Tillandsia are plants that – believe it or not – live on air. Appropriately enough, they are nicknamed “airplants.” They are a great example of evolutionary adaption – they can grow on telephone polls and rocks and other places without soil. Their photosynthesis process allows them to get most of their nutrients from the air around them.
This relatively low-maintenance plant needs a good soaking when you first get it. Once it’s dry, you can place it in its new home, preferably with some bright, indirect light (or even artificial light). Do not plant it in soil and make sure there’s plenty of air circulation.
Depending on the size and type of airplant you get, maintenance involves periodic misting or soaking – more in the summer when they are likely to dry out and less often in the winter.
A couple of tips – when you soak your airplant, make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back into its home so it doesn’t develop mold. If the tips of the leaves get dried out, that’s a sign that your airplant might be thirsty or that it is getting too much direct light. You can carefully cut off these tips with sharp scissors.
Looking for an easy indoor plant that doesn’t take up too much room and comes in an almost endless array of colors and varieties? Then you might want to pick a peck of peperomia.
There’s well over a thousand varieties of these tiny plants, which most commonly come with green, purple, red, silver and variegated leaves. The most popular include the Peperomia caperata with its heart-shaped leaves and waffle-like texture; the P. argyreia, whose silver stripes against dark green leaves make it look like a watermelon skin; and the Peperomia obtusifolia, also known as the “baby rubber plant.”
Peperomia tolerate low light relatively well (although you might want more light for varieties that are more succulent). They can even grow under florescent lights, which makes them popular for offices. Water sparingly; many types of peperomia can hold water in their leaves, so it’s not a death sentence if you go on vacation or forget to water them once in a while.
Waxy and wonderful, the show-stopping heart-shaped flowers of anthurium (also known as laceleaf or the flamingo flower) are a wonderful addition to your home. Gorgeous to look at, these plants are often used as centerpieces on tables or dining rooms. However, your anthurium might do really well in your kitchen or bathroom, as they love humidity.
Anthurium thrive in medium to bright light. You can have them in low-lit areas and the foliage will do well, but they probably won’t flower. They are not particularly fussy about feeding (general fertilizer every few months is a good idea), and they like their soil moist but not wet.
Like many of the plants featured in this column, anthurium is another great air purifier for your home.
You have to love the nicknames that this week’s houseplant goes by: the airplane plant, the ribbon plant, and (our favorite) hen and chickens. But for most of us, the variegated leaves of Chlorophytum comosum are best known as “the spider plant.”
It’s easy to see where these names come from. In addition to its long arched leaves, spider plants produce “pups,” little plantlets that trail down looking like little spiders. This makes it a great hanging plant. You can even transplant these pups into new pots to propagate them.
Spider plants like indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight can burn the tips of their leaves. (Cut the tips off if this happens). They also like nice even moisture, so a good potting soil mix is essential. These guys grow fast, so you might want to repot them every once in a while so they don’t get root-bound.
Like many of the plants we’ve featured in this series, spider plants are good at detoxifying the air.
Our houseplant of the week goes by many, many names. Technically, it is Sansevieria, but you might know it as the Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or even Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, as the plant’s strong fibers were once used for making bowstrings for hunting in its native Africa.
Whatever you call it, this bold and beautiful plant with its long, slender leaves typically edged in a lighter green-gray color, is quite a stunner. And quite forgiving. It’s really hard to kill a Snake Plant – basically overwatering is all you have to worry about. And like many of the plants we have featured in this space, Sansevieria is great at ridding your home of airborne toxins.
Caring for your Sansevieria: Allow soil to dry between watering and be careful to not overwater. Try to avoid getting leaves wet when you water. While they prefer indirect light, these plants are tolerant of a variety of light conditions – including florescent-only lighting!
Please join us for Gardening for Honeybees, Monarch Butterflies, and other Precious Pollinators, a special 90-minute workshop with Dr. Patrick Pynes, a lecturer in Environmental Humanities at Northern Arizona University.
This event will take place at 1 pm on Saturday, April 27 at Warner’s Nursery and costs $10. Space is limited, so please RSVP by emailing us at [email protected].
Dr. Pynes will describe the life-giving relationships that exist between honeybees and other pollinators, flowering plants, and people – especially gardeners. As high altitude gardeners, we can help pollinators survive and thrive by planting and nurturing annuals (seeds) and perennials, native and not.
Dr. Pynes will discuss a selected ‘short’ list of the best plants for honeybees and other pollinators for Flagstaff gardeners. A question and answer section will be included, along with a hands-on demonstration of how to plant packets of flowering annuals in rhythm with our annual monsoon season. A longer list of local native and non-native plants especially beneficial for the health and well-being of honeybees will also be included.
In addition to his post at NAU, Dr. Pynes is the founder and President of the Northern Arizona Organic Beekeepers Association (NAOBA) and has been working as Head Gardener for La Posada Hotel and Gardens in Winslow for almost two decades.
This week’s houseplant, Philodendron, comes in a wide array of varieties, many of which we have at Warner’s, including Splitleaf, Brasil, Hope Selloum, and more.
In addition to being beautiful, the various varieties of Philodendron have something else in common: They are easy to care for.
They like bright, but indirect, light. It’s a good idea to let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings. During the growing season, feed with liquid fertilizer with macro-nutrients like VF-11.
If your leaves are pale, it’s likely that your Philodendron isn’t getting enough calcium and magnesium.
Warner’s Nursery is dedicated to providing classes and seminars to help you become the best gardener you can be. We also have fun, family-friendly events throughout the year from an Easter Egg Hunt to a Fall Festival to holiday offerings in December.
Join us for our annual Easter celebration, including an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids, Kiddie Caboose, Petting Zoo, 4-H Bake Sale and a hot dog stand on Saturday, April 20 from 10 am to 1 pm. There is only one egg hunt and it will start promptly at 10 am.
The egg hunt is free, but other activities may incur small fees. There will also be a “craft house” and you can get in for the cost of a canned food item. Celebrate Spring at Warner’s!