AS WE CONTINUE our two week series on houseplants, we got a chance to see Alicia’s home acting as a lovely conservatory!
This week we shall see, pictorially, how Linda, the Feng Shui master who started this whole thing off, can have gorgeous lemon trees and still provide for their sunlight requirements — even in our cold winter conditions.
With that said, let us take a look at another nine plants that are ideally suited for your home, but require a little more care.
1. Fittonia (snakeskin plant). A very interesting flowering plant from the jungle floors of Peru.
This plant derives it’s name from its striking marks and the texture of the leaves.
This plant grows evenly all year and can tolerate dark conditions, but must have high temperatures (70 to 80 degrees) and high humidity. Use a pan of wet gravel.
2. Schefflera (umbrella tree). This New Zealand/Australian foliage plant has gained great popularity because of its dark, glossy, luxuriant leaves that are arranged in an umbrella-like manner.
It is a large and wide floor plant, perfect to stand alone or use in a grouping.
This plant will lose numerous leaves if it is not provided with light, warmth and humidity, especially in the winter months.
3. Polka dot plant. This house plant sports little marks all over the leaves.
Many new varieties with new colors or dot sizes have entered the market.
This plant is now being used as a bedding plant, ideal as a border or accent plant.
The polka-dot plant needs a lot of pinching to keep vivid color and it loves to drink water. It is perfect to place outside in pots, then inside during inclement weather.
4. Palms. The palm family is huge and very diverse in size, texture and look.
They all share a nice slender or fan-type leaf structure.
They can be miniature terrarium-types or nice large hardy outside trees.
I really like their duel use as a gorgeous house plant and then as an exotic centerpiece in a large summer container.
Their leaves, however, produce brown edges if given too much fertilizer, if they are in drafty conditions or drying heat.
They also love porous potting soil. Watch for bugs.
5. Calathea (Zebra plant). With a name like that, I am sure you can visualize the very bold striping on their leaves.
An amazing range of contrasting colors is available on new varieties, even chocolate!
The banding on the leaves can be several layers. Bright, direct light can brown the leaf edges, but bright light can keep variegation intense.
Zebra plants must have humidity, so co-mingle them with other plants to create a miniature jungle. Also keep this plant warm.
6. Prayer plant. Another foliage plant that doubles as a science project.
Many prayer plants’ leaves are photoperiodic, meaning they respond to light and dark by closing their hand shaped leaves, emulating one praying.
They then open up in the morning light. Such as zebra plants, they have beautiful markings unique to the plant.
Mostly smaller plants, they are wonderful for window sills and window tables.
Bright direct light burns them, but they adore humidity.
Never let temperatures go below 60 degrees and re-pot and fertilize every April.
7. Ti plant. A drop dead gorgeous, tropical paradise plant, the Ti plant symbolizes good luck and fortune in Hawaii.
Super bright and intense deep pink and purple shades streak the lovely long narrow to broad leaves.
It will truly be a color spot in your indoor garden as long as year round bright light is provided.
Trim lower, old, less colorful leaves away as they develop.
8. Aralias/Polyscias. Aralias are from a beautiful and large family of houseplants.
They start off as nice herbaceous plants, but develop into nice woody plants with nice branches.
They are great for bonsai treatment, grow nicely and continue to produce new leaves year round.
Noted types are the fern and feather aralias with likewise leaf shape.
Balfour is a very attractive, variegated aralia, especially Marginata.
An east or west window with high humidity and temperature is required.
9. Croton. Saving the best for last, crotons are those magnificent yellow, red, green, bronze, orange, waxy, large and compact plants.
I have witnessed gorgeous examples of natural hedges around the world made entirely out of crotons.
It is unbeatable as a center plant in summer pots and bright as a button inside the house.
The most colorful of houseplants, crotons need humidity and sun to stay nice, healthy and colorful.
That’s the list.
Go get some houseplants and then prepare, oil and sharpen your pruning tools because pruning now is your big concern.
And my main concern is that you … 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).