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Flamingo Plant – Anthurium Scherzerianum

Giant heart-shaped shiny leaves and bright red waxy spathes – which can bloom all year – make this tropical plant a dramatic and rewarding choice as a decorative house plant.

Flamingo or pigtail plant, as it is commonly called, is grown both for its attractive foliage and for its dramatic and long-lasting flowers.

Known botanically as Anthurium scherzerianum, it comes from Costa-rica. It belongs to a family of about 500 members, many of which are grown as house plants.

The flamingo plant has large and glossy leaves, about 20cm (8in) long and 8cm (3in) wide. They are carried on thin stalks 15-20cm (6-8in) long. They are lance-shaped and arching.

Flowers and flowering

The dramatic floral plants of the plant are known as inflorescence – highly colored, flat, palette-like spathes that surrounds a thin, curvy spadix. The spathe and spadix are orange to red in color.

The plant flowers mainly in the summer but it can also produce blooms in succession all year long. Each bloom lasts up to 8 weeks on the plant. The are just as long lasting if used as cut flowers.

Size and Growth

The flamingo plant grows up to 60cm (24in) tall, but there are dwarf cultivars available. It needs a fair amount of space for its leaves to have adequate light and air. You can divide older and crowded plants when you re-pot.

Shiny leaves and bright flowers make this an attractive house plant.

Display The Flamingo plant enjoys high humidity so it is best to grow it surrounded by other plants. Copper troughs and clay pots set off the leaves and dramatic colors of the flowers.

Plant Doctor

  • Woolly patches on underside of leaves indicate mealy bugs. Treatment: Spray with an insecticide or swab with diluted methylated spirits.

  • Fading leaves are due to too much direct sun. Treatment: Spray with an insecticide or swab with diluted methylated spirits.

  • Brownish spots on leaves are signs of a fungal disease. Treatment: Spray with a fungicide and remove badly damaged leaves.

  • Small yellow spots on leaves indicate red spider mites. Treatment: Mist the plant regularly, or stand it on a tray of damp gravel. Spraying with lukewarm water for 30 minutes also helps. If you have to use chemicals, repeat treatment 2-3 times at weekly intervals and isolate the plant.

Secrets of Success

General Care A plant that needs care as it may be slow to flower if over-watered in winter, not given enough nutrients or the light is not sufficient. Remove old and yellowing leaves, and spent blooms, cutting them off right at the base.

Potting: Young plants need re-potting every spring but older pants only every 2-3 years. Use a compost incorporating leaf mold, coarse peat and sphagnum moss. Watering In the summer this plant needs plenty of water – try to provide tepid water always. In winter it will need less water. To keep leaves glossy and to encourage flowering keep humidity levels high. Spray every day with tepid water in spring and summer, and weekly in winter.

Feeding: In summer apply a diluted liquid fertilizer about once every fortnight. Do not feed at all during winter. Conditions Light: This plant does well in good light, but it needs to be protected from strong and direct sunlight. A partially shaded window would suit it. Temperature: High temperatures suit this plant well, but if they are over 21C (70F) see that there is adequate humidity. In winter temperatures should not be allowed to fall below 13C (55F) – 15C (60F) is ideal.

Buying Tips When to buy: These plants are usually available from March onward from garden centers and florists. What to look for: The leaves should be rich green, shiny and succulent. Choose a plant with several developing flower-heads. Lifespan: This is an evergreen perennial plant which will last for many years.

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