Anthurium intro, part 2

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by photopro, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    If you plan on growing an Anthurium it is wise to first learn just how the species you possess grows in nature (assuming it is a species) and then try to duplicate that condition as best possible if you wish to experience the natural beauty and full growth potential of the specimen. One major problem with figuring out what species of Anthurium you are growing is caused by a phenomenon known to a botanist as "variability". Most people assume that just because many trees have the same type of leaves, that all species of Anthurium should also have identical leaves. In aroids, that is simply not the case. Think of it as human beings all having different "faces". There is only one species of humans, but numerous "faces". An Anthurium species can also have many "faces".

    Not only do the leaves vary from species to species, they can vary (morph) in the same plant as the Anthurium ages. And in the same way all human bodies don't look alike (tall, fat, short, skinny), neither do all Anthurium, even from the same Anthurium species! An Anthurium species is easily capable of assuming many leaf shapes and sizes, and they often "morph" as they grow just as a child changes as it changes from a child to an adult. They increase in size and change shape from a juvenile stage leaf to that of an adult stage leaf.. .To a botanist, it is simply "variation". But as you can easily see from the few photos on this page, an Anthurium has no set shape! Some are oval, some are spear shaped, some are shaped like a heart, some feel like leather (known as coriacious), and many have leaves that feel like velvet. This concept is often difficult for plant collectors to accept. Aroid botanists and those of us who are serious collectors receive mail all the time insisting any leaf with a different shape simply MUST be a different species. That is simply not the case. Think of your father, your grandfather, and your uncles. They are the same species and from the same family. But they don't look exactly alike! Within any Anthurium species exists the same principal.

    So how do you get your Anthurium to morph? The trick to seeing many Anthurium species morph is to allow them to climb something like a piece of wood or a totem which can be purchased at many plant supply businesses. The higher the better! Many epiphytic Anthurium species won't morph into adults until they reach well up a tree or totem. They simply retain their juvenile form. Some growers use what is known as a "wet" wall. The wall is actually covered with wire and filled with sphagnum moss while a small pump spreads water across the top of the wall's face. Many epiphytic Anthurium species love to climb this type of wall and often reach their adult size more rapidly. Once you've provided the specimen something to climb, such as a totem, wood or a wet wall, and give it the light level it is trying to seek, you'll be amazed at how it grows and changes shape.

    Many Anthurium plants commonly sold at nurseries are likely hybridized plants and not species. A hybrid Anthurium is one where each of the parents was a different species. But in the case of hybrids, each parent may have also been a hybrid itself. Thus, you may have the genes of numerous plants involved in creating that hybrid. You'll just have to believe what some retailer/grower tells you, and that may often be wrong, since scientifically correct information on hybrids is rarely available. Hybrid Anthurium are created when the pollen from one species is applied to the spadix of another species at the time the plant is ready to reproduce. The resulting seeds are neither species, but a hybrid form of the two. Some hybridizers enjoy seeing just what they can create and after a period of time you have no idea what the parents actually may have been. As a result, there is no way of knowing if the new hybrid prefers really wet conditions, drier conditions, cooler condition, grows in the ground, or high in the trees. Although hybrids can be beautiful, my preference is to grow only species which can be traced back to their natural habitat and thus better understood. But there are also natural hybrids that occur in nature which can add to the confusion.

    The majority of Anthurium plants you buy are juvenile forms and look nothing like the adult form of the species. Remember, they "morph" as they grow! For many years botanists were confused by the drastic differences in adult forms and juvenile forms and often tried to give them each a different scientific names. That is one reason some plants have numerous scientific names which can be worked back using a source such as TROPICOS (a service of the Missouri Botanical Garden) to a single basionym (primary species name). You need to learn all you can about your Anthurium species, and that is one thing, with the help of Dr. Croat and numerous aroid experts, I attempt to help you do on this website.

    If you live in a tropical or semi-tropical climate you can simply put your Anthurium in the ground. If it is an epiphyte it will likely try to climb a tree. If it is a terrestrial form, give it plenty of room. Many of the "birds nest" species love to spread and can eventually grow leaves 6 feet long or longer creating a very large specimen! But remember, those may also grow up on the limb of a tree in the rain forest! Otherwise, proper potting of your specimen is very important if you want it to both survive and grow to reach the full natural beauty.

    I can't explain how many people I've seen go into a garden store and buy a very rich potting soil that stays soggy all the time and then kill their Anthurium. They literally drown it! For some reason people believe the rich soil makes an Anthurium grow better! Typical off-the-shelf "potting soils" just don't work for Anthurium species! Remember, these species often grow in trees, not in wet soggy soil. Their roots are designed to collect rain water almost daily during the wet season and then suffer through the dry season. But even in the dry season they can collect enough water from the humidity around their exposed roots in order to survive. Again, you can make your plants grow much more beautifully, and stay healthier, if you try to learn all that is possible about their natural habitat.

    If you are growing a truly epiphytic species, you may not wish to grow it in soil at all! Some sellers provide them attached to volcanic rock. That can work, provided you keep those rocks constantly damp and filled with water. The plant will extract the necessary water from the interior of the rock. That does not mean to sit the plant in water! Just keep the rocks wet. No Anthurium species is known to grow in water despite what some websites and seller try to make you believe.

    One very popular method among serious collectors is to put the Anthurium in a large orchid basket packed with good quality sphagnum moss. Since the plant normally lives in the top or on the side of a tree it will adapt to those conditions easily. BUT, you must keep the moss constantly damp. In our atrium we water the plants displayed in this manner almost daily! We often leave any soil attached to their roots and do not remove it, we simply pack the moss around the roots. In just a few months you will often begin to see the roots extending down through the moss and hanging out the bottom of the orchid basket. That is quite natural. They will also firmly attach themselves to the wood of the basket. Our specimen of Anthurium spectabile has grown leaves over four feet long in just two years and is grown in this manner. The large leaves hanging gracefully from the basket can be stunning.

    If you feel you must plant the Anthurium in soil, especially if it is known to be a terrestrial form or "bird's nest" species, rather than using a rich, soggy soil and watering only once a week (or less), use a soil that holds moisture well but drains very quickly. That is what the plant actually needs and prefers in most cases. Over time, we've developed a soil mixture for most of our terrestrial Anthurium species (and some epiphytic forms) that works quite well. People who visit our artificial rain forest are often amazed at the size of many of our specimens which grow much faster and larger than they often do in many homes.

    We use 50% Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Mix combined with 20% Peat Moss, 20% orchid potting media (we prefer Schultz™ due to the hard wood, charcoal and mineral containing gravel) and 10% Perlite™, all thoroughly mixed together. We grow close to 50 different species in this mixture and numerous specimens have reached, or are beginning to reach, their adult or near adult size and have produced inflorescences.

    The purpose of our mixture is to cause the water to flow through the soil quickly, yet stay damp, not soggy. Many growers call this type of mixture a "jungle mix" due to its similarity to the soil in a rain forest. The peat, orchid media and Perlite™ hold moisture and release it back to the roots as needed. And the added gravel along with the charcoal in the orchid media purifies the soil and keeps the mixture very loose. The roots of the plant will also attach to the bark just as they do in nature on the side of a tree. Depending on the species, we sometimes also add small pieces of crushed volcanic rock frequently sold in orchid supply stores. We use volcanic media since the roots will often attach to the rock and extract stored water. Volcanic rock is known to absorb water and hold it for a moderately long period of time.


    End of part 2, Part 3 is here: http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=32907
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  2. Briansbotanicals

    Briansbotanicals Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    Here is a photo of many of the anthuriums I am growing on a rock wall. This rock wall is made out of shell rock a man made rock were clay is heated up much like lava to produce this very porse easy to use rock. The plants seem to love it and attach their roots to it easily.
     

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  3. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    Is it very expensive that rock, Brian? Later I am planning on putting in a waterfall with fake rock, I think they spray it on to chicken wire. The spray on stuff is expensive and I would like to compare...

    Ed
     
  4. donnamcg

    donnamcg Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    Brian, would you mind sharing some of the things involved in creating a wall like this. I, too, don't understand what "shell rock" is. Would you mind explaining it a little further. I live in Houston and we don't have any rocks naturally - we have to buy ours at a landscaping company. Is this something I could purchase locally or on-line?

    I'm planning a similar wall and had intended to use concrete of some sort but am a little concerned about it's alkaline properties.

    How do you water the wall? My thoughts were to have a small pool at the bottom of the wall and drip water from the top down to the pool and recirculate it.

    TIA
    Donna
     
  5. Briansbotanicals

    Briansbotanicals Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    The rock is called expanded shell. They basically take clay and heat it up as it heats up it forms rock similar to volcanic or ceramic clay would. This rock is sold here in gravel form for use in landscapes usually called solite. Here is a link to a picture of this rock. http://www.redwingsandandgravel.com/images/Solite_Stone.jpg

    In the process of making this gravel used in landscapes larger pieces stick together and form giant bolders. These pieces are actually more of a waste product to the factory and usually they have huge piles of it. I am able to get the rock for around 80.00 a ton which is quite a bit due to how lite the rocks are. The main problem here is this rock is large and shipping and working with it is not something this factory is interested in doing. I have to go and pick out the pieces I want to use in our work trucks. The really large pieces will crumble if a bull dozer drops them.
     
  6. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    What an interesting product and even more interesting process. And 80US per ton is pretty cheap, because they are so light and you get so much. I will have to have a look in AUS for this. Thanks Brian

    Ed
     
  7. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Re: Anthurium primer, part 2

    Brian, can I ask that you duplicate your answers, or explain in more detail, beneath the thread I began on your rock wall or wet wall? Something tells me there are people on the net looking for this information. Google is very good about picking up threads from UBC. I know that people are looking because of the emails I receive from people asking. I'd love to see your information in an easy to find format both here and on your website.
     

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