The Anthurium clarinervium has a mesmerizing vein pattern on large, thick, suede-textured leaves that makes it stand out in any collection. It’s not a plant for beginners, but it’s not too temperamental if the basic needs are met – and the plant is worth some extra attention. Let’s look at everything you need to know about Anthurium clarinervium care to keep this unique aroid thriving.
Bright, indirect light, humidity of at least 50%, and chunky, well-draining soil that stays moist but never gets soggy are essential aspects of Anthurium clarinervium care. Temperatures of 68ºF (20ºC) to 80ºF (27ºC), good air circulation, and light fertilization every 4-6 weeks during the growing season will also ensure your plant thrives.
Overview Of The Anthurium Clarinervium
The Anthurium clarinervium, an aroid of the Andiphyllum section, is a Mexican perennial that thrives in rocky landscapes with shaded limestone outcroppings or karst. The plant is often mistakenly called epiphytic, but it doesn’t grow in trees and is properly termed a lithophyte or an epipetric plant.
The plant is prized for its large, heart-shaped foliage that features striking pale green-, gold-, or silver-toned concentric veins on a darker green background. The leaf’s underside is uniformly light green.
Anthurium clarinervium stays compact relative to the size of their foliage. When potted, they reach approximately two feet high and three feet wide with leaves of about eight to ten inches long. Their thick roots are adapted to provide support in thin soil wedged between stones.
Another feature of the phenomenal foliage is a thick, cardboard-like stiffness with a leathery (coriaceous) feel and a fuzzy suede texture.
Anthurium Clarinervium Care Summary
|Scientific Name||Anthurium clarinervium|
|Common Name||Velvet Cardboard Anthurium|
|Origin||Mexico, growing on limestone outcrops between the Río Grijalva and Río de la Venta, north of Ocozocoautla de Espinosa, Chiapas. Also found in the Colón Province of Panama.|
|Light Requirements||Medium to bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight where possible.|
|Watering||Water thoroughly once the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. Prefers soil to remain lightly moist.|
|Soil||Loose, well-aerated soil is essential. A pre-made orchid mix will do well. A mix of 1/3 peat moss or coconut coir, 1/3 orchid mix, and 1/3 perlite is a great option.|
|Temperature||68ºF (20ºC) to 80ºF (27ºC). Intolerant of temperatures below 55ºF (13°C).|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize every 4-6 weeks through the growing season with a balanced preparation.|
|Humidity||Needs high humidity of at least 50%, and levels higher than this are preferred.|
|Flowering||Produces a typical Anthurium spadix with unimpressive, smallish seasonal blooms that are pale green with variable violet hues.|
|Pruning||Minimal pruning required, other than to remove dead or damaged leaves.|
|Propagation||Best propagated by division, but it is possible to propagate stem cuttings or grow from seed.|
|Re-Potting||Every 2-3 years on average. Needs a little TLC after repotting.|
|Diseases and Pests||Quite resistant to pests and disease. Mealybugs pose the most significant pest risk. Avoid overwatering to prevent most diseases.|
|Toxicity||Mildly poisonous to humans and pets if ingested.|
Anthurium Clarinervium Light Requirements
The Anthurium clarinervium is sometimes recommended for lower light, but they actually need medium to bright indirect illumination to grow well and avoid becoming leggy. Read this article to get a better idea of how bright this really is.
The leaves scorch in direct sun, but otherwise the plant will do well indoors almost any bright spot you can give them. Filtered, diffuse sunlight is the goal.
- An eastern exposure is generally ideal. They tolerate gentle early sun and appreciate the long hours of bright indirect light that follow.
- A bright northern exposure can work, but be prepared to bump up the lumens if you see legginess or slow growth.
- West-facing windows work well as long the plant isn’t exposed to intense late afternoon sun. Depending upon your latitude, you may need to pull the plant a few feet from the window, provide sheer curtains, or give them other protection.
- A Southern exposure can be too intense for an Anthurium clarinervium to sit close to the window, but light weakens quickly indoors. Moving the plant three to five feet back will usually make the needed difference.
Note that your Anthurium clarinervium slows its growth in winter and needs less light.
Anthurium clarinervium should never be allowed to dry out completely, but they can’t stand wet soil either. It’s better to err on the side of too little soil moisture than too much. The plant’s native rocky substrate doesn’t retain water: never leave them standing in a puddle.
Wait until the top inch or two of soil has dried out before rewatering. If the soil quality is right, this will mean approximately once-a-week watering, but don’t go by a scheduled routine: monitor the soil.
Thoroughly drenching the soil each time you water ensures the entire rootball is saturated and flushes out residual toxins. Giving them smaller and more frequent amounts will keep the top of the soil too damp – and encourage gnats – while potentially underwatering the root ball.
Be sure to empty the cachepot after the soil is finished draining. No puddles! Proper watering is the most important aspect of Anthurium clarinervium care to get right. Read this article for more tips about assessing your houseplant’s watering needs.
Weekly watering is a general standard, but there are several conditions that affect frequency:
- Humidity – Soil tends to dry out more quickly in low humidity and watering becomes even more critical.
- Temperature – You’ll need to water more often in warm weather when the plant is growing and soil evaporation is high.
- Container Material – Soil in an unglazed terracotta pot dries more quickly. A plastic container holds water the longest, or you can go to the other extreme with a net basket that maximizes the roots’ contact with the air.
- Season – Let the soil dry out a little more over the cool months.
Another important issue for your Anthurium clarinervium is the quality of its water; they can struggle with hard, highly-mineralized water. They love rainwater, but distilled or other purified water are good, too. If you’re getting lackluster growth with plain tapwater, upgrading the source could make a big difference. Read my article about using different types of water for your houseplants.
Anthurium Clarinervium Soil Requirements
Choosing the correct soil is an essential part of Anthurium clarinervium care. The roots want constant access to oxygen without drying out and are prone to rot if the mix stays too damp. A loose, chunky mix is better than a finer gradient: the medium should be open enough to let the roots breathe even after a good soaking.
A retail potting soil doesn’t give you enough structure out of the bag. The closest suitable pre-made soil is Orchid mix, but the plant likes some organic matter and water retention materials, too. It’s best to make your own.
The plant prefers a mildly acidic range between about 5.5 pH to 6.5 pH, which means it’s generally safe to add organic amendments like peat or bark … even though these tend to acidify the medium as they decay.
A quality retail potting mix is a good base to work from, but you should add additional amendments to improve aeration and drainage. Here are some elements you can use:
- Long-fiber Sphagnum moss (cut)
- Coconut Coir
- Orchid Bark or Wood Chips
- Quality Leaf Mould or Compost
- Charcoal (Aquarium charcoal works fine)
- Coarse Sand
- Crushed Lava Rock
Here are some recipes:
- Add together a third each of peat moss or coconut coir, orchid mix, and perlite.
- Start with a quality potting soil as half the mix, with a quarter each of peat moss and Orchid media that contains bark or wood chips, gravel, and possibly charcoal. Add in about 10% perlite.
- To emulate the plant’s natural habitat, some growers start with a gravel, lava rock, or pumice base and add organic elements like potting soil, peat and/or orchid mix.
- Some growers use straight peat moss, but there are a few caveats. It can be hard to rehydrate peat if it gets too dry, but consistently damp peat can attract soil gnats. You’ll also have to pay closer attention to nutrition.
Eyeball the proportions: exact measures aren’t required. You can add a small amount of compost to any recipe. Mix the ingredients thoroughly.
High Humidity Is Required
High humidity is another key aspect of Anthurium clarinervium care. It’s a botanical mystery why so many steamy-rainforest tropicals have greater tolerance of low humidity than this particular rock-dweller; but, if you can’t provide humidity over 50%, the Clarinervium may break your heart. Slowly.
60% humidity is generally fine. You can go higher, but that might mean mold on the walls. (The plant would love it, though.) A small specimen can do well in a terrarium.
How To Meet the Humidity Challenge
Your Anthurium clarinervium, in the right soil, will be easy to maintain in an area with high humidity. If your home has average humidity – like most of us – there are a few ways to push it higher.
Group Plants – Placing plants together helps raises their humidity a few points. Just don’t crowd them too closely.
Water Trays – Water-filled receptacles placed near your plant also bump up local humidity by a small percentage. To save space, put pebbles in the tray and perch the plant’s container on it above the waterline.
Room Humidifier – The best thing we can say about using a humidifier is that it works. Even if you live in an arid climate, you can definitely create the right environment for your Clarinervium. The downside is the cost and the ongoing refilling, monitoring, and maintenance.
Anthurium clarinervium needs warm temperatures, but this is easy indoors. They do best from about 68ºF (20ºC) to 80ºF (27ºC). They prefer the warm end of the range during the day and a slight cool down at night.
The plant can be kept outside year-round in USDA Zones 9a to 11 but begins to suffer if the thermometer drops below 55ºF (13°C).
Avoid extremes and rapid temperature fluctuations. As temps rise above 90°F (32ºC) you’ll start to see faded, dry leaves.
How To Fertilize Anthurium Clarinervium
Wild Anthurium clarinerviums eke out their beautiful existence on thin soil in rocky crags: they aren’t heavy feeders. Fertilize sparingly to avoid stressing the plant.
Feed them from early spring through early fall before cool weather sets in.
A balanced formula such as an NPK ratio of 20-20-20 is suitable. I prefer to use this fertilizer for many of my houseplants. You can use either synthetic or organic fertilizer; Synthetic blends are more cost-effective and allow for more precise application, but organics are less likely to cause root burn and have the side benefit of feeding the soil’s microbial ecosystem.
A popular regime is to feed a half- or quarter-dilution of the recommended amount of fertilizer every four to six weeks through the growing season. Read my guide to fertilizing houseplants to make sure you are providing all the nutrients your plant needs.
Reminder: Residual fertilizer can build up and gradually toxify the soil, so it’s a good idea to flush the soil by letting extra water drain through with each watering. If this is inconvenient, do a thorough flushing every two or three months.
Minor Flowers … But Nice Berries
Many Anthuriums have lovely, shiny flowers, but the Anthurium clarinervium isn’t one of them. It produces the typical Anthurium spadix with smallish seasonal blooms that are pale green with variable violet hues.
The berries are more interesting. They aren’t guaranteed to appear after every blooming, but if the flower is pollinated they can produce clusters of berries – and they last a long time. The berries can take over a year to mature.
If you just have one plant, berry production is problematical because the male pollen doesn’t develop at the same time as the female ovaries. It’s Nature’s way of avoiding self-pollination, but you can work around it by having more than one plant, or by preserving the male pollen until the flower is ready.
Your plant typically must be two or three years old before it can produce berries. Many growers snip the small flowers off and skip the whole business.
Prune To Groom
Pruning really isn’t a part of Anthurium clarinervium care, though you’ll need to do basic grooming on occasion. Dead or infected leaves should be removed.
To preserve as much energy-producing foliage as possible, you can trim away just damaged portions. The remaining leaf can be removed after new foliage appears.
Trim leaves in the usual way with a sterile cutting tool, cutting down to the main stem. A trick to avoid cutting is to push down on the petiole of the leaf you want to remove until it pops off. (Which should warn you to be gentle with leaves you want to keep!)
Your Anthurium clarinervium will be ready to repot when the roots fill the container and start to circle the pot. Every two or three years is typical for a mature specimen.
Note: The plant’s rock-dwelling origins can become evident when you try to unpot from a clay container: the roots cling tightly to the sides. Consider breaking the pot to avoid inflicting too much root trauma.
Here are basic repotting rules:
- Be gentle with the roots.
- Water beforehand. A well-hydrated root system is more resilient and easier to work with.
- Use soil similar to the plant’s current potting mix.
- Situate the root ball at the same level as before. Burying the crown will cause the plant to rot.
- After planting, water to settle the soil. Add more mix to fill in sunken spots.
- Place the repotted plant in dimmer light for a few days as it recovers.
- Don’t fertilize for two or three months, or until you see new growth.
- Read more about repotting rootbound houseplants here.
It’s natural for the plant to wilt and look poorly for a few days following a repotting. Be patient and don’t try to perk it up with extra waterings or other fuss.
How To Propagate Anthurium Clarinervium
There are three basic ways to propagate your Anthurium clarinervium.
- Stem Cuttings
You can grow new plants from home-grown seed, but you’ll have to manage the pollination and wait a year for the berry to ripen. Division is the easiest; stem cuttings are possible but a bit tricky.
Division and cuttings are best done in the spring to give them a full season of growth. Give the new plant or seedlings the same conditions as the adult plant: high humidity, warmth, and medium-to-bright indirect light. Good air circulation is very beneficial.
Seed propagation isn’t terribly efficient and the seedlings are slow-growing, but it’s easy when it happens.
Berries develop after pollination, and it’s really just a matter of letting the calendar pages turn as the berries slowly ripen – dark green berries turn orange as they mature. When they’re ready, they’ll drop off on their own. Simply open the berry and take out the seed … and plant it!
Use finer soil for seeds than the mother plant’s chunky mix. Keep them slightly moist and give seedlings the same light and high humidity you give the parent. To create a humid environment, you can place a glass jar over the seed.
Repotting is usually the best and most convenient time for division. Gently unpot the plant and separate out smaller offsets or stem sets, making sure each has roots and at least one leaf.
Plant the divided portion in the same type of mix as the mother plant. Water to settle the soil around the roots.
Growing a new plant from a cutting is trickier than from divisions or seed because they are prone to rot, so you’ll need some diligence. Here are the steps:
- Take a four- to six-inch cutting from the tip of new growth that already has aerial roots.
- It’s a good idea to dust the cut with cinnamon or another fungicide to help avoid infection. Also consider powdering the end with rooting hormone.
- Plant in the same chunky soil the mother plant lives in. If needed, tie the cutting to a support so it stands up.
- Give the cutting fresh air and good light. Be patient: a cutting often wilts and takes time – up to a few weeks – before it starts growing.
If you have an older stem, you can also cut it into sections and bury the sections horizontally. Make sure each section has at least one leaf and some roots.
Anthurium Clarinervium Care Tips
- An Anthurium clarinervium must adjust to a new environment, during which time it may wilt or even lose a few leaves.
- Don’t fertilize a plant that is recovering from a move or a recent repotting. Wait until it begins to put out new growth.
- Yellow or discolored leaves usually mean either overwatering or too much light.
- After watering, you may notice that the leaves drip water. This natural process isn’t the sign of a problem – but you may wish to protect the floor.
- Indoor Clarinerviums respond well to summering outdoors in bright shade, but give them protection: they can easily be damaged by wind. Tall and/or leggy specimens have a tendency to break at the crown. Give them support with bamboo sticks or another suitable stake.
- Remember that fresh, moving air is important for Anthurium clarinervium care … but avoid a hot or cold draft.
If ingested, the Clarinervium is mildly poisonous to humans and even more dangerous to pets. It contains calcium oxalate crystals that cause irritation to the mouth and digestive tract.
Signs of poisoning include drooling, low appetite, and evidence of oral pain. More serious symptoms are vomiting and, rarely, swelling of the upper respiratory system and subsequent labored breathing.
The better news is that serious injury is very uncommon. These toxic qualities also mean the Clarinervium is resistant to rabbits and deer.
The Clarinervium is one of the informally named Esqueleto plants, a subset within the 1000-species-strong Anthurium genus. The term means “skeleton” in Spanish and refers to the light, stark ribcage-like veining on the leaves.
Another name sometimes used is Anthurium clarinervium matuda. There is only one variety of Clarinervium, but it has many hybrids: some individual plants have slightly different leaf patterns or vein colors.
One Esqueleto species commonly confused with the Clarinervium is the Crystallinum. Its pattern is brighter and less rounded, and the leaves are a thinner and larger than the Clarinervium.
Pests And Diseases
Anthurium clarinervium does demand high humidity and careful watering, but it’s a pretty tough plant against infestations and disease. Most infections are related to the high moisture of its environment.
If you do get pests, use gentle treatments that don’t damage the leaves. Dr. Bonner’s Castille soap is a good option. Spray the front and back of leaves and petioles, and rinse them off with lukewarm water after twenty minutes.
One pest that may require a bit more diligence to eradicate is scale. Soap treatment can work, but it may be quicker to spray the insects with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
The best way to combat disease is not to overwater and make sure water doesn’t linger on their leaves.