I have been puzzled as to why one of my Anthurium plants will not bloom! I have one that puts out so many “flowers” and is beautiful. They are a light pink color. The other one had red blooms or “flowers” when it was given to me but has never bloomed since. I have them both in front of my window where they get plenty of morning sun. The leaves look just a tiny bit different on each plant. Is there something I’m doing or NOT doing to get the flowerless one to bloom?
Helendale/Silver Lakes (Victorville area)
The flowers to which you refer are technically bracts or modified leaves although, in truth, the four aggregate parts of all flowers — corolla or petals, calyx or sepals (firm green support structure below the petals), androecium (male organs), gynoecium (female organs) — are modified leaves, or leaf whorls, as well.
The appearance of flowers in plants was a revolutionary, “modern” development, relatively speaking. Plants made their first appearance on earth 700 million years ago, while the first flowering plant, which was aquatic, appeared 130 million years ago. The development of colorful bracts and flowers had the single purpose of attracting pollinating insects, which evolved along with flowering plants.
Yet, until today, the appearance of flowers on any individual plant remains a mystery. Buds are either vegetative leaf buds, meaning they open up to become individual leaves or leafy shoots, or reproductive flower buds, meaning they contain a flower or inflorescence within. Research, however, has shown that at its early stage of development, every bud on a plant resembles a leaf bud. It is only towards the last moment of a bud’s development that it may finally differentiate into a flower bud. Sun, apparently, has something to do with this transition from leaf to flower bud. As even novice gardeners quickly learn, a sun-loving plant that is planted in too much shade may yield few, if any, flowers but lots and lots of leaves. Still, soil condition, air temperature, and even air circulation may play a role in determining how much a plant flowers, if at all.
Anthurium is really an extraordinary plant, the one indoor plant that will give you color 365 days a year, when properly maintained, thanks to its glossy, rubbery textured, heart-shaped bracts. Details of its care may be found at homeguides.sfgate.com, a most useful site that goes into great detail regarding a broad range of horticultural topics.
The site has a wonderfully succinct prescription for Anthurium fertilization and, by extension, for fetilization of indoor plants in general, especially those that flower over a long period of time, such as orchids and African violets: “Fertilize weakly, weekly.” Apply a liquid fertilizer at 20% of the recommended dose whenever you water. Alternatively, you can apply slow release fertilizer granules, preferably an even formulation such a 14-14-14. These numbers, from left to right, represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the fertilizer. The middle number, phosphorus, could also be higher than the other two numbers since blooming plants respond favorably to an elevated dose of phosphorus.
Every few months, your Anthurium will also benefit from a magnesium application in the form of Epsom salts, available at any drug store, at a rate of two tablespoons per gallon of water. As for your potting mix, it should consist of 4 parts orchid mix, 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts peat moss, and 1 part perlite.
Anthuriums are available in red, pink, white, and chocolate. Chocolate bracts change color according to light received, from brown to muddy red. Mini-anthuriums are a special delight and may even be used as a ground cover outdoors, at least until late October, when they should be moved indoors until late March. If you do plant outdoors, give them a location with good ambient light but no direct sun and make sure to add plenty of compost or other amendments to the soil to create superior drainage. Indoors, Anthuriums will also require bright light but will not do well exposed to hot sun.
Eugenia hedge, photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers
I have a Eugenia hedge that is about thirty feet high and thirty feet long. It serves as a privacy hedge as our neighbors have constructed a second story next to our back deck. For years now we have kept psyllids (insect pests that cause pitting of Eugenia leaves) under control with frequent and expensive pesticide treatments. This year they don’t seem to work as the waste from the psyllids must be washed off our deck every day. (It’s white and sticky.) I was told that the Disneyland parasitoid wasp project was ineffective. However your article of 2014 leads me to believe otherwise. If so, is the wasp available to individual consumers?
Point Loma (San Diego peninsula)
Eugenia is one of the most widely grown hedges in California. It has a soft, diamond shaped leaf and new growth is a glowing reddish bronze. In 1988, a psyllid pest that defaces Eugenia was first spotted in California. Entomologists, or insect specialists, were soon dispatched to the Eugenia’s native Australia to search for a natural enemy of this pest. A parisitoid wasp, dozens of which could fit on the head of a pin, was found and brought back to California. It was bred up north but first released locally, in 1992, at Disneyland. The reason for this was that Disneyland, which had also sponsored the research and wasp breeding program, had thousands of feet of mature Eugenia hedges in their parking lots. Within a few years, the Eugenia pest was under control throughout California and remains so to this day.
However, control of the pestiferous psyllid, which is related to aphids and about the same size, has proven more problematic up and down the California coast. The parasitoid wasps, called Tamarixia, simply do not proliferate quickly enough to gain control of the psyllid population in coastal areas, perhaps on account of the cooler temperatures and ocean breezes that prevail in these locales. Insectaries are not yet breeding Tamarixia wasps so they are not available to the general public.
The University of California does not recommend spraying the Eugenia psyllid pest. Instead, the hedge should be sheared every few weeks during the growing season and the sheared leaves left for mulch under the hedge. The psyllid nymphs on the sheared leaves contain eggs of the parasitoid wasps and these eggs should be allowed to hatch into larvae and turn into adults that will enhance parasitization and control of the psyllid population in the hedge.
Tip of the Week: May is the peak month for flowering in the Valley and nothing flowers more than Pelargoniums, which are generically referred to a geraniums. There are five pelargonium groups: zonals, those classically recognized for their presence in clay pots, whose flowers are strong reds, oranges, pinks, and white; regals, including Martha Washingtons, with pastel colors from mauve to salmon and blends such as burgundy red; angels, which are compact versions of regals; ivy leaved; and scented leaved. Angels are the least familiar of these groups but deserve wider recognition. Angel leaves and flowers are smaller than those found in the other groups but what they lack in size they more than make up for in charm.