Aroid Basics

Aroid Basics

What is an aroid?

Aroid is common term for the family of plants called Araceae. Aroids like many other plants are characterized by their "flowers" or inflorescences. Many species are epiphytic meaning that they climb up other plants or structures. They are found all over the world but are densely populated in Central and South America as well as Southeast Asia. Aroids are generally found in tropical environments occupying the canopy floor, so they often receive dappled or shaded sunlight, high humidity, and high rainfall. These plants are used to many episodes of water that rolls off their beautiful leaves and dries quickly. The rain and high humidity allow their aerial roots to attach to bigger plants and climb!


The various genera within the family Araceae each have unique characteristics and differences in their anatomy. The one uniting trait is their inflorescence. The inflorescence contains a spadix and spathe. The spadix is the part that contains the flowers which change from female to male. The location of the male and female flowers depends on the species. The spathe is a modified leaf that protects the spadix.

Some other important parts of aroid anatomy include the stem, petiole, internode, node, auxiliary bud, and cataphyll.

General Care


The infamous bright indirect light. Think about where these plants live in nature. They are often found on the rain forest floor receiving shaded sunlight. They generally do well in 100-200 range for ppfd or 200-500 or so foot candles of light. You just have to find the sweet spot. If your plant is getting leggy (nodes are spacing out), it's not getting enough light. If your plant's leaves are lightening in color, they might be receiving too much light.  


Most aroids like to almost completely dry out between waterings. Anthuriums tend to appreciate more frequent waterings than the others. I like to water mine when the top 2/3ish of the pot is dry (don't let them completely dry out). When it comes to watering, frequency is the most important factor. I completely flood my pots with water and fully saturate the soil every time I water. Distilled/filtered water is preferred so that you don't add unnecessary minerals.


Most aroids come from tropical environments with high humidity. 60-80% will work well for most of them. Some species like anthurium splendidum and philodendron lynnhannoniae (those textured leaf aroids) require higher humidity levels of 90+. Most aroids can be acclimated down to lower levels of humidty (30-60%) if transitioned slowly. The main sign of low humidity is brown crisping leaf margins. Too high humidity without adequate air circulation can lead to bacteral/fungal infections (the bad kind). Signs of too high humidity include condensation build up, signs of infection (see disease post) and leaves turning to mush. 

Growing Medium

Aroids can thrive in a variety of growing media. Your choice of media depends on your care schedule, availability, cost, and personal preference. I prefer a soilless mix of coco coir, coco chips, orchid bark, coarse perlite, and horticultural charcoal. This mix drains fast and depending on the size of the pot can dry out in about 3-10 days. I tend to overwater, so this mix works well for me.


Aroids can be propagated in many different ways. For more in-depth information, please see my propagation post. My preference depends on the specific plant. For thick-stemmed philodendron and monstera, I prefer water propagation. For anthurium, I generally prefer sphagnum moss. I have a cloning machine (see DIY cloner post) and use this for most others with thinner stems.