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Horticulture Digest

Date Last Edited:  08/24/2001

Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service

Horticulture Digest #108


Two decades ago, anthuriums were cultivated largely as a cut flower crop. Now, anthuriums are internationally produced and traded as both cut flowers and potted blooming plants. Large anthurium nurseries can be found the world over:

  • in the Caribbean Basin (Florida, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago)
  • in the Pacific and Pacific Rim (California, Hawaii, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand)
  • in Europe (Germany, Holland, Denmark, Italy), and
  • in the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

In 1993 potted anthuriums ranked 23rd in total sales among all potted foliage and flowering plants sold through the Dutch auctions (a good indicator of global trends). Anthuriums showed an 18% increase in average auction price since 1990, attaining 5.98 Dfl ($3.33) across all pot sizes to rank as the third most valuable commodity after phalaenopsis orchids and howea palms. Approximately four million pots were sold, with Anthurium scherzerianum outnumbering A. andraeanum types by about 2.5 to 1 (International Floriculture Quarterly Report, Vol. 5, 1995). While similar statistics are not available for container anthuriums in the USA, over three million anthurium microcuttings (tissue culture propagated plants), comprised principally of potted cultivars, were produced in the USA in 1993 (Matsumoto and Kuehnle, 1996).

Potted flowering anthuriums have the potential to be an increasingly important commodity for Hawaii's growers, as indicated by the 1994 Hawaii Foliage Industry Analyses. Durability during shipping and handling, in addition to desirable features of lush foliage and year-round flowering with a large array of colors, make anthuriums an attractive export crop. Efforts are underway to allow export of Hawaii-grown container anthuriums to Japan to meet that country's escalating market demand for blooming interior plants. Meanwhile, importation into the United States of anthurium plants in approved growing media is now allowable under revised Quarantine 37 regulations. Now, more than ever, Hawaii's competitiveness stands to benefit from the development of new anthurium cultivars for container production.

Containerized anthuriums can be used for interiorscapes and landscapes in warmer climates. Plants of relatively compact stature are generally preferred in homes or offices, while plants with larger foliage and flowers carried on long peduncles can be accomodated in hotels, banks, hospitals, or office building lobbies and reception areas. Under low-light conditions, anthurium plants can maintain attractive foliage, but continual blooming may be interrupted. Exterior use in Hawaii is under moderate shade, such as provided by tree ferns.

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Cultivated Varieties

Potted flowering anthuriums may be grouped into three basic categories distinguished by parental background (Table 1).

Table 1.  Categories and description of potted blooming anthuriums.

Pot                General                       Early
plant types        comments                      cultivars      Source

A. scherzenianum   Pig-tail anthurium; well      'Dutch Treat'  Rancho Tissue
                   established in Europe; grown                 Technologies
                   in the USA in cooler                         Inc., Rancho
                   locations such as CA; more                   Santa Fe, CA
                   tolerant of cooler
                   temperatures than A.
                   andraeanum types.

A. andraeanum      Standard heart shape spathe   Royal series   Twyford Plant
types              with cordate foliage, grown                  Labs,
                   mainly as a cut flower.                     Sebring, FL

A. amnicola        Compact growth; small         Lady series    Oglesby Plant
hybrids            flowered with attractive,                    Labs, Inc.,
A. antioquiense    lanceolate foliage.                          Altha, FL

The predominant potted anthuriums available commercially in Europe are A. scherzerianum cultivars from Zwinkels, De Lier Holland and Anthura Arndt, Bleiswijk Holland (formerly G. Arndt, Borken Germany). However, new flower and foliage forms, such as the Sweetheart series from Anthura B.V., Bleiswijk, Holland, reflect a growing interest in A. andraeanum types.

In Hawaii, A. andraeanum-type cultivars, including those for cut flowers, are increasingly popular in large-scale interiorscapes. These cultivars may flower later or less profusely than the other categories of potted anthuriums due to their larger flowers and foliage. However, some proliferate offshoots naturally, resulting in a full plant (e.g.,'Kaumana'). Moreover, some cultivars have inflorescences that remain attractive for several months and thus give the appearance of many flowers per growing point (e.g., 'Tropic Ice').

To provide a full appearance, propagators commonly provide two to three plugs or plants per pot. Horticultural practices such as topping may be employed to stimulate axillary branching to produce more flowering stems per pot. Growth regulators such as gibberellic acid or benzyladenine may be used to induce suckering (Imamura and Higaki, 1988).

Hybrids of A. amnicola or A. antioquiense are usually floriferous with compact growth. The most successful cultivar to date is the rosy pink 'Lady Jane', released in 1984 by Oglesby.

A fourth category may be emerging, namely Andraecola (Interior Landscape, Winter 1995), to designate interspecific hybrids between A. andraeanum and A. amnicola. This would include recent hybrids from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, 'Andraecola-l' and 'Andraecola-2' (Kamemoto et al., 1993) with larger flowers and longer stems than earlier A. amnicola hybrids such as 'Southern Blush' from the University of Florida. Similar floriferous but more compact hybrids may fill a niche in the container anthurium market.

Numerous cultivars are available from commercial propagators (Table 2).

Table 2.  Some potted plant anthurium cultivars available 
commercially in the USA.

Cultivar                                 Spathe and spadix color  Licensed propagator

Red Hot (developed by Univ. of Florida)  red and pink             Oglesby
Kohara Double                            red                      Oglesby
Champion (developed by Anthura B.V.)     white obake              Oglesby
Leilani                                  light lavender           Oglesby

Mazie                                    red and white            Agri-Starts
Mary Jean                                white and pink           Agri-Starts
Sherry-Lynne                             pink                     Agri-Starts

Lollipop                                 reddish pink and cream   Twyford
Pink Aristocrat (developed by H. Tagami) pink                     Twyford
Pink Frost                               pink and white           Twyford
A. scherzerianum Shazzam                 red and pink             Twyford

Pixie Pink                               pink                     Rancho Tissue
Allura                                   white                    Rancho Tissue
A. scherzerianum Dutch Treat             red                      Rancho Tissue

Many are patented or have their names trademarked. A description and performance evaluation of 21 cultivars for interior use was made by Henley and Robinson (1994) under greenhouse conditions in Florida.

Production practices complement the features provided by breeding. Light levels and nutrition (fertilizer ratio, rate, and type) affect leaf size and number, flower number, color retention, and general plant quality. A further example is use of two to three plants per cell or pot rather than relying on offshoot production for some otherwise outstanding cultivars. A description of production factors and associated physiological, disease, and pest problems is found in Henny et al. (1994).

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UH Research on New Potted Anthuriums

Prior to the 1980s, the focus of the UH breeding program was on developing plants with outstanding inflorescences and high yields for the cut flower market. The attractiveness of foliage was also a consideration.

In 1980, J. Kunisaki published the technique for micropropagation of anthurium using shoot tip and bud culture. This was a milestone in the industry; its development in Hawaii allowed rapid, high-volume multiplication of hybrids. Micropropagation is important because it allows anthurium to be competitive with other types of potted plants. Also, shortly before 1980 the compact, mini-flowered species A. amnicola became available to breeders. The University of Hawaii anthurium breeding program now includes specific potted plant breeding objectives to provide Hawaii's producers a diversity of plants to evaluate for their own needs. A summary of UH selection evaluation criteria is found in Table 3.

Table 3.  University of Hawaii potted blooming anthurium selection
evaluation criteria.

Feature                   Desirable attributes and comments

Foliage and plant habit   Attractive, glossy, dark green leaves; good sucker
                          production resulting in full dense growth in
                          pots; short internodes.

Flowers                   Numerous, attractive, glossy flowers positioned 
                          above the foliage; contrasting colors of spathe
                          and spadix; fragrance, novel colors, in addition
                          to more standard shapes.

Disease resistance        Resistance to bacterial blight, Xanthomonas 
                          campestris pv. dieffenbachiae and anthracnose
                          or black nose, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

Production                Finishing time 10-14 months from plugs (1-3 
                          plugs/pot) in 6-8" containers; 10" for some 
                          A. andraeanum types.

Post production           Should ship well; plants hould maintain flower 
                          production during interior use; flowers should
                          retain color or turn greenish, not brown with age.

Potential potted cultivars developed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa are shown in Table 4.

Table 4.  Some University of Hawaii anthurium release with potential
for potted sales.

UH              Cultivar                                        Hort Digest
selection no.   name                 Description                Issue

Cross 724-      A. x antro-oquiense  Crosses between A.
 Cross 727                           antrophyoides and A.
 (reciprocal)                        antioquiense; mini white
                                     spathe, sweet minty scent  No. 85 (1988)

Cross 729       A. x amni-oquiense   Cross between A.
                                     antioquiense and A.
                                     amnicola; mini light
                                     lavender spathe; minty
                                     scent                      No. 85 (1988)

UH1068          ARCS                 Small purple tulip         No. 85 (1988)

UH1067          ARCS Hawaii          Small purple tulip         No. 89 (1989)

UH1070          Pink Elf             Small pink tulip           No. 94 (1991)

UH1051          Tropic Ice           White obake; old flowers
                                     remain attractive; blight  No. 104
                                     tolerant                   (1995)

UH1016          Kalapana             Red obake; developed for
                                     cut flower use; blight 
                                     tolerant; US Patent No.
                                     Plant 8,320, Jul. 27,      No. 104
                                     1993                       (1995)

UH931           --                   A cut flower selection 
                                     with large standard
                                     orange spathe suitable 
                                     for potted plant use       --

UH1245          Tropic Fire          Bright red, blight
                                     tolerant; patent

Several cultivars were bred for dual purposes (cut/potted). Others were developed as cut flowers but adapted by growers and designers for use in large interiorscapes. Some outstanding attributes of UH cultivars include anthracnose resistance, bacterial blight tolerance, attractive foliage, long-lasting flowers, and free-flowering.

Selected references

Henley, R.W., and C.A. Robinson. 1994. Evaluation of twenty-one potted anthurium cultivars grown for interior use. Proc. Fla. State Hort.Soc. 107:179-181.

Henny, R.J., A.R. Chase, and L.S. Osborne. 1994. Anthurium. Foliage Digest 17:1-4.

Imamura, J., and T. Higaki. 1988. Effect of GA3 and BA on lateral shoot production on anthurium. HortScience 23:35-354.

Kamemoto, H., A. Kuehnle, J.T. Kunisaki, M. Aragaki, J.S. Lichty, and T.D. Amore. 1995. 'Pink Champagne', 'Andraecola-l', and 'Andraecola-2' anthurium. Univ. of Hawaii, Hort. Digest 104:4-6.

Kunisaki, J. 1980. In vitro propagation of Anthurium andreanum Lind. HortScience 15:508-509.

Matsumoto, T., and A.R. Kuehnle. 1996. Micropropagation of anthuriums. In: Biotechnology in agriculture and forestry, high-tech and micropropagation V (Bajaj, Y.P.S., ed.) Springer Verlag, Berlin (in press).

A. R. Kuehnle, heidi@hawaii.edu
H. Kamemoto, haruyuki@hawaii.edu
F. Rauch, rauch@hawaii.edu
J. Lichty, T. D. Amore, and N. C. Sugii

Department of Horticulture, CTAHR
University of Hawaii at Manoa

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