Plant Care

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

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 Use Poinsettias as Cut Flowers

Poinsettias, with all their new colors and shapes make wonderful cut flowers if you just follow a few simple rules. 1. Cut some poinsettia stems with colorful bracts. The bracts are what most people refer to as the flowers of the plant. Think before you cut, so you won’t have to cut the stems a second time, you’ll see why in a second. 2. As soon as you cut the stems, singe the cut ends with a candle or long match to stop the sap from dripping out.  Poinsettia stems and leaves excrete this milky sap when cut or damaged in any way. If you don’t stop the sap from dripping out, the poinsettia cutting quickly droops and fades. The sap isn’t 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., but is very irritating if it gets on your skin, so be sure to wear gloves. If you have to re-cut the stems at a later time because they’re too tall for the arrangement, you’ll have to singe the cut ends again. 3. The poinsettia flowers are now ready to be placed in a vase of water. Be creative, add some evergreen branches and some berries. Don’t just stick with red or white flowers, try some of the new colors like marble, jingle bells, salmon, and pink. The new Winter Rose poinsettia has  a very different flower that resembles a large, open rose. 4. Cut poinsettias that have had their cut ends singed properly can often last up to two weeks in a cut flower arrangement.

How to Store Plant Bulbs for the Winter

Many of the bulbs we plant, such as Grape Hyacinth, Daffodil/Narcissus, Fall Crocus, Lily, Tulip, SnowDrop, Bearded Iris, are hardy and can survive cold winter temperatures. These don’t need to be removed from the garden unless you want to move them to a new location or they’ve become too crowded. When bulbs are too crowded, they produce fewer and smaller flowers each year.

Some bulbs originate in warm tropical areas and need to be dug up in the fall, these include, Gladiolas, Dahlias, Canna, and Begonias. Carefully dig up the bulbs once the leaves have died or have been killed by the first winter frost. Try not to damage the bulbs, even a slight nick in the fleshy part is enough to let in diseases that can cause bulbs to rot. Allow the bulbs to dry out on some paper for about a week in a cool shady spot (60-70 degrees) before putting them into storage for the winter.

Once dried, remove any remaining soil and leaves, and dust the bulbs with a FungicideFungicides are chemical compounds that are used to kill or inhibit fungi or fungal spores. Fungi can cause serious damage to your houseplants./insecticide. Store the bulbs in a shady area at a temperature between 50-70 degrees, basements and garages work well. Never store bulbs near apples because apples release a gas that kills bulbs.

If cared for properly, bulbs will bloom for many years.

How to Water HousePlants When on Vacation

It’s finally vacation time, and one of the decisions we need to make is how to take care of those special houseplants we’ve babied all year. My first word of advice is to not go the easy route and ask a family member or neighbor who knows nothing about plants to care for them. Nine times out of ten, these lovely, conscientious people will over- water your houseplants and most will never recover.

There are other options. If you’ll only be gone for a week or less, plan it so your plants will dry out right before you leave, water well, and then forget about them. If you have some plants in small pots that need water every few days, cut the ends off of a shoelace. Place one end of the shoelace in a bowl of water (placed higher than the plant)  and the other end in the soil of the small plant. The water will slowly drip into the plants.

If you’re going to be gone for several weeks or even a month there are several things you can do. First move the plants out of their usual bright or medium light into a darker cooler place in your home or office. That way they won’t need nearly as much water as they usually do. Group the houseplants together to increase the humidity around them, again decreasing the amount of water they need. Water well, but do not leave them sitting in water!

If you have some plants that need to be moist at all times, try using a product called Dri- Water. We use this product to keep the poinsettias in 12 ft poinsettia tree frames watered during the Christmas season. It really works! You can read about Dri- Water in the Glossary of the website.

Remember, the worse thing that will happen if your houseplants dry-out is that they’ll be droopy and have a few yellow leaves when you get back. This would a good time to put some superthriveSuperthrive combines vitamins and hormones to encourage plant growth both above and below the soil line. It's not a plant food so it needs to be used in addition to your regular plant food; the two can be used at the same time. Just put a few drops into your watering can & that's all that's needed to improve the health & appearance of your plants. If your plants are in real trouble, add about 10 drops per 2 gallons of water. SuperThrive works best when the soil is dry.     in your water. You can read about superthriveSuperthrive combines vitamins and hormones to encourage plant growth both above and below the soil line. It's not a plant food so it needs to be used in addition to your regular plant food; the two can be used at the same time. Just put a few drops into your watering can & that's all that's needed to improve the health & appearance of your plants. If your plants are in real trouble, add about 10 drops per 2 gallons of water. SuperThrive works best when the soil is dry.     in the Glossary of the website also. Coming home to droopy houseplants is much better than coming home to over-watered houseplants suffering from root rot.

Why I Never Mist my HousePlants

Many houseplants such as Calathea, Ferns, Caladium, African Violets, and Prayer Plants prefer high humidity. The 40 to 50 percent humidity levelThese are general guidelines that describe how poisonous certain houseplants are. It's possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are  very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities,  severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is poisonous and, if so, how poisonous. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don't know whether your houseplant is poisonous, go to Ask Judy on the HousePlant411.com website, send her a picture of your plant, and she'll let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants   some houseplants like is rarely found in our homes and offices. During winter months, the humidity may be as low as 10-20%. Misting houseplants is not the solution to this problem. Misting does not increase the humidity in the air; it just wets the leaves so the plant doesn’t lose as much water. The down side is that leaves that are constantly wet fall prey to bacterial and fungus infections that often destroy the entire plant.

If you want to increase the humidity in a room just install a humidifier; a small one for just one room a large one connected to your heating system for the entire house. There are also simple little things you can do to increase the relative humidity around houseplants. Place your plants on wet pebble trays. Just fill a tray with gravel and water and set your plant in it. Be sure the plant is sitting on the gravel and above the water line. You never want a houseplant to be sitting in water all of the time.  You can also just group your plants together. As the plants transpire, give off  water through their leaves, the humidity around them increases causing a mini greenhouse effect.

 

 

Plants that Keep Pests Off Other Plants

The weather is getting warmer and AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com., Slugs, Beetles, Stinkbugs, Mosquitoes, 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. and lots of other pests are coming to visit our plants. If you want to avoid toxic chemicals, try a few of these “green”methods to get rid of them.

Use plants in your garden or indoors that naturally repel insects.

1. Chives chase 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. and AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com. away. Chives also protect Roses from black spotHow to identify and treat Black Spot Disease, a houseplant disease caused by a fungal infection. disease.

2. Basil keeps Mosquitoes and Flies at bay.

3. Garlic repels 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., AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com., Fleas, and Japanese Beetles.

4. Anything that smells of Eucalyptus is effective against Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also avoid lemongrass.

5. The strong odor of peppermint gets rid of Ants, Flea Beetles, and AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com..

6. Surround your garden or indoor plants with marigolds to keep thripThrip are tiny winged brown insects that feed on the surfaces of plant leaves, flowers, and buds. They leave silver spots around their feeding areas and dark dots of excrement. Thrip not only weaken plant growth and distort buds and flowers, they transmit viruses from plant to plant as they fly around. The Green Solution, Neem Oil, and Yellow Sticky Cards all are effective in eliminating thrip.s, whitefliesWhiteflies are small gnat-like insects, covered in a powdery white wax; they feed on the sap of plants. This causes leaf-drop and weakens the plant in general. Whiteflies secrete a sticky substance called honeydew while they feed. The flying adults lay eggs on the tops of leaves, but it is the immature nymph stage, feeding unnoticed on the underside of the leaves, that does the real damage. Yellow sticky cards are a good way to trap the flying adults and prevent new eggs. Spray the Green Solution to get rid of the feeding nymphs on the underside of the leaves., Tomato Worms, and Squash Bugs away. The roots of a Marigold produce a substance that kills Nematodes in the soil.

7. Plant Radishes throughout the garden to keep Cucumber Beetles, Stinkbugs, and Squash Bugs away.

8. Plant specific flowers, herbs, or vegetables that attract good insects which dine on the harmful ones such as: Alyssium, Basil, Butterfly Bush, Calendula, Cosmos, Dill, Garlic, Goldenrod, Lavender, Sun Flowers, Sweet William, and Yarrow.

Think Green!

Peace Lilies Tell You When to Water

Peace Lilies are great plants. Not only do they bloom in low lightWhen you select “Low Light” a list of the most adaptive plants in our database appears. These plants can live in lighting conditions too low to support any other plants in our database, but will grow faster in medium and high light. Variegation (color) in the leaves is often lost in low light. A plant in low light needs less water and fertilizer than the same plant in better light. Place a low-light plant within 2-3 ft. of a window with a northern exposure, 3-5 ft. of a window with an eastern exposure, 4-10 ft. of a window with a western exposure, and 10-18ft. of a window with a southern exposure. A low light area has between 50-150 ft. candles of light. The best low light house plants are: Chinese Evergreen, Dracaena Janet Craig, Peace Lily, Heart leaf Philodendron., they literally tell you when they need water or when they have too much water. If the leaves turn black, you are over watering. If they leaves get soft and droopy, your peace lily needs water. It’s as simple as that. Do not water until the plant starts to droop. In low lightWhen you select “Low Light” a list of the most adaptive plants in our database appears. These plants can live in lighting conditions too low to support any other plants in our database, but will grow faster in medium and high light. Variegation (color) in the leaves is often lost in low light. A plant in low light needs less water and fertilizer than the same plant in better light. Place a low-light plant within 2-3 ft. of a window with a northern exposure, 3-5 ft. of a window with an eastern exposure, 4-10 ft. of a window with a western exposure, and 10-18ft. of a window with a southern exposure. A low light area has between 50-150 ft. candles of light. The best low light house plants are: Chinese Evergreen, Dracaena Janet Craig, Peace Lily, Heart leaf Philodendron. conditions that could be two weeks or more. If you forget the plant and it gets totally dried out, you may get a few bright yellow leaves once you water again. Getting rid of a few yellow leaves is a lot easier than fixing the roots of an over- watered plant. Here’s a picture of an over watered peace lily that a friend sent in and a picture of a healthy peace lily. Send some pictures of your favorite peace lilies to judy@houseplant411.com so I can share them with our followers.

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