Archive for January, 2015

Green Goes Glam

January 29, 2015

Forget old-school spider plants. A new wave of unusual and dramatic indoor plants are as much decor as they are greenery. Although some can be pricey ringing up at $100 plus they can complete a room just as well as the perfect rug or piece of art.

The Bombshell 1
Vriesia hieroglyphica hybrid
Foliage: Leaves are curvaceous, always dressed in skintight patterning.
Plant: This bromeliad reaches 3 feet tall and wide. Lives for 8 to 10 years before it blooms, then dies.
Light: Any.

The Jungle Queen
Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation2
Foliage: Lush 2-foot-long leaves of deep green are dramatic all year; luxuriant white flowers in spring.
Plant: A peace lily, it can reach 4 feet tall.
Light: Low to medium.

The Grand Dame
Ficus lyrata ‘Little Fiddle’
Foliage: Large, leathery, nearly violin-shaped leaves.3
Plant: This stately plant can reach 20 feet tall. To maintain its size and shape, prune branches in early spring. Feed the plant after pruning; rotate it every few weeks to keep it from leaning.
Light: Moderate to bright.

The Starlet
Dracaena warneckii ‘Jade Jewel’4
Foliage: Variegated leaves form compact rosettes that resemble starbursts.
Plant: Shapely and slender as a palm, it grows slowly to 8 feet tall with sturdy, upright canes.
Light: Moderate to bright.

The Reality Star
Sanseveria ‘Silver Queen’5
Foliage: Silvery green leaves are stiff, slightly twisted, and lightly mottled.
Plant: A standout among snake plants, it reaches 4 to 5 feet tall and thrives on neglect.
Light: Moderate to bright.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle….Poinsettias

January 28, 2015

poinsettia_foliageSo the holidays are over and you still have your Poinsettias scattered even the the Clauses’ have returned to the Pole. So what to do you ask. After a crazy holiday season we can understand why you would toss them along with the tree and tinsel BUT, we encourage you to keep them, enjoy them for years to come. Here are a few tips and tricks in accomplishing that goal.

Poinsettias are easy to maintain, but it takes some effort to make them bloom a second time. To grow them after the holidays, all you need to do is treat them similar to other houseplants: Give them bright light, allow them to slightly dry between waterings, and feed them with a liquid houseplant fertilizer according to label directions. That’s the easy part. The bracts (those are the leaves that look like flower petals) will eventually fade and fall off the plant. At that point, cut back the stems to just below the flowers and let them continue to grow. Getting the plants to re-bloom is the hard part. It’s likely that you won’t be able to bring all 10 plants into flower again, simply because of space limitations. In spring, once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50*F, place your poinsettias outside where they’ll receive bright, indirect light. They will grow but will remain completely green all summer. Prune back the plants by one-half to one-third in midsummer, and re-pot them in the same pot, or in one that’s slightly larger if the plant has grown significantly. Use a commercial potting soil. Feed the plants with a standard houseplant fertilizer during this time of new growth. Bring the pots indoors before nighttime temperatures fall below 50*F. From September 21 through the end of October, the plants need 14-15 hours of uninterrupted darkness daily, and nighttime temperatures around 65*F. This is the secret to triggering new flowers to form and for the bracts to change color. This means that every day at about 5 p.m. you’ll need to cover the plants. Uncover them between 7 and 8 the following morning.

Take A Bite Out Of The New Year

January 13, 2015

pest eating plantSo called insect-eating plants aren’t like dinosaurs, you don’t need to toss them a steak to make them happy. A fly or other tiny living insect will do.

To grow insect-eating plants indoors, you’ll be most successful re-creating the kind of conditions where they grow in nature. Beware, though: Insect-eating plants can be a bit more challenging to grow than the average houseplant. Insect-eating plants need high humidity, bright (but not direct) light, and a special growing medium that is moist and acidic. Use water purified by either distillation or reverse osmosis; tap water may contain too many additives or be too alkaline.

Attracting Prey
Although their leaves collect sunlight to produce chlorophyll and make food via photosynthesis like other plants, insect-eating plants grow best when their diet is supplemented with insects.
Outdoors, this happens naturally. Indoors, it’s best to release insects in a closed environment where the plants can attract and trap them. In most cases, the insects must be alive for the plants to eat them. Enzymes in the digestive system of the plant destroy the insects, and the plant absorbs the nutrients. Test Garden Tip: Do not feed your insect-eating plants little bits of hamburger or other meats, they have too much protein for the plants to digest.

Common Insect-Eating Plants
Depending on the plant, insect-eating plants use several mechanisms to capture their prey: pits to fall into; sticky flypaper-type sections; snap traps; vacuum suction; and inward-pointing hairs that operate like a lobster trap.

There are hundreds of types of insect-eating plants but these are among the most commonly grown by gardeners. Never collect them from the wild; many are on protected or endangered species lists. Always check the source of your nursery’s plants.

  • Hardy pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) are native in many boggy areas of North America. You can recognize them by their long necks and delicate hoods covering the openings.
  • Sundew (Drosera spp.) leaves are rounded and covered with sticky, red tentacles. Insects attracted by the sweet smell trigger the tentacles to close and the plant to digest the insect.
  • Tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp.) grow in tropical rain forests and have strappy leaves that end in a tendril holding a hanging water-filled pitcher. Because of their pendulous nature, these plants are best grown in hanging baskets.
  • Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) grow slender leaves topped with clamshell-type flowers ringed with tiny “teeth.” When an insect lands on the pink center of the clamshell, the hinge quickly shuts, trapping the prey inside.

Weekend Excitement For The Kids (or the kid at heart)

January 9, 2015

plant glassYou don’t need fancy containers or soil to enjoy beautiful houseplants or even an indoor herb garden all year long.

Step 1 Pick your plant. Herbs are particularly well suited to indoor hydroponics. Some herbs grow so fast in water, you see a new leaf almost every day.Mints and oreganos grow fastest, followed by basil and rosemary As for houseplants,any type of ivy (English ivy is a favorite), philodendron, wandering Jew, purple passion, and coleus. Even many flowering plants such begonias or impatiens will thrive in water.

Step 2 Root it. Once you’ve decided what to grow, clip a segment off the existing plant and place it in a glass jar, as you would if you were planning to root the cutting and plant it in soil. Always make sure you cut just below a leaf. That’s the “leaf node” and it’s where most of the rooting hormone within the plant is already active. If you don’t have any houseplants or an herb garden, you can always ask friends for cuttings from their plants.

Step 3 Water it. The type of water you use is key, city water is filtered, then it’s chlorinated it’s okay to drink, but it’s void of any nutrients. Instead, use bottled spring water or well water, if you happen to have a private well, as water from the ground has the highest levels of minerals in it. As for containers, use any glass jar you have lying around, as long as it’s see-through.
And that’s pretty much it. You’ll just have to replenish the water about once a month, whenever half the water in your container has evaporated. There’s no need to worry about stagnant or smelly water, as happens with cut flowers. Cut flowers are just rotting and dying in water, whereas when you’re growing plants in water, they’re in the process of living. If the plant is healthy, the water stays clean. So you don’t develop algae, there’s no yuck, and there’s no odor.

Oh yes, Step 4 Reassess in a year. At around the one-year mark your water may start to look murky and will need to be changed. Also, the roots will have grown a good deal, so they need to be trimmed back so they don’t choke the plant. If you’re growing herbs, you may need to replace your cutting altogether after a year, depending on which herb you chose. The woodier or stronger the stem, the more time it will last in water. For instance, rosemary might live up to six years in water, but basil may only last a year.

%d bloggers like this: