment box.

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  44. Wonderful, when you took them of and put them in water also a very good photo!!!

    I just want to tell you that I do not go back and read comments, so if you want to tell me something please come to my page.

    It is because i am visiting so many that the time I have in front of the computer is not enough.

    /Maria Berg, Sweden

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  45. Rajee, I've mailed you.
    Which type of orchid did you get at Mapro (the Mahabaleswar one?). I'll need to know that first before I can advise you on how to take care of it.
    It shouldnt really cost you "an arm and a leg" unless it is in bloom and then I'm sure you would willingly offer up your head too!

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  46. Thank you, Maria.
    I know what you mean about visiting so many blogs that you cant keep track ... it happens to all of us ;D
    Here's a tip...you can try 'Following' your favourite ones. Or clicking on the button (in the comment box) which keeps you informed via e-mail when a follow-up comment has been added.

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  47. I love anthuriams too! Seen them when I was in primary school. I love the vibrant, glossy red type. I am growing the miniature anthuriums in my garden. Hope they will give me blooms one day.

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  48. Hi J.C. Another anthurium lover? Welcome to the gang! :D
    The miniature anthuriums are really cute aren't they? Which colours do you have? I have purple ones and few pink ones. The pink ones are really tiny but fill up the pot with flowers.

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  49. So happy to see a post on anthuriums! They are my family's fav flower as my dad is really into growing them! You said river sand...? I must tell him! :)

    Also,when I was in flora starved Kuwait, where even buying a few ferns for the vases was expensive, during each trip back to India, I used to carry back a bunch of anthuriums! Like you said, they last and last - I think the record for me was one that lasted almost 4 weeks before showing signs of fatigue!

    Thank you, thank you I enjoyed this post!

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  50. Aaaah! Always great to meet a fellow anth-fan :)
    I know exactly how you must've felt, carrying those precious blooms from home to faraway lands. I bet you babied them right throughout those 4 weeks, didn't you?
    Sharon, what medium does your father use for his anthuriums? I use coarse-grained river sand mixed with broken chunks of brick (baked earth is great at retaining moisture) and charcoal. Every once in a while I add crushed egg shell as a treat. It is supposed to improve the colour but I use it more because the sharp pieces deter snails and slugs.
    I could go on and on talking anthuriums but I'm sure your father already knows all this. I'd love to see a post on his collection. Will you oblige?

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  51. Please can someone help? My red anthurium with average 8 flowers for almost 8 months straight now pushes greenish red flowers. What can I do to curb this? Thanks, Dianne

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  52. Could it possibly be an Obake anthurium? Those have characteristically have green in the 'flower' or the spathe. If it is an Obake anthurium there isn't anything you can do about it except to get another one and make sure it is a red one. Maybe you could check the name of the variety with the nursery and Google-check to see if its a true red.
    Incidentally, the Obake anthuriums are much in demand in many parts of the world. So you have a very much in-demand anthurium if it is an Obake.

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