Alocasias are considered some of the most striking houseplants available because of their eye-catching foliage. Native to the subtropics, they have close to 80 varieties with a wide range of looks.
Some are known for their gigantic leaves like the “elephant ear” varieties. Others feature highly visible veins, typically in a contrasting colors.
Alocasias need bright, indirect light. In nature, these plants thrive beneath tree canopies and direct sun will lead to the leaves getting burned. They are also used to high humidity, so don’t place them in a place where they will dry out easily, such as an air conditioner vent or a heater.
Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of the plant to dry between watering to ensure that the plant isn’t sitting in soil that is too wet.
When we think of Sansevieria, we typically envision the plant popularly known as the “snake plant” with long slender leaves that are typically edged in green-gray or yellow.
But there is a rarer version of the species that is arguably even more striking. The “whale fin” or Sansevieria Masoniana takes its name from the wide, paddle-like leaves. Typically dark green with lighter mottling, these leaves can grow to a whopping four feet long by 10 inches wide.
If grown in bright conditions, this plant will form a stalk of white flower clusters as well.
We say “if” because, like its snake plant cousin, the whale fin will tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions. Also like the snake plant, this is another easy to care for plant that is great for beginners.
CARING FOR YOUR SANSEVIERIA
Allow soil to dry between watering and be careful to not overwater. The foliage will “pucker” when the plant is thirsty.
Try to avoid getting leaves wet when you water.
While they prefer bright indirect light, these plants are tolerant of a variety of light conditions – including florescent-only lighting!
We know what you are thinking – how could nature make a philodendron even better? It’s already an amazingly easy plant to grow, with lots of variations like split leaf, Swiss Cheese and Brasil.
But the Xanadu, also known as the “Winterbourn” philodendron might just exceed your expectations. It’s doesn’t require support as it isn’t a vining philodendron. It’s compact while visually striking. And, like most of us, it gets better as it gets older.
Originally, the leaves of a Xanadu start out like most philodendron (see picture above). As you plant gets older, however, these leaves start to create separate lobes, ultimately becoming more spikey and exotic in appearance, like this:
When mature, each shiny leaf will have about 15 or so lobes, and those leaves can grow to 16 inches long and 12 inches wide!
One note of caution, however: make sure these plants are someplace where your pets can get to them, as they can be toxic to dogs and cats.
Caring for your Xanadu Philodendron
Light: This plant prefers a little more light than most philodendrons in order to maintain its compact growth habit. Too little sun and the stems will elongate as it tries to reach more light. Too much direct sun will burn the leaves. Bright, indirect light is your best bet.
Water: Water thoroughly with good drainage and then allow about half of the soil to dry out before watering again. The leaves will yellow if it is too wet.
Humidity: A native of Brazil, this plant likes it’s humidity, but it’s tolerant of average indoor humidity.
Fertilizing: Use a well-balanced plant food (one that includes all the major macro- and micro-nutrients) monthly during the spring and fall and every other week in the summer. Do not feed in the winter.
Kalanchoe, which also goes by the lively names “Flaming Katy” and “Madagascar Widow’s-thrill,” is a popular succulent that comes in a wide variety of vibrant colors, including yellow, pink, magenta, orange and red. These blooms are set off by gorgeous, large, deep-green leaves.
They like bright, natural light as long as they don’t get too much direct sun, which can cause burning. The more light they get, the better; the flowers often won’t bloom if the plant doesn’t get enough.
As succulents, Kalanchoe don’t want to be sopping wet. They need good drainage. Water well and then water again when dry (which could mean up to two weeks depending on your house temperature, lighting and the size of the pot).
When you repot, use a mix of regular potting soil and one designed for succulents. And while Kalanchoe aren’t particularly vulnerable to pests, keep an eye out for aphids and mealybugs.
The glamour puss of the ficus world is the fiddle leaf fig or ficus lyrata. Tall and stately, it grows in a column and tends to go up, instead of out, so it works well as a decorative tree that has the drama of big leaves without taking over the whole room. Those leaves are violin or lyre shaped, thus the name.
Fiddle leaf figs tend to get a bad rap as being, well, fiddly, but they honestly are not that demanding.
Probably their biggest concern is getting enough bright (but filtered) light and keeping warm (remember this is a tropical plant – putting one near the fan or the a/c is just torture).
Like most plants, the fiddle leaf fig likes its soil moist but not sopping wet, which will lead to droopy leaves and root rot. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the top 2 – 3 inches of soil are dry and then provide a thorough watering. Here’s a pro tip: water with room temperature water when possible. That will prevent it from getting a chill and going into shock.
What they do like is a little moisture in the air, which can be hard to achieve in dry Arizona, so try misting to make the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig happy.
Is it any surprise that a houseplant this beautiful is named after an artist?
In 1787, Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy was part of the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain, an exploration of areas throughout what is now California, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. He created hundreds of drawings of the plants they discovered and cataloged, including this group of succulents.
There are about 150 species of Echeveria, most of which feature the beautiful rosette design. They are sturdy plants that can be grown in the shade, but can also take some frost. All the species are drought-resistant, but they tend to grow better with regular watering and fertilizing.
Most species lose their lower leaves in winter. Since these droppings can be fertile ground for a fungus that can then attack the plant, you should remove them regularly.
Caring for Your Echiveria
Light: Echeverias prefer full sun to partial shade. However, avoid direct afternoon sun, particularly in the summer, as your plant can actually get sunburnt. In the winter, get them to the brightest window in your home, so they can get their fill of sunlight.
Watering: Moderate amounts of water are needed from spring through fall. (Wrinkled leaves? That’s your plant telling you it needs more water.) The plants biggest issues tend to come from overwater, so be careful not to soak your plant too much.
Feeding: Not required but, as we mentioned above, they will grow better with some extra nutrients. It’s easy to overfertilize an Echeverias, so dilute your fertilize more than usual and use less often than recommended for other plants.
Often called the “wax” plant because of its waxy leaves and star-shaped flowers, the Hoya is one of those plants that does better in bright, natural light. It will survive in medium and even low-light as well, but like most flowering houseplants, the more light it gets, the more blooms it will produce.
Caring for Your Hoya
This is a pretty easy going plant, but there are some basics.
Your hoya would prefer being too dry instead of too wet. Water it when the potting mix dries out and make sure not to overwater as that will case root rot.
Although technically not a succulent, those thick leaves and stems do store water, so it will forgive you if you miss a watering.
The plant doesn’t require fertilizer, but you can use any general purpose houseplant fertilizer to get it to bloom better. (Warner’s has several good options.) Just follow the directions on the packaging.
Probably the most recognizable type of begonia, the angel wing is a native of South America. It grows on upright stems with wing-shaped leaves in an array of unique colors and fantastic displays of flowers.
These begonias are not difficult to grow, provided you meet a few basic requirements.
Caring for Your Angel Wing Begonia
Angel wing begonias can bloom throughout the year with the right kind of care.
Plant your angel wing begonia in a soil or soilless mix high in organic material.
This plant likes moist, but not soggy, soil. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Add pebbles or broken pot shards in the pot to aid in drainage.
Angel wing begonia houseplants like bright, indirect light, in moderate temperatures. Plants located in low light conditions will grow, but will not likely flower.
What you feed your begonia will depend on whether you are growing it for the beautiful foliage or the flowers. A food with more nitrogen will promote larger leaves, while one with more phosphorous will encourage flowers. Either way, fertilize every two weeks.
Repot each spring, moving into a slightly larger pot each year.
In the evening, if you look at the beautiful Prayer Plant, you’ll get a clue as to how this hardy native of Central and South America came by its name. Each night the plant’s leaves close together, resembling hands folded in prayer.
Prayer plants are relatively easy to grow, but have a few specific items you want to look out for – including susceptibility to some common houseplant pests.
Caring for Your Prayer Plant
Prayer Plants will tolerate low light conditions, but if you really want to see it thrive, give it bright, indirect light.
This is a plant of the Central and South American tropics, which means it likes its humidity. Keep its soil moist but not soggy and give it a spritz with a mister a couple of times a week.
It’s also a bit of a foodie, so satisfy its hunger with an all-purpose fertilizer every couple of weeks during its main growing time from spring through fall.
In winter, you can stop fertilizing and let the soil dry out a bit as it will be dormant, but it still needs some misting to keep it happy. In fact, you might want to do it every day given how dry our heated homes can get.
Prayer plants are easy to propagate through division or stem clippings during the spring. If part of your plant breaks off, dip it in some rooting hormone and place in distilled water. Change the water daily and when the roots are about an inch long, you can replant it.
Unfortunately, Prayer Plants are prone to things like spider mites, mealybugs and aphids, so it’s a good idea to check on your houseplant for pests during watering and feeding intervals.
We love the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (say that three times fast), better known as the ZZ, and right now we have one of the rarer versions of this plant – the Black Raven, with glossy black leaves.
Despite it’s exotic looks, the Raven is a relatively easy plant to take care of.
This is one of the most forgiving plants you’ll find in our nursery. Miss a watering (or three) and it still shows off it’s glossy, feathery wings as its rhizomes hold a lot of water. It’s not particular about soil; anything that drains well will do.
It’s not even fussy about light, which makes it very popular in places where there’s little natural light, like an office cubicle, or cities where most days are overcast. (Although truthfully it thrives best in bright indirect light.)
It also has no identified pest or disease problems.
No wonder this beauty is the star of so many Instagram posts!