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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I LOVE MY HOUSEPLANTS TOO!

I love plants. I love houseplants, greenhouse plants, annual plants and perennial plants. If it comes with leaves....it is for me! I have been a plant maniac since I was a child. I have one spider plant that is 20 years old! (I wish I could tell you I was only 23 but that would be a lie! haha) I have spent hours and bought countless books about plants. I would be reading these books while others would be reading the "smut" magazines, comic books and watching television. I try to know as much about them as possible. The bigger the better for me.

At one point my home looked like a jungle. I had over 100 pots in my home. There was a garden center in our city that knew me by name, and would call me if they got a plant in that they figured I didn't have yet. I used to joke that I would eventually own more soil than a farmer, only it would be individually potted! But...since I became a mother, I have scaled back my indoor plant habit substantially.

In the winter months I spend my time starting new plants from either the seeds I have harvested from the plants that I have, or taking cuttings to propagate new ones. These new plants are given away to friends and anyone that wants one, two or ten!

When I purchase a new plant, I will either take the healthiest looking one, or the sickest looking one. I like the challenge of "fixing" it.

Many of my houseplants winter in the tropical environment of my greenhouse. The greenhouse is also the last stop for sickly looking plants before I give up and just 'recycle' them.

I hope you enjoy the tour of houseplants that follows.

This is a Jade plant. (Crassula) Jades are succulent plants that grow into a stocky tree-type form. It are stunning with their plump, rounded leaves. Some types of Jade plants develop deep reddish edges on the leaves when they are exposed to bright light. Jade plants prefer bright light...and even some direct sunlight.

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Water so that the water runs out the bottom of the pot, and then allow to dry out. Over watering will cause this plant to droop and lose leaves. Mealy bugs love this plant...so keep your eyes open for the white cotton ball type signs of this pest when buying this specimen. Last summer I managed to coax this little lady into bloom!

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I was just ever so very proud!

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I hope to do it again once she is more comfortable in her new bigger pot.

This lovely specimen is a Wandering Jew. (Tradescantia)This one happens to be purple one. The leaves are a deep purple with silver accents. There are also green and white varieties. The Wandering Jew is a hanging plant that prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. Keeping the soil moderately moist from April to October and a little dryer the rest of the season, will help make this plant happy. One major tip for growing this plant is to keep the growing tips pinched out regularly to keep the rounded shape. Good light and regular watering will result in a happy plant, which may flower the sweetest little white flowers. Failing to keep the plant pinched back on top could result in a "bald spot" -meaning that the long arms of this plant will continue to grow and become very long and the pot will become "lonely". The cuttings that you take to pinch this plant out are easily rooted by placing them in a cup of water for a few days. Spider mites love Wandering Jews. Keeping them moist will help keep them away.

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The Umbrella Tree (Schefflera) features large foliage and upright tree-like growth habit. They are easy to grow and their tough leaves that radiate form one point like the spokes on an umbrella, give this plant it's nick name. The one pictured here is a variegated umbrella, but they do come in solid green leaves as well. The umbrella tree is a beautiful and upright, shrubby plant that will tolerate the dry household air (and is often seen in office buildings) and is known to filter out many noxious gasses from the air. It requires medium to bright light and no direct sunlight. Watering to keep the soil moderately moist will help keep this plant happy, and bug free. Spider mites mealy bugs and scale insects love this plant.

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This is a cactus. It is commonly known as Thanksgiving or Christmas Cactus, depending on when it blooms. This one blooms on the American Thanksgiving. It belongs to the branched out variety of the species. The leaves are flattish, succulent pads covering in spiny dots. New "pads" emerge from the existing pads end on end. This plant is not the true cactus that we find in the desert. It is a forest type. Do not over water or it will collapse, but during the hot summer months, it is best to keep watered regularly. Bright light with some full sun is a good idea.

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Spider Plants are the most recognizable house plant there are. (also called Chlorophytum) They are incredibly adaptable to most household conditions. They tolerate hot dry air, but will also grow in cooler temperatures. They are adaptable to bright light or moderately shaded rooms as well. A NASA study showed that spider plants will filter formaldehyde particles from the indoor air. Spider plant is also known for pushing itself right out of its pot over time. It produces thick, white, root balls that very quickly will fill the bottom of the pot. 1/3 of the plant should be removed when it is necessary. A happy Spider plant will bloom tiny white blooms on long thin tendrils, which will produce plantlets. The baby plantlets that will grow out of the main plant and hang down will easily root if placed in some damp soil or a cup of water for a few days. I have pictured both a variegated and a plain green spider plant. The plain green variety( in my opinion) is easier to keep happy than the variegated one.

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I have managed to coax the spider plant above to go to seed...and have started many many plants from them.

The ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas) is a prehistoric-looking plant. It is difficult to come across, but well worth it when you find one. It is adaptable to the conditions that an indoor Gardener has to offer such as dry air and lower light levels. It is also able to withstand a bit of a drought, as it sports tuber like roots that will store water for when needed. ZZ Plant prefers bright, filtered sunlight to partial shade. In the summer months this plant will benefit from being placed outdoors in a dappled shade area of your garden.

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Arrowhead Vine (Syngonium) is a hanging or climbing plant, depending on your preference. If you add support, this plant will climb, if you do not, this plant will hang gracefully. Each leaf on this plant will emerge as a simple arrowhead shape, but as it matures, it will transform into a deeply lobed leaf made up of three or four leaflets. One plant can sport several different leaf shapes. I have the emerald gem variety, but you can buy them in solid formed leaf colors too. This plant flourishes under bright light conditions with no direct sunlight if it is the variegated leaf type (shown above) The solid color leaf types like partial shade. Regular watering is a must for this plant.

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Philodendron. This one name can describe several different plants. There are hanging and climbing and tree-type varieties. The one below is a Philo-selloum. I have also seen it called a lacy philodendron. It is a tree-type variety. This plant likes dappled shade and bright light but never full sun. If you put her in full sun...she will get a burn. Philodendrons on average do not grow very quickly. The leaf span on this one can range from a new leaf being about three inches across...to the largest most mature leaf being almost two feet! This species is a low maintenance and easily adaptable houseplant. Besides being almost impossible to kill and long lived, this plant is always a treat for the eyes!

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This Philodendron is called Philo-scandens. It can be a hanging or climbing plant.

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This is Devil's Ivy. (Epipremnum) It resembles the philodendron and is often confused with it. Devil's Ivy is one of the most common and easies houseplants to grow. It can be a hanging or climbing houseplant. This plant, if taken care of, can grow to 8 feet or more! Bright to moderate light is necessary to keep it happy, and water when dry. This one is a variegated type, but you can see them with full green leaves as well. You have to trim some of the stems regularly to keep the plant from looking straggly and bare. Placing the cuttings into water will encourage rooting..which in turn means more plants!

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Snake Plant (Sansevieria) is a super easy to grow plant. You don't' need much light or water! You will need a heavy based pot to grow this plant in as it will tip over due to the long leaves. Other than the easy part, this plant speaks for itself!

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Wax Plant (Hoya) features succulent foliage and waxy clusters of flowers. This plant is virtually indestructible. It will grow and bloom even when you neglect it. This plant are generally used as a hanging plant, but can also be trained to climbing. They love bright light and some direct sunlight. This one used to be a variegated variety, but somehow reverted back to full green due to the abundance of light I give it.

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Aloe features thick succulent foliage and a long spike of flowers. They are slow growing succulents that sport thick, fleshy tentacle type leaves edged with spike-ish hooks. Aloe is easy to grow and will thrive on any sunny window sill.

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This is a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) . It for me is just growing a few roots. Once planted in some potting soil, I will place it in a shaded but bright room and water regularly. If you forget to water this plant, you will know it...as it wilts immediately once it is too dry.

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Very pretty when mature and in bloom.

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This is my favorite house plant. It is called a Monsterra Deliciosa. This can become a giant if taken care of. The one I am showing is much smaller than the one I used to have in my living room. In a few short years my plant was 8 feet tall! The leaves were 24 inches across! This plant is sometimes called a Philodendron

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This is a Dracena Marginata. It is commonly referred to as a corn plant. Dracena prefers bright to moderate light that is shaded from direct sunlight. This plant can also tolerate some lower levels of light. If you get a variegated one, it will need brighter light to keep it's foliage colors. They are an easy plant to grow.

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This one is also a Dracena. It is a spike version...called Dracena marginata tri-color. It has red and green and light green in the leaves! All Dracenas are prone to become tall and leggy. They are a tree type plant. If it gets tall and leggy, it may need to be staked.

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This plant is called a split leaf Philodendron...commonly called a Swiss cheese plant, or shot gun filly! I like the holes that develop in the leaves. It does not like too much light...but too little light will make the leaves solid in form. Water moderately and make new plants from cuttings

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The next photos are of the Ficus family. The common names are generally Fig related. There are many more types than I have shown, but I don't have them at this moment. This very dirty specimen is called Ficus Elastica (Black Prince) Also known as a Rubber Tree Plant.

I just bought him and he came all dusty and dirty. I didn't clean it as I wanted to show you how they often come. I will be using a damp rag to clean the leaves...you can also take a cup of milk, a bottle of beer and some water, mix them together and wipe the leaves with it. This mixture will make them very shiny. The mixture is also good for all houseplant leaves. I also have been known to take all of my plants outside or put them in the bath tub and shower them off. The Ficus family likes bright light to partial shade. Ficus elastica will adapt to morning sunlight, but afternoon sun is too hot and will burn the leaves. Water moderately and enjoy.

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This is a clean version of the Black Prince.

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This is a Ficus Elastica Tri-Color.

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This is a ficus Rubiginosa....also called a Rusty Fig

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Everyone knows this one! It is a Dieffenbachia. Common name is Dumb Cane. This plant is famous for being poisonous. When pruning it, always wear gloves. You will get a nasty rash. Dumb Cane likes bright light shaded from direct sunlight and moderate watering. Likes high temps. This plant will grow to a tall tree if treated properly.

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This plant is called a Spineless Yucca. It features sharp razor like foliage and woody stems. This plant loves bright direct sunlight all year long. Keep the soil moist in the growing season, and allow to dry a little in the winter. You can take this plant out to your garden in the summer time, but keep in a sheltered location.

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This succulent plant is called Haworthia Fasciata. Common name....Zebra Haworthia. It resembles an aloe plant and sports thick, sharply pointed, ribbed foliage. That long thin spike is a left over from a bloom. The blooms are pink trumpet like flowers that will last only one day. Because it is a form of succulent, you need to water sparingly in the winter, but moderately in the summer. I fill the bottom bowl and allow the plant to suck up the water from the bottom. I have my plant in full sunlight and it loves it. Will grow in lower light levels for short periods of time.

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Most of you are laughing like crazy at my houseplants right now. Many of these are common garden plants where you live. In Canada...the only way we can enjoy these tropical babies is to have them in the greenhouse and home. They would never survive the harsh winters we have here. If anyone has any other tips about any of these plants....PLEASE feel free to leave them in our comment box. We can always appreciate a tip or trick or two!

I use the same fertilizer on the houseplants that I do on the garden plants. I water weekly in the cooler months, and feed weekly (on Friday). If we are lucky enough to get some hot weather, I will water more often as needed.

I am always trying to get all of my house plants to bloom and eventually go to seed or reproduce by way of plantlets or off-shoots. There is nothing more rewarding than to grow your own new plants from seeds you harvested or plantlets you rooted yourself!

I am always on the look out for new plants. I try to have one of every kind I can get my little mitts on!. Plants are a great hobby for this girl, and in order to have as many as I can , I use them in my decor of my house...I would be so very happy if I could just live right in my greenhouse!

Until next time...Happy gardening!

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`*.¸.*´Tootsie/ Glenda
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