Quick Guide to Tillandsia Caput Medusae Care

Last update: April 27, 2021

The Tillandsia Caput Medusae is an amazing plant for several reasons. It has interesting story. It is an outstanding example of evolution and adaptation. And it is a stunning tropical plant in its own right. It is also a low-maintenance plant. What more can you ask? We can promise you that it’s the most unusual you’ll ever own. Continue reading to learn more about this fascinating plant.

What Is the Tillandsia Caput Medusae?

The Tillandsia Caput Medusae is part of the Bromeliaceae Family also known simply as bromeliads. You’ll recognize some members of this group including pineapple and Spanish moss. It’s also known as the octopus plant or the Medusa plant which is reflected in its scientific name because of its wild crown of leaves. Therein lies its charm.

If you can say anything about the Tillandsia Caput Medusae is that it’s certainly a conversation starter. The name alone is enough to spill a few tales about Greek mythology. Everything about this plant breaks the mold for growing houseplants from the way you keep it to its care. While you may think it needs a lot of TLC, it is a low-maintenance plant.

Planting the Tillandsia Caput Medusae

Growing the Tillandsia Caput Medusae is unlike any other plant you’ll likely have in your home. It is not one that you simply plant in a pot of soil and watch it grow. The air rather than the soil is its source of nutrients. It is part of a group known as air plants. In its native Central America and Mexico, it grows by anchoring itself to trees or other structures.

Growing them indoors means providing a similar type of support. It’s an opportunity to be creative and use the Tillandsia Caput Medusae as a decorative element. You’ll need to use something that is both sturdy and waterproof since you’ll need to mist it frequently. Take that bit of care into account when you select a place for it too. You can place this plant anywhere.

Light and Temperature

The best place to grow the Tillandsia Caput Medusae is indoors rather than outside to best replicate its native environment. It prefers bright light that can be direct or indirect. Direct light, however, is not the best choice as it can scorch its leaves. As you may expect with a rainforest plant, it likes it warm. It’s an excellent choice for that warmer room in your home.

Moisture

The base of the plant is a structure that looks like a pseudo-bulb. Its leaves will grow outward from it. The plant gets its water and nutrients from the air just as it would in the wild. You’ll replicate this scenario with frequent misting, depending on the relative humidity of your room. Once a day may be sufficient. During the cooler months, you can mist less frequently.

You can help ensure that the humidity is in its comfort zone by planting it around other houseplants to replicate its native habitat. You can also create a mini rainforest environment with a shallow pan of water placed near your plants. Make sure and fill it with fresh water regularly.

This video from the University of Wyoming Extension discusses the care of air plants and bromeliads.

If you can do it, you might also consider dunking the plant in filtered water every few weeks, again, depending on the relative humidity of its living space. With enough light and moisture, the Tillandsia Caput Medusae will look its most vibrant. Notice that we said dunking and not soaking. You’ll want to avoid oversaturating its bulb to prevent it from rotting.

Fertilizing

Some plants can fix nitrogen from the air. That means they can convert it into a form that they can use. Like other plants, the Tillandsia Caput Medusae absorbs water and nutrients through its leaves. This plant has special structures called trichomes that are the business end of this process. They are the things that give the plant’s leaves its fuzzy look.

These extra hair make gas exchange more efficient by increasing the amount of surface area on the leaves. Instead of a flat surface, it adds grooves and spaces to create more area where it can occur. On its own, it’s a fascinating lesson on how plants evolved to best adapt to challenging conditions like a rainforest.

To ensure your plant has enough of what it needs, you should add a weak fertilizer solution as part of your misting routine. You should plan on doing this once or twice a month during the warmer months to fuel its growth. You can cut back on the fertilizing during the cooler months especially if the light levels change with the seasons. Growth will likely slow during this time.

Fitting In

The Tillandsia Caput Medusae is probably in fitting in because it is an air plant. You give it what it needs, and you’ll get a delightful plant that will flourish with enough light. You can also propagate additional plants any time of the year from its offsets or cuttings. All you need to do is give each new one its own space, and you’re set.

Special Care Instructions

If you live in a northern region, you’ll need to take some special care during the winter months. If your home is drier, you’ll need to compensate those conditions with some of the suggestions we mentioned previously for moisture needs. Also, 55 degrees Fahrenheit is on the edge of its optimal low temperature. If possible, make sure the room stays this warm during the winter.

If you give the Tillandsia Caput Medusae the moisture and light it needs, it’ll reward you with a plant with unusual foliage and striking flowers—and some good stories. You can grow this rainforest plant anywhere that can meet these basic criteria. We can’t think of a better or easier way to add an exotic feel to a room.

Photo by James Steakley (Own work) licensed under CC by SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Read Also: Dragon Tree care

Effective Tips for Growing the Silver Vase Plant

Last update: April 28, 2020

The silver vase plant is a striking houseplant with low maintenance needs. Its showy pink flower bract and delicate bluish flowers make it an eye-catching focal point for any room. Though it takes a while to bloom, it is worth the wait. While it has some special care needs, it isn’t a fussy plant. Continue reading to learn more about this exotic rainforest plant.

What Is the Silver Vase Plant?

The silver vase plant (Aechmea fasciata) is a member of the Bromeliaceae Family which includes the pineapple. The first time you see one, you’ll probably think it resembled a pineapple with its cluster of thick silver and green leaves. It also goes by the name urn plant, but we prefer silver vase. Most of the plants of this family are from New World subtropical and tropical regions.

It is an interesting plant, and unlike many other houseplants you may have grown before. While easy to care for, it has some special needs that will stand out. One of its most outstanding features is its rose-colored flower bract and small blue-violet flowers. However, the silver vase plant is slow-growing, so unless you buy one that is already pink, you’ll wait awhile to see it.

Planting the Silver Vase Plant

This plant is typically grown as a houseplant rather than an addition to your garden. However, if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 10a through 11, you may have luck with it outside. Bear in mind though that is a plant that would naturally live in humid rainforests. It won’t fare well in hot, dry climates.

The plant will get about two foot tall with a similarly sized spread. However, it is a slow-growing plant. Most of its growth is above ground which makes it rather top heavy. A terra cotta or ceramic pot will help distribute the weight better. It’s a good chance to capitalize on its exotic look with an attractive container that matches its mood.

Now for the bad news. Unlike other flowering houseplants, it’s a onetime deal with the silver vase plant. It does flower season after season. Once it blooms, that’s it. It won’t be long before it goes to the big garden in the sky. However, it can take several years before it flowers, so you’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time. The flower will also last several months before it begins to decline.

Care and Maintenance

Caring for a silver vase plant is easy. It’s not too picky about what it needs which makes it a good choice if you’re new to raising houseplants. If it’s not happy, there are telltale signs that will clue you about what is lacking in its world. Fortunately, there are quick fixes for most issues. Basic care is similar to most houseplants except when it comes to watering.

Light

The silver vase plant prefers bright indirect light such as it would get in its native Brazil. Direct sunlight will damage the plant and hasten its demise. A south, west, or east-facing window will suit it just fine. It’ll thrive in normal household temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers it on the warmer side, so you can place them in a room that fits the bill.

Water

Watering is where there is a slight departure from the typical care of a houseplant. You should keep the soil moist and avoid over-watering it. Just because it’s a rainforest plant doesn’t mean it likes soggy soils. Let it dry between waterings. You will also need to add water to its vase portion, the central area where the flower will emerge. In the wild, rainwater collects there.

At home, you’ll replicate it by filling the vase with water. To avoid bacteria development, you will also need to replace it every two to three weeks with fresh water. It’s a small price to pay for keeping this plant healthy and easing its way to flowering.

Soil Conditions

The most important thing it needs from the soil is good drainage. Root rot can become a problem even with a tropical plant. Any lighter soil mixture will do. To aid draining, you should opt for a peat-based mix. Because you’re using lighter soil, that heavier clay pot is essential to keep it from toppling over. If you keep the plants outdoors, make sure it is sheltered from the wind.

Fitting In

The silver vase plant is nontoxic if ingested. However, it may cause skin irritation. Then, there are its leaves. They have spines along the edges. Be careful when handling the plant. To be on the safe side, you may also want to make sure it’s well out of reach of pets and small children.

Special Care Notes

The silver vase plant is relatively problem free. If it develops brown leaf tips, it might not be getting enough water. A light misting should bring it back. If the entire leaves develop brown spots, the problem lies with light. What you’re seeing is damage from too much direct sunlight that is burning the leaves. Move it away from direct light, and the plant should recover.

The pest issues you may encounter are mealy bugs and scale. A regular application of an insecticidal soap will take care of most problems. And finally, its large leaves may become dust magnet, especially if you’re misting your plant. You should wipe down the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth to keep it looking its best. It’ll also help keep the plant healthy.

This video from Koppert Biological Systems discusses how mealy bugs can affect your houseplants.

The silver base plant is a low-maintenance plant that offers a stunning display of its beautiful flowers even if they only bloom once. As a foliage plant, it’s an attractive addition on it own. With the proper light and adequate watering, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a gorgeous plant that will bring a bit of the tropics to your home.

Photo by HilaryFran licensed under CC0.

Learning How to Grow the ZZ Plant

Last update: April 25, 2020

The ZZ plant is an excellent choice for a plant with low-maintenance needs. It’ll tolerate neglect and perhaps even thrive. That is because this plant evolved having to survive in challenging conditions. Your home is a piece of cake compared to drought. Continue reading to learn more about this user-friendly houseplant.

What Is the ZZ Plant?

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) has nothing to do with sleeping. Rather, the ZZ name refers to its genus and species name. It is the sole member of its genus that belongs to the Araceae or Arum Family. The group includes many plants you’ll likely recognize such as jack-in-the-pulpit and peace lily. Rather than regular flowers, they have a spadix for a bloom.

Maybe we were premature so say it isn’t about sleeping. This plant is slow growing, so you might wonder if it’s still awake. It won’t flower most likely. You may not need to repot it. For someone looking for a no-fuss houseplant, you can’t do much better than growing a ZZ plant. It’ll continue to thrive in most any conditions—even the occasional neglect.

Care and Maintenance

A little background of the ZZ plant will tell you most of what you need to know about its care. The plant grows in eastern Africa where it has evolved under drought-like conditions. It is a tough plant that you may put in the category of houseplants that are hard to kill.And it has few special needs. Basic houseplant care will suffice. At full maturity, it reaches heights up to three feet.

Light and Temperature

The ZZ plant prefers indirect light that is neither too bright nor too shady. Direct sun will scorch its leaves while too little will affect its already slow growth. Overall, it will tolerate most indoor settings as long as you avoid extremes. The ZZ plant will do just fine in normal indoor temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer conditions will spur growth.

While it is a tolerant plant, it won’t thrive in a windowless room. It needs some light to undergo photosynthesis. You can place it in most rooms, except for a north-facing room which likely won’t have enough light for it to make food and energy.

Moisture

The ZZ plant is a succulent which is one way plants adapt to dry conditions. Their thick, fleshy leaves allow the plant to store water to get it through tough times. Cacti and other plants from dry areas share similar adaptations. That means you needn’t worry about relative humidity as much as you’d have to with a tropical plant. The conditions in your home are all right.

Since it evolved to handle drought, you should let the soil dry between waterings. In fact, if there is one way to kill a ZZ plant, it is through over-watering. The telltale yellow leaves will tell you that you’re overdoing it. It’s essential to avoid watering it too much to prevent root rot. It is the bane of many houseplants, especially when you grow them in containers.

This video from Fulton Mason Peoria Tazewell Extension explains the proper way to water your houseplants to keep them happy.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

Proper drainage is essential for growing the ZZ plant. That means you should select a container with holes on the bottom even if you have to make them yourself. The soil should also lend itself toward fast-draining conditions. You can use a soil mixture appropriate for cacti and succulents. These lighter soils will prevent water from pooling and create a healthier environment for roots.

The soil mixture will directly impact your choice of container. You’ll need to compensate for the lighter soils with a pot that is heavier to keep the plant from becoming top heavy. It’s a good opportunity to use a decorative ceramic or terra cotta container instead of a plastic one.

As you may expect with a slow-growing plant, fertilizing will not be your top maintenance priority with a ZZ plant. However, it still needs to get its nutrients from the soil. You should plan on fertilizing it quarterly with a weak, all-purpose product. It’s especially important for plants actively growing in lighter conditions. It’s probably something you want to encourage.

Fitting In

The ZZ plant is one of many plants that can improve indoor air quality by removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You may think of air pollution as an environmental problem. But indoor air quality is also a concern simply because we spend so much time inside, especially during the winter months.

You can propagate additional ZZ plants from cuttings. But do you remember that part about it being slow growing? That will also apply to the new plants you’re trying to grow. Stay patient, and you’ll see them take hold, eventually. Provide the cuttings with same conditions that your adult plant enjoys. Believe us; it’ll happen.

Given the right conditions, the ZZ plant will reach its mature height, albeit, over period of time. You also have some control over its spread. If you plant it in a wide container, it’ll become a bushier plant over time. The reverse is also true. So, you can easily match this plant with the space which is something you can’t say with a lot of houseplants.

Special Care Notes

The one caution is that it may contain calcium oxalate crystals. They can cause mouth and throat irritation if a pet or child accidentally ingests any part of the plant. Otherwise, that is the only drawback to an otherwise smart choice for an indoor plant.

The ZZ plant is a handsome plant with beautiful foliage. It has a lot to offer the home gardener. It is low maintenance and will tolerate lapses in good care. As long as it has some indirect light, it’ll fare well in your home. It will pay you back for its optimal growing conditions with a plant that will improve your indoor air quality. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation.

Photo by CITYEDV licensed underCC0

Coleus Plants Brighten Your Garden

Last update: April 28, 2020

With its seemingly endless array of colors, sizes and shapes, the Coleus Plant’s vibrant leaves add style to any garden, porch or window sill. Usually grown as an indoor plant, the coleus (also known as the Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, or Poor Man’s Croton) thrives in a combination of bright and indirect sunlight, and doesn’t need much water to grow its soft, colorful leaves. Officially called the Solenostemon scutellarioides, (its botanical name), this plant loves the heat and does well when planted in loamy, clay or chalky soil or peat.

Displaying and Caring for the Coleus Plant

Native to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, the coleus plant grows to be about 30 inches tall and wide, with variegated leaves in an almost unlimited number of color combinations. An evergreen perennial, they are sometimes treated as a disposable plant because if the ease they can be propagated from cuttings. Their thin leaves vary in size and shape, and they produce small, unremarkable flowers that are usually snipped off to keep plants fill and bushy.

Plant the Solenostemon scutellarioides along with annual flowers to create texture or group alone in a garden bed, window box container or hanging basket. The plant’s trailing selections will spill over the edge of a hanging basket, making it an eye-catching addition to your porch or patio. The coleus thrives in pots and containers if grown in free-draining soil and positioned in indirect sun. Don’t place hanging baskets or containers in windy areas because the plant may break. Consider making or buying a self-watering hanging basket, since parched soil may kill the water-needy coleus.

Learn about different coleus varieties from P. Allen Smith in the video “Sun-Loving Coleus” from the P. Allen Smith YouTube Video Channel.

https://youtu.be/_X3Fk3kiutw

Temperature and Humidity

When the temperature’s above 64 degrees, use a misting spray or position plants on trays of wet pebbles or peat moss to maintain humidity. Temperatures under 55 degrees may cause leaves to drop and wilt. The coleus likes warm temperatures and can do well in temperatures up to 85 degrees. (source)

Soil and Fertilizer Requirements

The coleus grows well in fertile, well-drained soil with a slightly alkaline or neutral pH. Avoid damp soil mixtures. Use loam, clay or peat-based soils. The plant wilts when the soil’s too dry but recovers when watered. When waterlogged, there’s little chance of recovery.

Use a liquid fertilizer twice a month during the spring and summer.

Watering and Light

Use room-temperature water to relieve your plant’s thirst, and keep the soil thoroughly moist, but not drenched. If the soil dries out, even temporarily, the plant will crumble. Even when watered, most of the plant will recover, but the lower leaves may still fall off or wilt. Reduce watering during the winter and keep the plant slightly dry.

Water the soil and base of the plant. Avoid wetting the velvety leaves. White spots will form on the leaves from the hard water.

The coleus needs bright light all day long – mostly indirect sunlight, but a few hours of bright, direct sun as well. Keeping your plant in the shade will stunt its growth.

Planting and Propagating

Propagating coleus from seeds or cuttings is easy.

Buy Coleus seeds online or from a gardening center Sprinkle the seeds and some fine sand over the soil. The sand helps spread the seeds more evenly. Cover with a thin layer of potting soil, then cover the container with a clear plastic bag and place it in bright, indirect sunlight. Seedlings should sprout in two weeks. Water the seedling from below to prevent damage as they grow. Transfer the plants to individual pots once they grow two sets of leaves.

To propagate coleus with cuttings from a mature plant, take a sharp pair of scissors and cut four to six inches just under a leaf node. Take leaves off the lower end of the cutting, and dip the cutting in rooting hormone.

Water the soil before planting the cutting. Make an indentation in the soil with the eraser tip of a pencil, and put the cutting in that hole. Pack the soil around the cutting. Take the container with the rooting and cove it with a plastic zip lock bag or plastic wrap to keep it humid during the rooting process. Make sure plastic doesn’t touch the cutting. In two to three weeks, the cutting should root.

You may also start the rooting process in water and transfer the cutting to soil once roots grow. Just place the cutting in a glass of room-temperature water, and put it in bright but diffused light. Change water every other day until roots appear. Then remove cuttings from the glass and place in the soil.

For best results, plant 12 inches apart in moist, rich soil. Water the coleus thoroughly after planting. Applying mulch to the plant’s root area during the spring and summer keeps soil heated and contributes to better growth. Use pine, cedar bark, pine straw, or any organic mulch on the soil as necessary.

Get some more tips on planting and propagating coleus cuttings from Bodie Pyndus in the video “How to Propagate Coleus Cuttings” from the DIY Home & Garden Projects YouTube Video Channel

Potting and Repotting

Move young plants every two months into a pot that’s two sizes larger. The coleus plant needs a large pit to stretch its roots and fully mature. Avoid stifling young plants in small, tight pots.

Pests and Problems

The coleus doesn’t have many naturally-occurring problems. Improper care, like wrong soil choice or under watering, causes most issues with these plants

When left in a hot, dry room without sufficient watering, red spider mites may infest the plant. These pests cause leaves to change color and wither. Treat the leaves by washing off spider mites under the faucet. Prevent a reoccurrence by misting leaves with a spray, or placing the plant on a tray with pebbles soaked in water.

If leaves fall off the plant, it’s not getting enough light. The Coleus loves bright sunshine and withers in the dark. Put it by a window that gets a combination of direct and indirect sunlight, or place in bright sun and position in diffused sun during midday, when rays are the strongest. Poor growth or scraggly leaves may also be due to inadequate lighting.

Photo by Jim, The Photographer licensed under SA-BY 2.0

Expand Your Horizons with the Lantana Plant

Last update: April 25, 2020

A low-maintenance houseplant that originated in the American tropics, the Lantana camara likes lots of direct sun and needs little watering once it matures. It comes in a variety of gorgeous colors, including people, orange, and some multi-colored varieties. The Lantana livens up hanging baskets and container gardens and can be used as a foundation or edge in outdoor gardens. It thrives in well-drained soil, but too much water can damage it. Also called the Spanish Flag or Wild Sage, this plant is famous for attracting butterflies.

What You Should Know About Lantana Plants

A flowering shrub that grows to about four feet tall in the wild, the Lantana plant can be tamed to about 16 inches high domestically by pruning. The plants, usually sold by stores and nurseries in early spring or late winter, are thought by many growers to be disposable plants. This isn’t true, as most Lantana camara plants can be kept for years if properly cared for and pruned.

This plant tolerates salty water, drought, high winds and blazing winds. Shade and over watering are its enemies. Its blooms have a strong, pleasant smell, and it purifies household air.

One of the most popular plants for attracting butterflies, research at Auburn University showed that, although all varieties can draw these beautiful winged creatures, the “New Gold” and “Radiation” varieties attracted the most butterflies.

Soil and Fertilizer

Lantana flowers tolerate many soil types but grow best in slightly acidic soils. If you live in an area with alkaline soil, add pine needle mulch to raise pH levels

These plants don’t require fertilizer to grow, but you can use a diluted, store-bought liquid brand once in the spring. Using too much fertilizer inhibits growth.

Watering and Light

New lantana plantrequires frequent watering to keep potting mixture moist. Avoid leaving new plants in standing water. Once the plant matures, a thorough drink once a week should suffice.During the winter, water enough to keep the soil from turning dry.

Grow your plant in bright sunlight for between three and six hours a day. It can even soak up the sun for up to eight hours with no problems. Too much shade will stop the Lantana from blooming.

Learn more about Lantanas in the video “Lantana – Southern Gardening TV – July 13, 2014” from the MissState Extension YouTube Video Channel.

Planting and Propagating

Grow new Lantanas from seeds or cuttings, whichever you prefer. To grow from seeds, you’ll need to harvest the small black berries of the plant once they’re ripe. Take out the seeds, clean them, and let them dry for a few days. Store the seeds in a sealed container in your fridge until you’re ready to plant them.

Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting them. Fill small pots with peat moss, perlite or another soil-less seed potting medium, leaving a half-inch to spare at the top. Place one or two seeds in the middle of the pot and cover with a thin layer of potting medium. Keep the soil moist to ensure fast growth. You may want to place the pots in a sealed plastic bag to retain moisture. It should take abut a month for the plans to bloom.

Propagate from cuttings by trimming four-inch tips from the stems and remove the lower leaves. Prepare a 50/50 mixture of peat moss and perlite. Water the soil-less medium, and then make a two-inch deep hole in the middle of the pot with a pencil.

Cover the last two inches of the stem with rooting hormone. Put the cutting in the hole, packing around it with a thin layer of soil. Once the cutting stands upright, place three or four craft sticks in the soil near the pot’s edge. Place the pot in a sealed plastic bag. Check the cutting occasionally for new growth. Rooting occurs after three or four weeks. Take the bag off the newly rooted cutting and place it in a sunny location until you can plant it outdoors.

Plant Lantanas outdoors once frost and cold temperatures have passed. They do prefer warmer temperatures, so if your region experiences a cooler than average spring, the plants may be slow to flower. When temperatures rise, the plants will grow at a brisk pace.

Check out this video “How to Multiply a Lantana Plant” from Shirley Bovshow on the Shirley Bovshow YouTube Video Channel.

https://youtu.be/ESCQ1FThCRk

Potting and Repotting

You may have to repot Lantana plants two or three times a year. Transfer plants to a pot that’s one size larger when the original pot becomes root bound. Avoid using large pots to transfer these plants, as they do better in slightly smaller containers. A six to eight-inch pot should be large enough for an average indoor Lantana. To repot, use a soil-based potting mixture.

Lantana Problems and Pests

Here are a few problems you may encounter with a slow-growing plant, and how you can solve them and get your flowers to bloom.

  • When growth becomes slow or non-existent, check the plant’s lighting. The Lantana needs between six and eight hours of full sun every day. They won’t bloom if they’re kept in the shade.
  • An infestation of lacewing bugs may also prevent a plant from blooming. These tiny, green-winged insects suck the life out of leaves. Look for them on the underside of the leaves, and spray leaves with an insecticidal soap to kill them.
  • Green pods on your plant indicate new seeds have begun to form. Cut them off to stimulate your Lantana to continue blooming.

Check plants for black or brown patches. These spots indicate mold or mildew caused by shade or over watering. Remedy this by trimming infected leaves and disposing them to get rid of the fungus.

Precautions

The Lantana camara may be toxic to dogs and cats. In tropical climates, like Hawaii, where the plant isn’t subdued by winter frosts, it’s classified as an invasive weed.

Photo by Jori Samonen licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Growing Peace Lily: Facts & Care

Last update: January 29, 2021

The peace lily is a unique house plant that’s somewhat deceptive in its nature. Its white, diamond-esque “flower” that defines its look isn’t a flower at all – it’s essentially a hood covering for the plant’s real flower. The plant also has a strong reputation for being able to break down airborne toxins, making it a strong environmental ally. The plant is easy to take care of, as it just requires basic indirect sunlight, water, and a variable amount of fertilizer, depending on how quickly you want the plant to grow.

A Peaceful Looking Plant

What’s in a name? If you’re talking about peace lilies, there’s a bit of deception – they aren’t actually lilies, and their signature white flower-like appendages aren’t actually flowers. But none of this hardly matters, as this beautiful houseplant will effortlessly bring grace and elegance to your home.

A Look at What Your Peace Lily May Look Like

It’s one thing to see a peace lily hanging out in your local nursery or garden shop. But seeing it in someone’s home gives you a much better frame of reference as to what you may expect it to look like. This amusing little video will provide you with such a reference, as well as a couple handy tidbits on how to give it the love it needs to thrive.

So, What Are Those White Things?

The aesthetic hallmark of a peace lily is the white diamonds that encase the end of plant’s flowers. However, these diamonds are not part of the flower; rather, they’re a leaf bract emanating from the stem. This bract acts a hooded shield that protects the flower part of the plant.

The beauty of this faux flower makes it a popular plant, which is a very good thing from an environmental standpoint. The peace lily’s capacity to break down and neutralize toxic gases within its pores is matched by very few plants. It’s an ability that no less of an authority than NASA has recognized.

One thing to note about these white bracts: They are dust magnets whose ability to process sunlight can be hindered greatly if they aren’t cleaned. While you don’t have to constantly clean the bracts, you should be prepared to wash or wipe them down at least once a year.

Caring for Your Peace Lily: Lighting and Temperature

Another reason why peace lilies are popular – and make great house plants for people new to gardening – is that they are quite easy to maintain. They aren’t too temperamental, and other than wiping down their bracts, don’t require any unorthodox care methods.

Like a lot of indoor plants, peace lilies thrive with medium to low light. In fact, the plant is unique in the sense that the amount of light you want to give it will directly correlate with what you want the plant to look like.

If you want the bracts to unfurl wide and become more diamond-shaped, you’ll want to put them in a greater amount of light. Conversely, putting the plant in lower light will allow it to maintain a more traditional indoor plant look, complete with tighter white ends. Whatever you do, though, avoid putting this plant in direct sunlight – you’ll end up scorching its leaves.

You’ll also want to put your peace lily in a place where it can enjoy a consistent temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You also want to be mindful of protecting your plant from drastic temperature swings or sudden drafts of cold.

Caring for Your Peace Lily – Water and Fertilizer

Like any house plant, consistent watering is important to the health of a peace lily. You don’t want to have a lapse in giving the plant water, but you don’t want to overdo things, either.

Ideally, you’ll give the plant enough water to ensure its potting soil is moist without being soggy. The best way to see if your plant needs water is to stick your finger in its soil. If it doesn’t have any dirt clinging to it after it’s removed, it’s time to water.

A peace lily will do also do its part to let you know if it needs a drink. It will dramatically wilt if it dries out; if you see this, you won’t even need to do the finger test – water your plant post haste. Fortunately, your plant will bounce right back to its vibrant self once it gets the water it needs.

Because peace lilies are technically tropical plants, they especially thrive in high levels of humidity. If its area is insufficiently humid, its leaves will start browning on its edges. You can counteract this with a humidifier, surrounding it with more houseplants, or setting the pot on top of a tray of pebbles.

As far as fertilizer goes, you can fertilize your peace lily about once or twice a year if you want to promote steady, consistent growth. However, if you want to speed up its growth or maximize its blooming potential, you can add fertilizer on a more frequent basis.

A general-purpose fertilizer is all you need to help your peace lily along. That said, be sure to follow the application instructions to the letter. Adding too much fertilizer in one setting can do more harm than good.

Finally, because peace lilies are relatively compact plants, you won’t have to worry about re-potting like you would with tall plants. If anything, the need for re-potting can be somewhat mitigated when its first purchased. If you initially plant it in a 10-inch pot, you may not have to think about re-potting at all.

All of this basic maintenance adds up to a very easy plant-growing experience, making peace lilies an excellent house plant option for the beginning gardener. Succeeding with a peace lily may foster the confidence that’s so often needed to tackle advanced plants, so think of the plant as a stepping stone for even more amazing things as you admire its beauty.

Photo by Olin Gilbert Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Growing the Hawaiian Ti Plant Easily

Last update: April 1, 2021

You have to like a plant with the moniker, good luck plant. Who can’t use a bit of extra good fortune? The Hawaiian ti plant is a broadleaf evergreen that comes in a variety of sizes and colors. It’s a vibrant tropical plant that will bring a bit of island magic to your garden or home. Its stunning feature is its long colorful leaves. Continue reading to learn more about this plant.

What Is the Hawaiian Ti Plant?

Its name probably says it all. The Hawaiian ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa, syn. Cordyline terminalis) is a tropical member of the Asparagus Family, yes, that asparagus. The group includes other exotic-sounding plants like agave and yucca. Like many tropical plants, it is an evergreen plant that can provide year-round interest in the right location.

Also known as the Hawaiian good-luck-plant, it excels as a focal point with its eye-catching, lush foliage. You’ll find it with green leaves, but you’ll also see many cultivars with brightly colored leaves in red, orange, or yellow variegation. The name of the cultivar often provides this information with descriptive names like ‘Painter’s Pallette’ or ‘Oahu Rainbow.’

Planting the Hawaiian Ti Plant

You’ll find a broad spectrum of sizes with cultivars and hybrids of the Hawaiian ti plant. You can opt for a plant that will suit your tastes and size allotment. Heights range from 3 to 10 feet with spreads up to 4-foot wide—and everything in between. You’ll also find miniature varieties like ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Baby Doll’ that may be more suitable for houseplants.

Care and Maintenance

The Hawaiian ti plant’s optimal range as an outdoor plant is limited to USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 12. It’s not surprising given the fact that it lives in southeastern Asia and throughout the Pacific. Even though you may not be able to have it in the garden, it makes an excellent houseplant for bringing a bit of the tropics indoors.

Light and Temperature

The best conditions for the Hawaiian ti plant replicate its native habitat. That means bright indirect light. Outdoors, you’d be looking at partial to full sun. And as you might also surmise, the Hawaiian ti plant prefers it warm with temperatures well above the Zone 10 extreme low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It thrives best in temperatures over 55 degrees.

Light is important on several fronts. Of course, a tropical plant would love sunlight. But it’s also essential for maintaining the lovely variegation of its leaves. When it doesn’t get enough sunlight, the coloring will fade and turn the leaves a solid green color. How boring is that? It goes both ways. While it can tolerate low light and survive, direct sunlight might scorch its leaves.

Moisture Needs

The climate of Hawaii is best described as mild temperatures all year round with moderate humidity. The Hawaiian ti plant prefers moist soils, especially during the growing season. You should water the plant regularly, but avoid over-watering which can lead to root rot. You shouldn’t wet its leaves to prevent fungal growth. Water at the base of the plant.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

The Hawaiian ti plant prefers soils on the acidic side within the range of 5.6 to 6.5. You can use a peat-based soil mixture as long as it falls within that pH range. Just make sure that it is a well-draining mix if you’re planting in it in a container. Proper drainage is essential to keep your plant healthy.

If you’re planting the Hawaiian ti plant outdoors, you should do a soil test before planting. Then, amend the soil with compost or other additives to get the pH in its optimal range. Regarding fertilizer, the plan will vary depending on whether you have them in the garden or a container. The Hawaiian ti plant is one that you’ll grow for foliage as a houseplant. It rarely blooms indoors.

The fertilizer mix should favor this growth with a higher ratio of nitrogen for houseplants. You should fertilize outdoor plants at the beginning of the growing season to support both foliage and flower development. During the winter months, you can reduce applications to once a month. If you notice yellowing of the leaves, the plants need an extra boost of magnesium.

Fitting In

The range of cultivars and hybrids makes it easy to find a plant that will work for your situation. You can also keep its growth in check by topping them. Unlike shrubs and trees, the growth of the Hawaiian ti plant comes from the base. You needn’t worry about ruining its shape or hurting the plant as long as you use sharp pruning shears.

Propagating New Plants

You can easily grow new plants from your established one with cuttings from the stems. Place the cut ends into moist soil to encourage root development. You can also propagate plants with air layering. You can then spread your good luck with plants as gifts for friends and family.

This video from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener walks you through the process of propagating plants with air layering using a rubber tree as an example.

Special Care Notes

The Hawaiian ti plant has one critical special care note regarding water. Fluoride in tap water is toxic to these plants. It begins with brown leaf tips and will spread to the leaves. The lower pH of the soil will help it endure it. You can also leave tap water to sit out before using it to water your plants. You might also want to consider using a rain barrel to collect rainwater.

The Hawaiian ti plant is an attractive plant for the southern garden or as a beautiful indoor plant that will bring plenty of color to a room. With many cultivars available, you’ll be able to pick the right plant to match the color scheme and mood of your garden or indoor space. And you’ll also appreciate the extra bit of luck it’ll bring to your home.

Photo by daryl_mitchell licensed under CC By-SA-2.0.

Our Quick Guide to Calla Lily Care

Last update: January 29, 2021

The calla lily is a gorgeous plant whether you grow in in your garden or keep it indoors as a container plant. If you meet its needs for moisture and light, you’re well on your way to mastering calla lily care. And the rewards are sweet. It will add charm and elegance to any setting. Continue reading to learn more about this beautiful plant.

What Is the Calla Lily?

The calla lily (Calla aethiopica) is probably one of the most striking members of the Araceae or Arum Family. It evokes class and elegance in ways that few other plants can manage. This South African native was introduced into Oregon and California. Both its foliage and its blooms are gorgeous. Its dark green foliage provides a beautiful backdrop.

Can you imagine a stand of three-foot tall plants with white, trumpet-shaped flowers? We’d say that it is nothing short of stunning. The plant grows from bulbs with a single one capable of producing several flowers. Best of all, it’ll bloom as long as you keep it happy in the conditions it prefers. A plant that doesn’t go to flower is missing something that it needs.

Planting Calla Lily

You may think of the calla lily as an indoor plant or as part of a bouquet. It is stunning in either capacity. However, you can also grow it outdoors as part of your landscaping design. If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8a through 11, you’re in luck. These plants get to a good size, so you’ll want to space them 12 to 15 inches apart if you’re growing them outside.

Care and Maintenance

While it is easy to care for once established, it’s striking the right balance with its needs that matters. The calla lily differs from other garden plants on several key points, primarily with moisture. Light is another essential consideration with a plant that likes to flower. Nutrition and soil conditions present other important factors. While it may be picky, it is worth the effort.

Light and Temperature

The calla lily loves sunshine. It thrives best in full sun. The same thing applies to plants grown indoors. A sunny location is essential. Even if everything else is right in its world, it won’t flower unless it has enough light. And it may be slow to respond if you make changes to correct any deficiencies. On the plus side, you needn’t do anything special to make it flower if all is good.

Regarding temperatures, mild days are best for calla lilies. They don’t like overly warm conditions, nor cooler temperatures. However, it is surprisingly cold hardy. Based on its hardiness zones, it can tolerate an extreme low temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the high temperatures that it doesn’t like. You can mulch it to keep it cooler during warm months.

Moisture Needs

The calla lily will stand out from other garden plants because of its love for water. It is a plant that you’ll want to consider for challenging areas such as the edges of ponds. It’ll provide an excellent border plant that will add interest to your focal point. However, there are limits to its tolerance. While it likes moist conditions, it won’t handle soggy soils well and may lead to root rot.

It’s a concern both in the garden and especially with container plants. Proper drainage is critical. If its pot doesn’t have holes on the bottom, make sure. Root rot, like so many other plant diseases, is much easier to prevent rather than cure. However, you should not let the soil of a calla lily plant dry out between waterings.

This video from the University of Illinois Extension explains the things to look for to water your houseplants properly.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

Proper soil pH is another factor that will determine your success with growing calla lilies. You can use a standard soil mixture for container plants. However, both indoor and garden plants require soils on the acidic side in the range of 6.1 to 6.5 pH. You can find soil mixtures that will fit the bill. For outdoors, make sure and run a soil test prior to planting.

A basic soil test will provide a lot of information that can help you with calla lily care. In addition to pH, you’ll also learn the soil’s nutrient profile. As a rule of thumb, you don’t need to fertilize a calla lily plant as much as you would with others. The plant will fare better if you don’t fertilize. If you do, a weak solution is best. However, you should avoid long-term applications.

Fitting In

The calla lily plant has a lot going for it in addition to its great looks. There is one serious drawback that you need to know up front. Like many members of the Arum Family, it contains insoluble calcium oxalates. It is toxic to both dogs and cats. Accidental ingestion will cause mouth and throat irritation as well as excessive drooling in pets.

The same caution applies to people too. The entire plant is poisonous from seeds to root. It may even cause skin irritations or allergic reactions in some individuals. To be on the safe side, it’s best to wear gloves when handling it or performing routine maintenance.

Special Care Notes

On the plus side, you can propagate the calla lily easily by cutting tubers or using offsets or cuttings from the plant. It handles repotting well. You might even have some success with sowing seeds. If the plant produces berries, you can also plant them to grow new bulbs for additional plants.

Calla lily care means the right balance of light, moisture, and soil conditions. If you can satisfy its simple needs, you’ll enjoy beautiful flowers that are the epitome of elegance. We can’t think of a better plant to create a dramatic centerpiece for a landscape. For us, it is worth the effort to get it right.

Photo by Tappancs licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Growing Borage

Top Tips for Maintaining a Cyclamen Persicum

Last update: April 28, 2020

The Cyclamen persicum carries with it the promise of spring. Perhaps its greatest joy is the fact that it blooms long before other spring bloomers have even turned over. It is a delicate plant, yet is surprisingly hardy as long as it gets enough light and moisture. While you can grow it outdoors, it shines best as a houseplant. Continue reading to learn more about this plant.

What Is the Cyclamen Persicum?

The Cyclamen persicum is the scientific name for a plant known simply as cyclamen. It is a member of the Primulaceae or Primrose Family. The group includes many familiar garden plants and wildflower such as varieties of primrose and shooting star. It typically includes flowers with five sepals and petals. It differs from the Evening Primrose Family which typically has four of each.

You’ll recognize cyclamen as a common houseplant. In the wild, it grows in the Middle East and northern Africa. Wildflowers are usually white or pink, but cultivars have opened up the color spectrum to include many variations including magenta and red. It is a charming plant that grows less than a foot tall with heart-shaped leaves. You’ll find it as an annual called florist cyclamen.

Planting Cyclamen Persicum

Cyclamen persicum enjoys a Mediterranean climate in the wild. As its appearance may suggest, it is a delicate plant that doesn’t handle the cold well. It has a narrow range of tolerable USDA Hardiness Zones with only being able to handle Zones 10-11. That means a tolerable extreme low temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Care and Maintenance

Delicate describes not only the plant, but its care as well. While there are limits to where it will grow outdoors, you can plant it as a houseplant. Cyclamen persicum differs from other landscaping plants in that it blooms in late winter or early spring. While some plants go dormant in the winter, plant growth slows during the summer when it’s warm and dry.

Light and Temperature

Mild describes the Mediterranean climate that Cyclamen persicum prefers. That means cool temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Think of the conditions of early spring, and you’re well on your way to making it happy. That means temperatures on either end of the spectrum are unfavorable. It prefers the middle road to anything else.

Using our spring analogy, the Cyclamen persicum prefers bright, indirect light. Remember, it is a delicate plant. If you have it indoors, west- and east-facing are the best locations for a container plant. It will fare well with light shade outdoors. With sufficient light, you’ll get several rounds of blooms. That only adds to its value as a houseplant.

The Cyclamen persicum will thrive in rooms with good air circulation which will help keep moisture levels at the optimal range. Average household temperatures will suit your plant just fine even if they range on the cool side. It is the one plant you can put in the cooler rooms of your home without worry.

Moisture Needs

If the Cyclamen persicum is picky about anything, it is its moisture needs. It prefers moist soils. You’ll want these conditions to be the Status quo. You should avoid letting the soil dry out between waterings. On the other hand, it disdains soggy soils. Its delicacy extends to its vulnerability to the deadly fungus, root rot. The tubers are especially susceptible.

This video from the LSU AgCenter explains the importance of proper watering and how to make your plants happy by meeting this basic need.

Its summer dormancy puts a bit of a spin on this aspect of routine care. Since it’s not actively growing, you should make sure the soil doesn’t become waterlogged. That is essential during the summer for outdoor plants. The key is consistency without going to either extreme in soil moisture. During dormancy, it may drop leaves which is not unusual, so don’t panic.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

Because of its moisture requirements, you should plant the Cyclamen persicum in fertile, well-draining soils. Doing so will keep the roots healthy while allowing for air circulation. You should also support its growth with a balanced fertilizer during flowering. That takes a lot of energy and resources. The extra boost will reward you with beautiful blooms.

If you’re planting it in a container, you should make sure it has proper drainage in addition to choosing the proper soil mixture. Never allow the Cyclamen persicum to sit in waterlogged soils. To provide water during its dormancy period, you can place a shallow tray of water close by so it can stay in the humid conditions it prefers without danger to the tuber and roots.

You can take advantage of its dormant times to repot the plant if it becomes necessary. That will reduce the stress it may incur though it will tolerate it just the same. Just make sure and leave the top of its tuber above the soil level.

Fitting In

It would be hard to imagine the Cyclamen persicum as an aggressive plant, and indeed, it is not. Rather concerns about fitting in have to do with its toxicity. Unfortunately, it is both poisonous to cats and dogs. Mild cases will cause vomiting and diarrhea. There is a risk of more serious complications including death if your pet ingests large amounts of the plant.

Special Care Notes

The crown and tuber are the Cyclamen persicum’s Achille’s heels. To keep it healthy, avoid soaking these parts of the plant. When you water, stay close to the edges of the container to avoid dampening the center portions. If these areas show water stress, you might not be able to save it. Prevention is the best way to avoid these devastating problems.

The Cyclamen persicum is a delightful plant with beautiful blooms that carry the promise of spring. It is a perennial plant that can add some welcome color to any room. As long as you monitor its moisture, you can enjoy a plant that will bring a touch of the Mediterranean to any landscape or indoor space.

Photo by PactoVisual licensed under CC0.

How to Grow Madagascar Jasmine: Tips & Care

Last update: January 29, 2021

In a word, the Madagascar jasmine is a showstopper on so many levels. It’s a plant that demands attention with its lovely flowers and mesmerizing fragrance. And at 10 feet tall, it’s hard to miss! Continue reading to learn more about this gorgeous tropical vine.

What Is the Madagascar Jasmine?

The beautiful Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda) is a member of the Apocynaceae or Dogbane Family. The group includes many plants you’ll recognize including the oleander. We probably don’t have to tell you that this plant is highly fragrant as its name suggests. You’ll find it called waxflower or bridal wreath. It has its place in many wedding bouquets and corsages.

It is an evergreen climbing vine that likes its space. Given the chance and the right conditions, it’ll grow 10 feet or more. Both its flowers and foliage are gorgeous. However, it’s not the easiest plant to grow indoors simply because of the room it needs. Unless you’re growing it in a greenhouse, you may have to coax it to bloom. If you want a challenge, it’s an excellent choice.

Planting the Madagascar Jasmine

You can grow the Madagascar jasmine outdoors or indoors. It can tolerate USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. We think it’d make a lovely addition to a lanai. One plant will suffice undoubtedly since you’d have to space them 8 to 10 feet apart. Keep the space requirement in mind for an indoor plant too. A plant this size will need a support such as a trellis.

Care and Maintenance

The fact that it is a tropical plant should give you an idea of what the Madagascar jasmine is going to need to be happy. Stability is essential. Remember that in these parts of the world, there isn’t a lot of variability with temperature. Moisture, of course, is another story. The plant isn’t going to like a lot of change in its world.

Light and Temperature

If you want those fragrant blooms, you’ll have to provide the Madagascar jasmine with plenty of bright indirect light. Outside, it’ll enjoy full sun to partial shade as long as it isn’t direct sunlight. Its leaves will turn yellow if it isn’t getting enough light.

It prefers temperatures on the warmer side during the spring and summer. Temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Cooler temperatures in fall and winter are fine too. If it gets too cold, flower buds will drop.

Moisture Needs

As expected with a tropical plant, the Madagascar jasmine likes it humid, especially during flowering. It likes the relative humidity in the range of 60 to 70 percent. If it falls much below that figure, you should mist it regularly, taking care to avoid wetting its flowers. You can also add humidity using a shallow tray of water or by grouping plants in one section in the room.

If you mist your plant, you should use distilled water, especially if you have hard water. The Madagascar jasmine prefers acidic soil conditions. Hard water will change the soil chemistry over time and affect its long-term survival. You can also use rainwater that you can collect with a rain barrel. Rain is slightly acidic naturally, so you needn’t treat it in any way.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

Soil acidity should range between 5.6 to 6.5 pH. If you’re planting it outdoors, you should test the soil first. You can then amend garden soils with compost if necessary to get it in the proper range. For houseplants, you can use a soil mixture specially formulated for acid-loving plants. You can add perlite or sand to the mix to improve drainage to avoid root rot.

You will need to repot the Madagascar jasmine occasionally to keep up with its growth. However, despite its size, it can tolerate it if conditions get a bit snug. Regarding fertilizing, you can use a standard mix and apply it every two weeks while the plant is in flower and growing. You can cut back during the winter months both with fertilizing and watering.

This video from the University of Illinois Extension walks you through the process of repotting houseplants.

Fitting In

The biggest concern you’ll have with the Madagascar jasmine is space. Outdoors, you’ll need to use a trellis or stakes to keep it upright. You should also provide shelter to protect it from strong winds. It should play nice with other plants in your garden or home. And it is safe in a home with pets. While some plants in this family are poisonous, the Madagascar is not toxic to pets.

Special Care Notes

We said earlier that this plant is a challenge. That is because some plants are reluctant to bloom. You can get your plant to flower by replicating its natural conditions. In addition to light and moisture, you can coax it to bloom with a cool spell during the winter. Many plants need this trigger to flower the following season.

Make sure the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Other possible causes are a lack of adequate light. However, the Madagascar jasmine doesn’t like to be moved, so take the time to choose a good location from the start. It may also fail to flower if it’s not getting enough moisture or the temperatures are too cool. Just like Goldilocks, everything must be just right.

Pruning

You may need to prune the plant occasionally, preferably before flowering in the spring. It’s a good time to get rid of bare or damaged branches and to tidy up its appearance. It won’t necessarily encourage new growth, so it’s more for space considerations and aesthetics. You can cut weak or side shoots for a fuller look.

The Madagascar jasmine is a handsome plant with both beautiful foliage and attractive, fragrant flowers. It is a stunning addition that will bring a tropical feel to the right space. Though it may take time to flower, you’ll be rewarded for your attention to care and patience with its lovely floral display.

Photo by Laana13 licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Flaming Katy