Flaming Katy: Our Guide to Effective Care

Last update: January 29, 2021

The flaming Katy is an easy-to-grow succulent plant. Its vibrantly colored flowers give it its distinctive name. Succulents make an excellent choice for a houseplant that can tolerate average indoor conditions well. You can also grow this plant outdoors if you are in the zone. It can add a welcome bit of color to your landscaping. Read on to learn more about this plant.

What Is the Flaming Katy?

The flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a member of the Crassulaceae or Stonecrop Family. You’ll likely recognize other members of this group, including the jade plant and sedum. They are succulent plants that have a lineage that goes back about 100 million years. They are survivors. These plants are well adapted to dry and sometimes unpredictable conditions.

You may see the flaming Katy called Kalanchoe by its genus name. That term may also apply to other succulents in the same genus. This one is distinctive for its colorful flowers. You’ll find it with red, orange, or yellow flowers. They produce long-lasting blooms as long as their needs are met. Fortunately, they are tolerant of a variety of conditions including the occasional neglect.

Planting Flaming Katy

You can grow flaming Katy outdoors if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 through 11. While it tolerates a lot, cold is its kryptonite. Temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit are deadly. Otherwise, you can grow them indoors as a houseplant as long as you provide similar conditions. It is an easy to take care of, making it an excellent beginner choice.

Care and Maintenance

If you examine the plant, you’ll see some of the adaptations it has evolved through the ages to get it to its present state. It has thick, fleshy leaves that allow it to store water to get it through those dry patches. Its flowers are small. Producing blooms takes a lot of plant resources. The flaming Katy conserves them with smaller flowers. What it lacks in size, it makes up with color.

Light and Temperature

Its genus, Kalanchoe, originated in Madagascar. Its preferences for light and temperature reflect what it knows best. The flaming Katy is a sun-loving plant that likes bright indirect light. You’ll get the most blooms from a plant that is getting adequate sunlight. Average household temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will suit it just fine. It’ll tolerate conditions on the warm side too.

Moisture Needs

As you may guess, a succulent has this water issue down pat. It is, after all, its evolutionary strength. It is drought tolerant. You needn’t worry about misting it as average household humidity is fine. In fact, you should avoid wetting its leaves when you water it. You can let the soil dry between waterings. Avoid over-watering it to prevent root rot. That’s its other Achilles heel.

Over-watering creates conditions favorable for fungus development. The flaming Katy is certainly not the only plant susceptible to it. It is a concern with any potted plant. That’s why proper drainage with both the soil and the container are essential for plant health. The problem with root rot is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a plant to recover once it has taken hold.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

The key to keeping the flaming Katy plant happy is well-draining soils. You can plant it in a container with a soil mixture specially formulated for cacti and succulents. And as always, make sure the container has adequate drainage. The flaming Katy will fare well in terra cotta pots that can help meet its needs for drainage and moisture.

It is a moderately dense plant that will grow in a rounded form. It’ll reach a height under one foot but may spread to 1 ½ feet. The flaming Katy is a slow-growing plant, so it will only need fertilizing a few times during the active growing season. Plants rely on the photoperiod or day length to signal when it’s time to go dormant in the cooler months and later flower.

Maximizing Flower Production

As we mentioned earlier, adequate light will support flower production. It needs that energy from the sun to fuel plant growth. You should also deadhead spent blooms during the flowering season. It will keep your plant looking good and encourage more blooms. The flaming Katy will flower throughout the season, albeit, not always predictable. Think of it as a surprise.

Fitting In

The flaming Katy is not an invasive plant, so you needn’t worry about it taking over your garden if you have it outdoors. Its foliage will add some interest to your garden over the winter. However, the plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. Accidental ingestion can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in some cases, more serious complications.

We said that the flaming Katy is tough, which also applies to its resistance to disease and pests. The one issue you may encounter is mealy bugs. You’ll notice the obvious signs of distress such as plant damage and wilting. Prevention is always easiest. However, a thorough application of an insecticidal spray can control an infestation. You can also remove them by hand.

Special Care Notes

You can easily propagate the flaming Katy as you can with many other succulents from cuttings from stems and leaves. Sometimes, it’ll do the job itself with baby plants. Take care of the little ones as you would the established plants. Bright indirect light and moist soils will give the new plants a good start.

This video from the University of Wyoming Extension discusses the wide variety of succulents and how to propagate new plants to spread the love.

The flaming Katy is a delightful plant that offers striking colors and low maintenance for the home gardener. As a succulent, it can tolerate dry conditions and the occasional neglect. With adequate light and moisture, it will continue to produce gorgeous blooms that will make it a stunning centerpiece for your garden or home.

Photo by Hans licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Rat Tail Cactus

Good Strategies for Maintaining Your Strelitzia Reginae

Last update: April 25, 2020

You probably won’t recognize the Strelitzia Reginae by its scientific name. However, it is one of the most iconic of tropical plants you’ll likely encounter. It is an eye-catching plant that is easy to grow. It’s a win-win situation. You give it the light and moisture it needs, and you’ll get a plant that will be a gorgeous centerpiece. Continue reading to learn more about this amazing plant.

What Is the Strelitzia Reginae?

You’ll likely know the Strelitzia reginae by its common name rather than its scientific one. The bird of paradise or crane flower is an appropriate name for this plant. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to recognize its avian shape. It is part of the Strelitziaceae Family, one of the smallest of plant groups. The Strelitzia reginae is the most well-known member.

It is highly prized for its ornamental value. Its multi-colored flower head and blue-green foliage make it one of the beautiful plants you’ll likely encounter. The Strelitzia reginae is native to South Africa, yet can live in coastal areas where it has been introduced. It is a long-lived plant that is probably one of the most popular perennials worldwide. You’ll be in good company having it.

Planting Strelitzia Reginae

You can plant the Strelitzia reginae in your garden if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11. It can tolerate cooler temperatures as long as the ground doesn’t freeze. In the garden, it will act as a dramatic focal point. It can reach a height up to six foot tall. It isn’t a messy plant despite its size. With the right conditions, it’ll bloom all season long with flowers that are equally long-lived.

Care and Maintenance

You might think because of its flowers that it is a fragile plant. On the contrary, the Strelitzia reginae is easy to grow. And with the right care, you’ll see plenty of blooms all season long as a reward for your efforts. Even when it’s not in flower, the plant will still look stunning with its beautiful long leaves. It’s truly a gorgeous plant all around.

Light and Temperature

Plenty of bright indirect light will keep the Strelitzia reginae happy with plenty of blooms. It thrives best in partial shade to full sun. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent scorching its leaves. The same requirements for light apply to indoor plants too. They will need year-round light even inside. For temperatures, the Strelitzia reginae likes it warm in the 70 to 90-degree range.

Moisture Needs

The Strelitzia reginae does well with regular watering. You should keep the soil moist during the warmer months to prevent wilting. They will need plenty of water during the summer month. However, you should avoid over-watering to prevent root rot. During the cooler months, its growth will slow. You can cut back on watering during this time. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

For as beautiful as the Strelitzia reginae is, it is not a fussy plant when it comes to soil. Any standard soil mixture will suit it just fine. You can add peat to the mix to increase its drainage capacity to keep its roots healthy. You can grow this plant in a container both indoors and outdoors. Because of its size, you’ll want to choose a heavier base to prevent it from tipping.

The Strelitzia reginae is a slow-growing plant that won’t produce its first bloom until it gets a few years old. To support its growth, you should fertilize it at least once a month for outdoor plants and twice a month for those in containers. And as with watering, you can cut back during the cooler months of the year when growing has slowed, and its needs aren’t as urgent.

This video from the University of Wyoming Extension offers some tips for making the most out of fertilizing your houseplants.

Fitting In

You should give careful thought to placement if you’re going to plant Strelitzia reginae outdoors to take advantage of what it can bring to your garden. It will play nice with other plants. The primary concern might be shading of other plants as it matures. However, it is mildly toxic to both people and pets. The fruits and seeds present the greatest risk of accidental ingestion.

On the positive side, the Strelitzia reginae is an excellent addition to the wildlife garden. It’ll attract bees and butterflies as well as birds who may enjoy its seeds. Speaking of seeds, you can allow its pods to dry and collect the seeds to propagate more plants. You can also grow them from tubers and offsets. Your friends and family will appreciate it as a gift.

Special Care Notes

The Strelitzia reginae isn’t a plant that will offer a major benefit to wildlife. It is a plant that people grow for its looks. Its flowers are so elegant whether you grow in in the garden or keep it as a houseplant. It’s a plant that is worthy of attention. You can use cuttings from your plant for bouquets and flower arrangements. It’s a great way to extend its value beyond the garden.

You can propagate the plant from seeds or cuttings. However, you’ll need to be patient. It’ll take a few years to get plants from seeds. Cutting the rhizome will cost you a season of blooms. But given its size and propensity to bloom, it is a minor tradeoff. We’ll settle for the beauty of a mature plant. For our part, it’s well worth it however long it takes.

The Strelitzia reginae isn’t your average houseplant. It is a stunning plant that will take your landscaping to the next level. As a houseplant, it is a wonderful addition to any room that will bring a bit of the warm tropics to your home. As an easy to grow plant, you’ll reap the benefits of this amazing plant for years to come.

Photo by ADD licensed under CC0.

Give Your Lollipop Plant Some Sweet Care

Last update: April 1, 2021

The lollipop plant is a gorgeous plant with showy yellow flowers that will make it a centerpiece for any room. It will continue to flower as long as you give it adequate light and moisture. It’s not a picky plant, so it should fare well in most indoor settings. As long as the room stays above 60 degrees, it’ll do just fine. Read on to learn more about this attractive houseplant.

What Is the Lollipop Plant?

If you can say anything about the lollipop plant (Pachystachys lutea), it’s that its name is a conversation starter. We’re sure that you, like us, have a lot of questions. There has to be a story with a plant by this name that is also known as the golden shrimp plant. Let’s just say that our curiosity is piqued. The lollipop plant is a member of the Acanthaceae or Acanthus Family.

The group includes a variety of plant from diverse habitats from forests to wetlands to coastal areas. It includes plants that undoubtedly have a story. Polka dot plant? Peristrophe? These plants are primarily tropical plants that have evolved to fulfill specific niches, hence, the unusual names. That also may explain the strange shape of its flower which grows on a stalk called a raceme.

Planting the Lollipop Plant

You can grow the lollipop plant in your garden if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11. Otherwise, you can grow it as an indoor houseplant. It is a subtropical evergreen plant. It fares better in stable indoor conditions than the variability of gardens. Its small range of hardiness zones is an indication that there is a narrow range of its optimal conditions too.

Care and Maintenance

The striking feature of the lollipop plant is its yellow flower head with its accompanying white flowerets. Its other common name, the golden shrimp plant, refers to the yellow bracts that some say resemble shrimp. We’ll leave it to you to decide that one. The flowers stand upright on the plant like candles, giving it a striking appearance.

The lollipop plant will reach a height of nearly four feet, given the right conditions. You’ll need to space plants about three feet apart. As the plant grows, it’ll take on a bushy kind of appearance. It is a perennial plant, so you can enjoy it for years to come.

Light and Temperature

It prefers bright indirect light. Full sun is fine as long as it isn’t direct light. It’ll do well in light shade. The thing to remember is that it will keep rewarding you with its beautiful blooms as long as it has enough light. Indoors, an eastern or western exposure is ideal. Average household temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will keep the lollipop plant happy.

Moisture Needs

The lollipop plant isn’t a fussy plant. It does, however, prefer moist soils that you can allow to dry slightly between waterings. Don’t let it dry out though or it might not recover if it wilts. During the winter, you can water it less frequently. Average household humidity is fine as long as it’s at least 50 percent. You can mist it during the warmer months to keep it humid.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

You can use any good quality soil mixture for indoor plants. It just needs to be well-draining to prevent root rot. The lollipop plant grows fast, so you’ll likely find it will outgrow a pot quickly. Because of its rapid growth, you might want to consider less expensive containers until it reaches its mature size. If the roots are peeking out from the drainage holes, it’s time to repot.

As you may guess, a plant that grows fast needs the nutrition to support it. You should fertilizer your lollipop regularly, especially during the growing season. A balanced fertilizer is an excellent option. Your plant will let you know when it needs a nutritional boost when leaves begin to yellow and drop. Plan on fertilizing at least every two weeks, perhaps even weekly.

Fitting In

Its fast growth will also mean pruning to keep it confined to its space, especially in the spring when it grows most rapidly. Doing so will prevent it from becoming leggy in appearance. Use a sharp shears to trim branches at an angle above the point where the leaf meets the stem. The angled cut will prevent water from pooling at these sites.

You can train it to maintain its attractive form and encourage it to take on a fuller appearance by pinching the tips of the plant. It’ll grow outward rather than upward. You can also deadhead the flowers once they’re spent. It’ll keep the plant looking tidy while encouraging new blooms. The lollipop plant will handle your grooming well and will thrive because of it.

This video from the Mississippi State Extension explains how to deadhead flowers to encourage new growth using the rose as an example.

Special Care Notes

While it is generally hardy, the lollipop plant is susceptible to whitefly infestations. An infected plant will look sickly. Its leaves will yellow and drop. You should always inspect a plant for whiteflies before you bring it home. You’ll find them on the undersides of the leaves or even swirling around the plant. Take a pass on any infected plant.

You might have trouble getting rid of whiteflies. They can develop resistance to insecticides. You can use an insecticidal soap or an insecticide containing permethrin to get an infestation under control. You can also create your own DIY fly trap with petroleum jelly to get rid of them. And of course, you should isolate an infected plant from any other houseplants.

The lollipop plant makes a welcome addition to your garden or any room where you want to create a focal point. Its beautiful yellow flowers will bring a bit of sunshine to your home. And with plenty of light and moist soils, you’ll enjoy a continual display of attractive blooms.

Photo by Stevebidmead licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Madagascar Jasmine

Brighten Your Home with the Barberton Daisy

Last update: April 1, 2021

The Barbeton daisy takes this ordinary plant to the next level with a plant with showy blooms that provide welcome color throughout the growing season. It is low maintenance with a few special considerations for its needs. With the proper care, you’ll enjoy a plant that can act as an eye-catching focal point. Continue reading to learn more about this delightful plant.

What Is the Barbeton Daisy?

If you think all daisies are white and diminutive, you’ll be in for a surprise with the Barbeton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii). It is a sub-tropical plant that grows in South Africa. The name Barbeton is a reference to the region where it was found. The species name, jamesonii, is the name of the person who described it formally, Robert Jameson. It’s science’s version of first dibs.

The Barbeton daisy can reach heights up to two feet tall. While it comes in white, you’ll also find it in yellow, orange, red, and pink. As with many landscaping plants, there are many hybrids. It is a member of the Asteraceae or Compositae Family, also known as the Daisy or Composite Family. The group is one of the largest plant families in the world.

Planting Barbeton Daisy

You can grow this plant as a perennial if you live in the warmer USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. You can still grow it as an annual if you live somewhere else. You can bring it inside for the winter and hope for the best next year. It doesn’t tolerate frost well. An extreme low temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit is about the limit for what it can handle.

Care and Maintenance

The Barbeton daisy, also known as the Transvaal or Gerbera daisy, is a hardy plant that is easy to grow. We always like to hear that about an indoor or garden plant. As a composite, the large visible part of the plant is the flowerhead. If you look close, there are numerous smaller flowers called ray florets within it. Hence, it’s is a composite flower.

Light and Temperature

It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. Of course, growing it in full sun will give you the most blooms as it will flower throughout the season. If you have them indoors, place them on a sunny windowsill that gets direct sun for the best success. Average household temperatures will suit the Barbeton daisy just fine. Growth may slow during the cooler months of the year.

Moisture

To understand its moisture needs, it helps to know what the situation is for this plant in its native habitat. It lives in mountainous areas with sandy soils that are well-draining. That should tell you right there that the Barbeton daisy won’t tolerate soggy soils. Root and crown rot may become an issue. You should allow the soil to dry a bit between waterings.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

So, you know the Barbeton daisy needs sandy soils. If you’re planting it as a container plant, you should opt for a lightweight soil mixture. It’ll do several things to keep your plants healthy. First, there is the drainage issue. As long as your container has holes on the bottom, it’s not a problem with the right soil. Second, it’ll allow air to circulate freely around the roots to prevent rot.

The result is a plant that will flourish with the conditions it prefers. A potting mix with peat and perlite is ideal. You’ll also need to pay attention to pH, both indoors and outdoors. The Barbeton daisy likes its soil on the slightly acidic to neutral side, from 6.1 to 7.5 pH. If you’re uncertain about the conditions, run a soil test to ensure everything is right before planting.

Deadhead Spent Flowers

While it’s actively flowering, you’ll want to support this growth with a regular application of a time-release, balanced fertilizer at least once a month or even every two weeks. To keep the show going, deadhead spent flowers periodically. It’ll make your plants look better. Think of it like weeding. It will also encourage new blooms.

Flowering plants devote a lot of resources to flowering and eventually going to seed. That is their primary goal. If you prevent it from going to seed, the plant will continue to bloom. That is the way it carries on its species. It’ll keep flowering to meet that goal. That is also why it’s important to fertilize them during flowering.

This video from the Mississippi State University Extension explains how to deadhead flowers using the rose as an example.

Fitting In

If space is an issue, you can find hybrids of the Barbeton daisy that will get considerably less than its two-foot height. The plant has a lot of things the home gardener will appreciate in a landscaping plant. It is deer resistant as much as any plant can be. Remember not much will stop a hungry deer. On the plus side, it is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

It is also an excellent addition to the wildlife garden. As you may expect with such a colorful plant, it attracts bees and butterflies. The birds will like it too. And since it blooms continuously, there’ll always be some life in your garden to make it interesting.

Special Care Notes

There are a few minor things to keep in mind when growing the Barbeton daisy. We mentioned moisture requirements which can leave it vulnerable to soil diseases. Its leaves are also thin and delicate. You should take care when planting and doing routine maintenance around these plants to avoid damaging the leaves. A damaged leaf is an invitation to pests and disease.

The Barbeton daisy combines both the familiar and the exotic in a plant that is sure to become a showstopper in your garden. Whether you grow it indoors or outdoors, its vibrant colors are sure to please. The key to keeping this plant happy is proper moisture. Then, let the flowering begin!

Photo by grace_kat licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

Also Read: Calla Lily

The Croton Plant Is Your Next Favorite Flowering Plant

Last update: April 28, 2020

The croton plant and its many cultivars are some of the most beautiful shrubs you’ll encounter. It is a plant you’ll grow for its foliage. Want something different from a boring green shrub? How about yellow, red and even pink? It is a gorgeous plant that makes an excellent accent plant or a border for a path or walkway. Continue reading to learn more about this eye-catching shrub.

What Is the Croton Plant?

The name Croton describes a genus of plants in the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge Family. It includes a broad spectrum of plants from herb to tree. This group includes familiar plants such as the poinsettia and cassava. It is also the common name of a tropical shrub with the scientific name, Codiaeum variegatum. One word describes crotons—extraordinary. That is our focus.

There are numerous cultivars of crotons. The problem you may have is deciding which one you want! You’ll find many variations of size, leaf shape, and color. With so many choices, you’ll have no problem finding one to fit your space. You’ll find plants with whimsical names like ‘Gold Dust’ and ‘Sloppy Painter’ as well as elegant names like ‘Eleanor Roosevelt.’

Planting Croton Plants

Unfortunately, crotons have a very narrow range of USDA Hardiness Zones where you can plant them outside. We’re talking just 10B through 11. Temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit spell doom for these plants. They were introduced to Puerto Rico but otherwise are an exotic, non-native plant. For all of their color, we are glad that they made it here.

You may find some cultivars that can survive in Zone 9, but they will need to come inside to overwinter. No matter where you grow them, it’s essential to understand that their beauty comes at a price. Crotons are not easy plants to grow and maintain. However, if you want a challenge, we can think of too many plants that will offer such fine rewards for your efforts.

Care and Maintenance

To succeed with crotons, you’ll need to keep in mind the narrow ranges it has for many of its basic needs. The fact that it can grow is so few hardiness zones is a good indication of a picky plant. And it’s going to cover most aspects of its care and maintenance. It is, after all, a plant of the tropics of southern Asia and the eastern Pacific islands.

Light and Temperature

As you may expect, the croton plant loves the sun. It requires full sun with at least six hours of direct light. That may lead you to think that it grows fast, but in reality, it is a slow-growing plant. It’ll reach a maximum height of about three foot tall. The croton plant prefers temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It won’t even tolerate a cold draft. Talk about fussy.

But wait, there’s more! Full sun is one thing, but too much, and its colors may fade. On the flip side, too little sunlight will cause the plant to go all green instead of the beautiful variegated colors that may you pick it for your landscaping. The changes in color will give you a heads-up if its needs are not being met. Generally, temperatures up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit are okay.

Moisture Needs

Its moisture needs are just as strict. It prefers well-draining soils. Remember, it is a tropical plant. The croton plant may also need extra waterings and mistings when the weather gets warm. Keep on the lookout for wilting which is a sure sign that it needs more water. But, it won’t tolerate soggy soils. The key is the proper balance between moist and too wet.

You should pay close attention to its water needs during extreme weather. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings. If temperatures are soaring, make sure it gets a break from the heat to avoid excess moisture loss. It’s one time where it may welcome a bit of shade.

Soil Conditions and Fertilizing

The croton plant will tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions as long as they are well-draining. That is the most important criterion. To fuel its growth from spring to fall, you’ll need to apply a diluted solution of fertilizer that has a higher portion of nitrogen. That will support its active growth. During the cooler months, you can cut back a bit on both fertilizer and water.

Fitting In

There aren’t too many plants we’d add this disclaimer, but maybe that gives you an indication of what you’ll get with croton plants. These plants are so colorful that they can be overwhelming to the eye. The vibrancy may outshine anything else in your garden—assuming you’re successful, of course. For that reason, we recommend splashes of color rather than a flood of hues.

You’ll find a wide range of sizes, depending on the cultivar. With larger varieties, you may need to prune them to keep them confined to their space. That’s an important consideration for indoor plants as well, especially on that you’re moving in and outside during the year.

The croton plant is a broadleaf evergreen that can offer interest throughout the year. Despite their care issues, they are relatively pest free. You can even propagate new plants through air layering or cuttings. You can get rewarded for all your efforts for creating the perfect environment for the croton plant.

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

The croton plant is a fascinating plant from many perspectives. And it’s hard to describe with a single set of adjectives simply because there are so many cultivars. You can go wild with color with a shorter plant or a massive one. There is no end to the possibilities. If you’re up for the challenge, the croton plant will make it worth your while with a blaze of color.

Photo by paulbr75 licensed under CC0.

Properly Caring for Your Spider Plant

Last update: April 28, 2020

Originating in South Africa and the South Pacific, Spider Plants (Botanical name: Chlorophytum comosum), get their common name from the spider-like plants, which hang down like spider’s webs from the central plant. Considered one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate, the spider plant is at home in average and warm climates. Indoors, it’s one of the best plants for hanging baskets. Outdoors, it looks great as a border around garden beds and walkways.

Growing Spider Plants

The Chlorophytum comosum also banishes formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and other toxins from the air, so it’s a safe and attractive tool to keep indoor pollutants in check.

Growing Conditions

A fast grower, the Chlorophytum comosum has green leaves with white edges – or vice versa, as there are several varieties. All types create “babies”, or plantlets, on their long stalks. These spiderettes will grow out, giving the plant a distinctive look while simplifying propagation.

The Spider Plant flourishes in an average room temperature of 65-75 degrees F, but don’t leave it in temperatures of under 50 degrees F. This plant will thrive in low humidity either indoors or outdoors. If you live in a tropical climate with high outdoor humidity, you may want to keep your Spider Plant indoors.

If your plant’s leaves turn brown and brittle, mist the plant as needed by spraying it with room-temperature water. You may want to buy a small room humidifier, or group it with other foliage. A group of plants placed together will emit moisture and raise humidity. (source)

Keep soil slightly moist. Use store-bought soil mixtures made for African violets or hydroculture mixes (for plants grown in rocks). A homemade mix of equal parts peat moss and vermiculite or perlite will also ensure healthy growth.

Growing Outdoors

Although spider plants are best known as an indoor plant, you can grow them outdoors in a warm, tropical climate. If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, you can plant Chlorophytum comosum as a perennial in your garden, or leave a potted plant outdoors year-round.

In cooler climates, bring the pot outdoors in the spring and summer or plant as an annual in your garden. Dig up and pot spider plant annuals and bring them inside for the winter.

Pruning

Prune your plants to keep them at a manageable size. (They can grow up to three feet long and three feet in diameter.) Pruning helps reduce the watering and fertilizer requirements for a single plant, as the babies can be removed and turned into fledgeling plants.

Cut foliage at the base of the plant and get rid of dead or diseased leaves, including leaves with severely damaged yellow or brown tips. Remove spiderettes by snipping long stems back to the base.

Chlorophytum comosum typically does well unless tightly pot bound. Remove rhizomes or white tubers if the pot’s getting a little crowded. When you have a severely pot bound or overgrown plant, repot the plant in a slightly larger container after pruning the roots.

Repotting

Spider plants grow quickly, and their roots can overflow and even crack the bottom of flower pots. Repot an overgrown plant by carefully removing it from its original pot and trimming superfluous roots. Make sure the new pot has good drainage holes.

Fill the bottom of the pot with a layer of African violet or hydroculture soil mixture or a soilless mixture containing peat moss. Place the plant on top of it, ensuring roots are firmly in the soil. Add soil and pack it around the roots. Water and care for the plant as usual.

Light and Watering Requirements

The Spider Plant likes bright sun, but keep it out of direct sunlight, especially during midday. Bright, direct sunlight scorches its leaves.

Water moderately during the growth stage, and occasionally once the plant matures. Use distilled water or rainwater; fluoride in tap water may harm the plant. Over watering causes sogginess and root rot, so let your plant dry out between waterings.

Get more tips on proper watering from Plants for Peace in the video “Watering Your Spider Plant” from the Ivy Rose YouTube Video Channel.

https://youtu.be/fp9ia7VYUXM

Fertilize every two weeks in the spring and summer with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted by 50 percent. Don’t feed your plant during the winter.

Planting and Propagating

When spider plants mature, they develop plantlets, also called stolons. Cut off a stolon on the end of a spider plant runner with clean scissors. Then you can root the stolon in water or a pot with fresh soil. Rooting the plantlet in water causes the small roots to develop further. Once larger roots form, transfer the plantlets to potting soil. It’s important to keep water clean and place the cuttings in a shallow vase or bowl. Putting the stolon’s in deep water causes them to rot.

To root the spiderette in soil, use a standard-grade potting soil and a pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Stick the roots in the soil, and make sure there’s humid air surrounding the plantlet. A soil mix containing peat moss, perlite and vermiculite placed in a propagation box will ensure more humidity. You can also place the spiderette in or near the bathroom or laundry room, so it will receive more moisture from the air.

Watch a step-by-step tutorial on how to propagate Chlorophytum comosum in the video “How to Propagate Spider Plants” with University of Illinois horticulturist Richard Hentschel, from the UI Extension YouTube Channel.

Pests and Diseases

The Chlorophytum comosum is prone to tip burn from fluoride and salt found in tap water. Change to distilled water or rainwater if you discover tip burn, and check to make soil is slightly moist, as dry soil is another factor in tip burn.

Outdoor spider plants can attract scale, whiteflies, aphids or spider mites. Spray the foliage with potassium-based insecticide soap to remove pests. Never use a higher concentration than recommended on the label, as it can damage plants.

It’s safe to use your fingernail to remove the residue from brown discs on the leaves every few days.

Photo by madaise licensed under SA-BY ND 2.0

Growing the Azalea Has Never Been Easier

Last update: April 25, 2020

Azaleas, popular shrubs with brightly colored flowers, are a star attraction of many gardens, especially in the Southern U.S. A member of the genus Rhododendron, there are over 6,000 varieties of azaleas, in many colors, from coral to pink, purple and white. Gardeners can choose from many hybrids, in different sizes, to decorate their indoor or outdoor space.

Growing the Azalea

Azalea shrubs thrive in partially shaded environments and need acidic, well-drained soil to stay healthy. Some species of this slow-growing plant need regular pruning, but others require trimming mostly for propagation or shaping.

What You Should Know About the Azalea

When planting this shrub, choose an appropriate planting location in your garden. The flowers look best when planted alone, but placing them against a background of conifers will show off their colors without overpowering the other foliage in your garden.

Soil

Plant azaleas in well-drained, but moist soil, with a slightly acidic pH of 4.5 to 6.0. Use loam soil, (a mixture of soil, clay, silt and sand) that allows rapid drainage of water. The soil should contain plenty of organic matter (even chopped leaves and ground bark will work).

In gardens with heavy soil that tends to hold water, place the flowers in a raised bed to prevent damage. Place plants on top of the ground or an inch above the ground, and pack acidic soil around the root ball.

Use mulch, including decomposing leaf and wood mould, pine needles and wood chips, to even out the soil temperature and add much-needed humus. If azaleas are properly mulched, there’s no need for fertilizing. If you want to use a fertilizer, or if leaves are drooping or growing in smaller than normal, use a balanced fertilizer containing equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Spread compost lightly over the entire root area, which can go up to a radius of nine feet. Fertilize in March, May and July if needed only if the soil proves to be nutrient-deficient.

Light and Water Needs

Keep indoor azaleas evenly moist, and mist the leaves to increase humidity. If the plant becomes too dry, it may attract spider mites. Outdoor plants need about an inch of rainfall each week. If you live in an arid region, give the plant a thorough watering every week, but make sure all water drains through the pot or planting area.

The shrubs thrive with a combination of direct sun in the early morning and some shade in the afternoon, or intermittent sun all day. The variable shade provided by tall trees swaying in the breeze offers the perfect combination of sun and shade for azaleas.

Azaleas adapt to different lighting, depending on geographic location. In the northern U.S., they can survive in full sun but will suffer under hot, direct sunlight in the muggy Southern states. The shade of the North may damage the plants, whereas even shady conditions in the South allow the plants to thrive. These hardy shrubs can survive temperatures of up to 86 degrees with no problem. Ideal temperatures depend on the variety of the azalea shrub, but most outdoor plants grow well in 60 to 70-degree weather.

Choose greenhouse azaleas, not the hardy variety, to grow indoors. Keep indoor plants at 60 to 65 degrees, and place them in indirect sunlight. Water regularly, and keep soil even and slightly moist. Don’t fertilise your indoor plant unless it has flowered.

Learn more about how to grow azaleas indoors on “How to Care for Indoor Azaleas Year Round” from the GardenCenterTV YouTube Video Channel.

Planting and Propagating

Prune small branches when your plant’s bloom has peaked, and use them to propagate azaleas for indoors.

Grow new azaleas from these pruned stems, and propagate plants late in spring when leaves have matured. Examine the parent plant to make sure it’s disease and pest-free, and water two days before cutting. Snip stems cuttings from the ends of branches. Put the cuttings in a plastic food storage bag and place in an ice cooler or refrigerator for a day or two, if you’re not able to root the cuttings right away,

Prepare the stems by removing all leaves and flower buds. For faster rooting, scrape off bark on the lower inch of stem. Put the cutting in a loam soil mixture, and keep humidity high to encourage growth. You can use a wire frame, clear plastic bag or part of a plastic soda bottle to make a propagation dome and retain humidity until the cuttings root.

Pruning

Prune an azalea bush, so it has a natural look. If you prune it into a boxy shape, it will cause sparse growth of flowers and branches. Use pruning shears and cut single branches instead. When pruning your shrub to make it look more attractive, pick out branches that interfere with your mental picture of the result. Trim extra branches one at a time. Avoid cutting more than a third of any branch.

Revitalise a sparse plant by cutting three to five of the branches by a third and prune all the other branches according to the shaping instructions. You don’t need to worry about cutting a connecting branch during pruning. Branches grow back from below the cutting point.

Potting and Repotting

Find a pot with adequate drainage and add a screen to the bottom to prevent the substrate from escaping. For one cutting, use a container that’s 8 inches in diameter. Fill the pot with a 50/50 peat moss and perlite mixture. Put rooting hormone on a three to six-inch cutting and stick the bottom inch or two into the potting medium.

Move a plant from one pot to another by gently scooping the roots out with a trowel, and plant the root ball in new soil up to the same depth as the old pot. Make sure there’s enough soil packed firmly around the top of the pot to support the plant.

Water cuttings until moisture drops from the bottom of the container. Set in bright but diffused sunlight in 65 to 75-degree temperature. If the cutting hasn’t rooted, place a plastic bag over it to retain moisture until it roots.

Watch a first-hand tutorial on “How to Grow Azaleas from Cuttings” on the World Clik YouTube Video Channel.

Problems and Precautions

Azaleas offer a beautiful focus to any garden, but they’re poisonous to pets and humans if ingested. All parts of the plant, even the honey, contain grayanotoxins, which cause vomiting, irregular heart rhythms and other dangerous symptoms. Keep azaleas in an area where dogs, cats, horses and small children can’t get to them.

The plant’s soil lacks nutrients when leaves show a yellow color between the veins. Treat this condition with a slow-release fertilizer containing iron and sulfur. Apply it after plants bloom and again in mid-summer.

Photo by Toshiyuko IMAI licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wrap Your Mind Around Our Sansevieria (Snake Plant) Care Tips

Last update: April 1, 2021

A common plant in commercial buildings and office, the Sansevieria plant has long green or green-grey leaves arranged in a rosette around a central growing point. The sturdy, leathery leaves can grow up to four feet tall and provide a focal point in otherwise drab- looking rooms, like boardrooms or hospital corridors. The Sansevieria can survive just about any neglect or punishment, except for over watering, and can easily be propagated in a soil mixture or water, or by dividing a mature plant and repotting it in one or more containers. The Sansevieria is also called the Snake Plant, Mother-in-law’s Tongue or Devil’s Tongue.

Growing and Maintenance of the Sansevieria

The genus Sansevieria consists of 70 species, including the Sansevieria trifasciata. With its thin, dark green leaves, banded yellow on either side, the Sansevieria trifasciata makes an attractive, low-maintenance potted plant for homes and offices. Native to Africa, India, and Indonesia, this sturdy plant forms dense stands spread by creeping rhizome. The vertical leaves grow from a rosette in the center of the plant.

The Sansevieria’s leaves are sword-shaped and can reach 35 inches long and 2.4 inches wide when mature. The Snake Plant graces large planters in hospitals, hotels, stores and banks. This ornamental plant also removes toxins from the air, and they may even provide allergy relief. (source)

The Snake Plant’s leaves may be poisonous if ingested. Keep the plant away from curious pets and avoid placing it in children’s bedrooms.

Watering

This drought-tolerant plant makes an ideal potted plant for the home or office. It requires little watering and rarely needs to be feed or repotted. There’s little danger of damage to the plant if it becomes root bound, and it does well in low humidity.

Allow soil to dry completely between waterings. Water every other week during spring and summer, and test soil before watering in the fall to make sure it’s dry. During the winter, water monthly or only when soil is dry to the touch.

Water only the soil, and be careful not to get any water on the leaves. Pouring water directly on the Snake Plant’s leaves causes them to rot. When leaves become yellow or mushy, it’s usually due to over watering. Always use a well-draining soil, and don’t let the plant sit in water, even for a short period.

Soil and Fertilizer

The Sansevieria will flourish without feeding, but you can use a mild cactus fertilizer during the spring and summer. Avoid feeding the plant in the winter.

Light and Temperature

A Snake Plant tolerates many light conditions, from 60 percent to 80 percent shade to bright light levels. However, the plants grow best in medium light with partial shade.

The Sansevieria trifasciata is sensitive to cold, and shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees, frost or cold winds. The Snake Plant grows well in temperatures from 70 to 90 degrees.

Learn more about this sturdy plant by watching “Let’s Talk about Snake Plants – Sansevieria” from the PlantzNThings YouTube Video Channel.

Planting and Propagating

Although over watering a snake plant can kill it, rooting it in water is one of the best propagation methods for this plant. Select a healthy leaf on a mature plant and cut it off with sharp shears. Place the cut end of the leaf in a container with enough water to the bottom one-fourth of tissue. Position the container in indirect sunlight. Change the water every few days, and soon you’ll see small roots form. Place the rooted leaf in sand or peat moss and follow the watering and lighting procedures for the Snake Plant.

Propagating a snake plant with cuttings is even easier than growing a root in water. Cut a leaf from a grown plant, and let it dry and callus for a day or two. Fill a container with slightly moist sand and place the cut end into the sand. In a few weeks, a new Sansevieria will sprout.

Potting and Repotting

Divide a grown plant in the spring for best results, though you can repot the Snake Plant any time of year. Remove the plant from its old pot and use a hand saw or shears to cut the base into sections. You may be able to cut it in half unless the plant has too many rhizomes. Place each section in a new container with the fresh potting medium during the repotting process.

Thoroughly water the old plant before removing it to help loosen the root ball. The root ball should slide right out of the pot when you turn it upside down, but you may need to pound on the sides to loosen it. If there are soft or dark roots or root rot, trim them off with a knife. (source)

For a tutorial on how to propagate a Snake Plant, watch “How to Propagate a Mother-In- Laws’ Tongue or Snake Plant through Leaf Cuttings” on The Weekend Gardener YouTube Video Channel.

Snake Plant Problems and Solutions

  • Droopy Leaves

If your plant as droopy leaves, it’s probably due to over watering, like most of the problems with Snake Plants. Avoid soggy soil and root rot by watering only when the top two to three inches of soil is completely dry. (Use your finger or a pencil to test for dryness.) Be sure your plant’s pot has adequate drainage, and plant your Sansevieria in a soil mixture made specifically for succulents and cactus. You can also use regular potting soil with perlite or sand added to enhance drainage.

Too much bright direct light or dark lighting conditions also cause leaves to droop. Position your plant near a sunny east or west-facing window any time of year to make sure it gets the right amount of sun.

  • Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites

Most pests avoid the Snake plant, but mealy bugs and spider bugs occasionally appear on its leaves. Pick mealy bugs off the plant or wipe them off with alcohol. Get rid of spider mites by using a water spray ad increasing the humidity in the plant’s location. (source)

Photo by stephen boisvert licensed under SA-BY 2.0

An Infographic Looking At The Flower Industry

Last update: April 11, 2020

Did you know that we spend more than $26 billion annually on floral products? In the U.S., there are more than 23,000 establishments in floral industry, which includes florist establishments, wholesaler, and floriculture growers. This industry has employed more than 83K people in total.

And did you know that 80% of the flowers available in the U.S. are imported from other countries? Out of all the flower exporters, Colombia and Ecuador are the top 2 countries that export their flowers to the U.S. Whereas in the U.S. itself, most of the locally grown flowers come from the state of California.

Being in the flower industry is probably not the easiest job. In fact, 45% of the flowers grown for sale are discarded before they even make it to the flower shop! This is to ensure that by the time the flowers get to the flower shop, they can still everyone can make beautiful flower arrangements and by the time they send it to you or your loved one, you can still enjoy those beautiful flowers.

Interestingly, most of the flowers bought in the U.S. are used as outdoor bedding/garden plants (46%), which beats the fresh flowers used as decorations by 12%. There is also a decent chunk of the flowers being used for flowering/green houseplants purposes.

Women, by far, is still the main buyer of flowers (79% vs. 21% of men). When it comes to gardening, most men tend to spend their time whacking weeds in the garden. Thirty-seven percent of the flowers bought are used as gifts, mostly during Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day.

Want to know more about the flower industry? Read our infographic here.

Flower Industry Statistics Infographic