You’ve probably heard of the Queen Anthurium, but Anthurium veitchii has most definitely earned its name as the “King Anthurium”. This plant is all giant, tropical foliage, and it makes a statement without any introduction.
We’re going to go ahead and introduce it anyway, but on another note, this plant can be hard to get. Most plant stores and shops don’t regularly stock it, unless you happen to be lucky enough to stumble upon a rare or specialty plant shop that carries massive beauties like this.
In captivity and under literally perfect conditions, the leaves of the king anthurium can challenge the standard six-foot-length limit. Yep, you read that right: two meters of solid leaf. It takes years of care and dedication, but they really do grow to be this long.
Now that we’re (almost) done gushing over this plant, let’s talk a little bit about where it comes from, so that we can fully understand its needs and how to recreate its natural environment indoors. Anthurium veitchii may be a tropical plant, but we humans like to be warm too.
History & Habitat of Anthurium Veitchii
This interesting plant was first discovered in the 1700s, named after the famous historical horticulturist John Veitch. It was grown in nurseries and conservatories in the United Kingdom for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that hobbyist growers had a chance to snag one.
Anthurium veitchii is an epiphytic plant native to Colombia, where it grows from the trunks and stems of other large plants and draws its moisture from the incredibly humid, tropical rainforest air.
Even in its natural habitat, the king anthurium can take months to grow just one leaf, making it one of the slowest growing epiphytes in the region. For this reason, it’s not incredibly popular as a houseplant, but dedicated collectors who know these limitations are happy to accept the challenge.
Growing so slowly means that this plant requires lots of specialized care; if you lose one leaf, it can take the plant a very long time to replace it. That’s why we’ve collected all the best growing and care information available to help you grow your very own king anthurium at home!
Like most tropical rainforest plants, the king anthurium needs bright, yet indirect light. Think of how it grows in Colombia: attached to trees, under their canopies, where they receive dappled light that shines through between the host tree’s leaves.
Now, we understand that this type of lighting just isn’t going to happen indoors, but there are other ways to try to replicate the same levels of light that this plant has grown accustomed to. However, never ever expose the leaves of your king anthurium to direct light.
Direct sunlight is the fastest way to scorch those big, beautiful leaves that take so long to grow. Instead, try placing the plant adjacent to a bright window, where the sun doesn’t directly hit, but much of the light from the window may bounce off walls and other nearby objects.
Alternatively, you can use artificial lighting. Use a full-spectrum LED light, and experiment with the distance from the plant until you find the perfect spot where the leaves maintain a nice, even green, and aren’t reaching too far for the light. You should opt for twelve hours of light per day.
The water requirements for an epiphyte like the king anthurium are dependent on the humidity. If there is adequate humidity, then watering won’t be a daily task; however, once the top two inches of soil are dry, don’t wait any longer to water.
It’s important to note that the soil should be consistently moist, but not saturated. Don’t let any water sit at the bottom of the pot, and be sure that there is always good drainage to allow excess water to drain away from the pot.
Too much water will inevitably rot the roots of your king anthurium, so try to gauge your watering schedule not by days lapsed, but by moisture levels. It helps to invest in a moisture meter that can tell you exactly where the moisture level is underneath the topsoil layer in the pot.
A surefire way to tell when it’s time to water is by poking a finger into the soil at the edge of the pot. If the top two inches of soil are dry, go ahead and water; however, if there still is some moisture that you can feel in the topsoil, wait another day before checking again.
Anthuriums are inherently epiphytic plants, which means that a standard potting mix isn’t likely the best option for growing indoors. Regular potting mix holds quite a lot of moisture, makes a perfect breeding ground for pests, and breaks down rather quickly.
Instead, try to think along the lines of other epiphytic plants, like orchids, which grow well in a mixture of pine bark, sphagnum moss, perlite, and charcoal. While your king anthurium can technically be grown in straight sphagnum moss, it’s best to avoid it unless you’re a pro.
Try not to use a potting mix that contains mulch. Anthurium veitchii does best in neutral to slightly acidic soil, but mulch often makes for a mix that is way too hot for plants that already don’t love to grow in soil.
If you’re not sure where to start, try a premixed orchid soil meant for indoor growing. These mixes typically contain the basic components of a good epiphyte soil, like pine bark, perlite, and coco coir.
To create the perfect indoor environment for your king anthurium, think about what it’s like to walk through a rainy, tropical forest. Since it rains so much, and the tree canopies prevent very much evaporation, the humidity levels are constantly above 60 percent.
You can easily replicate this at home by using a humidifier, a pebble tray full of water underneath the pot, or even frequent, daily misting. Placement makes a difference, as well; rooms where water is used often usually have higher humidity levels. Don’t place near drafts or vents.
Anthuriums in general are quite sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and may not bloom well in temperatures that don’t suit their needs. The average acceptable temperature range for these plants runs from about 60 to 80 degrees fahrenheit, but they can handle up to 90 degrees.
Climate is the most important part of maintaining the plant’s foliage. You’ll notice dry, cracking leaf tips if the humidity is off, and incredibly slow growth (beyond the snail’s pace this plant already grows at) or wilting if the temperature is too high or low.
Most plants that grow on the trunks of other plants don’t like to be potted in large containers. In fact, they like a more compact setup, where the plant’s roots can feel like they’ve taken hold on the surface of a tree.
Choosing the right pot that isn’t too spacious or too crowded can be tricky. When you unpot your king anthurium, look at the width of the roots when they’re untouched in their natural state; the width of the roots should be the width of the pot, since there will be room in between roots for more to grow.
The depth of the pot should similarly correlate with the length of the roots. Try for a pot that’s about an inch longer than the roots are, to make way to any new roots that might emerge. It helps to gently shake the roots so that they spring into their natural shape before measuring.
The pot you choose should be a solid material that doesn’t wick away moisture. Try for plastic or ceramic, as terracotta can rob the plant’s roots of moisture that they need. Make sure any pot you use has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom. Orchid pots are perfect for these plants!
Since king anthuriums generally get their nutrients from their host plants in their native habitat of Colombia, they aren’t accustomed to receiving nutrients through soil. Fertilizing can happen in one of two ways, but both are well enough for your king anthurium to get everything it needs.
Using a fertilizer for orchids or a general, all-purpose fertilizer for indoors plants is your best option. Any fertilizer you use should be diluted to prevent burning the roots, but should be balanced in a 10-10-10 ratio or similar.
The first method is to fertilize after watering every two months directly into the growing medium. After you water the plant and allow the excess water to drain, follow up with your diluted liquid fertilizer and allow that to drain away, as well. Never let fertilizer sit in a water tray beneath the pot.
Otherwise, you can use a spray fertilizer, which helps to deliver the nutrients to where they’re needed at the nodes. Spray a fine mist at least ten inches away from the plant, enough to cover all sides equally. Do this every six to eight weeks, but never when the plant’s medium is dry.