Category Archives: Houseplants

Houseplant of the Week: Tradescantia

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Tradescantia goes by many names, including wandering jew and the purple inch plant. Whatever you call it, however, it is a beauty that looks great in a hanging planter or spreading along a flat surface.

Part of the spiderwort family and originally from Mexico, Tradescantia is a plant that grows easily – some might argue too easily. In fact, in certain zones, it is grown outside and can be seen as invasive!

But as a indoor plant, it will be a welcome and colorful addition to any room.

Typically, Tradescantia matures into a plant about 6 to 9 inches in height spreading 12 to 24 inches.

Caring for Your Tradescantia

Probably the trickiest part of cultivating your Tradescantia is getting the moisture levels right. These plants like their water, but like most plants will develop root rot if they are soggy. Your best bet is to make sure that it is planted in potting soil that drains well. Mixing a little sand into your potting soil can help. Water them when the soil starts to get dry; don’t let the plant fully dry out.

You’ll also be looking to find the right balance for light. Tradescantia likes bright but indirect light. Too little light and the distinctive variegation on its leaves will start to fade. Too much direct sunlight and those leaves will scorch. However, they can tolerate some direct light, which makes them a great choice for growing in a sunny window.

Propagating Your Inch Plant

Remember how we said this plant was easy to grow? Well, that applies to creating new plants from cuttings. Simply take a one-inch piece of stem containing at least one leaf and set it in fresh potting soil. Water it regularly and you should have a fully rooted new plant in just a few weeks.

Houseplant of the Week: Spring Cactus

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A close relation to the Christmas Cactus, the Spring Cactus (also known as the Easter Cactus) is a succulent that can bloom well into May.

But don’t think of it as a seasonal plant that’s only for spring. After it finishes blooming, this cactus makes a lovely houseplant and, with a little work, you can coax it to bloom again in the future.

Caring for your Spring Cactus
These plants prefer bright, indirect light. Use a cactus mix soil to make sure they get the drainage they need. We can’t stress enough how important this is, because these plants can get root rot, so make sure you do not let it sit in water.

Spring cactus, unlike regular cacti, like cool temperatures. Fertilize monthly after the bloom period with food with a low nitrogen count. 

Following this care plan, you’ll have a nice, healthy green cactus for the bulk of the year. But if you want to have blooms the following spring, you need to be a little mean to your plant.

First, you need to stop feeding it. Then you need to put it in the dark for about 12 to 14 hours a day. Then you need to keep them cold (the best budding will happen when temperatures are about 50 degrees).

At the end of the year, you can move the plant to somewhere warmer, say about 65 degrees, and your plant will start flowering again in February.

Houseplant of the Week: Schefflera

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Better known as the umbrella or parasol plant, the Schefflera is yet another example of a houseplant that will not only lend beauty to your home, they will also clean the air for you.

Available in both solid green and variegated varieties, the Schefflera likes “medium” light, which basically means good light without being in direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. It will tolerate a darker house, but you’ll want to rotate your plant, because it will lean towards the light source.

Schefflera likes nice moist soil, but it’s forgiving if you forget to water it for a week or two. On the other hand, you definitely don’t want to overwater as this will eventually kill it. A good rule of thumb is to water it when the first inch of soil dries out. Get rid of any excess water lying in the drip tray to avoid problems like root rot.

You also may need to prune your schefflera periodically, particularly when it is being grown in lower light situations, which can lead the plants growth to be “leggy” or floppy. Just cut away the overgrowth until the plant regains it shape.

Schefflera is occasionally susceptible to spider mites, mealy bugs and other scale insects. Insecticidal soap can usually take care of it, but if you have a persistent infestation of bugs, you might need to break out the neem oil or possibly use a systemic insecticide for houseplants.

Houseplant of the Week: African Violets

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Looking for a cutie to cultivate in a very small space? If so, check out the African violet.

This distinctive looking plant has bunches of purple, pink and white flowers surrounded by green, slightly fuzzy leaves.

African violets like medium to bright indirect light, which encourages blooming. You also want to make sure that the soil is moist but not soggy as they can suffer from root and crown rot. Make sure to water at the base and not on the leaves.

You also need to make sure that you take care of the leaves as their fuzzy texture can catch debris. Brush the leaves off with a small soft brush to remove dirt. Fertilize every two weeks during the spring and summer growing season.

Houseplant of the Week: Arrowhead Plants

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A hardy houseplant with uniquely shaped leaves, the Arrowhead plant is actually a vine, although you won’t see that early on since it grows very slowly. It works well as a hanging plant or in a standing pot and is also very easy to maintain.

Not only that, an established and healthy plant is easy to propagate with cuttings.

So what is the Arrowhead (also known as a Nyphthytis) looking for in its home?

  • Let your plant dry out between waterings. 
  • It likes a little humidity, particularly in the winter, so misting the plant daily or placing it on a pebble tray will help it thrive.
  • Make sure its soil drains well (if it’s too wet, it will lead to root rot).
  • Make sure your lighting is right. Arrowheads actually come in different shades and while green leaves will enjoy low or medium light, plants with pink or white leaves want bright, indirect light.
  • In either case do not place directly in the sun, which can bleach out the leaves.

Houseplant of the Week: Air Plants

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Tillandsia are plants that – believe it or not – live on air. Appropriately enough, they are nicknamed “air plants.” They are a great example of evolutionary adaption – they can grow on telephone poles 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.

Air plants on a pebble filled bowl

Depending on the size and type of air plant 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 air plant, 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 air plant might be thirsty or that it is getting too much direct light. You can carefully cut off these tips with sharp scissors.

Houseplant of the Week: The Croton

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Variegated leaves in a strong greens, yellows, reds, orange, creams and pinks are the calling card of Codiaeum variegatum or the Croton plant. In more tropical areas, these beauties are grown outdoors, but they are also popular as lovely houseplants.

Here’s the first thing you need to know about these plants: They are finicky about being moved. So if you take home your plant and find that it loses a bunch of its leaves within a few days, don’t panic. It’s not that it’s a bad plant or you somehow “failed” it. Basically, it’s gone into shock. It will recover pretty quickly with some regular plant care – the right amount of light, proper watering and good soil.

Caring for your Croton

So let’s talk about lighting first. In general, Crotons like a sunny location; lack of sufficient light can even cause new leaves to be less colorful! But there’s a wide range of Crotons, so be sure to check the specific lighting needs of the variety you purchase.

Crotons also like their humidity; they are, after all, a tropical plant. A pebble tray or regular misting will keep your plant looking good.

Crotons should only be watered only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Then, they should be watered until the water flows out the bottom of the container. They like to dry out between waterings, so a soil with good drainage is a must.

The plant should also be kept away from drafts and cold, as it cannot tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees.

Houseplant of the Week: Lithops

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Clusters of Lithops plants

Lithops, split succulents, known as “living rocks,” make a rare, colorful and easy-to-care-for  addition to your houseplant  garden.

Tiny and total heat lovers, Lithops are native to South Africa and grow very, very slowly. They also tend to flower prior to producing new leaves, which emerge from the split in the plant.

Caring for Your Lithops Plant

Soil: Your Lithops needs good draining soil, and we recommend a cactus mix, maybe with some pebbles to increase drainage.

Water: Lithops store water in their leaves, which can keep them hydrated for months. That makes overwatering a concern. However, the little guys get stunted if they don’t have enough H20. The solution is making sure to water only when the soil is thoroughly dry. Here’s a cool trick – put a wooden skewer into the soil and see if it’s moist when you take it out. If it is, the plant doesn’t need to be watered just yet. Also, if your plant is in the process of producing new leaves, hold off on the watering until the old pair of leaves are dried up and withered.

Light: Sun and plenty of it. East or south facing sunny windows will give them the light and heat they need.

To see our full gallery of houseplant favorites, click here.

Houseplant of the Week: The Moth Orchid

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Moth orchid banner

Often new plant enthusiasts shy away from orchids, thinking that the plant’s exotic looks mean they are “fussy” and require more gardening expertise than a newbie might have. It’s not true. Here’s what you need to remember about growing orchids: they’re not difficult, just different.

It’s estimated there’s more than 30,000 species of orchids and probably more than 200,000 hybrids. And, yes, some are challenging, even for professional gardeners.

But ones like Phalaenopsis, also known as the moth orchid and available at Warner’s Nursery, really aren’t that hard to cultivate. You just have to be aware of what they need: specialized potting media, careful watering, a way to make sure the roots get air, and bright – but not direct – sunlight.

An air plant in a pot

Most orchids are native to the tropics, where they are essentially air plants, attaching themselves to the bark of trees. Their thick, white roots are able to absorb moisture and nutrients, and because they grow high in the trees, they are used to good air circulation and plenty of light.

Your job is to re-create these conditions in your home and make it possible for this air plant to thrive in a pot. Fortunately it is relatively easy to do that.

Caring for your moth orchid

  • Planting Material: As an epiphyte (fancy word for air plant), moth orchids can’t be grown in soil; their roots would suffocate. Instead pot them with material that’s similar to or comes from a tree, such as bark chips. Having perlite, moss, or coconut husk chips mixed in helps with water retention. You can also buy potting mix that is made special for orchids.
  • Light: Orchids like light, but keep them out of direct sunlight as their leaves will scorch. East- and west-facing windows are good places for them.
  • Watering: There are some orchids that store water, but the moth orchid isn’t one of them, meaning they tend to have a low tolerance for drought. You’ll want to water them about every 7 to 10 days. If the planting material is almost dry and the pot feels light, you should water. Make sure that water doesn’t rest around the stem as that will cause new leaves to rot.
  • Fertilizer: Orchids do love to be fed regularly, but like “light meals.” So take your typical houseplant fertilizer, weaken it by diluting it to about 1/4 strength and feed that to your plant every 7 days. Among orchid growers, this is called the “water weakly, weekly” method.

Houseplant of the Week: Rhaphidophora tetrasperma

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Rhaphidophora tetrasperma

Often called the mini Monstera because of its resemblance to the Monstera deliciosa, the Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is having its moment in the sun as the “it” plant trending on social media with its peek-a-boo leaves.

Well, maybe not fully in the sun; just like Monstera and Philodendron, this plant doesn’t like direct sunlight. It flourishes when it has dappled, filtered light. An east-facing room where it can catch the morning rays and be in shade the rest of the day would be perfect. 

Rhaphidophora likes to be moist but not waterlogged, which – as in so many cases of overwatering – will cause root rot. On the other hand, don’t wait so long to water that it dries out. Check that the top part of the plant’s soil has dried out; water it until you see water draining from the bottom and empty its tray to prevent the plant from standing in water.

One special item you might want to get for your Rhaphidophora is a sturdy climbing support as it does like to climb.