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Can you grow Hawaii's anthurium at home? No. but try Costa Rica's.

Can you grow Hawaii's anthurium at home? No, but try Costa Rica's

Few flowers create so strong an impression on visitors to Hawaii as the anthuriums (A. andraeanum)--those big hearts that look as if they were cut from scarlet or pink patent leather and adorned with little yellow tails.

Returnees from Hawaii are often tempted to grow them at home. Unfortunately, the plants need more heat and humidity than most houses can provide. But one closely related plant, the pigtail anthurium (A. scherzeranum), a native of Costa Rica, does well as a house plant.

Its common name comes from the twisted pigtail or spike (spadix) that bears the tiny real flowers. The showy, heartshaped portion of the flower is actually a bract or modified leaf called a spathe. These are long lasting (up to two months), and flower production continues as long as plants are well cared for.

Usually bright red, spathes of seedling plants can vary to pink or white; some are spotted. Superior plants are now being selected, named, and propagated by division or tissue culture. One such is "Amazonica', shown above.

Plants need a loose, open growing mix. Coarse (not milled) sphagnum peat moss, ground bark, or perlite added to a good commercial planting mix will provide good moisture retention along with ample air to the roots.

Feed lightly and infrequently in winter, more frequently--as often as every two weeks--in spring and summer when plants are growing actively. Dilute liquid fertilizer acts rapidly. As an alternative, use timed-release pellets.

Give plants bright light but not direct sun--avoid west or south windows. Divide when pot becomes crowded (gently pull or cut apart crown); when repotting single divisions, be sure not to bury the crowns.

Plants are available at specialty nurseries; a 6-inch pot costs about $12 to $25.

Photo: Scarlet bracts of pigtail anthurium "Amazonica' are 3 to 5 inches long; dark green leaves grow to 10 inches
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1986
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