Anthurium crystallinum is a member of the Araceae family, also referred to as the arum family. The arum family is an inclusive bunch, consisting of many well-known tropical plants like pothos, monstera, peace lily and philodendron among others.
The graceful tropical plant, which goes by crystal anthurium or strap flower, is native to Central and South America. Found in the highest concentrations in Ecuador and Colombia, anthurium plants were discovered in 1876. The French botanist Eduard Andre brought anthuriums, along with other exotic tropical plants back to an intrigued public in Europe.
Symbolic Significance and Health Benefits
Fitting of their heart-shaped foliage, crystal anthuriums symbolize love and lasting friendship. They are believed to bring good health to all relationships.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that they’re so efficient at purifying the air. Whenever you’re around one, your mood and health improve by taking deep breaths of fresh, clean air. This is just one of the many reasons they’re extremely popular as houseplants.
According to a study performed by NASA, anthuriums are the top air purifying plant, cleaning the air of toxic substances like ammonia and formaldehyde. The hormones they secrete can also minimize the spread of viruses and mold.
There is something special about anthurium, its unparalleled characteristics separate it from other aroid relatives. The broad, distinctly heart-shaped leaves are unique in that their rust-colored undersides contrast noticeably with the white veins that run along the surface.
A single leaf can reach a length of 18 inches, prominent and majestic.
As the plant ages, leaves mature and their colors change and take on different shades. Another endearing factor is that each leaf is decidedly unique. Unlike most plants that have symmetrical and identical foliage, each crystal anthurium leaf is like a snowflake; there are no two alike.
If you love tropical plants with intriguing foliage, you won’t want to miss prince of orange philodendrons.
Due to their tropical native environment, Crystal Anthuriums will thrive with high temperatures and humidity. They enjoy the company of other plants and will climb stakes or moss poles if provided, showcasing the natural evolutionary adaptation they employ to reach for sunlight, moisture and nutrients in the air.
Crystal anthurium will rarely flower, which isn’t a total disappointment because its foliage is the real showstopper. When kept indoors, the underwhelming flowers emerge infrequently. It’s safe to say that anthurium plants have gained their mass following due to their unique foliage.
Like most common houseplants, anthurium crystallinum is easy to care for when provided with ideal conditions. It is possible to find a sweet spot and achieve the perfect environment. Read on to learn how to dial in all of these variables to get the most out of your crystal anthurium.
When it comes to the growing medium you use for your crystal anthurium, it should have a few certain qualities. The potting mix should be light, well-draining and retain moisture well all at the same time. It may seem like a contradictory concoction, but there is a way to achieve the perfect consistency.
The indoor plant potting soil sold at most nurseries and grow stores should work fine enough for your crystal anthurium. Check for these quality ingredients listed on the bag:
- Peat moss
- Coconut coir
- Earthworm castings
But if you’d like to save a little money, want the best quality medium and are feeling a bit adventurous, why not make your own mix?
Your anthurium deserves it, and will repay you with uber-impressive foliage displays.
The formula for making the best indoor potting mix is
- Two parts organic matter (soil, compost, worm castings, humus)
- One part drainage (perlite, vermiculite, coarse sand, rice hulls)
- One part water retention (peat moss, coco coir)
The organic content will add substance holding the mix together. It will also slowly break down and feed your plant over time.
The drainage elements will keep the media from sticking together, allowing water and oxygen to pass through freely.
The moisture retention ingredients will ensure that your roots don’t easily dry out. Coco coir and peat moss both absorb water well but also keep their light and airy consistency.
Buying these ingredients in bulk and making your own mix will be cheaper and supply you with a bunch of the perfect blend should you want to acquire more plants, propagate or transplant your crystal anthurium. It’s always nice to have extra medium on hand, especially for us plant lovers.
Keep in mind that crystal anthurium evolved in a jungle setting where filtered light is the norm. This means that they do not tolerate direct sun well and they burn easily when exposed. They will gladly accept all of the bright, indirect light you can give them though.
An east-facing window works quite well because it will offer plenty of bright morning sun, which is gentler than afternoon sun. Let it take in all of the indirect rays, but if the sun shines directly through, move your anthurium away from the window or hang a curtain to filter the strong beams.
Pay attention to what your leaves are telling you. If they wilt and start to yellow out, it’s more than likely they’re not getting enough light. If they have brown scorch marks, they were probably touched with too much sun and got burnt.
Crystal anthurium can be supplemented with grow light if there isn’t enough bright indirect light in your home. Grow lights can also help keep your plant perky throughout the dim, depressing winter season.
If you keep your crystal anthurium outdoors, make sure it’s in a completely shaded area near trees or tall shrubs.
Temperature and Humidity
The best path to making your crystal anthurium comfortable in your home is to emulate its native tropical climate. Warmth and humidity are paramount. Cold, even cool temperatures won’t be tolerated. Dry air will lead to problems as well.
Keep temperatures above 65 degrees at all times. But the small window of a sweltering 75-85 degrees will make your crystal anthurium feel right at home.
While most tropical plants kept in the home require humidity levels around 50%, crystal anthuriums are much happier at 70% or higher!
Adding a humidifier to the growing space is the easiest way to meet these demands. Bathrooms tend to be the most humid room of a home, so if there is a window with bright indirect light, it may be a good option for your crystal anthurium.
Consider making a pebble tray to increase the immediate humidity surrounding the plant. Add pebbles or small stones to a saucer or planting tray and fill it with water. Set the container on top of the pebbles, so the tray will catch the runoff from watering. It will eventually evaporate, keeping the environment humid and comfortable for your crystal anthurium.
Like most common houseplants, anthurium crystallinum is easy to care for with the right approach. But knowing the right timing for watering, fertilizing, pruning, propagating and transplanting is critical.
Read on to learn about all of these factors affecting your plant’s life cycle and how to keep them in harmony in order to get the most out of your anthurium.
Another non-negotiable preference of crystal anthurium is moist soil. This is where proper drainage comes in. The roots love to be moist but won’t tolerate standing in cool, soggy soil. This leads to stress, root rot, the appearance of unwanted pests, fungal diseases and death.
A hard and fast watering schedule doesn’t exist, which can make the chore a little tricky. Factors that vary day to day cause the medium to dry out at different rates. The best way to know if your crystal anthurium needs to be watered is by physically checking the soil.
Using your finger, push into the soil about 2 inches deep. If it’s dry down to this point, you can safely give it a slow, deep watering.
A moisture meter is a great tool that accurately measures the amount of water in the medium; especially helpful when you’re just getting used to watering a new plant.
If the leaves start to turn yellow, get droopy and there are signs of fungus gnats or foul smells around the base of your plant, then you’re watering too much.
Crystal anthurium are susceptible to root rot, a severe problem. It sets in quickly and it’s extremely difficult to salvage a plant from this affliction. Let your plant dry out if it’s had too much to drink.
If the leaves have brown edges and tips that curl up and feel crispy, your plant needs more water.
Underwatering will shock your plant and stunt its growth and foliage production. When watering an underwatered plant, do it gradually to let the dried-out medium rehydrate. Let the plant and pot rest in the runoff water in its tray for 10-15 minutes. The roots will have time to absorb sufficient water to rehydrate.
Crystal anthurium grow at a slow pace, but this doesn’t mean you should forego fertilization altogether. Like most other houseplants it will appreciate a few feedings during the growing seasons of spring and summer.
Water soluble fertilizers are convenient and it’s easy to find balanced, organic varieties. Fish emulsion and liquid seaweed are great fertilizers. They contain all the nutrients your plant needs with little risk for burning, as they are gentle and all-natural. Mix these fertilizers into water at about half the recommended strength and apply them to the soil around the base of the plant.
Slow-release fertilizers are also useful. Usually, they’re granular in form and can be turned into the top couple inches of the planting medium and watered in. Over time they’ll break down, gradually feeding your anthurium plant.
As with liquid fertilizers, don’t overdo it with granular feeds. Less is more, you can always adjust your feeding routine based on your plant’s response. But overfertilizing can burn the plant, stunt its growth and even kill it.
The most tried and true fertilizer though is a well-broken-down compost. Top dress the container with fresh compost every spring and be sure to incorporate more into the new container whenever repotting or transplanting your crystal anthurium. Compost, if well-decomposed, won’t burn your plant and will add nutrients and help condition the medium, leading to a more robust plant.
You won’t have to worry about any complicated pruning rules or practices when it comes to your crystal anthurium. In fact, because they grow slowly, not much pruning is required at all.
The only time you should cut anything is when leaves begin to fade, yellow or die. It will keep it looking nice, make way for new growth and prevent the plant from using its energy on unhealthy foliage.
Another way to keep the foliage in tip-top shape is to wipe them down from time to time. Naturally, dust will fall and collect on the leaves. This can inhibit photosynthesis and transpiration, negatively affecting overall health.
Make it a point to regularly wipe the leaves with a clean, damp towel to keep them shiny, happy and healthy.
Once you have your very own crystal anthurium chances are you’ll want more! The tropical plant can be propagated in a few different ways.
Crystal anthurium can be started by seed, but they are extremely difficult to come by. I couldn’t find any available with a thorough online search.
Berries that come from the flowers of the plant each produce a single seed. Flowering is rare, let alone fruit production that only yields one seed that has a low germination rate. So propagating by seed is something that is best left to plant breeding specialists.
The best options for propagating this elegant beauty are root division and stem cuttings. Read on to find out how!
Separating your anthurium into smaller individual plants through root division should be a regular part of the repotting process.
When your plant is getting too big for its pot, consider transplanting it into another container and breaking it up into smaller pieces. This will not only rejuvenate your crystal anthurium but will give you more plants!
Carefully remove the plant from its container and brush off excess soil stuck on the roots. Look for an area of natural separation where you’ll be able to easily pull the plant into two or more parts. Gently and meticulously untangle the roots and gently pull the plants apart.
Plant each anthurium into a new pot, mix in some extra compost and water well. Pamper them for the next couple of weeks by keeping the roots moist and making sure they don’t get excessive bright light.
Making a new plant out of a single stem cutting is a fascinating prospect. It’s quick, easy and efficient. Many cuts can be taken from a single plant in one sitting. Transplant shock is also avoided through this method.
Wearing gloves is advised due to the skin-irritating calcium oxide crystals contained in the plant.
Identify a few strong, healthy stems to propagate. Using a sterilized knife or shears, cut right below a node. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone and plant it into a medium with good drainage and moisture retention, similar to the mixture mentioned above. The light, breathable blend will encourage new root growth.
Set the new plants in a warm and humid place to get them off to a strong start. The cuttings can remain in that container for a while until they develop new roots and begin to thrive. But once you see new growth start to emerge from the young plant, it’s possible to pot them up into a larger container.
Being root bound is not a huge hindrance to the health of crystal anthurium. They grow slowly and roots will tolerate some crowding in their container. But if the roots start peeking out the drainage holes of its pot, then you should prepare to transplant it into a larger container.
Repotting allows the roots to expand, leading to new growth and a larger, more impressive foliar display from your crystal anthurium. That and you get the opportunity to replenish the soil with fresh ingredients and nutrients.
Choose a container that is about twice the size of the current one but not so large that excess water can collect and linger. This will give roots plenty of space to spread.
Prepare the new container and soil ahead of time to minimize the bare root’s exposure to the air. The quicker you get it potted back up, the lower the chance for transplant shock.
Always water a freshly transplanted anthurium well into its new container. Yellowing leaves and temporary drooping may occur after transplant, but provided the conditions are right, your crystal anthurium will bounce back quickly.
Reference this quick step-by-step guide for transplanting/repotting your crystal anthurium:
- Gently remove the plant from its container by loosening the roots. Turn it upside down and carefully slide it out, pulling softly only from the base of the plant.
- Brush off excess soil from the roots.
- Lightly comb through the roots to untangle them.
- Take your container filled about halfway with fresh potting mix.
- Set the plant into the new pot and spread out the roots so it’s sturdy and seems to stand on its own.
- Line up the crown of the plant with the top of the container so it will sit above the soil line.
- Hold the plant in place and adjust potting mix to get it at the right level.
- Fill all of the gaps and cover the roots with the soil blend up to a couple inches below the rim of the container.
- Firm the medium around the roots to anchor the plant.
- Water well until it runs out of the drainage holes.
One unfortunate aspect of crystal anthurium is its toxicity. Contained within the lovely-looking plants are calcium oxalate crystals. They’re microscopic but rough and can irritate the skin and will definitely agitate the mouth and digestive system if consumed. But, any ill effects can be avoided by handling them with care and keeping them out of the reach of children and pets.
Where to Find Crystal Anthurium
Crystal anthurium truly is a rare specimen in the plant world. You probably won’t be able to find it in run-of-the-mill nurseries. If you do come across one, however, inspect it well to make sure it’s in good health. It will probably be expensive and you don’t want to pay all that money for a failing plant.
But don’t despair anthurium’s scarcity because, unsurprisingly, live plants can be sourced online. Larger, more established plants will cost a bit more but will hold up much better during the shipping process. The initial upfront investment will be worth it because crystal anthurium is so easy to propagate. And with the right planning, you can soon have a whole collection!
Plant-obsessed friends, family and neighbors are also a great source for acquiring a nice healthy crystal anthurium. You may just be lucky enough to know somebody you can glean a fresh cutting from. Nurture this young plant into a mature anthurium and then you can pass on the favor!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why are the leaves of my crystal anthurium turning yellow?
The most common cause of yellow leaves is overwatering. If the medium is too moist, let it dry out before watering again. Connected to overwatering is the dreaded root rot, which sets in when roots stand in damp soil for too long. This deadly affliction will cause leaves to turn yellow.
Deficient moisture in the air could cause yellow leaves. A lack or abundance of nutrients will also lead to leaf yellowing. Salt buildup due to too much fertilizer will cause yellow spots and edges on the leaves.
How long will my anthurium crystallinum live?
The typical lifespan of crystal anthurium is 5+ years. However, you can extend its life indefinitely with proper care and propagation. Root division will reenergize your anthurium and help prevent it from overcrowding. Fresh stem cuttings can be used to start multiple new plants from one mother plant. In this way you can multiply your plant into numerous new clones, creating an endless supply of crystal anthurium to share and enjoy.
Should I mist the leaves of my crystal anthurium?
Leaves can be misted and it’s a good idea to clean them off on a regular basis. They should be dried off afterward; do not allow water to collect on the foliage, as this could cause disease.