Among ornamental plants, anthuriums are a total knockout. They give brightly colored blooms interspersed with vibrant evergreen foliage all year round.
Their exotic beauty may look high-maintenance, but they’re pretty easy to care for under suitable conditions. They’re native to tropical rainforests, so the right soil will ensure they have the best chance to flourish outside their natural ecosystem.
In this article, learn about what’s the best soil for anthurium if you’re looking to keep a few pots (or dozens of them!) around the house or in the backyard.
Anthuriums are air plants or epiphytes. It means that they take root in moss and structures of other plants rather than getting attached to the ground.
In the wild, they grow under the shade of thick tree canopies.
They survive on rainwater and dew. Even though they’re not parasitic, they get whatever nutrients the host plants make available to them.
Their roots need oxygen as much as hydration. They cannot tolerate too much water, so they’re susceptible to root rot.
So, if anthuriums are aerial plants, it’s obvious you’re wondering if they ever need soil.
Our answer is a resounding yes! They need soil if you’re going to propagate anthuriums outside their natural habitat.
A fair warning: Anthuriums are mortal enemies with fine and dense soil that absorbs too much water. Their roots can get diseases from a buildup of bacteria and fungi in waterlogged soil.
Therefore, the standard garden soil with tightly packed particles will probably kill anthuriums.
Keep in mind that anthuriums are aerial plants, so you get the idea. They need soil that mimics their growing conditions in the tropics.
It’s best to plant anthuriums in loose potting soil rich in organic matter and amended with chunks of soil additives. Materials like charcoal and coconut husks create large air pockets in the soil that allow water to drain fast and oxygen to circulate.
The soil’s pH level or acidity is also crucial to the healthy growth of anthuriums. Too alkaline or too acidic soil can be toxic to the plant and keep much-needed nutrients out of its reach.
The optimal pH for anthuriums is between 5.5 and 6.5. Otherwise, it’ll be difficult or impossible for them to absorb:
- Boron, copper, and phosphate at a higher pH
- Molybdenum, nitrogen, and sulfur at a lower pH
Thankfully, you can easily check the acidity of your potting soil using a pH test kit. Then, you may add some minerals, like lime and sulfur, to the soil to correct its pH.
Potting mix recipes for anthuriums call for a combination of additives that enrich and condition the soil. Here’s a rundown on the additives you’ll want in your potting soil:
Charcoal comes from the dark remains of burned wood and agricultural wastes.
It enriches the soil, increases drainage, and lowers soil acidity.
Coco coir is a coconut byproduct used as a popular growing medium in hydroponics. It’s also a favorite amendment in raised or container gardening.
It’s available as coco peat (pith), fiber, and chips and provides a trifecta of benefits: drainage, aeration, and water retention.
Pine or conifer bark is a finely ground byproduct of milled wood. The right amount of pine bark improves soil quality without increasing its acidity.
Pine bark in ¼” and ½” sizes is ideal for loosening and tightening the soil. Anything smaller and larger than that doesn’t provide the same soil conditioning benefits.
Peat moss is fibrous waste matter from decomposed sphagnum moss found on peat bogs.
It stores moisture until the plant needs it and holds onto nutrients before water rinses them out.
Perlite is a porous and lightweight material that comes from mined volcanic rock. It’s sometimes called “volcanic popcorn” because it looks like a tiny white puff or a Styrofoam bit.
Perlite is ideal for keeping the soil loose and light while improving drainage.
Clay pebbles are excellent at storing moisture and releasing it to the plant as needed.
A layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot can also increase drainage and air circulation.
Pumice is a light-colored, coarse, and spongy volcanic rock.
It aids in moisture regulation and aeration in the soil.
You can also go for lava rock, which is crushed material from cooled lava. It has good water permeability that can keep the air around the plant moist.
It also improves the soil structure by making it airy and loose.
As the name suggests, cactus soil, or sometimes cactus mix, is ideal for growing cacti and succulents. These desert plants don’t require high amounts of nutrients to thrive.
Regular potting soils are rich in organic matter. Cactus soil, on the other hand, contains mainly inorganic materials like sand, grit, perlite, and pumice. This unique blend resembles a desert-like environment for drought-resistant flora.
Cactus soil drains well and even has pH levels suitable for anthuriums. However, it lacks nutrients that anthuriums need for healthy growth.
Orchids are epiphytes like anthuriums. It only follows that orchid potting mix makes the best potting soil for anthuriums.
There’s a variety of commercial potting blends for different orchid species. The most common ingredients you’ll find in these mixes are peat moss, perlite, pumice, and pine bark.
Other blends include coco coir chips, lava rock, pebbles, and charcoal.
Look for a potting mix specifically blended for Phalaenopsis, also known as moth orchids. It has pine or conifer bark, perlite/pumice, and peat moss.
To make a home potting mix for your anthurium, you can experiment with these combinations:
- Equal parts of pine or conifer bark, peat moss, and perlite
- Two parts store-bought orchid mix, one part perlite or pumice, and one part peat moss
- Three parts orchid mix and one part lava rock
You can toss in a handful of clay pebbles, coconut husk, or charcoal for anthuriums that are at least a year old.
After preparing the potting mix, you’re now ready to transplant your anthuriums:
- Choose a pot that’s only slightly larger than the anthurium plant.
- If you’re using an orchid mix with less coarse ingredients, consider putting one or two layers of pebbles at the bottom of the container to increase drainage.
- Fill ⅓ of the container with the potting mix.
- Set the plant on top and lightly pack the sides with more soil mix.
- Place the potted anthurium in a bright, warm area in the house that receives indirect light.
You’re using the wrong potting soil for anthuriums if you spot these signs:
- Anthurium has trouble blooming
- Root rot
- Wilted or yellowing leaves
- Drooping or browning stems
As much as you want to prevent waterlogged soil, you’ll also want to keep it from getting parched. Anthurium roots don’t soak up lots of moisture, so you need to water the plants every two to three days.
A telltale sign you’re over-watering the soil is when leaves turn yellow without withering. When this happens, wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.
Apply phosphorus-rich fertilizer to the soil every four to six weeks during the plant’s active growing season. This means you only need to feed it around the spring and summer months.
The best soil for anthuriums is a mixture of coarse and well-draining amendments. Since anthuriums are epiphytes, their aerial roots prefer loose and lightweight soil to move around.
Anthuriums are native to tropical rainforests but can survive as houseplants under ideal conditions. Moisture-retaining potting ingredients can imitate the humidity of their natural ecosystem.
Lastly, a healthy balance of organic and inorganic matter in the soil will ensure that the plants get the right dose of moisture and nutrients.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.