Anthurium (pronounced /ænˈθjʊəriəm/) (Schott, 1829), is a large genus of about 600- 800 (possibly 1,000) species, belonging to the arum family (Araceae). Anthurium can also be called "Flamingo Flower" or "Boy Flower", both referring to the structure of the spathe and spadix.
TROPICOS lists 1901 types, although some of these are duplicates. It is one of the largest and probably the most complicated genus of this family; certainly it is one of the most variable. Many species are undoubtedly not yet described and new ones are being found every year. The species has neotropical distribution; mostly in wet tropical mountain forest of Central America and South America, but some in semi-arid environments. Most species occur in Panama, Colombia, Brazil, the Guiana Shield and Ecuador. According to the work of noted aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this genus is not found in Asia. Some species have been introduced into Asian rain forests,
Confused yet? To summarize, when you see an anthurium what you see are shiny red "flowers" (actually spathes), amongst shiny green leaves (yes, they are leaves) and a yellow spike (spadix) jutting out front the center of each red "flower". The true anthurium flowers are so small that they appear as nothing more than tiny bumps on the spadix, and as fuzzy bumps once they bloom. For purposes of enjoying an anthurium in your home, it's alright to refer to the spathes as flowers or blooms; most people do. When a visitor lyrics on how attractive your anthurium flowers are, you don't have to correct them or say, "Do you mean the true tiny flowers, or the red parts that aren't really flowers?"
Care - The anthurium is native to tropical areas of the Caribbean and South America, but the plant is also grown in Hawaii, where it can flourish as a wild plant. Many people first became acquainted with the anthurium during a Hawaiian vacation or visit. Although it is not a suitable outdoor plant for most of North America, it makes a wonderful and decorative house plant. One needs to pay careful attention to giving the plant the right amount of moisture, but aside from that it is not a terribly demanding plant. It is one however that, if you're going to be out of town for a few days, you'll need to hire a plant sitter or take the plant to a neighbor's house (never in freezing weather) where it can be looked after.
Planting Considerations - An anthurium needs to be planted in rich loamy soil, soil that will drain well yet retain moisture. The plant likes bright light, so needs to be placed by a window, though not in direct sunlight. The plant can be allowed to dry out a bit, though not completely, between watering. Smaller species respond well to a daily misting, something that may not be practical for larger species. A light application of fertilizer about every 2 months is the usual recommendation as far as feeding is concerned.
Anthurium flowers do not appear the year around. The plant will stop flowering during the winter months, and requires a rest period of 6 to 8 weeks. During this time the plant should be kept a little below normal room temperature, or 55 to 60 degrees, and given only a little water.
Getting back to the initial discussion of flowers, stalks, etc., anthurium comes from the Greek anthos, meaning flower, and oura, meaning tail (or the spadix in our case), i.e., flowers on a tail.
A Word of Encouragment
You’ll find most of the plants available in 6" and 8" pot sizes. These plants have been bred for sales in these pot sizes, so don’t shy away and think that they are not mature plants.