Peace lilies and anthuriums look quite similar in some ways, but they are not the same plants, and there are a few significant differences between them too. These include:
- The appearance of the foliage
- The appearance of the flowers
- The soil conditions they like
- How they can be propagated
- And how much water they need.
Today, we are going to explore the differences between peace lilies and anthuriums. Understanding how these two plants differ is important. Anthuriums are often referred to as red peace lilies, but although they are part of the same family, they are not the same plant.
The Appearance Of The Foliage
If you stand a peace lily and an anthurium side by side, you will be able to see clear differences between the foliage of the two. That said, the foliage of anthuriums can differ quite significantly from plant to plant, so these are just general guides to help you tell the two kinds of plants apart.
An anthurium usually has leaves that are wide and heart-shaped, often with a distinctive network of paler veins spread across the surface of the leaf. Their leaves hang down, with the tips pointing toward the floor, and they are far wider than the leaves of most peace lilies.
By contrast, a peace lily’s leaves tend to grow with the tips pointing upward. Their foliage is usually narrower, although it is still quite broad. It is more elliptical than heart-shaped, and it has distinctive ridges running along the length of each leaf.
The peace lily’s leaves tend to grow upward, following the curve of the stem and growing along its length, while the anthurium’s leaves grow at the top of the stem, and their weight tilts it downward.
Both plants have quite dark foliage, but a peace lily’s may be glossier.
The behavior of the leaves is different too. Peace lilies are keen to wilt and flop when something is wrong, while the anthurium is generally a bit less dramatic.
Overall, most kinds of anthuriums have leaves that look different from a peace lily’s. However, some kinds have long, narrow leaves, and these can be harder to tell apart.
The Appearance Of The Flowers
The flowers are a particularly distinctive feature for both these plants, and they do share some similarities. They both have a central spike that points straight upward, while the petals of the flower flow around in a scoop. The petals are all joined into one, and this serves as a sort of backdrop for the central spike.
In both plants, the flower comes to a single point at the back of the bloom, behind the central spike. Given the similarities, it’s no wonder that the anthurium is sometimes called a red peace lily – but if you look closely, you will see some major differences too.
Firstly, the anthurium’s flowers tend to be much wider. They are shaped more like hearts, while the peace lily’s are narrow and often less curved. The anthurium’s are also much shinier and tend to have webs of veins running all across the surface of the flowers. They almost look as they are made of plastic, especially because of their bright red or pink coloration.
A peace lily has a much smoother bloom, and it does not shine. Instead, it is a soft white, often tinged with green. From the image above, with both plants set side by side, you can see how their flowers look very different.
The Soil Conditions They Like
The plants both come from tropical climates, but they tend to prefer somewhat different conditions. A peace lily is often found growing in low, marshy places, as close to the ground and the water as it can get. It is unusual to see these on high ground, and if you were looking for one, you would look alongside riverbeds and in valleys.
The anthurium, by contrast, usually likes to be high up and prefers somewhat drier ground. You might find one on a hill, or somewhere with good drainage. Although peace lilies can grow in such places, they rarely do so.
This makes a difference to how you treat your plants when you put them in containers or in the ground. You should plant your peace lily with some drainage material, but be aware that it likes moisture. It does not want to be sitting in water all the time, or it will get root rot, but it is more sensitive to drying out than the anthurium is.
Equally, the anthurium is more sensitive to over-watering than the peace lily, so be aware of this. You should put some drainage material in its container or in the bottom of the hole when you are planting it. This will help to ensure that water runs away from the roots, and they are allowed to dry out quite often.
Both plants do like damp conditions, because they come from rainforests, but you must let them dry out from time to time too – and an anthurium needs to dry out more often than the peace lily. It needs better drainage in its soil to ensure this happens.
How They Can Be Propagated
One of the major differences between peace lilies and anthuriums lies in how the plants respond to propagation attempts. You can propagate both plants, but only anthuriums can be propagated by taking cuttings from them.
You only need to take a small piece of an anthurium’s stalk and place it in water or compost to get a new anthurium plant to root. It must have at least one growth node but provided this is present, it should grow just fine, and you will soon have a brand new anthurium with no extra work and at very little cost to the original plant.
However, peace lilies cannot be propagated in this way. They do not have the woody stem that an anthurium has, and this means you cannot simply take a cutting. They grow from underground, and their leaves and stems lack growth nodes. If you cut a peace lily’s stem and put it in water, it will not ever grow into a new plant.
You can propagate a peace lily, but you must do so by taking a cutting from its roots. It will grow its root ball in distinct clusters, forming the stalks that you see above the surface of the soil. If you separate one of these clusters off when you are repotting your plant, you can put it into a separate pot, and it will grow into a new plant.
This should be easy. All you need to do is take your peace lily out of its pot, gently tease a section of root away, and then repot the two plants in separate containers. You may need some sterile secateurs if the root is attached, but often, you won’t even need these.
The same can be done with an anthurium, but you do also have the option of taking a stem cutting if you don’t want to reduce the size of your main plant. With peace lilies, your only option is to take from your plant’s roots.
How Much Water They Need
As you may have guessed from the section on soil conditions, the two plants have different watering requirements, and it is important to recognize this before you try and grow either plant. Your peace lily will need more to drink than your anthurium will in most cases, and it will get thirsty more quickly.
Some people use the fact that their peace lily will wilt dramatically when it is thirsty as a guide on when to water it, but this will stress your plant out. It is better to push your finger into the surface of the soil. If it is damp below the surface, your plant does not yet need a drink. If it is dry, give it some water.
On the whole, both plants need regular watering, and neither enjoys being dried out. However, you need to water your peace lily more often than your anthurium, and it prefers to be kept wetter.
It is important to let the soil of both get dry at times, as this reduces the plants’ risk of root rot, but your peace lily is a marsh-lover and won’t appreciate long periods of drought.
Peace lilies and anthuriums share a lot of characteristics, and it is no surprise that the anthurium is sometimes known as a red peace lily. They have similarly shaped flowers and – to an extent – foliage, and they both come from tropical climates with high temperatures and lots of humidity.
However, the two plants are not the same, and it is important to understand their different needs. You can tell the difference between the two by looking at the foliage and the flowers, and you should adjust your care routine accordingly.