Category Archives: Houseplants

Houseplant of the Week: Sunny Star Croton

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Long, strong leaves with lines of bold neon yellow are typical of this cultivar of the Codiaeum variegatum or the Croton plant. Native to the Pacific Islands, crotons are often grown outdoors, but they are also popular as lovely houseplants.

Here’s the first thing you need to know about croton plants in general: they are a bit stuck in their ways. Crotons are notorious for not liking change and can be sensitive to disturbances whether it’s repotting or changing lighting conditions or humidity.

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

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! 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 like consistent mild moisture, but don’t want to be waterlogged, 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.

Crotons can reach heights of about 3 feet, so you might want to make this a floor plant in your home.

Houseplant of the Week: Algerian Ivy

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Algerian Ivy

The image that probably pops into most people’s heads when you mention Ivy is the vine you often see clinging to the sides of houses. In fact, as a vine, it’s often considered invasive because of its aggressive growth.

But as a houseplant, ivy is a favorite of indoor gardening enthusiasts. Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis), with its cascading foliage and elegant demeanor, is a versatile houseplant with lovely dark green leaves often edged in creamy white.

This plant has larger leaves than its cousin, English Ivy, and is slightly more drought tolerant.  

Caring for Your Algerian Ivy Plant

The most important thing your ivy plant needs is the right amount of light. Ivy plants that are mostly green like bright indirect light, but variegated versions with white on the leaves prefer medium light.

While Ivy plants like regularly watering, they don’t want to be waterlogged as this can make the roots rot.

Remember to feed your plant, too. Fertilize your ivy with a water soluble, nitrogen-rich fertilizer about once a month except in winter, when the plant is dormant.

Houseplant of the Week: Calathea concinna ‘Freddie’

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The beautiful ‘Freddie’ with its dramatically patterned leaves is another member of the ‘prayer plant’ family. Plants in the family are known for their leaves moving from flat during the daytime to erect at night, as if they were hands in prayer.

Like most tropical plants, Freddie loves heat and humidity. It prefers medium to bright indirect light, but will tolerate lower light.

When watering, you are trying to walk the line between keeping the soil damp most of the time without allowing the plant to sit in water or overly wet soil, which can cause root rot.

While sitting in water is not good, surrounding it with humidity is a positive. Try a humidifier or sitting the plant on pebbles to increase humidity. If you really want to give Freddie a treat, try misting.

For a planting medium, you can use a potting mix that is well draining, with elements like perlite or coco coir.

Finally, remember that this plant likes it nice and hot, and while it will tolerate cooler temperatures in the home, make sure it’s not near any A/C vents and avoid drafts.

Houseplant of the Week: Spider Plant

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You have to love the nicknames that this week’s houseplant goes by: the airplane plant, the ribbon plant, and (our favorite) hen and chicks. But for most of us, the variegated leaves of Chlorophytum comosum are best known as “the spider plant.”

These are very easy plants to grow and very relatively forgiving of less-than-perfect care.

The slender leaves are striking on their own, but in time, your maturing plant will send out long stems from which little “plantlets” will develop. This is one of the reasons why these plants are so popular as hanging container plants. In fact, if you have them as on a shelf or a table, you’ll want to check periodically that the weight of those plantlets aren’t pulling the pot over.

You can easily propagate your spider plant with those plantlets. Once the plantlet develops roots that are at least an inch or two long, use a pruner to carefully cut it off the stem – keeping the roots intact – and plant in a new pot. Keep your new plant well watered (but not soggy) until the roots become more established.

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. This is a tropical plant, so it truly loves heat and moisture, but will do well with average household temperatures and humidity – just keep it away from air conditioners and vents.

Spider plants grow fast, so you might want to repot them every once in a while so they don’t get root-bound.

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.

Rex Begonia

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Rex Begonia, the “king” of begonias is also known as the “painted leaf” begonia for its beautiful variegated leaves that can grow up to six inches long and are available is shades of green, red, silver and purple.

This is a plant that you want for its leaves. Unlike flowering plants that may only bloom for a certain season, Rex Begonias provide year-round interest with their colorful foliage, making them a favorite among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. In fact, owners commonly pinch off the Rex Begonia’s not-that-impressive blooms so as to not distract from its dramatic foliage.

To encourage the most beautiful leaf color, you need to give your plant plenty of (indirect) light and pretty high humidity. Here are the basics to giving your Rex begonia the royal treatment it deserves.

Caring for Your Rex Begonia

  • Plant your Rex Begonia in light, fast draining soil.
  • Rex Begonias thrive with bright, indirect light year round. You don’t want to burn those gorgeous leaves, so no direct light. You also want to rotate the plant frequently to give it equal light on all sides.
  • This plant requires regular watering but be careful not to overwater. Let the soil surface become dry to the touch before watering. 
  • They also love humidity, but be careful if you decide to mist the leaves; if they stay wet, you might find yourself seeing powdery mildew. 
  • Rex Begonias like moderate temperatures in the 60-70 degree range.

Propagating for Your Rex Begonia

Rhizomatous begonias such as the Rex Begonia can be easily propagated by rhizome division, layering, or leaf-tip cuttings. For tips on all three method’s check out Misti’s blog about propagating plants here.

Houseplant of the Week: Pink Panther

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Petite and pretty, Tradescantia ‘Pink Panther’ is a little more subtle than the cartoon character it’s named for – but we think even Inspector Clouseau could figure out why it’s a terrific household plant.

Its tufted leaves are colored icy green, white and a soft pink. The foliage gently cascades over the edge of pots, making it perfect for elevated containers or hanging planters. In addition, it’s easy to care for and grows quickly (up to 12 inches high and 24 inches wide).

Here are some guidelines for cultivating your Pink Panther:

Light: Part of the succulent family, Pink Panther needs bright, indirect sunlight when grown indoors. As with many plants, you should avoid direct sunlight, which could damage those beautiful leaves.

Water: Give your plant a good watering, but then let it dry out before watering again.

Soil: A specialized succulent potting soil is ideal, but any good, fast-draining mix will work.

Temperature/Humidity: Warm and cozy are the watchwords for Pink Panther, which also likes humidity, so a pebble tray or humidifier is a good idea for your plant.

Houseplant of the Week: Philodendron Moonlight

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Moonlight is another bright and beautiful hybrid from the philodendron family. Its leaves unfurl from a central red column and then mature into light, luminous lime green and deep emerald colors. Its vibrancy makes it a great addition to your household.

Here are some guidelines when cultivating your plant:

Light: Like most philodendron, Moonlight likes bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight or you might risk burning those gorgeous leaves.

Water: A tropical plant, the Moonlight philodendron enjoys water in moderation. In the spring and summer, keep the top inch of soil moist to the touch, but starting in September, cut back and allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings.

Soil: A good, fast-draining soil is best. You don’t want your plant sitting in water.

Temperature/Humidity: Moonlight philodendron likes warmth and humidity. A humidifier, pebble tray or daily misting can make your plant happier.

Houseplant of the Week: Anthurium ‘Zizou’

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The elegant cousin of the traditional red waxy anthurium, ‘Zizou’ blooms almost look like a prayer plant that decided to dress up in pink and purple. The distinctive bend at the top of its long colorful spathe leaves is why this anthurium is often known as the “flamingo flower.”

Native to South America and the Caribbean, this “statement” plant can make a lovely centerpiece on a table in your living or dining rooms, but it will also do well in a kitchen or bathroom as it loves humidity.

Like other anthuriums, Zizou thrives in bright, indirect light. You can have them in low-lit areas and the foliage will do well, but they 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. Only water when the top inch or two has dried out. Periodic misting is also a good idea for this tropical beauty.

Warner’s is celebrating this beautiful plant with a sale: get $5 off your Zizou now until February 25, 2024.


Houseplant of the Week: The Money Tree

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Pictures of money tree, Pachira aquatica, outside and in Warner's Nursery

Pachira aquatica, a tropical wetland plant from Central and South America, got its common name “the Money Tree” from a bit of mythology about its origins: a poor man prayed for money and discovered this “odd” plant. After he took it home, he became rich selling the plants he grew from its seeds. Variations of this theme said he was able to make money because the plant wasn’t just one tree – it was five.

Pachira aquatica, the "money tree"And that’s typically what you’ll see in nurseries – a plant that looks like its trunk is braided; it’s actually the five or sometimes even seven plants that are woven together to make one Money Tree.

Although the plant got its start in the Western Hemisphere, it’s also often referred to as a “Chinese” money tree because of its popularity in Asia as a personal or business gift. In Feng Shui, the Money Tree has become a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. 

This is a statement plant, bold and eye-catching that deserves a dedicated spot in your home. In fact, you aren’t going to want to move your Money Tree around a lot, as it will start to drop its leaves. If that happens however, please don’t fret; it will recover.

Here are a few more tips on keeping your Money Tree happy:

  • Go with medium to bright indirect light.
  • Water when this plant is 50-70% dry. They do not have a lot of root mass, so they prefer a dryer pot.
  • Be sure to turn your Money Tree each time you water to allow for even growth and leaf development. 
  • It likes a good misting now and again (remember, it’s a native of the tropics)
  • Feed once a month during spring and summer while new leaves are being produced.