Gardening: Welcome the sturdy anthuriums and be assured of splashes of colour
Bangalore gardeners have always had a passionate love for the Anthurium, a tropical American plant, belonging to the genus Anthurium, of the arum family. Most gardeners in the 80s boasted of a collection of these glossy, heart-shaped, showy scarlet blooms, with their dark green, large and leathery leaves. They were highly-prized and had to be hidden away, as the entire collection would often get stolen.
Christine Pereira who lived on Hayes Road in a bungalow says, “Anthuriums are the only flowers I know that last longer than orchids. Their blooms last for months and are usually replaced by new blooms. They make the most gorgeous flower arrangements and need very little care, and are perfect for any garden or balcony.”
Native to tropical rainforests in Central and South America, anthuriums need indirect sunlight and the compost in which they are grown, needs to be kept moist. They are available in a variety of colours — pink white and scarlet. Today a miniature variety is very popular. Using coconut husk around their roots helps to contain the moisture during the day.
Initially one must grow the anthurium in the garden, or in a pot in the balcony. These ornamentals should be wiped clean, with a wet cloth, before bringing them into the house. Avoid using liquids which are sold as leaf shine, to spray the leaves once you bring them indoors.
“I love this plant, and always wondered if it was a flower or a leaf,” says Solomon Donald a student of Visual Communication in the city. “The flower always reminds me of Hollywood starlets, who have stick-thin bodies and wear long, flowing gowns.”
Anthuriums are relatively easy to grow, as Bangalore has the perfect climate and environment for them. But, one must be extra careful when watering them. While Anthuriums are able to handle dryness around the root ball, they need to be watered thoroughly and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. Allowing the plant to dry out completely will greatly slow down the growth cycle, and can also cause root damage. Over watering can also damage the roots and cause sudden yellowing of leaves, so watering on alternate days is advisable. Gloria Rozario who enjoys gardening says, “When it drizzles, I sit mesmerised at the umbrella like leaves, on which the rain water drips and glistens.” Periodic wiping of the foliage and a gentle spray of water, including the undersides of the leaves, will keep the plant free from aphids and other pests.