Houseplant 411

Dracaenas are Great HousePlants

Dracaenas are among my favorite houseplants.  They can be small enough to sit on a table or 7ft. trees large enough to take the place of a piece of furniture.  Even the least experienced plant enthusiast can successfully grow Dracaena Plants. Dracaenas thrive on neglect, grow well in low light, and need very little water. They are also excellent plants for cleaning the air, removing such harmful toxins as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

 

Dark green, shiny Dracaena Janet Craig

Dracaena Janet Craig

Dracaena Janet Craig: Dracaena Janet Craig HousePlants have sword- shaped, leathery, dark green, shiny leaves that are about 3” wide and 2ft. in length. A Dracaena Janet Craig can be used as a table plant, bushy floor plant, or as a beautiful tall  tree. Read more about Dracaena Janet Craig houseplants and how to care for them:

http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/dracaena-janet-craig-plant-care

 

Green with yellow stripe Dracaena Massangeanna Corn Plant

Draceana Massangeanna
Dracaena Corn Plant

Dracaena Massangeanna (Corn Plant): The Corn Plant Dracaena is especially popular because of its long graceful green leaves that have a yellow and light green stripe running down the center. When small Dracaena Corn Plants can sit on a table, but their claim to fame is as a stately cane plant growing up to 10-12 feet tall. Read more about Dracaena Corn Plants and how to care for them:

http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/dracaena-corn-plant-care

 

Bright green and yellow striped Dracaena Lemon Lime

Dracaena Lemon Lime

Dracaena Lemon Lime:  Dracaena Lemon Lime houseplants have 12”-24” long sword shaped leaves with bright green and yellow stripes. Like other Dracaena plants, the leaves of a Dracaena Lemon Lime are arranged in a rosette and grow off a very thick stem. Read more about Dracaena Lemon Lime houseplants and how to care for them:

http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/dracaena-lemon-lime-care

Dark green, bushy Dracaena Compacta

Dracaena Janet Craig Compacta

The closest relative of the Dracaena Compacta houseplant is the Dracaena Janet craig, but the Compacta Plant is quite different in appearance. The Dracaena Compacta Plant has a thick green stem and several clumps of short dark green leaves 2″-4″ in length. It’s a beautiful addition to homes or offices, but it’s the most difficult and most expensive Dracaena Plant to care for. Read more about Dracaena Compacta HousePlants and how to care for them: http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/dracaena-compacta-plant

Short, narrow, Dracaena reflexa leaves

Dracaena Reflexa Plant

All varieties of Dracaena Reflexa  plants have short, narrow, pointed leaves that are spirally arranged on the stem and tufted at the ends of branches.

 

After Bloom Care for Lilies

Once the lovely flowers of an Easter Lily have died, most people don’t know what to do with the plant. Keeping an Easter Lily as a houseplant is not an option. It needs to be planted outside as soon as the weather is warm enough. If you have to keep it indoors until the temperatures rise, place your Easter Lily in a sunny window and water it when the soil is slightly dry.

When you’re ready to move your Easter Lily outside, remove the Easter Lily from its pot, gently loosen the roots, and find a bright sunny spot in your garden to plant it. An Easter Lily is a bulb plant. Plant the bulb a few inches deeper than it was planted in the pot and cover it with soil. Water your Easter Lily Plant well and feed it with an all-purpose plant food. Continue watering and feeding your Easter Lily along with all of your other outdoor plants. Don’t be alarmed when the remaining green leaves and stems of you Easter Lily wither and die. Around July or August, your Easter Lily will send out new growth. A newly planted Easter Lily doesn’t usually bloom the first year; but the following summer it should produce some beautiful lilies.

If the winters are mild where you live, you can leave the bulbs alone while they are dormant. If your winters get quite cold, be sure to cover your Easter Lily bulbs with about 4” of mulch or dig them up and store them indoors in a cool dark area until spring.

Easter Lily Plant with white flower

How to Grow Care Tips for Flowering Houseplant Bulbs

What could be better than beautiful blooming Houseplant BulbsA bulb is that part of a plant that contains the tender shoots of a new plant. Many flowering plants such as tulips, hyacinths, and lilies are propagated by bulbs. The energy a new plant needs to develop is stored in the bulbs. There is a large variation in the size of houseplant bulbs. They can be as small as a pea or as large as 15 pounds (7 kg).  Plants that develop from bulbs produce leaves and flowers each season, then gradually die back and go dormant for a few months. During this dormancy or resting period, the plant stores the nutrients that will help it bloom again the following year. Bulbs can be forced to bloom almost any time indoors, brightening up your house during the cold winter months. to brighten your home and office this winter? If your flowering plant bulbs have been resting in a cool area for at least 12-15 weeks, it’s time to plant them. The longer the plant bulbs have been “resting” the larger the plants will be. Plant bulbs that have been dormant in a cold area for less than 12 weeks, produce small plants that may not bloom.

Small white flowers, green leaves Lily of the Valley Plant

Lily of the Valley Plant

If you are buying new plant bulbs, they can be planted any clean clay or plastic pot that has drip holes in the bottom. Plastic pots do not dry out as quickly and they are much lighter to handle than clay pots. I like to make a soil mixture for my winter bulb plants using one part sand, two parts peat moss, and one part garden loam. You can fit 3 hyacinth bulbs, 15 crocus bulbs, 6 daffodil bulbs, or 6 tulip bulbs in a pot with a 6” diameter. Always buy large, good quality bulbs. Never select a flower bulb that is soft or has started to sprout. The quality of the bulb is extremely important because it contains the food needed for the flowering plant to eventually grow.

Place your pots of flower bulbs in a bright, cool area (50-60 degrees), water well, and feed with an all purpose plant food at ½ the recommended strength. Once leaves and buds appear, move the containers of bulbs to a warmer, brighter location (65-75 degrees). Never put them in the direct sun. Keep the soil damp but not soggy.

Once the flowers have died, plant the bulbs outside in your garden or store them in a cool place to be used again next year.

 

After Bloom Care for an Amaryllis Plant

After paying all that money for an an Amaryllis Plant or Amaryllis bulbs this year it would be great to have them bloom again next year. Follow these simple instructions and that is just what will happen.

Red Amaryllis Plant

Amaryllis Plant Flowers

 

1. Cut the old flowers from the stem when they fade.

2. When the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.

3. Continue to water and fertilize all summer or at least 5-6 months.

4. Allow the leaves to fully develop and grow. The leavesl nourish the bulb so it will produce large flowers next year.

5. When the leaves begin to yellow, usually in the early fall, cut the leaves to about 2” from the top of the bulb

6. At this time, remove the bulb from the soil.

7. Clean the bulb and place it in a cool dark place (40-50 degrees) for a minimum  of six weeks. The refrigerator will work only if it does not contain apples. Apples will sterilize the bulbs.

8. After six weeks you can remove the bulbs and plant them again. Plant the bulbs about eight weeks before you want them to bloom.

After Bloom Care for Poinsettias.

LATE WINTER/ EARLY SPRING

Poinsettias have long-lasting flowers so their bracts will remain showy for several months. During this time, side shoots develop below the bracts. To have a well-shaped plant the following year, cut each of the old flowering stems or branches back to 4 to 6 inches in height. Leave one to three leaves on each of the old stems, new growth comes from buds located in the leaf axils along these stems. Cutting the plant back in February or early March helps the buds grow and develop.  Keep you Poinsettia in a sunny area where the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees, and fertilize every 2 weeks.

LATE SPRING & SUMMER

Between July and August 1, prune all shoots to about 4 inches, leaving about one to three leaves on each shoot.

FALL

In order for the Poinsettia bracts to turn color again, the plant must be kept in complete darkness for 12-15 hours from the end of September until color shows in the bracts in early to mid-December. The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 degrees may delay or prevent the plant from turning red. Hopefully you’ll have a beautiful plant for Christmas.

How to Care for Your Poinsettia

We’ve all seen the poinsettias arrive at grocery stores, garden centers, Costco and Sam’s Club looking absolutely beautiful and then, a few days later, looking like they needed to be thrown out. This isn’t because they’ve been neglected, it’s because they’ve been over-watered and are not getting enough light. Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbia family and their leaves should become soft and droop a little before you water them. The green leaves fall off from too much water and then you’re left with an ugly bare stem that has a few red bracts on the top. If your poinsettias already look like this, go outside and cut a few small branches off of a fir or pine tree and fill in the bottom of the plant.

Follow these simple care instructions, and you’ll have lovely poinsettias into January.

Poinsettias need very bright indirect light but no direct sun. The light from a north-facing window is not adequate. If you place your plant close to a window, be sure none of the leaves touch the glass since the cold damages poinsettias.

Allow at least the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering to prevent root rot, green leaves falling off, and bare stems. Severe under-watering, when the plant badly droops, causes both green and colored leaves to fall off.  Water drops on the leaves makes unsightly white marks.

Poinsettias last longer and look better when the temperature is between 65-70 degrees during the day and about 60 degrees at night. Temperatures that are too hot or too cold damage the leaves and can also cause leaf drop. Keep Poinsettias away from drafty doors and windows, fireplaces, heaters, and the tops of appliances that give off heat.

Poinsettias, despite all rumors, are not poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets., though themilky sap of the plant may cause minor skin irritations, especially for people who are allergic to latex.

HousePlant Care for the Winter

Suddenly, lots of people are having problems with their houseplants that thrived outside on the porch all summer and into the early fall. Green leaves are falling off, tips are turning brown or yellow, plants are becoming thin and straggly, spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap. are moving in. Most of these problems are the result of  your being too nice to your plants. Outside in the warm weather the plant conditions were perfect. Plants got lots of bright lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., temperatures were warm during the day and 10- 15 degrees cooler at night. New leaves were popping out every day.

The plants required lots of water, lots of fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small., lots of attention. Now that they are back indoors, the light and temperatures are not optimal, plants are resting for a few months and not producing new leaves, and heaters are making the air very dry. You need to adjust your plant maintenance to the new conditions.

Your plants need less water because of lower light; and less or no fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. because they are not producing new leaves. If you continue to feed at the same rate as during the summer, the excess unused plant food accumulates in the soil and burns the tips of the leaves.

Group your plants or use wet pebble trays to increase the humidity. This will also help prevent spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap. which love warm dry air. Now is a good time to give your plants a haircut, so that when they start to produce new leaves in a few months, they’ll be bushy and strong.

 

Are Christmas Trees Poisonous?

Christmas trees such as firs, pines, and cedar are mildly poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets., sometimes causing drooling in pets and vomiting in children. The good news is that a child or pet would have to eat quite a bit to become sick and people and pets usually don’t like to eat Christmas trees.  The toxicity of the tree may be increased if it has been sprayed with a fire retardant.

Although the oil from Christmas trees can irritate the mouth and skin, the real concern is that if a small child or pet eats only a few needlesLeaves that are slender, narrow, and do not have a leaf blade are called needles., which are almost impossible to digest, the needlesLeaves that are slender, narrow, and do not have a leaf blade are called needles. could puncture or obstruct part of their intestinal tract.

Eating parts of an artificial tree is also dangerous since there can be toxins in the tree material and pieces of the tree can cause intestinal obstructions.

Another thing we tend to forget is the water the tree is sitting in to keep it looking fresh. This water may contain preservatives, pesticides, fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.s, or some people even put aspirin into it. Cover the water dish so that cats and dogs don’t drink from it and small children don’t play in it.

Stay safe this Christmas, keep pets and small children away from holiday plants and trees!

Is Mistletoe Poisonous?

The old tradition of kissing under the mistletoe has been around for a very long time, and the temptation for a small child or pet to munch one of the pretty red berries is always there. So is mistletoe really poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. or is it just an old wives tale? The truth is that it really depends on the variety of mistletoe that you have and what part is eaten. Since the side effects of eating mistletoe, such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and diarrhea, can be very serious; and since we are really never sure what type of mistletoe we have, always keep mistletoe away from children and pets. The poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. ingredient, Phoratoxin, is found in all parts of the plant, but especially in the leaves. If any part of mistletoe is ingested immediately call:

American Association of Poison Control Centers

                                    1-800-222-1222

 

mistletoe2

How to Get a Christmas Cactus to Bloom for Christmas

Flowering Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

We all hope our Christmas Cactus, (Schlumbergera or Zygocactus) will bloom for Christmas. If you’ve taken good care of your Christmas Cactus during the year, about now you should be seeing the tips of the leaves beginning to grow. Soon the flower buds will develop at these tips, and around Christmas your plant should be in full bloom.

There are several things that play a key role in helping a Christmas Cactus to bloom at the right time. A Christmas Cactus is a thermo-photoperiodic plant, so starting about 4-6 weeks before Christmas it needs 12 hours a day of light and 12 hours a day of darkness. During this time, the ideal night- time temperature should be 50-60 degrees. Reduce your watering slightly and do not soak the soil, only moisten the top few inches.  Although a Christmas Cactus needs fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. when actively developing leaves, once the buds appear, do not feed the plant.

For more information on how to care for a Christmas Cactus go to:

http://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/christmas-cactus

 

 

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