How to Grow & Care for Anthurium Superbum (Bird’s Nest Anthurium)

anthurium_superbum

The Anthurium Superbum, also known as the Bird’s Nest or Ironclad Bird’s Nest, is a very unique looking foliage plant.

With large leaves and capable of growing to about 3 to 5 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide, this pre-historic looking houseplant is sure to catch anyone’s attention.

This is the main reason why some homeowners love it, despite being very picky about how much light, temperature and humidity it gets (compared to other indoor plants).

It’s dark green and purple colored roundish leaves are arranged in a somewhat rosette formation. Thus, adding a very tropical feel to any home or living room.

Originating from the jungles of Ecuador, it is accustomed to moist tropical conditions of lowland forests. This is one of the reasons its fairly specific about its environment. But, once you understand what to give it, it becomes quite easy to care for.

As a bonus, the plant also purifies the air in your home.

These are the things to consider when caring for the Anthurium Superbum.

Anthurium Superbum Plant Care

Anthurium Superbum Care Summary

 

Anthurium Superbum Light

The Anthurium superbum grows best with bright, indirect sunlight. This mimics its natural environment in the subtropical and tropical forests of Ecuador where it is covered by the large branches of tall trees.

Thus, you want to give it dappled, filtered or indirect light and avoid direct sunlight at all costs. Leaving your ironclad birdsnet in the direct path of the for hours can result in leaf burn.

This means you have a few options when choosing a location for this plant.

  • East-facing window – this is the ideal place to put your Anthurium superbum. The morning sunshine gives it a lot of bright light without the intensity of that in the afternoons.
  • West or South Facing Windows – Both the south and west experience harsher sunlight, with the former giving you more hours of it. So, if you want to place the birdsnest in either spot, it’s a good idea to place them at least 6-8 feet away from the window where it’ll still get a lot of light but is away from the sun’s rays. You can likewise use shades or curtains that block out some of the sun.

Alternatively, you can do what many nurseries do. The use a shade cloth often 20% to 40% to block out some of the sunlight. This leaves you with filtered light that’s similar to indirect light.

 

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Anthurium Superbum Temperature & Humidity

anthurium superbum

When it comes to temperature, your Anthurium superbum enjoys it best between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Like most other anthurium varieties, this makes it perfect for indoor environments like homes and greenhouses.

It will likewise tolerate conditions that are slightly hotter. However, it is more sensitive when the thermostat drops. You’ll be able to notice this as its dark green leaves will turn yellow.

This often happens once the temp starts doing under 55 degrees.

That said, you can likewise grow them in the ground outdoors if you live in USDA zones 10 or 11. But, be aware that it will look a bit different when grown in the garden as opposed to containers.

Alternatively, you can likewise put them in pots. This lets you keep them indoors when the temperature drops under 60 degrees. And, bring them outside during the summertime.

As long as you keep them under a shade outdoors, they’ll do fine.

In addition to its very specific temperature requirements, it also likes high humidity. Unfortunately, if you leave it where the air is drier, you’ll see its leaves start to turn brown. This is a sign that your plant is suffering. And, if you don’t remedy is quickly, you’ll soon see it die out.

As such, you have a few options here.

  • The kitchen or bathroom. Both these rooms are humid areas that will keep your Anthurium superbum happy. However, be sure that these areas are well lit. Otherwise, it won’t do well either.
  • Increase the humidity by other means. Here are a few ways to do this.
    • Spraying (or misting) your plant with water using a spray bottle helps add moisture in the air around it. Doing this a few times a week something they’ll enjoy.
    • Pebble tray. A more hands-off approach is to place the pot over a pebbles in a basin of water. This keeps the pot (and soil) from getting wet. And, as the water below evaporates, it increases humidity in the air surrounding your plant.
    • Group it with other plants. Grouping plants together increases the humidity above and around them. Because plants transpire, the water the lose goes up into the air helping to increase humidity in that section of the room.
    • Last but not least, a humidifier lets you control exactly how much or how little you want to increase humidity. Plus, you can turn it on and off as needed.

anthurium superbum

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Anthurium Superbum

The ironclad birdsnest enjoys moist soil. As such it’s a good idea to check it regularly.

That said, it’s important to understand the plant is sometimes actively growing and “resting” as other times. During March to September, it goes through its growing season. As such, during this time you want to give it enough nutrients (fertilizer) and water.

Like a growing child, it will also consume these faster than it does when it is in its passive stage.

Because, some days can be hotter than others the amount of moisture in the soil will get used up in different rates. So, while you’ll likely need to water the plant once or twice as week, it’s always good to use your finger to actually check how the soil is doing.

To do so, stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it feels dry or is almost dry, then it is time to water again. However, if the top soil is still moist test again in a few days.

On the other hand, once fall and winter comes around, it will go through its passive stage. This is when you scale back on watering. During this time, you’ll likely only need to water once every few weeks. Again, do check using your finger to tell when to do soil.

In addition to regular monitoring, observing your plant’s leaves till tell you if you’re over or underwatering it. Foliage color, size and vibrancy will change if it isn’t happy.

 

Soil

What kind of soil you use will vary depending on whether you’re planting your Anthurium Superbum in your garden or in a pot.

If you plant them in the ground, you’ll be using garden soil. Thus, you’ll be depending on the soil quality and supplementing it with fertilizer. Note that your anthurium will grow into a vastly different looking plant when put into the ground as opposed to a container.

You can try growing both at the same time and see how they change.

Meanwhile, because of their specific light and temperature requirements, the birdsnest if often grown in containers. its size also means you’ll be moving it down onto the floor as it matures.

The biggest difference between garden soil and growing in pots is that containers use potting soil, which aren’t soil at all. Instead, they’re more like a medium. So, your fertilizer becomes it main source of nutrients as opposed to just being a supplement to the soil. This makes choosing the right kind of soil more important.

With the anthurium superbum, you’ll want to use rich, moist soil (high organic matter) that drain well. Above all else, you want to avoid wet soil or that which will cause it to hold water. Similarly, dry or fast draining soil like sand isn’t a good thing.

So, as with all the other points above, you can see that the ironclad birdsnest is a very picky plant.

In its nature environment, the superbum doesn’t grow on the ground. Instead, it grow off of tree branches and moss. Thus, you want to give it something similar (or at least close) to get the best results.

Thus, soil that’s loose and very breathable is key. Using a combination of a few growing mediums like perlite and peat moss with your potting mix allows you to do this. Alternatively, you can use orchid soil and mix 50% of it along with potting soil making the other half, if you don’t want to experiment.

 

Fertilizing

anthurium superbum leaves

Ironclad Bird’s Nest like being fed on a regular basis. But, only a little each time. This means you need to practice self-restraint when fertilizer. Often people believe that giving plants more fertilizer (plant food) makes them grow faster.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Too much fertilizer often results in “fertilizer burn”, where the plant’s roots get burned by the excess amount of nitrogen (often the highest ingredient in most products).

  • The simplest product to use is a fertilizer for orchids. With orchid fertilizer, you can feed the Bird’s Nest once every 3-6 weeks.
  • Alternatively, you can also use an all-purpose fertilizer. With this one, you’ll only need to fertilize every 6-8 weeks.

Slow release or liquid formula both work well. So, you can choose which you prefer using.

Because the Bird’s Nest thrives on phosphorus, you want to choose a fertilizer mix that has a high middle value in the N-P-K ratio. Phosphorus is the P, so you want the middle number to be high.

Once growing season is done and the fall and winter come around, you can stop feeding until spring comes around again.

On the other hand, you don’t want to neglect your superbum. As you’ve already seem, this is a plant that likes to get pampered. It’s very specific with light, temperature, humidity, water, soil and even fertilizing. Thus, not giving it enough plant food results in slow growth.

 

Pruning

Pruning isn’t much of an issue with the superbum. It doesn’t get too long or messy. However, you will want to trim it back once in a while because for health purposes.

The benefit here is two-fold:

  • Get rid of the diseased, discolored or dead leaves. This not only removes the ugly looking sections but also keeps the plant from expending energy in trying to recover or revive them. It also stops the spread of the problem as well.
  • Encourage new growth. Trimming helps promote new, fresh growth that will make the plant look more vibrant.

When handling this plant, it is a good idea to use gloves as it has chemicals that can irritate skin.

And, as always, do use sterile tools when cutting. Wipe down your scissors with rubbing alcohol before using them to snip sections of your plant. This prevents risk of infection.

 

Anthurium Superbum Propagation

You can propagate your anthurium superbum either by division or seeds. Although the former is much easier than the latter and takes a lot less time. Thus, we don’t recommend propagation by seed.

The best time to propagate by division is when you repot it. Ideally, in the spring when the weather is around 75 degrees or so. This reduces the shock experienced by the plant which can hinder its growth.

Here’s how to divide anthurium superbum

  • Take the plant out of the pot. Depending on the size of your plant, this may be a one or two person job. The reason being you want to gently ease the root ball out of the container and not just force it out.
  • Once you have the root ball out, inspect it to find the main stems extending from the root.
  • Choose the one that’s already growing. The further out its grown, the bigger the new plant you’ll have. And, the less risk that it won’t grow properly.
  • Separate the section that you want to replant from the mother plant.
  • Then, place the plants in their own pots. And fill with fresh soil.
  • Place the new plant somewhere it received bright, but indirect light. You can likewise put it somewhere under a shade to protect it from direct sunlight.
  • Wait about 6 weeks then start fertilizing.

 

Anthurium Superbum Transplanting & Repotting

The Anthurium superbum is a fairly slow grower. Thus, you won’t need to worry about having to repot it too often.

Depending on how big your plant is, most of them will work well with pots that are between 10 to 20 inches in diameter. Most start out with 10 inch wide by 10 inch deep containers. This gives the roots room to grow.

Because of the size the plant can grow, you want the roots to set up a healthy structure. Thus, giving it a loose, tall and wide environment to do so makes the plant healthier. Once your plant starts outgrowing its pot, or it becomes root bound, it is time to move to a bigger pot. Leaving it in its current pot will slow down its growth.

While it is tempting to get a huge pot, so you don’t have to transplant it for years, it isn’t the best plant growing strategy. Large pots means a lot of room to grow. But, it also means that the plant will focus more energy on growing down below (the roots). This reduces the effort up above, leaving you with lackluster foliage.

When it comes to repotting, spring and summer are the best times to do it. As always, make sure that your container has as least one hole in the bottom to allow for proper drainage.

 

Toxicity

As mentioned above, the superbum is toxic. This is because of calcium oxalates. So, in addition to wearing gloves when you handle the plant, make sure not to let pets or young children ingest any part of the plant. This will cause throat and mouth irritation as well as other digestive troubles.

Touching it likewise can be a problem because it causes skin irritation. And if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, those areas will be affected as well.

 

Pests and Diseases

Like any other plant, Anthurium superbum is susceptible to attacks from pests.

Primarily, the mentioned plant is affected by sucking parasites such as thripsmealybugsscale, and spider mites.

However, the plant is not affected by the biting and chewing pests due to its thick leaves.

This should not give you false hope since such animals still suck the sap off anthurium and detriments its health.

But don’t worry, Plantophiles got your back. With our care guides, you will, on many occasions, be able to win the battle over these peskpy pests.

The Anthurium superbum, as with other anthurium varieties, is susceptible to a few pests, namely mealybugs, scale, thrips and spider mites. The good news is, its thick leaves are somewhat impervious to their bites.

However, you still need to monitor your plant for pests regularly because infestations often move to other plants near it as well.

the good news is, it’s fairly easy to get rid of these pets. All you need is soap and water. You can likewise use horticultural oil.

I don’t recommend using any chemicals because I have young kids and pets around the home.

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