Anthurium – Divide and Multiply

“Hello Dr. Kris
I have an anthurium blooming plant, kept indoors, and I would like to know the steps to take and tips to keep in mind to create a new anthurium plant from the existing one. I am not experienced and this would be my first try. Thank you very much!

As you would already know, Anthurium make ideal indoor houseplants, and you can easily propagate them by dividing the off-shoots or runners. Since the mid 1980′s, the popularity of Anthurium as a flowering pot plant has increased dramatically and it has also become a popular cut flower for sale in florists. Anthuriums are members of the same family as the Arum lily (Araceae).A distinguishing feature of this family is the typical, cup-shaped flower. In its natural environment Anthurium grows in the Andes Mountains of Central and South America, where they prefer shady humid locations. It is characterized by its shiny dark foliage and its heart shaped flowers widely available in variations of red, white and pink. The flower can bloom all year long if cared for correctly. Their preferred growing conditions are warm temperatures and indirect or filtered sunlight. They do like lots of water and humidity (misting), but they certainly don’t want to sit wet, as that would certainly be the quickest way to rot them. Make sure to drain any surplus water from the drip tray that the container is sitting in. and it is also very important that they are planted in a well draining soil or potting mix. You can ensure good drainage by putting pebbles or stones in the bottom of the pot to a depth of 3 inches.

It is possible to quickly create many, many more plants through cuttings. It is common to transplant anthurium plants every year, as they tend to grow to the outer bounds of their pots quite fast. To multiply or to propagate from cutting is a rewarding and straight forward procedure. For the home gardener, the easiest methods of propagation are by stem cuttings, layering and division of offsets that sprout laterally from the base of the plant. It can also be propagated from seeds which are rarely available, and commercially by tissue culture.

I would like to show you how to divide and multiply by stem cuttings, step by step, with photos. The simplest fastest and easiest method to multiply these plants is by taking a top cutting. Simply wait until the stem of the anthurium has grown up to 50cm or more in height and then take a top cutting, by slicing the woody stem of your plant at a length a little more than half of its height. This will encourage the lower portion to produce new off-shoots or runners. Plant the top cutting in potting mix or soil which drains well and keep looking after the parent plant. Ultimately the parent plant will develop new foliage along with the new top cutting. On the parent, any stem node or off-shoot with aerial roots or any slight indication of them is an ideal candidate for new growth, which can be further cut out and divided. Here is a step-by-step guide to a slightly more involved method of dividing by leaf nodes. This method is much more productive.

Step 1 Step one of the process basically follows the aforementioned top cutting method. When the plant has grown tall with thick woody stems, cut off the top crown of the stem with a sharp knife and replant it into new pot. Leave the remaining lower portion of the stem (the parent) in the pot and with regular care it will develop bushy off-shoots all along the nodes and even from the base as seen in the picture. Allow these young plants to mature and produce their own aerial roots before severing them from the parent trunk to pot them individually or in a set of 2 -3 plants depending on the pot size.

Step 2 Remove each individual stem from the soil, by wetting the soil and gently spading out. Try to gently remove one at a time from the pot. It is usually quite easy as they are not deep rooted plants. There in the picture at Step 2, you can see a more detailed view of the stem, with off-shoots and their associated aerial root nodes. Now you can remove these off-shoots to produce new plants.

Step 3 You should be able to see separate growths, and break them apart at those points. Use a sharp knife to separate individual offshoots from the stem, by cutting about half to one inch above and below the node along the stem, being careful to retain the aerial roots. Usually you choose an off shoot or a separate stem with many leaves on it. Cut this as close to its base as you can, and separate it from the main stem. From the main stem in the picture at Step 2, we were able to remove two off-shoots with aerial roots, which can be seen cut, removed and ready to plant, as in the photo at Step 3.

Step 4 Plant the new cuttings in moist soil and out of direct sun for two weeks. It can also be transplanted straight into the ground. Misting a few times a week will help the plant look more vigorous and fresh. It is important not to plant too deep or too shallow. A good guideline is for the aerial roots to be just penetrating the soil while the growing point still captures light. By repeating Steps 2 and 3 you will be able to produce many plants in a short period of time.

One common problem with anthurium plants is pests such as aphids. To keep pests to a minimum keep the soil clear from dead foliage and always drain excess water from the drip tray. You can also mist with a mixture of soapy water to deter pests. This houseplant can be toxic in high doses so be mindful of this when it is kept in the vicinity of children and pets.

Anthuriums are hardy plants and with proper care will reward you endlessly with beautiful and lasting blooms. Good luck and happy propagating!

Dr. Kris
Garden Doctor
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