Category Archives: Houseplants

Houseplant of the Week: Hypoestes

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Are you seeing spots? You might very well be looking at Hypoestes, better known as the polka dot plant.

It’s freckly decorative leaves make this a popular outdoor ornamental plant, but it’s vivid oval variegated foliage, in either green and white or green and pink, can also be cultivated as a houseplant.

Even better, it’s easy to propagate your Hypoestes. They get small flowers that will produce seeds that you can germinate in warm moist soil, but the easiest method for propagation is from plant cuttings. Dip your cuttings in rooting hormone and place in peat moss.

Caring for Your Hypoestes

Your freckle-faced plant gets its best color when it is in a low light situation, but you may have to deal with canes of the plant getting “leggy” as they search for light. Indirect bright sunlight is the best for this plant.

Hypoestes does not like the cold and needs temperatures of at least 60 degrees. They like well-drained but moist soil and should be fed once a month.

Houseplant of the Week: Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

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Not only are aglaonema plants beautiful, there are also very easy to grow, even if you are a novice gardener.

This tropical foliage plant, also known as the Chinese evergreen,  is one of the most durable houseplants you can have. As long as they are warm enough, they will tolerate poor light, dry air and drought.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make your home hospitable to this lovely plant. If those leaves could talk, they’d tell you that they prefer bright, indirect light, some nice cozy temperatures and a bit of humidity (they are originally from the tropics of Asia, after all).

Caring for Your Aglaonema

  • Light: Your Chinese evergreen does well in anything from low to bright, indirect light. The pink-veined variety is one of the few pink plants that can tolerate low light.
  • Water: Let your plant dry out about 50% before watering again as too much liquid can lead to root rot. And keep this rule of thumb in mind: the less light your plant has, the less water it will need.
  • Temperature: They do not like the cold. Keep temperatures in the 70- to 85-degree level, and make sure wherever they are the temperatures don’t drop by more than 10 degrees at night.
  • Fertilizer: Feed older Chinese evergreens a couple of times a year with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.
  • Pests: Chinese evergreens are susceptible to spider mites, scale, mealybugs and aphids. Check the leaves routinely for signs of pests.

Houseplant of the Week: Norfolk Pines

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Houseplant of the Week Norfolk Pine

Enjoy the Christmas spirit all year round with our Houseplant of the Week, the Norfolk Pine.

But we’ll let you in on a little secret: While they are called “pines” and even look a little like an evergreen tree, they really aren’t pines at all. In fact, in terms of care, they are more like a gardenia or orchard plant than a pine tree.

What does this mean – well, first off, your Norfolk Pine isn’t happy with the cold. So don’t try to plant them outside after the holidays are over. It needs to be indoors, preferably in a south-facing window with a lot of direct sunlight. (It will tolerate bright indirect light too.)

Originally from Norfolk Island off of Australia, it is used to a mild subtropical climate with a lot of rain, so your plant wants its humidity. A pebble tray with water, a room humidifier or a weekly misting will make it a happy plant.

Water your Norfolk Pine when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. You can fertilize it in the spring and summer with a water soluble fertilizer, but you do not need to feed it in the fall or winter.

Houseplant of the Week: Poinsettias

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Tower of poinsettia plants

Here’s a fun fact about this week’s featured houseplant: Although they are only sold about 6 weeks each year, poinsettias are the most popular potted plant in the United States, with about 80 million sold annually.

Poinsettias are easy to care for during their peak season and while they are most visually dazzling during the winter, it’s possible to keep them as a houseplant all year long.

It will take a little bit of maintenance to get your poinsettia to re-bloom, however.

Caring for Your Poinsettia

Water: Water only when the top inch of soil has dried out. A good rule of thumb is to carefully lift up the plant; if it feels light, it’s time to water. If the plant is wrapped in decorative foil, take it off before watering to ensure proper drainage. Don’t allow the poinsettia to sit in water and make sure not to get water on the leaves.

Light: Your poinsettia will enjoy a bright, sunny window, but away from direct sunlight.

Temperature: 60 to 70 degrees during the day and 55 to 60 degrees at night will extend the bloom time and keep your poinsettia happy! Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

After the Holidays

Poinsettias will thrive as a year-round houseplant and, with care, can even be coaxed into blooming again next year. It’s not hard, but it does require diligence.

Fertilize your poinsettia once per month prior to and during blooming, but do not after blooming.  In September, you’ll need to restrict the amount of light your poinsettia gets to only about 10 hours. It will need to be in total darkness the rest of that time, so try placing a bucket over it or putting it in a closet. Keep the plant in a cool place with a temperature below 75 degrees.

Once the leaves show some red, you can return your poinsettia to it’s bright, sunny place and resume care as described above.

Houseplant of the Week: Rosemary Cone

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A perfect hostess gift for the holiday parties on your calendar, the rosemary cone plant adds festive cheer (and an amazing fragrance) to any Christmas decor.

Rosemary is a perennial herb with fragrant needle-like leaves that’s easy to grow. But it’s also super useful as a herb with its flavorful silvery gray-green leaves.

You can arrange rosemary cone trees for table centerpieces or in your foyer. You can also have it in containers by the front door.

Caring for your Rosemary plant:

  • During the winter, place your rosemary in a sunny spot, like a bright window. Remember to turn the plant periodically so it gets sun on all sides.
  • Water your rosemary every other day – you want to make sure the soil never dries out.
  • The soil in the pot needs to be well draining, but you can have water remain in the saucer to provide humidity for the plant.

Houseplant of the Week: Christmas Cactus

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The Christmas Cactus, part of the genus Schlumbergera (which we think is just a fun word to say), is a staple of the holidays with its festive color popping during the season. The plant comes in pink, white, a rusty orange/red, yellow and purple.

There’s only a few species within this group of colorful cacti, and they all  are native to the coastal mountains of southeastern Brazil. Fun fact: while the Christmas Cactus blooms around the winter holidays in the U.S., it is known as the “May Flower” in Brazil, because that’s when it blossoms in the southern hemisphere.

Christmas Cacti are different from other succulents because they are looking for humidity as opposed to their desert counterparts.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Schlumbergera comes from Frederick Schlumberg, an enthusiast for the plant, who had a collection of them in his home in France in the 1800s.

Caring for Your Christmas Cactus

Water: While it is blooming, keep it evenly moist and mist frequently (remember, this plant loves humidity). You might also want to place a tray of pebbles filled with water beneath your plant container to introduce more humidity. That being said, you never want to water it so heavily that its roots become water logged.

Food: Once buds appear, give it some high-potassium fertilizer every couple of weeks.

Light: While the Christmas Cactus will tolerate lower light, it really prefers bright sunshine and even a little direct sunlight (but not too much; you don’t want to burn the leaves). This will encourage it to bloom.

Temperature: About 65 degrees is perfect for your Christmas Cactus.

Encouraging More Blooms

Your Christmas Cactus might have several blooming cycles during the year, but will usually stop flowering by fall. At that point, you should encourage its brief dormancy cycle by reducing water, light and temperature. About six to eight weeks before you want to see it bloom again, make sure the plant gets 12 to 14 hours of darkness in temperatures around 55 degrees.

Once you start seeing buds again on the plant start reintroducing it into warmer temperatures and watering it more frequently. You’ll see blooms again in about six weeks.

Houseplant of the Week: Watermelon Vine

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A bit of a hidden gem in the houseplant world, the trailing Pellionia pulchra (better known as watermelon vine) has oval-shaped variegated leaves with dark stems. One of the best ways to enjoy this beauty is to put it in a hanging basket or a high shelf to show off its cascading vines.

This lush plant can be a little finicky, so it’s a good idea to be attentive about its light, water and feeding.

Watermelon vine houseplant

Light: The watermelon vine likes plenty of bright, indirect light, which will help it grow. Can it survive lower light levels? Yes, but more light ensures that this plant will thrive instead of just survive.

Water: This is a plant that originated in southeast Asia, so it’s used to having moist soil. You’ll want to water when the top inch of its soil dries out. Don’t let it go completely dry!

When you water, saturate the soil until it runs through the pot’s drainage holes. Remove any excess water from the drainage plate. This plant likes moisture, but not sitting in water.

Temperature and Humidity – The sweet spot for this plant, temperature wise, is in the mid-70s. Keep them away from drafts that would come from exterior doors or cooling/heating vents. They also love their humidity, so a humidifier or pebble tray with water is highly recommended.

Here’s another tip for humidity loving plants – group them with other plants. It will boost the “collective humidity” and benefit all the plants.

Feeding Time – Your watermelon vine prefers diluted fertilizer every other week during growing season in the spring and summer. You don’t need to feed in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant.

Houseplant of the Week: Goldfish Plant

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It’s interesting how many plants have common names that remind you of creatures that live in the water. Heliconias are known as “lobster claws” because their flowers have that shape. Then there’s the String of Dolphins. Today’s fish-as-a-plant is the Goldfish Plant.

Columnea gloriosa features dark green leaves and flowers of red, orange and gold that do look a lot like goldfish.

They are an easy plant to grow and care for and are also great for propagating. Plus, they make quite a splash (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) with their colorful flowers.

Caring for Your Goldfish Plant

Goldfish plants want a lot of light, but direct sun will burn them so make sure it’s indirect. They also grow well under artificial light in the winter.

These plants love humidity, so make sure that their soil never fully dries out and if you have them in a hanger, mist them on a pretty regular basis. (And mist them with room temperature water, not cold, which can damage the leaves). If you want a really happy Goldfish plant, you might want to consider the bathroom, where they’ll thrive on the steam from the shower!

You’ll want to fertilize on a regular basis during the growing season (spring and summer). Controlled release pellets are a good choice.

Other tips

  • This is a long-living plant, and will thrive if you repot it every couple of years.
  • You can easily propagate this plant. Pick a stem a few inches long without a flower bud and they will take root very easily.
  • Also look out for aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs as these are common pests on this tropical plant.

You can check out all of our Houseplants of the Week in our gallery here.

Houseplant of the Week: Rex Begonia

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This “king” of begonias, also often known as the “painted leaf” begonia, is famous 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. In fact, it’s not uncommon that people pinch off the not-that-impressive blooms so as to not distract from the 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.

Houseplant of the Week: Monstera Deliciosa

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monstera deliciosa plant

Like many lovely plants, Monstera Deliciosa is stuck with a not-so-appealing name, but this monster is actually very popular for its large, dramatic, perforated leaves. In fact, you can see it often in magazine spreads as a “statement” plant, dominating the décor.

Which leads to our first piece of advice about this houseplant – it needs a lot of room. Cramped spaces, tight corners, and windowsills need not apply.

As far as general care, your monstera likes a well-lit indoor spot and weekly waterings. You’ll want to keep those gorgeous “Swiss cheese” leaves clean with a damp cloth. In addition to removing dust, it actually allows the plant to “breathe” better and absorb moisture, which it likes as a tropical plant.

Monsteras outgrow their pots in about two years. You might also want to consider lending your monstera a little support (like a trellis or support sticks) to help it stay upright.