Hindu Rope or Hoya Carnosa
Hoya carnosa does not need much water.
The Hindu rope plant, Hoya carnosa, also known as Krinkle Kurl or wax flower, is a flowering succulent with thick, cupped leaves and a vine-like growth habit. In spring and summer, the pink, dime-sized flowers form in clumps on stalks called peduncles. This slow-growing plant often takes several years to produce flowers. If your Hindu rope plant refuses to bloom, you can induce flowering by giving the plant adequate light, water and fertilizer.
Give the Hindu rope plant at least four hours of direct sunlight per day. If you keep your plant indoors, set it in front of a south-facing window. Alternatively, set the plant under an artificial growing light or fluorescent light.
Water the Hindu rope plant when the soil feels completely dry. Let the soil dry out again before giving more water. In winter, water just enough to prevent the plant's leaves from shriveling.
Provide daytime temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures encourage the Hindu rope plant to bloom. In winter, plants do best when temperatures exceed 45 degrees Fahrenheit, although they will not bloom during this time.
Fertilize the Hindu rope plant during the spring and summer months. Every two months, provide a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to 1/2 strength of the label recommendation. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer high in potassium.
Allow the plant to grow thick stalks, also called peduncles. Flowers will emerge from the peduncles. After blooming, do not remove dead flowers or the peduncles. They will produce more flowers.
How To Take Proper Care Of Your Indoor Bonsai Tree
Bonsai is the reproduction of natural tree forms in miniature. This art form has its origin in Japan and China where it has been practiced for centuries. Bonsai are grown in pots and are totally dependent on you for their care.
With proper care, your bonsai will remain healthy, beautiful and miniature for many years to come. Since your bonsai is a living miniature tree, it will increase in beauty as it matures through the years. The instructions below are just the basics and, therefore, we recommend that you purchase one of the many fine books available on the subject.
PLACEMENT SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
When nightly lows do not dip below 40 degrees, your bonsai should be placed outside, such as on a patio, balcony, terrace or in a garden. Once outside, your bonsai should be positioned where it will receive sufficient sun -- morning sun and afternoon shade is best. A bonsai can be viewed best when it is placed approximately three to four feet high (eye level), such as on a table, wall or bench.
Once nightly lows begin approaching the 40 degree mark, it is time to bring your indoor bonsai inside. The ideal indoor location is on a window sill facing south. An east or west exposure is second best. A northern exposure will work, but will necessitate the use of "grow lights" to provide sufficient light to keep your bonsai healthy. Four to six hours of sunlight per day should suffice. If you can provide more, so much the better.
The watering of your bonsai must never be neglected. Apply water when the soil appears dry -- never allow the soil to become completely dry. If your bonsai is receiving full sun, it may be necessary to water once a day. This schedule may vary with the size pot, type of soil and type of bonsai tree you own. Evaluate each tree's water requirements and adjust your watering schedule to accommodate it. It is a good idea to use a moisture meter until you get to know the requirements of your bonsai tree. Watering should be done with a watering can or hose attachment which should dispense the water in a soft enough manner as not to disturb the soil. Water should be applied until it begins running out of the holes in the bottom of your pot. A good rain is usually a sufficient watering.
During the cold months, when your bonsai is inside, we recommend placing it in a shallow tray filled with a layer of gravel with water added. This provides extra moisture around the tree as the water evaporates and reduces the amount of moisture lost to modern heating systems.
Fertilizing is also necessary if your bonsai is to remain healthy and beautiful. Since your bonsai is growing in such a small amount of soil it is necessary to replenish the soil's supply of nutrients periodically. Any general-purpose liquid fertilizer will do fine and is available at most garden centers. We suggest that fertilizers be used at half their recommended strength. Fertilizer should be applied at least once a month except during winter. Your bonsai will also respond well to foliar feeding, with a water-soluble fertilizer applied every other month as a spray.
This brief explanation of basic care does not cover training. Training deals with the art of bonsai and should be thoroughly understood before undertaking -- or left to a professional. However, most of the true bonsai trees you find have already been through their training period, thus requiring only periodic trimming and pinching to remain miniature.
TRIMMING & PINCHING
Trimming and pinching keep your tree miniature. Pinch and trim back the new growth to the farthest safe point. Never should all of the new growth be removed. A little should be left to sustain the health of the tree. Tropical and sub-tropical trees used for bonsai will require periodic pinching and trimming throughout the year. Since different trees grow at different rates, it is necessary to evaluate each tree’s rate of growth and adjust your trimming and pinching to accommodate it.
Repotting must be performed periodically on all bonsai when their root system has filled the pot. The reasons for repotting are to supply your tree with fresh soil, and to encourage a more compact root system. As a rule, most deciduous trees require repotting every two or three years, while evergreens only need to be repotted every four or five years. Since trees grow at different rates, this schedule will not always hold true, therefore, you should examine your tree's root system each year to determine if it has become pot-bound.
In most cases, the potting process is easy and safe if performed properly and at the right time of the year. Repotting should be done in mid-summer. The tree, along with all of its soil, should be removed from the pot. The outer and bottom most fourth of the tree's root mass should be removed. This is done by raking the soil away, then pruning back the roots. In most cases, it is not good to prune back more than one fourth of the tree's root mass. After this, the tree can be placed back in its original pot or into another. The pot should have screen placed over the drainage holes. Then a thin layer of small gravel is placed in the bottom of the pot for drainage purposes. On top of this gravel is placed the new fresh soil. Place a layer of well-draining soil which is sufficient enough to elevate the tree to its previous height in the pot. After placing the tree back in the pot, the area left vacant by the pruned root mass should be filled in with fresh soil. This fresh soil should be worked in around and under the root mass in such a manner as to avoid leaving any air pockets. After repotting, your bonsai should be thoroughly watered. This can be achieved by submerging the entire pot in a tub of water. Moss or other ground covers can be used to cover the surface of the pot to help prevent soil erosion when watering.
INSECTS & DISEASES
Since your bonsai is a tree in miniature, it can be treated for insects and diseases the same as any other tree. If you discover any insects or diseases, visit our website where you will be able to obtain the necessary products to eliminate the problem.
Care of Your Cactus
In most cases cactus will do well in pots as long as you remember three things. Food, light, water.
When you bring the plant home most of the time it is in a small pot and it probably has grown there for a long time, which means it has used up most of all the nutrients in the soil. So think about repotting and setting up feeding program. Most cactus like several small feeding, better than one large feeding. I like a time release type in the spring and this will feed the plant for six or more months. The other way is to give the plants food three time a year (spring, summer, fall)with a dilute solution of plant food like (5-10-5). This should do them well for the year.
A potted cactus will live and flower in the house if given enough light, place the plant near a bright lighted window, where it will receive light most of the day. On the patio is different place the cactus in a partly shaded area until it become accustom to the sun. Never bring the cactus home and place it in the bright sun, cactus sun burn just like people.
Cactus in pots require more care in watering than in the ground. In the growing period which can be spring & summer or fall & winter. Depending on where they come from, south america or north america, the plant should not be allowed to go completely dry, just moist. In the house watering could be as little as once a month depending on the dryness of the house. But outside as much as every two or three days. Take a wooden pencil or dow rod and place it down through the soil to the bottom of the pot, when removed, if damp soil is on it don't water. After a few try's you will learn when to water.
Potting mix for San Antonio area consist of
1 part potting mix (not soil)
1 part washed sand 1 part course gravel or pumas
Care of Your Cactus
Outside Plants in Ground
Only a select few cactus will survive this climate in san antonio, because of our winter rains. In selecting plants for use here one must look at the habitat from which the plant originates. Most of the cactus that grow in texas, and some parts of mexico and even some from south america will survive here. First one must look at how and where to place the cactus. Selecting a location is a good place to start. It must have sun most of the day. Morning and afternoon sun is better than two o clock sun. The area should have very good drainage, if the yard is level you will have to go to above grown beds. I like to make my beds by placing several large rocks in a circle or some odd shape then remove about a foot off dirt from the center , an replace it with a good mix to the top of the rocks. This will assure that the plants will not stand in water. This is more important in the winter than the summer. Most cactus are not killed by the cold, but when the water inside the plant freezes it expands and splits the outer layer of skin, this allows bacteria to enter the plant and kill it. In the winter I listen to the weather report if we are to get rain then a freeze, I will cover my more tender ones with a box or tarp (not plastic) to help keep them dry.
Potting mixes can be made by mixing one part potting mix, one part washed sand & one part course fill (rocks, pumas, broken pots, etc.) Don`t worry too much drainage is better than not enough. Lets talk about shade. Most cactus can use a little protection from the two o'clock sun. A small plant near by or a large rock will work, just a little help. A large rock next to the plant will help hold heat in the winter and will cut down on watering in the summer.
When planting the cactus I never dig a deep hole down in the potting mix. I want the plant to set on top of the potting mix, this allows the roots to go down to get moisture with out the plant setting in wet soil. A lot of time i will use course river gavel around the base of the plant to keep it off the wet soil. After you plant the cactus give it a small amount of water every couple weeks if it doesn't rain, for about a month then let nature take it course. Feed the plants about once a year. With a dilute solution 10-10-10- or a good plant food.
Lets Build a Cactus Garden
Large rocks, potting mix
To start your garden look for a sunny, well-drained area. For a lot of us, this will be hard to do. Our yards are too flat, so we have to build raised beds. I like to build my bed so that there will be no chance of the plants becoming water logged. First draw an outline on the ground of the garden. Don't make it to large, you can always expand. Now take out some of the top soil (6" to 12") deep. Then place a narrow strip of plastic where the rocks will be, let it extend into the hole a few inches, this will help control grass from getting in the garden. Now place the rocks around the hole, don't make it round or square, do a natural look. If the garden is to be facing the street you can go two or three rocks high in the back. Now fill the hole to the top of the rocks with your soil mix. A good cactus mix is: one part potting mix, one part washed sand, and one part large (gravel, pumas, broken clay pots,) most anything that will help keep the soil loose. If the garden is to be level, mound up the mix to make it show better and increase drainage.
Now Lets Plant
Take all your plants and set them in the garden to give you an idea as to where to put them. Dig a small hole in the mix just deep enough to cover the roots, leaving the cactus body on top of the soil. Cactus that are not winter hardy can be used by leaving them in the pot. Just bury the pot so they can be removed and taken in for the winter. Give the plants a small amount of water ever two or three weeks until they root. Then let nature pay the water bill. Feed once a year with a plant food like 10-10-10 or good house plant food. Never overfeed, this is where a little does better. A few large well placed rocks will add protection from the hot sun, and help hold moisture, and it just looks good. Now go build that garden and save water.
About Curcuma Flowers – Learn How To Grow Curcuma Bulbs
Curcuma is a genus of about 80 tuberous rhizome species. A relative of ginger, curcuma is an attractive perennial plant with ornamental foliage and trumpet-shaped flowers that grows 3 to 5 feet high in the tropical regions of Southern Asia. Keep reading for tips on growing curcuma plants.
About Curcuma Flowers
Also referred to as turmeric, hidden ginger or queen lily, this plant is both fragrant and bitter tasting. The rhizomes are mildly fragrant and produce large lance-shaped leaves. Dense spikes of clustered flowers appear from late spring to mid-summer. These flowers usually last for more than 3 weeks. After the flowering period has finished, the plants become dormant.
Curcumas make excellent flowering container plants and, in some cases, the flowers will actually emerge before the foliage. Some varieties make good cut flowers too. Used in landscapes, curcumas provide interesting texture and a momentary splash of color.
The species C. longa is the source of the spice turmeric, which is derived from its rhizomes after boiling, drying and grinding. The largest quantity of turmeric cultivated is used as a condiment, but it is also used in medicine, cosmetics and in the dying of fabrics. C. longa makes a good cut flower as well as a flowering container plant. The pale yellow flowers (tinged with pink) emerge in spring directly from the rhizome before the leaves and they are very fragrant.
How to Grow Curcuma Bulbs
These plants are tender perennials that do especially well in warm, wet climates (USDA zones 8-11). Under ideal conditions, they can become invasive but, in most conditions, they are not a nuisance.
The rhizomes can be planted from February to June in well-drained soil. Curcumas can grow under different warmth and light conditions. In general, most of them grow well in light shade. Full sun is recommended for only a few varieties.
They need moisture at all times during the growing season but care should be given not to over water.
In areas outside their growing zone, they should be dug up and stored. Curcumas are seasonal plants that are deciduous in winter and can be over wintered quite easily if kept dry. A number of them will also withstand very light frost.
As for problems with diseases and pests, leaf spot and rhizome rot are considered the most common curcuma diseases, while pests affecting curcumas include shoot borers, leaf-eating insects, sucking insects and nematodes.
(cript – anth’ – us)
The name Cryptanthus is derived from the Latin word crypt meaning “hidden” and the Greek word anthos meaning “flowers”. The name is not completely accurate. The small, white, stemless flowers are far from hidden; they might not be flaunted like those of a Guzmania or Aechmea, but perched in the middle of a relatively flat plant they are far from hidden. Their nickname, Earth Stars, is probably more descriptive. Most species are small monolayered plants with little leaf overlap; they look like twinkling stars.
The first Cryptanthus species were discovered in eastern Brazil about 1831. The first documented hybrid, Lubbersiannaus ( bivittatus X bahianus or beuckeri ), was made by Jacob-Makoy in 1884. Although Walter Richter did some work with Cryptanthus in the 1930′s, and Mulford Foster in the 1960′s, the genus was more or less ignored until the 1970′s when Hummel in the United States and Grace Goode in Australia kicked off a hybridizing frenzy that continues to this day.
All Cryptanthus belong to the subfamily Bromelioideae. Almost all of the species in this genus are found in Brazil. They are all terrestrial plants that can be found growing in almost any condition; in the sun, in the shade, in wet areas, and in dry areas, at sea level or high in the mountains. Most plants consist of a large root system and a low spreading rosette of 5 to 20 leaves. The leaves can be mottled or striped, and they come in brown, rose, green, silver, gray, copper, pink, white, or red. Most plants are small, ranging in size from lacerdae which is about 4 inches across to a large bahianus or fosterianus that can be 18-24 inches across.
Most like low to moderate sunlight (65%-75% shade which is about 2500 to 3500 foot candles). Too little sun and they do not color up; too much sun and their colors bleach out. Species like beuckeri with thin leaves will turn brown and die in intense light, but other species, such as bahianus and warasii, enjoy almost full sun. Cryptanthus grow well under artificial light. A two light fixture will suffice, but for optimum growth a four light fixture should be used. They will grow under a 50/50 mix of warm white and cool white bulbs, but the best results are usually obtained when grow lights are used. The plants should be placed 4 to 6 inches away from the light bulbs.
They prefer temperatures in the range of 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night with the temperature rising to 70-90 degrees in the daytime. The nighttime temperature should be 10-15 degrees lower than the daytime temperature. Some species can tolerate temperatures as low as 34 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, however some damage will occur. High temperatures, over 100 degrees, will cause bleaching, but if the plant is well watered it will usually recover rapidly when the temperature moderates.
A slow release fertilizer added to the mix when potting pups will get them off to a good start. Well established plants growing in bright light can be fertilized at every watering with dilute (¼ strength) general purpose fertilizer. Cut back on the fertilizer if the temperature or light is low. Too much fertilization can lead to oversized plants that are susceptible to insect and disease damage. Foliage feeding a Cryptanthus is a waste of good fertilizer, because their leaves lack the ability to absorb water and nutrients.
These plants like to be treated similar to an African violet; not too wet, not too dry; they want to be evenly moist. Soggy plants rot, dry plants shrivel and die. To supply the constant supply of moisture that these plants require, you can water on a regular schedule, or they can be water wicked or placed on a capillary mat. Misting doesn’t help these plants other than providing humidity, because the trichomes on Cryptanthus leaves do not absorb moisture or nutrients.
Use a mix that holds more moisture than the standard mix, but it still must be well drained. A peat based soil less African Violet mix with some water-retaining polymer added makes a good medium. If you want to experiment with soils, be creative. One such creative mix is 4 parts Canadian peat, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite, 1 part sharp sand, 1 part composted cow manure.
Smaller plants will grow well in 4 or 4.5 inch pots, however the larger varieties are best potted in 5 or 6 inch pots. Plastic pots are preferable to clay pots because plastic pots are lighter and hold moisture for a longer period of time. Cryptanthus are shallow rooted so an azalea pot is deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. You can use standard pots, but they take more soil to fill, have a higher center of gravity, and dry out faster.
You can grow plants from seed, but starting with a pup is quicker and easier. Near blooming time plants produce pups in the leaf axils, on stolens, or from the base of the plant. When the pups are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant give them a gentle tug; if they separate easily, they are mature enough to survive on their own. Pot the pups in the same sized pot using the same type of mix that the mother was growing in. The pups usually will root faster if you remove any brown lower leaves, and treat the exposed portion with a rooting compound.
Properly spaced plants growing in a well ventilated area are seldom bothered by disease or insects. Occasionally a plant will be attacked by a fungus, but recovery is rapid when treated early with a fungicide. Insect problems are usually restricted to the occasional grasshopper or slug bite, although Mealybugs can be a problem when growing indoors.
Almost any Cryptanthus (with the exception of a few of the specie plants) will grow well in the Houston area. Some of the more popular are species are:
acaulis, bivittatus, bivittatus ‘Pink Starlite’, bivittatus ‘Ruby’, beuckeri, fosterianus, fosterianus ‘Elaine’, marginatus ‘Arlety’, ‘Ti’, zonatus, zonatus ‘Nivea’
Some of the more popular are hybrids are:
‘Fire and Ice’
‘Green N’ Red’
The following species are sun lovers and will take very bright light (40%-50% shade cloth) when properly acclimated.
Houseplant Dracaena: How To Care For A Dracaena Houseplant
You may already be growing a dracaena plant as part of your houseplant collection; in fact, you may have several of the easy-care houseplant dracaena. If so, you have probably learned that dracaena plant care is fairly simple. Colorful strap-like foliage appears on many dracaena houseplant varieties. Many cultivars are large, tree-like plants while others are smaller. The houseplant dracaena exhibits an upright form, no matter the cultivar.
Growing a Dracaena Plant
Stems of the houseplant dracaena are called canes and can be pruned at any point to keep plants under control. Dracaena houseplant varieties D. fragrans and D. deremensis have cultivars that can reach from 6 to 10 feet, so height control by pruning canes of older plants is useful when growing a dracaena plant. New foliage will sprout just below the cut in a few weeks. Propagate the removed cane for another plant.
Dracaena plant care involves keeping the soil of houseplant dracaena moist, but never soggy. Drooping or yellowing leaves indicates over-watering or poor drainage. Learning how to care for a dracaena includes finding well-draining soil in which to grow your houseplant dracaena.
Appropriate fertilization is also a part of how to care for a dracaena. Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Reduce fertilization to once a month during fall. When growing a dracaena plant, stop feeding during winter months, as the plant benefits from a period of dormancy.
When growing a dracaena plant, locate it in brightly filtered light, such as through a sheer curtain in front of a sunny window.
Room temperatures of 60 to 70°F. are best during the day, with night temperatures about 10°F. cooler. However, the dracaena is forgiving of temperatures, as long as they are not too cold.
Now that you know the basics of dracaena plant care, why not grow one of the many dracaena houseplant varieties in your home today.
Dracaena Sanderiana or Lucky Bamboo
Caring For Lucky Bamboo – Dracaena Sanderiana
Dracaena sanderiana has many common names associated with it: Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Dracaena, Ribbon Plant, Belgian Evergreen, Chinese Water Bamboo, Friendship Bamboo, Water Bamboo. Although many of these names contain the word bamboo, Dracaena sanderiana is in no way a member of the true bamboo family.
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is native to Cameroon in West Africa. It has become widely popular due to its ability to intertwine eastern mysticism with western new age culture. Lucky bamboo is a popular Feng Shui plant.
Dracaena sanderiana (Lucky bamboo) can be grown hydroponically or in soil.
Lucky Bamboo Care
Light Requirement for Lucky Bamboo: bright indirect light. In it’s native environment Dracaena sanderiana receive an ample amount of light. However, the surrounding plants shade the lucky bamboo from direct exposure to the sun. Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn. It is important that the lucky bamboo receive adequate light; lack of light will cause week growth, stretching and poor color. Low light conditions will, also, cause stunted growth and inhibit new leaf growth. The light requirements for lucky bamboo are the same whether grown in water or in soil.
Water Requirements for Lucky Bamboo
In water: Water level should be at least a couple of inches. Make sure the roots are covered with water; add water to keep the water level constant. Every couple of weeks change the water completely. Refill the container with clean water. Lucky bamboo is sensitive to the salts and chemicals in tap water; use distilled water or rainwater if possible. If you must use tap water let it set in an open container over night; this will let the chlorine evaporate. However, there is no way to remove the fluoride from the tap water. Fluoride can cause leaf tips to turn brown. Low humidity can cause leaf tips to turn brown as well. Mist the leaves of the lucky bamboo every couple of days if lack of humidity is a problem.
In soil: should be kept moderately moist. Lucky bamboo doe not like to be soggy or dry. To determine water needs stick your finger in the soil up to your first knuckle (about an inch deep); if soil feels dry, water. It is very important for lucky bamboo to have good drainage good drainage when planted in soil. Lucky bamboo in soil will need to be misted every couple of days.
Fertilizer Requirements for Lucky Bamboo
Lucky bamboo doesn’t require much fertilizer and can survive in pure water for quite a while. When you bring lucky bamboo home don’t fertilize it for a couple of weeks; this will prevent over-fertilization. In fact, if your lucky bamboo turns yellow when you bring it home immediately change the water. Yellow leaves on lucky bamboo are an indicator of over-fertilization. Anytime your lucky bamboo has been over-fertilized, change the water and don’t fertilize for several months.
In water: Fertilize your lucky bamboo every couple of months (you can go longer). You can use a little dirty aquarium water (if you have it) or a diluted (tenth of the normal strength) water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. The best time to fertilize is when you change the water.
In soil: You can fertilize with the same type of fertilizer as above, however you will need to fertilize once a month. Just replace one of your regular water cycles with the diluted water-soluble fertilizer.
Lucky Bamboo Problems, Pests & Diseases
Leaves with brown tips – Fluoride burn or lack of humidity.
What to do: Fluoride Burn – replace water with clean distilled or rain water; Dry Air – mist leaves every day or every couple of days.
Yellow Leaves – too much light or fertilizer.
What to do: Too much light – place more distance between the lucky bamboo & the light; too much fertilizer – replace water with distilled water & don’t fertilize for several months.
Stalks yellow from bottom up – too much fertilizer.
What to do: Replace with distilled water and don’t fertilize. At the point that the stalks turn yellow it is often too late for the lucky bamboo to recover. It is often better to cut the green top off and start a new plant. If you have more than one stalk in a container, but only one is yellow, remove the yellow stalk and change the water.
Brown or mushy stalks – root-rot; roots have rotted from over-fertilization or over-watering (plants potted in soil).
What to do: Cut the healthy tops off and root new plants.
White sticky substance on stalks, snail-looking growth on stalks or cottony substances on stalks – insects. Scale and spider mites can be, although rarely, a problem for lucky bamboo.
What to do: Clean the container and pebbles with soapy water (a few drops of dish detergent in water works well) and rinse completely. Wipe each stalk gentle with the soapy water and rinse well. Place the clean stalks in the container and fill with distilled water or rainwater.
Algae growing in water and on container – too much fertilizer and light. Algae grows in nutrient rich water with ample light.
What to do: Clean the lucky bamboo, pebbles and container with soapy water following the same procedure as above. Place the lucky bamboo in the container and fill with water. You might need to move it a little farther from the light or switch to an opaque container.
Other Conditions Needed for Lucky Bamboo
Temperature: Lucky bamboo needs moderate temperature. Normal household temperatures are fine. However, placing lucky bamboo next to an air vent or a door can cause problems due to rapid temperature changes.
Propagation: New Lucky Bamboo can be created through vegetative propagation. Begin by finding a node – the raised rings that grow around the stalk – make a cut about an inch above the node. You will now have a top and a bottom. Leave the bottom in the original container. The bottom will have no leaves and after a few days will need to be lightly misted every few days to encourage new growth. The tops will have all of the leaves. Take the top and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Let it dry overnight before placing the top in the original container or a new container.
Ficus Tree Care: Tips For Growing Ficus Indoors
By Heather Rhoades
Ficus trees are a common plant in the home and office, mainly due to the fact that they look like a typical tree with a single trunk and a spreading canopy. But for all of their popularity, ficus plants are finicky. However, if you know how to care for a ficus tree, you’ll be better equipped with keeping it healthy and happy in your home for years.
Learn About Ficus Houseplants
What is commonly referred to as a ficus is technically a weeping fig. It’s a member of the Ficus genus of plants, which also includes rubber trees and fig fruit trees. But when it comes to houseplants, most people refer to a weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) as simply a ficus.
Ficus trees can maintain their tree-like shape regardless of their size, so this makes them ideal for bonsais or for massive houseplants in large spaces. Their leaves can be either dark green or variegated. In recent years, some imaginative nurseries have started to take advantage of their pliable trunks to braid or twist the plants into different forms.
Growing Ficus Indoors
Most ficus trees enjoy bright indirect or filtered light with variegated varieties happily able to take medium light. Bright, direct light may result in scalding of the leaves and leaf loss.
Ficus trees also cannot tolerate low temperatures or drafts. They need to be kept in temperatures above 60 degrees F. and actually prefer temperatures above 70 degrees F. Cold drafts from windows or doors will harm them, so make sure to place them somewhere where drafts will not be an issue.
How to Care for a Ficus Tree
When growing ficus indoors, it is important to maintain a relatively high humidity around the plant. Regular misting or setting the ficus tree on a pebble tray filled with water is a great way to increase their humidity. But keep in mind that while they like high humidity, they do not like overly wet roots. Therefore, when watering, always check the top of the soil first. If the top of the soil is wet, do not water as this means they have enough moisture. If the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, this indicates that they need water.
Also while caring for a ficus plant, you should be aware that they are rapid growers and require plenty of nutrients to grow well. You will need to fertilize once a month in the spring and summer and once every two months in the fall and winter.
Common Problems When Caring for a Ficus Plant
Almost everyone who has owned a ficus tree has asked themselves at some point “Why is my ficus tree dropping its leaves?” A ficus tree losing its leaves is the most common problem these plants have. Leaf drop is a ficus tree’s standard reaction to stress, whether it’s from any of the following:
Under watering or over watering
Too little light
Relocation or repotting
Change in temperature (too hot or cold)
If your ficus is losing its leaves, go through the checklist of proper ficus tree care and correct anything that you find wrong.
Ficus are also prone to pests such as mealybugs, scale and spider mites. A healthy ficus tree will not see these problems, but a stressed ficus tree (likely losing leaves) will surely develop a pest problem quickly. “Sap” dripping from a ficus houseplant, which is actually honeydew from an invading pest, is a sure sign of an infestation. Treating the plant with neem oil is a good way to handle any of these pest issues.
Care Instructions for Pothos Indoor Plants
Finding the perfect houseplant for a dimly lit room or other low-light area allows you to add lush natural greenery to these spaces. The pothos plant thrives in low light and the variegated foliage provides visual interest and color to the dim areas. Pothos produces large green and golden yellow leaves along tall vines. The vines can be left to hang from the pot as a cascade of foliage or they can be trained to climb up stakes and other supports. Proper care ensures your pothos remains attractive year-round.
Place the pothos in a room that is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Set it out of direct sunlight. Pothos tolerates dim, artificial light to bright indirect light, but is burned by direct sun.
Check the soil moisture in the pot every one to two weeks. Water when the top one to two inches of soil begins to feel dry. Water from the top of the pot until the excess water drains from the bottom, then empty the accumulated water from the drip tray after watering.
Fertilize the pothos every two months. Feed it with a balanced, soluble fertilizer at the label-recommended rate for your plant's size.
Trim dead leaves from the plant with shears, cutting the leaves where they join the vine. Cut back the tips of the vines to the desired length one or two times a year to control the plant's height. Cut off no more than one-third of the plant's height at each trimming.
Repot the pothos when the roots block the drainage hole or when the plant begins to lift out of the soil. Choose a pot one to two sizes larger than the current container. Plant the pothos in the new pot at the same depth it was growing in its old pot. Pothos may go five or more years before requiring repotting.
Succulents are booming in popularity for two simple reasons: they are beautiful and nearly indestructible.
Technically, a succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America. Fortunately for us, this adaptive mechanism has resulted in an incredible variety of interesting leaf forms and plant shapes, including paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves.
As a group, succulents include some of the most well-known plants, such as the aloe and agave, and many almost unknown plants. Cacti are a unique subset of the succulent group. Succulents make excellent display plants in dish gardens.
No matter what kind of succulent you're growing, the rules are pretty similar between the different species. Here are the general rules for growing top-quality succulents:
Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Watch the leaves for indications that the light level is correct. Some species will scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. The leaves will turn brown or white as the plant bleaches out and the soft tissues are destroyed. Alternatively, an underlit succulent will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely spaced leaves. This condition is known as etoliation. The solution is to provide better light and prune the plant back to its original shape. Many kinds of succulents will thrive outdoors in the summer.
Succulents are much more cold-tolerant than many people assume. As in the desert, where there is often a marked contrast between night and day, succulents thrive in colder nights, down to even 40ºF. Ideally, succulents prefer daytime temperatures between 70ºF and about 85ºF and nighttime temperatures between 50ºF and 55ºF.
Succulents should be watered generously in the summer. The potting mix should be allowed to dry between waterings, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure. Be aware, though, that an overwatered succulent might at first plump up and look very healthy. However, the cause of death may have already set in underground, with rot spreading upward from the root system. A succulent should never be allowed to sit in water. The following are signs of under- or overwatering:
Overwatering. Overwatered plants are soft and discolored. The leaves may be yellow or white and lose their color. A plant in this condition may be beyond repair, but you can still remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. If they are brown and rotted, cut away dead roots and repot into drier potting media, or take a cutting and propagate the parent plant.
Underwatering: Succulents prefer generous water during the growing season (spring and summer). An underwatered plant will first stop growing, then begin to shed leaves. Alternatively, the plant may develop brown spots on the leaves.
Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture that's designed for cacti and succulents. If you don't have access to a specialized mix, considering modifying a normal potting mix with an inorganic agent like perlite to increase aeration and drainage. These plants generally have shallow roots that form a dense mat just under the soil surface.
During the summer growing season, fertilize as you would with other houseplants. Stop fertilizing entirely during the winter.
Tillandsia or Air Plant
Air Plant Care Instructions
It is important to maintain Tillandsias properly
The key factors are Light, Water, and Air Circulation
Lighting for Tillandsias should be bright but filtered (April - October). They should not be left in the direct sun in the summer months (this will cause the plant to become sunburned ). Tillandsias love direct sun (November - March). Tillandsias may be grown in the house directly in front of a window. Fresh moving air is advisable, but remember, the most important care need is bright filtered light.
BEWARE: Trees, overhangs and window tinting can rob your plants of needed light. Place plants no further away than 3 feet in front of a bright window.
Full spectrum artificial light (fluorescent) is best. Plant should be no further than 36" from the fluorescent tubes and can be as close as 6". A four-tube 48" fixture works well. Bulbs can be any full spectrum type Gro-Lux, Repta-Sun, Vita-Lite, etc. Light should be set with a timer, 12 hours per day.
Thoroughly wet your Tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity.
If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsias will not survive in standing water.
Under-watering is evidenced by an exaggerating of the natural concave curve of each leaf.
Following each watering, Tillandsias should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in 4 hours or less. Do not keep plants constantly wet or moist.
Optimum temperature range for tillandsias is 50 - 90 degrees F.
Use Bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22) twice a month. It is GREAT for blooming and reproduction! Other water-soluble fertilizers can be used at 1/4 strength (Rapid Grow, Miracle-Grow, etc.) if Bromeliad fertilizer is not available.
Tillandsias in Vivariums and Other Animal Enclosures:
Enclosures must have at least one side of screen mesh. Full spectrum fluorescent lighting is Ideal full spectrum incandescent lighting will be sufficient when care is taken to avoid placing heat producing bulbs too close to plants The higher the wattage, the more distance should be used to avoid burning or heat-damage to plants. Good air circulation and proper watering schedule must be maintained.
Mount plants on almost anything, - Driftwood, manzanita, seashells, coral, lava rock, crystals using a non - water soluble glue such as E-6000 Adhesive. Set plants on the prospective mount. If you like the arrangement, proceed. Place adhesive on mount, and then place plants onto that area. Larger plants may be supported with fishing line until glue dries. Cover exposed adhesive area with sawdust or sand to camouflage.
Placement in Store:
Tillandsias are perfect impulse-buys. Display near the cash register. They appeal to bird and reptile owners, and specialty plant collectors, such as orchid and cactus growers.
Unmounted (Bareroot) Plants:
Most of your sales can be bareroot plants! A full stock of unmounted plants enables customers to create their own arrangements. Remove any plant from your display that shows signs of neglect.
Lighting for Tillandsias should be bright but filtered (April - October). Tillandsias love direct sun (November - March). They grow best in a greenhouse or a frost - protected, shaded patio. They also can be grown in the house directly in front of a window. Fresh moving air is advisable but remember the most important care need is bright filtered light.
Thoroughly wet your Tillandsia 2-3 times per week; more often in a hot, dry environment; less often in a cool, humid one. Plants should be given enough light and air circulation to dry in no longer than 4 hours after watering. Spray misting is insufficient as the sole means of watering but may be beneficial between regular waterings in dry climates to increase the humidity. If the plant is in a shell, be sure to empty the water out. Tillandsias will not survive in standing water. An exaggerating of natural concave curve of each leaf is evidence of under-watering.
Optimum temperature range for tillandsias kept outdoors is 50 - 90 degrees F.
Use Bromeliad fertilizer (17-8-22) twice a month. It is GREAT for blooming and reproduction! Other water-soluble fertilizers can be used at 1/4 strength (Rapid Grow, Miracle-Grow, etc.) if Bromeliad fertilizer is not available.
Nepenthes or Pitcher Plants
Caring for Nepenthes, Tropical Pitcher Plants or Monkey Cups
Nepenthes are tropical pitcher plants native to parts of South East Asia, India, Madagascar and Australia. Most are vines, but some remain compact in habit. The name "Monkey Cups" comes from monkeys occasionally drinking the fluid in the pitchers.
The pitcher is actually a swelling of the mid-vein in the leaf. Insects are attracted to this because of nectar secretions and coloration. The slippery rim (peristome) and inner walls of the pitcher encourage insects to fall into the digestive fluid at the bottom of the trap. Nutrients are absorbed from this "soup."
If you grow Orchids in a greenhouse, then Nepenthes should thrive with the orchids, needing similar conditions. See our terrarium guide for instructions on successful terrarium culture.
Sun: Nepenthes generally like bright light without much direct sun. About 50% sun or dappled shade is good. Plant lights often work well if they are broad spectrum and are kept just far enough away to prevent overheating or scorching. Thin, spindly plants or poor coloration are a sign of too weak a light. Sun burn usually appears as red or dead zones on the upper most growth, facing the sun or light.
Water: Do not allow Nepenthes to dry out completely. They benefit from moist media and occasional flooding to wash away any accumulated salts. Use relatively clean water such as rain, distilled or purified water. Tap water can be used in many localities if the water is low in salts. Low level chlorine does not seem to be a problem.
Humidity: While Nepenthes often tolerate low humidity, they usually stop making pitchers. Humid environments such as greenhouses, terrariums or even tents made from sticks and clear plastic bags can provide the needed humidity. Be sure to provide some ventilation to prevent overheating and stagnant air. Many people put their plants outdoors during warm, humid weather. Some shade must be provided and bring the plant(s) indoors before temperatures drop below 50°F.
Temperature: Most types thrive at temperatures between 55-95°F. Highland species such as N.burbidgeae, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. villosa and others prefer cool nights near 55-60 and days around 70-85°F. N. fusca and N. sanguinea prefer cooler, but tolerate warmer culture. The lowland types are more tolerant of warmer conditions and usually are easier to grow. This group includes: N.alata, N. eymae (infundibuliformis, eymai), N.khasiana, N. mirabilis, N. ventricosa, N. ampullaria, N. bicalcarata, N. gracilis, N. maxima and many others. Most of the available hybrids are also in this category. N. x 'Dyeriana,' N. x'Chelsonii,' N. x'Williamsii', N. x'Ventrata', N. x'Superba' and other hybrids are usually the easiest to grow and have been selected for colorful pitchers.
Planting Mixes: There are many porous, low-fertility mixes that work. These contain tree fern fiber, chopped fir bark, long fiber sphagnum moss, peat moss and perlite. The media should be well drained and open enough so air reaches the roots. We use unmilled sphagnum with about 40% perlite mixed in for most Nepenthes. Combinations of the above ingredients also work well. Repot if the media breaks down, the plant dries out too quickly, or plant size indicates a bigger pot. Do not use clay pots as salts tend to build up in them. Nepenthes roots are typically blackish and fine. Vibrating the container is a good way to settle the media around the roots; pushing the media down can damage these fine roots. Water well after repotting; this will also help settle the mix around the roots. We do not recommend fertilizers added to media.
Feeding: If you are growing the plant where it cannot catch insects for long periods, you can add an occasional small insect such as a fly, a cockroach or a few very small insects to mature pitchers. This is not normally needed. Many types benefit from 1/8 teaspoon of Miracid™ fertilizer per quart of water, this solution should be added only to the pitchers until they are 3/4 filled.
General: After situating the plant where it is to grow, add a little water to the pitchers, about 1/2- 3/4 inch. In shipping or transporting, the fluid normally present gets dumped out and sometimes these pitchers will dry out and die. Refilling helps combat this. Pitchers and leaves die naturally as the plant grows and these should be trimmed off for best culture. Since many Nepenthes are vines, we suggest pruning the green stems back to encourage side shoots and a fuller plant. The vines can also be trained up a stake or left to hang low in an elevated container such as a hanging basket. Allowing the vines to descend often encourages the plant to put up new basal shoots, resulting in a prettier plant. It is best not to prune more than 30% of the foliage off the plant at any one time. If the plant fails to make pitchers, increase humidity. Some growers mist their plants with pure water but we do not advise this as it can encourage leaf spotting or diseases. Adding air to the water can help growth by reducing the chance of stagnation. Simply put the water in a clean tightly-covered container, half-filled, and shake it vigorously to aerate it before watering. Avoid dripping cold water on the leaves. Nepenthes can live for many years with proper care.
Pachira aquatica or Money Tree
Money Tree Plant Care
Botanical Name: Pachira aquatica
Money tree plant care is easy. Just put it where it'll get some indirect sunlight. Water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Cut back on water in the winter when growth slows. Use a container with drainage holes and take care not to overwater your plant because it can get root rot.
Its thin trunks are often braided by growers to add to its appeal. Each spoke-like leaf has 5-7 bright-green leaflets.
Don't overpot. Use a smallish container because a too-big container will hold too much water. Soggy potting mix is often the biggest problem with this plant, causing stem and root rot and yellowing/dropping leaves. Growing money tree in a small container will also prevent it from getting too big. In fact, this tree can be grown as a bonsai. Regular pruning will also help control its size. Pinch or prune off growing tips.
Give it a winter rest. Keep your money tree warm and in bright light year-round. But cut back on water and stop fertilizing in the winter months because growth slows down with lower light levels.
Brown, crispy leaves is a symptom of dry air or low light levels. Plants often are in shock when moved to a new home because they are adjusting to a new environment. Keep your plant away from heat/AC vents and cold drafts from windows or doorways.
Dropped leaves are also caused by relocation shock. If your new tree drops its leaves, don't give up on it. They'll grow back with good care. Place your money tree in a bright location and leave it there. Increasing humidity around the plant can help. While it's tempting to overwater a shedding plant, don't. It only makes the problem worse.
According to feng shui, money tree will bring good luck and fortune. No, your money tree plant won't actually grow currency, but it is a good investment. Treat it well, and you'll enjoy this delightful tree for many years.
Money Tree Care Tips
Origin: Central and South America
Height: Up to 10 ft (3 m) tall
Light: Bright light, but no direct sun. Thrives under fluorescent light.
Water: Money tree plant likes water in big gulps. Water thoroughly, until water comes out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, then allow the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) to dry out between waterings. Avoid getting water on the trunk, which causes stem rot. Water less in winter.
Humidity: Moderate to high. Try to keep the relative humidity at 50% or higher. Set the pot on a tray of wet pebbles to raise the humidity around it.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C;
Soil: Use a peat moss-based potting mix with perlite or sand added for good drainage.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Seeds or stem tips. Take stem tip cuttings in spring, with at least 2 leaf nodes attached. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder then place it in moist potting mix. Be patient -- it can take several weeks to root.
Calathea or Prayer Plant
How to Grow a Prayer Plant
Although prayer plant houseplant is somewhat tolerant of low light conditions, it usually does best in bright, indirect sunlight. The prayer plant prefers well-drained soil and requires high humidity to thrive. Prayer plant houseplants should be kept moist, but not soggy. Use warm water and feed prayer plant houseplants every two weeks, from spring through fall, with fertilizer.
During winter dormancy, the soil should be kept drier. Keep in mind, however, that dry air can also be a problem in winter; therefore, placing the prayer plant among several houseplants can help create more humid conditions, misting daily with warm water. Placing a bowl of water near the plant or setting its container on top of a shallow dish of pebbles and water is also helpful. However, do not allow the prayer plant to sit directly in water. Ideal temperatures for the prayer plant are between 60 and 80 degrees F.
Prayer Plant Propagation
Repot in early spring, at which time, prayer plant propagation can be accomplished by division. Use ordinary potting soil when repotting the prayer plant. Stem cuttings can also be taken from spring to early summer. Take cuttings just below the nodes closest to the bottom of the stem. Cuttings can be placed in a mixture of moist peat and perlite and covered with plastic to retain moisture levels. You may want to poke a few air holes in the plastic to allow for adequate ventilation as well. Place the cuttings in a sunny location.
If a piece of prayer plant has broken off, dip the broken end into rooting hormone and place it in distilled water. Change the water every other day. Wait until the roots are about an inch long before taking it out to place in soil. Keep in mind with prayer plant propagation that there needs to be a least a small portion of stem on the leaves in order for the piece to take root. Alternatively, the piece can be rooted directly in soil, as with cuttings.
Prayer Plant Pest Problems
Since prayer plant houseplants may be prone to pests such as spider mites, mealybugs and aphids, it is a good idea to inspect new plants thoroughly before bringing them indoors. You may also want to occasionally check prayer plant houseplants as an added precaution during watering or feeding intervals for any problems that may arise.
Potted Citrus Trees
Potted Citrus Tree Care
A citrus tree is simple to grow in a pot.
With its deep-green leaves, fragrant flowers and brightly colored fruit, a citrus tree in a pot can provide an attractive addition to your deck or patio, not to mention the delight gained from picking your own fruit. A dwarf citrus tree works best for a pot. Your choices include a dwarf “Ponderosa” lemon tree that reaches 4 feet tall and a dwarf “Washington” navel orange tree reaching 8 to 12 feet tall, both of which thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9a through 11, as do all citrus trees.
Plants in containers normally need more water than plants in the ground. In the case of a citrus tree, however, overwatering leads to nutrients being washed away and to compacted soil that robs the soil of air. Although a potted citrus tree may need watering twice per week if the weather is really hot, it needs the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before it is watered. Water the soil enough to let the water drain from the bottom of the container, and watch for yellow-green leaves, which may indicate an iron loss from overwatering.
All citrus trees need fast-draining, organic soil, such as a commercial potting soil with compost added. The trees do best in acidic or slightly alkaline soil. Soil-testing kits are available at nurseries, but agricultural laboratories provide the the most accurate tests for soil's pH level. Adjust soil's pH to a lower acidic level by adding calcium carbonate, or raise the soil's acidic level by adding sulfur. Both products are available at nurseries.
Tree varieties that produce sweet citrus, such as tangerines and grapefruit, need lots of heat for their fruit to ripen fully. Trees that produce more sour citrus, such as lemons and limes, need less warmth. The best placement for a potted citrus tree is against a wall where it is protected from wind and receives reflected sunlight in addition to at least six hours of full sun each day. Citrus trees can grow in any U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone if you move the trees indoors for winter to a spot that receives the daily required amount of sunlight.
Like all fruit trees, citrus trees are heavy feeders and need extra nitrogen to produce the highest quality fruit. Using a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer specially designed for citrus trees was recommended by Liz Rottger, a master gardener, in a Contra Costa Times article published in 2010. She applies the fertilizer once each month from March to September. If you live in an area with heavy frosts, begin feeding fertilizer to your citrus tree in late winter, and stop in late summer.
Because most citrus tree roots grow near the soil surface, mulching a tree's soil with compost or other organic material will help the soil retain moisture. Pruning leggy branches on your citrus tree will encourage dense growth at the tree's top, and pruning throughout the tree will help it maintain a balanced shape. Texas A&M University horticulturists recommend repotting a citrus tree every three to four years. A citrus tree usually outgrows its container in that time.
Calamondin Orange Tree
Key Lime Tree
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or ZZ Plant
How To Care For The ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
The ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas zamiifolia has become very popular and is grown and used indoors around the world.
Interior plantscapers always look for “new” plants they can use indoors to provide a different look. Growers always look at new items to offer customers something different.
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Perfect Houseplant Qualifications
Zamioculcas fits just about every need of what a new indoor plant introduction should be.
Handles low light
Low water requirements
Tough under indoor conditions
Handles neglect well
ZZ Not New
The ZZ has been around for decades. In fact I grew it 35 years ago but wasn’t smart enough to introduce it :).
It is a member of the aroid family along with the philodendron, spathiphyllum and aglaonema.
You would never know it though. It looks and resembles the cycad – Zamia furfuracea or cardboard palm.
The base of the plant stalks are swollen from which the stem host dark green, naturally shiny leaves. It’s easy to think that the plant has had leaf shine put on it. We don’t recommend leaf shine.
One Rule Of Best Indoor Plants
One rule almost all the BEST indoor plants have is – they grow slow. The ZZ is no exception.
It is easy to propagate but develops slowly. Most of the plants are grown from leaf cuttings just as you would a jade plant.
Plants are grown in 4 inch up through 14 inch pots. Large plants can reach 3 feet in height and I have seen a very old plant of 4 foot.
The average height of most of the plants grown is about 16 – 28 inches, and the plant can have a wide spread on it. It works well as an accent plant in areas where it can"spread its wings".
Zamioculcas can be put right along side the sanseveira and aspidistra – tough. It handles low light well and the plant even grows.
ZZ handles Low Light Levels Well
Even though the plant does well in lower light levels, by placing it in brighter light it performs even better.
Keep the plant away from any hot direct afternoon sun as the plant can burn. A good bright filtered afternoon sun would work well.
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Don’t Sit In Water
Don’t let this plant sit in water or stay wet. This plant is better to keep on the dry side. If you water it too much or the plant sits in water you may find yellowing leaves.
A little more about watering from my side. I purposely neglect plants to test their toughness. In my office I have a ZZ which has been inside for about 16 months.
Let me tell you – I don’t do anything to it. It looks pretty good considering I have not watered it… Ready for this – drum roll please – 6 times in 16 months.
The best part of the ZZ may not be its toughness, or low light ability or low water requirements – but no insect problems. Or none that anyone has been able to identify.
Eliminating this one element makes caring for your plant much easier. The plant has left you with only a couple of things to manage – light and water, what could be easier.
The downside, yes there always is a downside. The downside is that ZZ is slow growing so the production is slow. Ask at your favorite nursery or garden center about the ZZ – the Zamioculcas Zamiifolia.
Sansevieria or Mother-in-Laws Tongue
Growing a Sansevieria as a Potted Indoor Plant
Mother-in-law's tongue, also known as Sansevieria or Snake Plant makes an ideal indoor plant. It produces elegant variegated foliage, yet is an easy to care for plant.
Mother-in-law's tongue, also known as Sansevieria or Snake Plant makes an ideal indoor plant. It produces elegant variegated foliage, yet is an easy to care for plant.
Potted Indoor Plant (Larry O'Sullivan)
Mother-in-law’s tongue plants are ornamental houseplants with rigid, upright, succulent leaves. The leaves can be dark green with lighter green or gray horizontal markings along them and the most distinguishing feature of this plant is its variegated yellow edging. Some leaves can even be more gray than green. The botanical name for this plant is Sansevieria and it is also known as Snake Plant. It is native to Africa and is supposed to get its mother-in-law name from its bitter taste. Mother-in-law’s Tongue plants grow abundantly outdoors in the tropics.
Growing a Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plant
This is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and once the ideal conditions are met it will happily grow in the same pot and spot for years. Mother-in-law’s tongue plants grow from an underground rhizome and are easily propagated but in the main they can be bought in shops and garden centers.
Choose a plant which is in moist to dry compost. Check the base of each leaf for any signs of softness, soft stems will indicate root-rot.
If the pot is sufficient for a few year's growth position it in a bright spot, windowsills are favorites but do not allow direct sunlight.
A plant placed in natural bright light will grow faster and have deeper yellow edges but lesser light will suffice.
Mother-in-law’s tongue plants are quite happy in a pot-bound situation and only need re-potting once they have grown so tall as to have balance problems.
Fertilize during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer.
The one most important aspect of successfully growing a Mother-in-law’s tongue plant is water, so important that it deserves its own set of rules.
Never allow the plant to sit in a saucer of water.
Allow the soil to dry out occasionally, especially during the winter months.
Water the plant thoroughly and allow it to drain freely and completely before placing it back in its decorative pot or whatever.
Remember the less light the plant is getting the less water is required.
Too much water will result in root rot and failure.
Too little water will cause the leaves to wrinkle and lead to failure.
Problems with Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plants
The main problem with these long lived plants is root rot caused by over-watering. The first sign of root rot is softness at the base of each leaf and also when the leaves are easily separated from the underground rhizome. Once root rot is established there is nothing for it but to remove the plant from the pot. Ruthlessly cut away any spoiled stems, even stems with a minimum of softness will not survive.
Once the rotten stems have been cleaned away re-pot in fresh compost. The new plant will benefit by the removal of the damaged leaves and in the new compost the rhizome will be rejuvenated and start sprouting new shoots in no time.
Propagating a Mother-in-law’s Tongue Plant
Increasing the stock with this plant is easy and is done very much the same way as root rot is removed. Lift the plant, look for new shoot tips along the rhizome and cut through the flesh between the parent plant and the new tip – then plant the new cutting with the tip just peeing through the compost. If no new tips are visible just cut through the rhizome and continue as above.
Mother-in-law’s tongue plants are toxic and are sometimes confused with Dieffenbachia or Dumbcane plants as they both can cause swelling in the mouth and throat if ingested even in small quantities.
For the indoor gardener, Sansevieria plants have everything. Long lasting, elegant variegated foliage and very low maintenance.
Aglaonema: Essential Recommendations on Propagation, Pruning and Cultivation of the Most Popular House Plant
Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen is an extremely popular house plant, which is very easy to grow. I have a few types of aglaonema at home and plan to plant a few more. As there are about 21 species of this beautiful plant, there is always a wide scope to choose from. You can easily view pictures of the plant I am going to tell you about and choose the one you would like to have in your apartment or house.
Though aglaonema plants are mainly found in the Philippines and Malaysia, they have accommodated to our climate and temperature changes. Caring for aglaonema in a proper way you will have beautiful plants that will definitely amaze everyone around.
Most Popular Aglaonema Plants
I’d like to begin with the definition what aglaonema is. This is a perennial evergreen plant that is able to survive in poorly lighted or badly ventilated areas. The variety of its species makes it possible to choose the plants one likes the most, relying on aglaonema images.
These plants have large glossy oval-shaped leaves and small flowers, which colors change from white to greenish white or even red.
Aglaonema commutatum is one of the commonest species that are available to be grown as house plants. In fact, I have the one at home as well. However, I prefer Aglaonema pictum and Aglaonema crispum that are hybrids with ornate leaf patterns and colors. You can also consider, Silver King and Silver Queen, Malay Beauty and Emerald Bay as great species for home decoration.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of aglaonema is the fact this plant can be planted in pots and places outdoors to give a tropical look to your garden in summer and decorate your indoor space in winter.
Aglaonema Seeds for Propagation Purposes
Seeds of this plant can be used to propagate the species. When the fruit becomes red, it means it is ripe and must be harvested. Keep the seeds in sphagnum moss at a depth of 0.5 inch at a temperature 70-80F. If the temperature’s lower, the germination percentage is lower as well and takes longer.
As a rule, the process of germination takes up to 3 months, however, if the seeds are fresh, they can germinate within 2-3 weeks. This sort of propagation is very popular, though many people prefer cutting.
Cutting Aglaonema as Another Way of Propagation
One of my friends propagates these plants by stem cutting or division. How to prune an aglaonema? Watch for new growth coming up at the base of the plant. Remove it from the base and replant in a separate pot. Don’t start pruning the plant beyond dying or removed dead leaves. In this case growth will emerge from the crown and you won’t manage to prune it without killing your favorite plant.
Planting and Re-potting the Plant
Once I was told how to do this quickly and achieved the best result:
chop the stem’s top that has gotten leggy and root the stem in the soil or water
as too much soil can encourage rot, take a 2:1 mix of perlite to potting mix, though straight perlite is rather difficult to work with
transfer the root to a regular pot.
When to transplant aglaonema? Transplanting should take place once every 2-3 years, because these plants grow very slowly. When there is the need to remove the plant into a larger pot, the season doesn’t matter.
Aglaonema Growing Conditions: Light, Watering and Temperature
Though growing this plant does not require special efforts, still there are some recommendations everyone should keep to.
When I bought aglaonema for the first time, I didn’t take care for it, and it soon died. Frankly speaking, I though that I was misled, because my friend assured me that such plants never require much care. However, ‘not much’ doesn’t stand for “no care at all”.
How to grow the plant? Some varieties of the plant can easily grow in near shade. Variegated varieties require brighter light, but that doesn’t mean they are to be exposed to direct sun. You will notice if the plant lacks the light, as its leaf stems will become long and leggy.
This plant is rather demanding on humidity and watering. I advise you to keep the soil moist, but the overflow can be very harmful. When it is summer, you are to water aglaonema often. In winter watering should be moderate.
What sort of water should you use? The years of taking care for these plants at home, helped me to learn one more rule: the water for watering should be soft, well-settled and its temperature should not be lower than room temperature. To ensure proper humidity you can place pots with plants on trays of wet expanded clay. These plants don’t like drafts or days when the temperature is lower than 65ºF. The warmer it is, the better they grow.
Besides all these tips, it is essential to keep in mind that the plant is toxic to cats and can be dangerous for people. To ensure safety, wear gloves when handling aglaonema.
Be Aware When Leaves Curl and Turn Yellow!
Curling leaves are the first signs of negative changes that occur because of viruses that attack the tissues of the plant and destroy them. Such viruses are too difficult to get rid of. However, preventive measures can help to reduce the risks for viruses’ occurrence. They include doing tissue culture, cuttings, planting seeds, seedlings and graft separation.
Aglaonema Care: 5 Rules to Know
The following care instructions will be helpful in the process of plant cultivation:
Proper care for aglaonema starts with its proper placement. Your task is to find the area that receives less indirect light.
Place your plant far from doors, air vents and windows in order to ensure it won’t suffer from drafts.
Fertilize the species at least 2 times per month. Water them from spring until autumn with an appropriate solution (1 tsp. soluble 20-20-20 analysis fertilizer and 1 gallon of water).
Water the plant when the top 2 inches of the soil start getting dry.
One of the basic care instructions includes wiping the leaves with a moistened cloth to remove dust and dirt.
Diseases and Pests the Plant Can Suffer From
The most common pests are root mealybugs, aphids, scales and mites. As a rule the plant can suffer from them during propagation stages. When they are left untreated, the plant will die.
The most serious diseases include:
Fusarium stem rot: this is a soft mushy rot at the base of the rotted plant or a cutting. The possible way out is to remove the plants that have been infected.
Pythium: this disease is referred to as one of the commonest root problems, and occurs under wet conditions or in poorly drained soils.
Myrothecium and Colletotrichum: these are diseases that lead to leaf spots during propagation.
How to care for your plants? Do everything possible to avoid the occurrence of pests and diseases during growing and propagation stages. If they survive through these periods, they are going to be healthy and appealing.
Orchid Growing Tips: How To Take Care Of Orchid Plants Indoors
Orchids are some of the most commonly grown houseplants. Provided they have proper growing conditions, it isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of orchid plants. Keep reading to get some indoor orchid care tips.
How Do I Take Care of an Orchid Flower?
Care of indoor orchid plants is easy once you learn how to grow them properly. These interesting flowers can be found in a range of colors and sizes depending on the variety. They make excellent accent plantings to nearly any home décor. Orchids require little care once all their basic needs are met such as light, temperature, and humidity.
Orchid Growing Tips
Most orchids require moist, well-draining conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used with orchid plants—redwood or fir bark, sphagnum peat moss, rocks, cork, charcoal, sand, potting soil, etc. A basic mix for growing orchids consists of coarse perlite, fir bark, and sphagnum moss. You can also add charcoal but this is optional. Generally, the grade of bark is dependent on the type of orchid grown. For instance, phalaenopsis orchids are usually grown in coarse bark, cattleyas in medium bark, and young orchid plants are best grown in fine bark.
Orchids require shallow planting. Place orchids in an east to south-facing window or room. These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Insufficient light results in poor flowering. However, too much light can lead to leaf scorch.
Temperature is also important for indoor orchid care. While orchids tolerate cooler or warmer temperatures throughout their normal growing season, they need to be about fifteen degrees cooler at night than during the day in order to bloom sufficiently.
Indoor Orchid Care Tips
Orchids need ample water but should be allowed to dry out some between waterings. One way to check for watering is by poking your finger about an inch into the growing media. If it’s dry, give it some water; otherwise, let it be.
Indoor orchid plants also need adequate humidity, about fifty to seventy percent. There are various ways to increase the humidity in your home. Place a water-filled saucer or tray of pebbles beneath plants, mist plants daily, or use a humidifier.
Fertilize orchids weekly or bi-weekly while they are producing new growth and decrease to monthly or bi-monthly intervals once they mature. Discontinue altogether once the plants go dormant.
Additional orchid care tips include repotting, which is normally done every other year. If your orchids suddenly stop blooming but have suitable light, temperature, and humidity, then repotting may be necessary.