How to Grow and Care for Flamingo Flowers

Written by Natalie Anstey

As a beloved and fantastically exotic looking ornamental house plant, it is not hard to see why the Flamingo Flower remains a popular choice for those looking to bring unusual and flamboyant plants into their living space!

Originating from the jungles of Costa Rica, Flamingo Flowers are epiphytic. However, this certainly is not a must when growing indoors and they can be successfully grown in pots. 

Producing lush and glossy heart shaped leaves adorned with flamboyant, waxy red spathes and brightly colored yellow spadices, they are happiest in conditions that mimic their jungle origins; indirect sun and humidity is a must!

Given the right care, Flamingo Flowers can flower many times through the year bringing vibrant color to your home!

Botanical Name:Anthurium scherzerianum
Common Name(s):Flamingo Flower, Laceleaf, Pigtail Plant, Painted Tongue,
Painter’s Palette
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial 
Place of Origin:Costa Rica
Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect sun
Watering Schedule:Every 4-5 days 
Seasonality: Spring through summer
Bloom Time: Year-round
Toxicity:Unsafe for cats and dogs 

Rule of (Green) Thumb:  Epiphytic means a plant grows on other plants, such as trunks of rainforest trees.

FLAMINGO FLOWER HISTORY: 

The Flamingo Flower takes its botanical name (Anthurium scherzerianum) from the Greek for “Tail Flower," which is a nod to its yellow tail shaped spike (spadix).

Due to its evergreen and repeat flowering nature, the Flamingo Flower is also said to represent hospitality and is often given as a housewarming gift. They can also be found in exotic flower arrangements as a cut flower.

FLAMINGO FLOWER  LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:

The Flamingo Flower is a tropical rainforest plant and naturally grows under large canopies, so it can tolerate filtered sun or a more shaded position.

Keep out of drafts and direct sun as this can cause the leaves to become brown and brittle. - Avoid positioning the Flamingo Flower by a radiator also as this can cause the plant to dry out quickly. 

The perfect spot for this plant would be about 5ft- 7ft from a south or west facing window where it can receive the maximum indirect sunlight or in a bathroom where the conditions are bright but humid.

FLAMINGO FLOWER WATER REQUIREMENTS:

You should water your Flamingo Flower every 4 days and never let the soil dry out completely. 

During the summer you may need to water more frequently as the temperatures rise. The hotter the weather, the more likely the soil will dry out quicker!

In late fall and winter watering can be reduced as the plant will go into a more dormant state, so it only needs watering once the top inch has become dry. The Flamingo Flower does not tolerate the cold at all so make sure it is protected in the winter.  

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Although this plant is a humidity and moisture loving being, don’t fall into the trap of overwatering as this can lead to root rot.

FLAMINGO FLOWER TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS:

This plant likes warm conditions between 60℉ - 85℉. Be mindful of the season and temperature though, as it can dry out quite easily during the summer. 

If the weather is hotter for longer, take stock of the soil's moisture level. The hotter the temperature, the quicker the soil will dry out!

FLAMINGO FLOWER HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS:

Getting the right humidity is crucial for a Flamingo Flower and if the plant is unhappy or not thriving it is usually because of this.

The Flamingo Flower is found in the jungles of Costa Rica so it is at its happiest in a warm and humid environment. The optimum humidity for this plant is a heady 80% and if the leaves start to turn brown the plant is drying out and should be positioned in a more humid spot or misted more.

Another sign that the conditions are not quite right is if the leaves and red spathes begin to lose their glossy and waxy sheen. A way to combat this is by placing your pot on a tray of wet pebbles as well as sitting the plant near other plants.

Ideally the Flamingo Flower should be sprayed with a fine mist of water daily to keep the foliage in top condition. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb: When misting the Flamingo Flower, never use cold water - make sure the water is at room temperature…no one likes a cold shower and the Flamingo Flower is no different!

FLAMINGO FLOWER SOIL:

Flamingo Flowers are found in the rainforests of Costa Rica and thrive in similar conditions. When potting up your Flamingo Flower make sure to use a rich and fertile soil full of nutrients that will hold the water well.

Try using a soil such as loam or peat. To add even extra goodness to the soil you can add a little organic matter. However don’t forget that although this is a moisture loving plant it is vital to add drainage in the bottom to avoid root rot!

FLAMINGO FLOWER FERTILIZER:

Flamingo Flowers are sensitive to fertilizers and can easily be overwhelmed by too much feeding.

Although they are showy and flamboyant in looks, when it comes to feeding less really is more! - Feed every three months in spring and summer, using a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorus that is diluted by three-quarters strength. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Always make sure that the soil is wet before you feed a Flamingo Flower otherwise the roots can burn if they come into direct contact with a liquid fertilizer.

FLAMINGO FLOWER REPOTTING:

Many house plants prefer to be slightly pot bound and the Flamingo Flower is no different. - If you see roots poking out of the top or the bottom of the pot then you know it is time to go up a size.

The best time to repot the Flamingo Flower is in the spring just as it is coming out of dormancy and it is recommended to repot just one pot size up and fill with a nutrient rich soil with drainage of course!

FLAMINGO FLOWER PROPAGATION:

The best time to propagate your Flamingo Flower is during the spring. Propagating from a Flamingo Flower is quick and easy and there are two main ways to do this:

01. Propagation via division - The easiest way to propagate is to just divide the plant that you already have.

Simply take your plant out of the pot, shake off the soil and carefully separate it making sure each section has good root growth. Once this has been done, repot your new Flamingo Flower with fresh compost and water.

02. Propagation via cuttings - You can also propagate using cuttings although this can be a little hit and miss.

Find a good healthy stem and carefully cut it off about half an inch underneath a node. Simply pop the node in some water at room temperature, making sure the node is under the water. - Place in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight.

To create a more humid/greenhouse environment you can also place a clear bag over the top. Change the water every 2-3 days or longer if the water remains clear.

Once the roots are a couple of inches long it is now ok to pot in a good quality potting compost and that’s it! No rooting hormones needed!

Rule of (Green) Thumb:  A node is a little bump on the stem where new shoots and leaves grow from. These are very prominent on houseplants and so are easy to find.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Never propagate from a young plant. Always pick a plant that is at least 3-5 years old and is well established for the best results.

FLAMINGO FLOWER DISEASES & PESTS:

01. Not Flowering - Must be a disease right? Not necessarily, the most common reason for a Flamingo Flower not to produce any flowers is incorrect lighting. - Move the plant to a sunnier position where it can bask in indirect sunlight.

Of course, if your Flamingo Flower has only just flowered it may just be having a well deserved rest and building up to the next flowering time.

02. Brown Leaves - This is normally caused by not enough humidity and/or too much sunlight. Again, a change of position is needed, or alternatively up your misting to raise the humidity.

03. Yellowing Leaves - This is normally caused by too much direct light and/or harsh chemicals in tap water. Use filtered or rain water and move into a more sheltered position. It can also be caused by overwatering or overfeeding so double check this also.

04. Brown Spots - This is caused by a fungus that can be found in moist conditions! It normally starts out as brown spots which then develop white tufts. If you spot this remove any affected foliage and then treat with neem oil.

If it continues it may be worth repotting with fresh soil as those sneaky spores can live quite happily in the moist soil and rear their ugly head when you least expect them!

05. Mealybugs and Spider Mites - Mealy bugs love the sweet sap of new growth and show up on a Flamingo Flower as white tufts where as red spider mites appear as little white spots on the leaves or webbing on the stems. They can destroy a plant quickly so make sure to clean the leaves and treat with an insecticide or neem oil. 

FLAMINGO FLOWER TOXICITY:

The Flamingo Flower, like the poison dart frog, (who interestingly enough hails from the same part of the world…coincidence..I think not..) uses its stunning color as a warning: DO NOT TOUCH OR EAT IT!

The sap is an irritant that can cause a burning sensation or an allergic reaction in both humans and animals. If the plant is ingested it will also be very painful to both humans and our furry friends, so make sure to position it out of the reach of pets or children.

Download the Flora App for more tips and tricks on how to take care of your Flamingo Flower!

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