It’s not hard to understand why the Anthurium — a.k.a. the flamingo lily or tailflower — is such a popular houseplant. Its shiny leaves and colorful, heart-shaped spathes lend a tropical vibe to any room. Anthurium plants are also easy to care for. With the proper environmental conditions, these richly symbolic plants don’t require much maintenance but there are a few pests and diseases that may afflict your Anthurium. Here’s what to look out for.
- Dealing With Common Anthurium Pests – The Essentials
- The Most Common Anthurium Pests and Diseases (& How to Identify Them)
- Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions
- How to Use Pesticides & Insecticides for Anthurium Plants
- Managing Pests & Diseases
- The Final Word
Dealing With Common Anthurium Pests – The Essentials
Anthurium plants may be affected by aphids, brown scales, thrips, and white mealybugs. Treat by shooting pests off leaves with water or scrubbing lightly with a gentle brush and horticultural soap. Prevent pest infestations by never letting Anthurium plants sit in water. Too-wet conditions may also lead to bacterial blight.
The Most Common Anthurium Pests and Diseases (& How to Identify Them)
While most types of Anthurium plants (including rarer species like the Anthurium crystallinum) aren’t overly susceptible to pests and disease, they can still be affected. Here are some common houseplant pests and diseases that may attack your Anthurium.
Scale insects are among the most common pests that afflict flamingo lilies. These tiny insects have hard, waxy shells that make them look like tiny tanks. Adult female scale insects have no legs. They attach themselves to plant foliage and suck out the plant’s sap.
Some scale insects produce honeydew, a sticky substance that can lead to black sooty mold on plant foliage. Try removing scale by gently scraping them off of leaves, shooting with a spray of water, or scrubbing with a brush and insecticide soap. Suffocating adult insects with canola or neem oil is another option.
With their white, fuzzy bodies, mealybugs look almost like tiny, very slow sheep. These sap-sucking pests crawl across the underside of plant leaves and stems. Over time, mealybugs can cause yellowed anthurium leaves, stunted growth, drooping anthuriums, and even plant death. They also secrete honeydew and can cause sooty mold.
Like scale insects, mealybugs have a waxy coating that helps repel insecticides. Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, a spray of water, or give leaves a gentle wash with insecticide soap.
Aphids suck sap from leaves, leaving foliage speckled with yellow marks. Eventually, plant growth slows and can become deformed. These small bugs are camouflaged well and come in a range of colors, from green to brown. Check the underside of leaves and on new growth.
Control aphids by handpicking, wiping with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol, or blasting with water. Heavy infestations may require multiple treatments with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
If you notice yellow, watery spots along your Anthurium’s leaf margins, your plant may have bacterial blight. Over time, these yellow lesions turn brown or black and take on a v-shape. Blight is caused by the Xanthomonas bacteria, which can enter the plant’s foliage through tears, cuts from anthurium pruning, and even insect bites.
Most often, though, blight takes hold when plants are grown in hot, humid environments with wet soil. In such conditions, water droplets form at night on plant leaf margins. The Xanthomonas bacteria are attracted to the amino acids in the droplets and invade the plant’s foliage through pores at the margins.
Prevent bacterial blight by keeping plant foliage dry and not allow plants to sit in wet soil. Sterilize clipping and pruning tools before making cuts.
Root rot comes from a fungus known as Rhizoctonia solani. The fungi spores can lie dormant for years in the soil. When conditions are right — e.g., waterlogged soil — the fungus attacks plants at the roots and lower stems. In extreme cases, the plant’s foliage may be affected, too.
In Anthuriums, root rot results in brown, discolored roots and weak stems. Over time, the stems can’t support the weight of the plant, causing collapse or death. Prevent root rot by planting only in well-draining soil mixes, repotting your anthurium periodically, and avoiding over-watering.
Spider mites are so small that you might not notice you have an infestation until you see webbing on your plants. These tiny mites thrive in dry conditions and leave webs behind. They feed on plant sap and can cause stippling, spotting, and plant death.
Remove spider mites by blasting with water. Treat heavy infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil. To remove the infestation, you may have to treat the plant several times a few weeks apart.
Notice tiny gnats buzzing around your plants and the rest of the room? Sounds like fungus gnats. These flying pests usually come into the house in soil from the greenhouse where your Anthurium was grown. While they don’t usually harm the plants, they are annoying.
Fungus gnats prefer wet soil, so make sure your soil mix and plant pots drain well and let the soil dry in between waterings. You can also trap the gnats on sticky yellow or blue traps placed in the plant pots. If infestations are severe, apply Bacillus thuringiensis (a natural biological control) to the soil.
Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions
Horticultural Oil & Canola Oil
Horticultural oils work by suffocating pests with soft bodies, such as mealybugs and aphids. These pests have small holes on their bodies that they use to breathe. Oils block these holes and smother the insects. Canola oil mixed with dish soap works, too.
Some horticultural oils can be used to disrupt the breeding and egg-laying cycle. Such oils may be petroleum-based or plant-based, such as canola and neem.
Like oils, insecticidal soaps kill pests by smothering. These soaps work on pests like scale, aphids, and mites. Most contain potassium salts.
Insecticidal soap offers a way to clean powdery mildew, sooty mold, and honeydew from plant foliage. You can use dish soap, too, but it doesn’t work quite as well.
As a general rule, it’s best to try non-synthetic methods of pest control — like handpicking, water sprays, oils, and soaps — first. That’s because pesticides can damage plants, pets, and even humans if they’re mis- or overused.
But if non-synthetic methods aren’t working, there are multiple classes of pesticides, including carbamates, organophosphate, and pyrethroids.
Try sticky traps if you’re noticing fungus gnats or other flying pests. These yellow or blue bits of sticky paper attract and trap flying insects.
Most come with spikes so that you can place the sticky trap in the soil next to your Anthurium.
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How to Use Pesticides & Insecticides for Anthurium Plants
When controlling pests, start with the most organic method. Hand-picking pests, spraying with water, wiping with cotton swabs and alcohol, and using canola oil to smother pests are all good places to begin.
If that doesn’t work, try a more invasive method, such as neem oil, horticultural soap, or (last resort) pesticide. Always follow the product’s directions to the letter, as factors such as temperatures and humidity conditions can affect the product’s performance.
Often, treatments aren’t immediately effective. Give it time to work before you reapply. In addition, some treatments are designed to disrupt breeding and egg-laying cycles and may require multiple applications at specific time intervals.
It’s worth noting that Anthurium plants are considered somewhat toxic to humans and pets so it’s prudent to wear a pair of gloves when handling these plants.
Managing Pests & Diseases
The best way to manage Anthurium plant pests and diseases is to nip them in the bud. That means providing your flamingo plant with optimal growing conditions to keep pests and diseases from taking hold in the first place. Recently repotted or propagated anthurium plants can be particularly susceptible.
Anthurium plants prefer:
- Temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees F
- Temperatures that never drop below 50 degrees F
- Consistent humidity levels between 40 and 60 percent
- Bright, indirect light
- Well-draining soil
- Watering anthuriums only when the top 50 to 75% of the soil feels dry
- Fertilizing anthuriums periodically
- Rich, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5
Anthurium Plant Pests – The Final Word
Thanks to its beautiful, bright flowers and shiny, thick foliage, it’s easy to see why the Anthurium is such a popular indoor plant. It’s also relatively impervious to pests and disease, with a few exceptions. Maintaining optimal growing conditions for your flamingo plant can keep it blooming happily and pest-free.
If you’re looking for your next anthurium plant, see our in-depth guide to the best plants shops delivering anthuriums nationwide.