LINDA, A GREAT client of mine and a Feng Shui master, commented on house plants and the beneficial role they play in your home.
Realizing I have not written about houseplants for a long time, and since you know I have an affinity for lists, here then is a list of 12 easy and moderate to care for houseplants:
1. Pepperomia, especially the variegated. Pepperomia is one of my favorite house plants because it retains its compact habit in poor light conditions. It has lovely, thick, waxy leaves and natural growth characteristics that are perfect in baskets or containers where a grouping effect is desire. Be careful not to overwater.
2. Lipstick plant (aeschynanthus radicans). This is an exotic plant from Southeast Asia which is highly prized by the homeowner because it blooms so easily over an extended period of time. A hanging vine type plant, the leaves are thick and waxy, but the long and tubular flower shapes are the real prize. Be sure to water on schedule and as often as needed.
3. Strawberry plant (saxifraga stolonifera). Another charming hanging-type foliage plant. The strawberry plant has nice runners with its little perfectly formed clone on the ends. It is a great plant for children as it easily propagates into plants that can grow new beautiful plants themselves. They are great gifts and fruits of the children’s own labor. Please don’t over water, and for healthy plants, cut off most offshoots in the winter.
4. Velvet plant (gynura scandus). Here is a specimen plant named for exactly what it resembles. Velvet plant leaves are covered with thousands of deep rich velvety red hairs. Great in pots or hanging containers, it is very pendulous in its nature. The velvet plant displays its best and bright light and after it is pinched back. As a bonus, these cuttings root very well in water on the window sill. Remove the flower immediately; they do not have the best scent.
5. Pregnant onion plant (ornithogalum caudatrum). We’ve almost likely seen and remember this plant. It is hard to forget a big green bulb with numerous new bulblets. The leaves drape in a curled fashion over the container for a very unique look.
6. Avocado. Here is a plant that can be free and is a fantastic science experiment. Avocados are easy to germinate. After eating the flesh, place the stone (the seed from the center of the fruit) upright with ⅓ uncovered in a nice porous soil. Keep it moist and warm, but not in too bright a light. Avocados make nice, large foliage plants, as they easily can reach up to 5 to 7 feet if allowed. This plant is simple to grow and keep year after year.
7. Sea grape. A very decorative plant in which its leaves are quite tough and leathery. This is a very hardy plant, which grows naturally on tropical islands. When moved outside for the summer, you can turn it into a branch shrub or tree. Make sure to keep it in bright light, warm, moist air in the winter. This is a very easy durable plant to grow.
8. Bamboo. A vast family of plants that comes in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes and growth habits, bamboo should be in everyone’s house. These plants can grow in water, rocks or soil and like bright light, but not direct sunlight. It is perfect to move outdoors in summer, adding a nice oriental charm to the patio. It is very easy to grow and maintain.
9. Norfolk Island Pine. A very cool plant that is hard to resist running your fingers through once you have experienced it’s rubbery texture. Extremely well suited for rooms too cool for good plant production, it also adds a nice pine scent. Many people use them as little living Christmas trees. The right choice as a housewarming gift and cost-effective when comparing size and height. A Best Buy.
10. Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen. A nice long leafed plant whose patchwork leaf colors are why the plant is so popular. Here is a plant that will grow very well, even in a dark corner. It needs to be warm, however, and can be easily over water to death because dark conditions keep soil moist.
11. Yucca canes. An interesting textured Mexican plant, yucca cane bear slender leaves in clumps atop thick, heavy canes. Used as a floor plant, they are easy to find in the four to six foot range.
12. Tradescantia, commonly called a “wandering” plant. Let’s finish this week’s list with one of the nicest, fastest growing colorful foliage plant. Tradescantia performs well in a window, comes in many variegated colors, reproduces simply when clippings are placed in water and is lovely outdoors in the summer. I have seen specimens in people’s homes or offices hanging four or five feet over the pot. In a tall wicker stand, this becomes a very impressive living decoration.
Be prepared — next week we will take it up a notch with difficult, but desirable, house plants. This new year is about neat, new possibilities.
I wish you all the best the new year has to offer and please … stay well all!
Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).