How Often to Water Anthuriums: A Practical Guide


A bright and cheerful anthurium with abundant flowers is a joy to behold. If you’ve decided to make them a feature in your collection, it’s important to make sure you are providing them with the right amount of water, in the right way.

Anthuriums only require a small amount of water. Once a week during the warmer growing season is enough. Otherwise, simply water perhaps once every two weeks. The most reliable method is to check the potting soil with your finger or a moisture meter. If the top 1-2 inches is dry then it’s time to water your anthurium.

Of course, it’s never that simple, so  I’m going to give you a practical guide on how to water your anthurium to optimize its growth.

Do Anthuriums Like a Lot of Water?

Indoor potted anthurium

Before we start talking about watering our anthuriums, it’s a good idea to consider how much water these bright beauties need in the first place.

Anthuriums hail from the tropical rainforests of South America, where they grow wild in mossy tree crooks or the loose-leaf litter of the jungle floor.

While the rainforests are wet environments, this growing medium retains very little water and the anthuriums have learned to make do with very little.

Anthuriums thrive in moist, but not wet soils. Reaching that perfect balance requires you to be aware of a few environmental factors, as well as the biology of the plant itself.

Factors to Consider When Watering Your Anthurium

Seasons

All plants require more water in the summer and spring than they do in the autumn and winter.

Summer and Spring:

As the weather warms up, your anthuriums will dry out more quickly. The heat inspires them to stretch out and grow, with the corresponding demand for resources that goes along with that.

Not only does the plant itself demand more water, but warmer temperatures cause greater evaporation in the soil of your pot. It means much of what goes in never has a chance to reach the plant. So it’s important to watch summer moisture levels closely.

Autumn and Winter:

On the other hand, the cooler conditions of autumn and winter slow things right down. The tropical anthurium responds to the cold by slowing growth and falling dormant.

Water remains in the soil for longer, and the lower levels of light result in less photosynthesis. Less water is needed.

Flowering

Anthuriums have a distinctive, long lasting bloom that occurs all year round. While blooms are developing, you may find your plant drying out more easily.

It’s also worth noting that a happy plant will express itself with colorful displays, and a properly watered plant will flower more often and more abundantly.

Size of the Plant

Each lovely glossy leaf is a factory that turns water and carbon dioxide into sugars for your plant. I’ve often marveled at how magical it how plants can turn water and air into luscious greenery. This means the more leaves, the more water your plant will churn through as they turn sunlight to that simple sweetness.

Temperature

Like most tropicals, your anthurium loves the heat. These jungle specialists need to be kept between 60-90ºF (15-32°C) in order to thrive, with the higher end being preferable if you want your anthurium to bloom.

As mentioned before, warmer temperatures not only spur growth but dry out the potting mixes too, so be mindful of that if your growing environment is on the toasty side.

Humidity

Anthuriums thrive in humid environments, and their biology reflects this. They lose water to transpiration. It’s a process not that different from how you or I lose moisture as we breathe. If you’re feeling dried out from the weather, indoor heating or air conditioning it’s likely your anthurium is, too

Location of the Plant

Lying in the hot summer sun will give anyone a mighty thirst, and it’s no different for your indoor plants. Anthurium prefers shade and will tolerate very low light.

Put one of these radiant beauties in an area with bright light and you’ll need to be vigilant to ensure they remain hydrated. Avoid direct sunlight, of course, but even diffuse brightness will increase the water requirements for your plant.

Type of Pot

Not all pots are created equal. Natural, porous materials like terracotta or wood will absorb moisture from your potting mix and release it into the air. This is a great tactic for encouraging local humidity around your anthuriums, but it does result in the contents of the pot drying out

Plastic, glass, and glazed ceramics on the other hand retain moisture well. Less is lost through the surface of the pot. Of course, this leads to the opposite problem – they can prevent soils from draining properly.

Regardless of the material, all pots should have drainage holes to prevent water from collecting at the bottom and becoming stagnant. Stale water in the pot is worse than no water at all, as it encourages root rot and other diseases.

Size of Pot

Consider your pot a reservoir for your plant. A small pot, especially with a large plant inside, has a very real limit on how much moisture it can hold. A larger one simply has more volume for your anthurium’s root, the soil, and the water it needs to thrive.

That said, an overly large pot does not mean your anthurium won’t become dehydrated. The reach of the plant is only as good as its roots. In a too large pot, water collects in the bottom of a big pot and around the edges, out of reach.

The whole thing needs more water to become moist, but most of it is useless to your plant, and it’s easy to feel like you need to add a lot more than you need.

Type of Potting Mix

It’s easy to overlook the importance of the right potting mix for your anthurium. This tropical wonder loves free-draining soils. They don’t like having their feet wet, so while it may seem counter-intuitive to give them soil that lets water flow away, it’s critical to their care.

Soils that are heavy and retain too much water put them at risk of root rot and disease, and without strong roots, it doesn’t matter how much water there is in the mixture – they simply can’t use it.

How To Spot an Under-watered Anthurium

Once you’ve got a grasp of the factors at play, I’d suggest you think about how that affects your own anthurium. A large flashy beauty in a compact clay bowl, luxuriating in a bright warm spot, will need more water more frequently than a small, shy one in a shaded porcelain pot. Here’s how to know for sure what your anthurium needs.

Signs of Underwatered Anthurium

  • Wilting or drooping leaves

Anthuriums have characteristically pert leaves on long graceful stems. Droopy or wilted leaves are the first sign your plant needs a drink.

  • Brown Leaf Tips

Do the tips of your anthurium’s leaves seem dried out or burnt? A brown, dry leaf tip is a classic sign of dehydration.

  • Leaves Wrinkling

Leaves with wrinkly surfaces have contracted as they lost water. The outer layer of puckers as the leaf shrinks, a clear sign it’s time to water.

  • Leaves Turning Brown or Yellow

If you’ve gone on holiday and the house-sitter forgot to water you may return to dead leaves – brown or yellow leaves instead of vibrant, glossy green.

Signs Your Anthurium is Over-watered.

As I’ve mentioned, Anthurium doesn’t need a lot of water, and really doesn’t enjoy sitting in a soggy spot. Over-watering your plant causes a whole host of problems sometimes appear very similar to under-watering.

The signs you have over-watered your anthurium:

  • Wilting or drooping leaves

Anthuriums have characteristically pert leaves on long graceful stems. Droopy or wilted leaves are the first sign your plant needs a drink.

  • Brown Leaf Tips

Do the tips of your anthurium’s leaves seem dried out or burnt? A brown, dry leaf tip is a classic sign of dehydration.

  • Leaves Wrinkling

Leaves with wrinkly surfaces have contracted as they lost water. The outer layer of puckers as the leaf shrinks, a clear sign it’s time to water.

  • Leaves Turning Brown or Yellow

If you’ve gone on holiday and the house-sitter forgot to water you may return to dead leaves – brown or yellow leaves instead of vibrant, glossy green.

How to check your anthurium’s water level.

Here are few tricks I use to keep an eye on water levels in my plants.

  • Test Moisture Level with a finger or stick

Uncomplicated and direct, this is exactly what it sounds like – just stick your finger into the pot and have a good feel around. The top two inches of soil can be allowed to dry out – and should, to prevent over-watering – but further down the soil should feel moist. If not, it’s time to water.

  • Measure Pot Weight

This is a tactic that takes a bit of practice. After you water your anthurium, lift the pot, plant, and all. Make a note of how heavy it is. You don’t have to be precise, but try and observe the way the water changes the weight of the pot.

Once you know, all you need to do to check your plant is to lift the pot. If your anthurium needs to be watered, the entire pot will be lighter.

  • Use Moisture Meter

Of course, many of us just want certainty. A moisture meter is a device that uses a low electrical current to evaluate the amount of water in the soil. Some will also test things like pHand temperature, too.

They are simple to use, and if you have a scientific bent they can be quite a bit of fun. Some brands even produce playful, bird-shaped moisture meters that are left in the pot and sing when the soil becomes too dry.

Best Ways to Water your Anthurium

Watering from Above

As a rainforest plant, anthuriums aren’t afraid of top watering, and rather benefit from the added humidity such treatment brings. To water from above:

  • Use distilled, filtered, or rainwater.
  • Apply water to the base of the plant, away from the leaves.
  • Allow water to pass completely through the pot and out drainage holes, to ensure the roots are adequately watered.
  • Empty any water from trays or saucers.
  • Allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before re-watering.

Watering From Below

This is a low-intensity but very effective way to ensure the loose material and fleshy roots of your anthurium receive the correct amount of water. This tactic works wonders on plants whose pots have good drainage holes.

  • Fill a tray or shallow dish with distilled, filtered, or rainwater. It should be around an inch (2.5cm) deep.
  • Set your pot in the tray, allowing time for the water to absorb into the potting material.
  • Top the tray with more water as the anthurium draws water into the potting material. Once it is uniformly moist, stop adding more water.
  • Allow the plant to sit for twenty minutes, then remove it from the tray.
  • Let the pot drain, and you can return your anthurium to its place in your collection.

Self Watering Pots

One way to avoid the fuss of maintaining the ideal water level for your anthurium is to invest in a self-watering pot. It really does make the whole process so much simpler.

  • While there are many good quality self-watering pots on the market, one with a water meter or see-through reservoir is best.
  • Fill the reservoir with distilled or filtered water.
  • Take care to top up the reservoir every month. An empty self-watering pot isn’t going to achieve any more than a standard one.

The Golden Rules of Watering your Anthurium

  • Maintain an even level of soil moisture.
  • Allow the top two inches of soil to dry between watering.
  • Water your anthurium in the early morning or late evenings.
  • Apply water to the base of the plant. That’s where the roots are, after all.
  • Use enough water to allow flow through, to ensure water reaches the roots.
  • Avoid allowing your anthurium to become waterlogged. Keep saucers and trays empty, and avoid pots that are too large.
  • Use a free-draining potting mixture.

Watering Anthuriums After Re-Potting

I like to be conservative when re-potting my anthuriums. They are one of the few plants that don’t mind a smaller pot, as it provides ample drainage while at the same time allowing the plant good access to nutrition and water.

Nonetheless, anthuriums benefit from being re-potted every two or three years. Watering your anthurium before you re-pot is critical to ensuring it rebounds quickly.

Re-potting stresses the plant, so a good drink beforehand will fortify your plant for the ordeal ahead. Give it a thorough soak two or three hours before the re-potting. Let the pot drain, as usual, so you are not trying to work with a muddy ball instead of a sturdy plant!

Your new pot should be only moderately larger than the old. One that provides about an inch of clearance around the existing root mass is perfect and should be filled with a free-flowing potting medium. The orchid mix is ideal, as is a mixture of potting soil, perlite, and sphagnum.

Once your bright beauty is in its new pot, water from above or water from below as outlined above. This ensures your new potting mix reaches the perfect moisture level promptly. If you are using a self-watering pot, administer enough to moisten the soil and be sure to fill the reservoir.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Posts