Archive for November, 2015

Fantastic Foliage Houseplants

November 24, 2015

From frilly fronds to big, bold, brightly colored leaves, foliage houseplants set the tone in any room. Choose from the selection of attractive tropical beauties described here to dress up your home.

Iron-Cross Begonia
Wondering where this plant got its name? Look for the dark brown markings on its leaves and you’ll notice a cross pattern. It doesn’t mind being a little potbound, but do stop it from completely drying out.

Peacock Plant
Peacock plant is one of the more commonly available types of Calathea, but you’re likely to find several other species in shops. All have silver and green markings on upper leaf surfaces with a reddish purple reverse, making them attractive when viewed from above or below. Give peacock plant warm temperatures and high humidity for best results.

Prayer Plant
Green prayer plant is sometimes called rabbit tracks for its purplish brown leaf markings. Closely related red prayer plant(Maranta leuconeura erythroneura) has bright red leaf veins along with the markings. Leaves of both forms fold together in the dark, creating the impression of praying hands. Prayer plant appreciates high humidity and even soil moisture except in winter when it goes semi-dormant and need slightly drier conditions.

Ti Plant
Colorful strap-like leaves emerge from a central stalk on ti plant, which is also called good luck plant and sometimes classified asC. terminalis. As the plant ages, it loses its lower leaves to show off a woody trunk. It’s easy to propagate; just place sections of the trunk horizontally on moist potting soil. Then be patient: It may take several months for new shoots to sprout.

China Doll
China doll has a fine texture, even though individual leaves can be 2 feet long. It is usually sold with several plants in one container to give it a fuller appearance. Pinch or prune shoots regularly to keep plants lush and full.

Blushing Bromeliad
Although small purple flowers form in the center of blushing bromeliad’s vase, the variegated foliage is the star attraction and source of its common name. Leaves have saw-tooth edges, so take care when handling theplant. Water the central vase rather than the soil.


Finding Fall Colors Indoors

November 17, 2015

crotonIn fall, brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges dot the landscape, enticing us to bring that same look indoors. While branches of autumn leaves make wonderful short-lived arrangements, you can have sensational long-lasting color with a host of houseplants. Put together a great-looking assortment–it’s simple.

Peruse the houseplant selection with a seasonal eye, and you’ll be surprised by how many options exist. Here are a few plant choices and tips for their care.

Crotons contain the full spectrum of fall color within each leaf. This heat-loving plant requires bright light and flourishes with a few hours of direct sun in early morning. Keep the soil moist–dryness causes leaves to drop.

  • A reminder: Small pots dry out quickly and require more attention than larger ones.
  • Bromeliads are easy to arrange and grow. Their long-lasting, sculptural blooms range from yellows to shades of orange, red, and burgundy. Numerous selections are available, so choose an assortment of flowers along with different pot sizes. These plants require bright light but not direct sun. Keep the soil moist, and avoid the popular practice of filling the plants’ cups, or centers, with water.
  • Dracaenas bring slender, pointy foliage to the mix, with leaves ranging from colorful stripes to burgundy. Bright light is a must; moisten the soil when it is dry.

Put It Together
Resist the temptation to buy one of every neat plant you see. Choose no more than three different types, and purchase multiples of these. Vary pot size, leaf shape, and color for an artful balance of scale and texture.

Horticultural Holiday Fun

November 10, 2015

growing-basil-basilLooking for something fun to do with the family during the holiday break? We have a treat for you!

You 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. 10And 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 this 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.

P.S. This is fun to do with your holiday veggie trimmings as well. Try it and report back!

Detox Your Home and Work

November 3, 2015

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality is one of the top five risks to public health. This is a result of home products made with toxic chemicals, such as vinyl flooring and air fresheners. If you don’t want to stop using these products and leaving the windows open all the time isn’t an option, there are plants that can help detoxify your indoor air. Here are some of the more effective.

Aloe vera
You may know this plant as a sunburn soother, but it’s also a wonderful air purifier. Aloe actually absorbs chemicals from cleaning products and even gives you a warning sign by developing brown spots if the chemicals reach a high level.

Areca palm
This beautiful palm tree pumps out loads of oxygen during the day and was rated by NASA as having the eighth highest removal rate for formaldehyde – a chemical often found in carpeting. Additionally, the Areca palm helps restore moisture to dry winter air at levels comparable to an electric humidifier.

Rubber plant
The thick, deep green leaves of rubber plants help filter formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia from the air – all while improving the aesthetic of your living space. This somewhat demanding plant requires high light and frequent deep watering, and should also be kept far away from animals or children, as it is poisonous when consumed.
Mother-in-law’s tongue
Complementing the Areca palm’s daytime oxygen production, this plant is an evening oxygen producer – making it an excellent plant choice for the bedroom. To sweeten the deal, this prehistoric-looking plant is perfect for those lacking a green thumb. The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can withstand any environmental conditions from light to dark, and wet to dry.

Golden pothos
This fast-growing vine absorbs formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Placing this plant in or near the garage is good choice since engine exhaust is a primary source of formaldehyde.

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