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  • Paddy
  • Born and educated in Germany, I came to live in the UK in 1982. After working in various jobs over the years, I am now a freelance writer. I have a passion for wildlife and nature in general and love my family, my dog Jet, writing, music and dragons.
  • Born and educated in Germany, I came to live in the UK in 1982. After working in various jobs over the years, I am now a freelance writer. I have a passion for wildlife and nature in general and love my family, my dog Jet, writing, music and dragons.

A - Z Plant List

A - B - C - D/E

F - G - H/I/J

K/L - M - N/O

P - Q/R - S

T to Z

 

The A - Z of House Plants is currently under construction. Plant names will be linked to their corresponding articles as they are added. Please be patient - there are a lot of plants, and there may be days when only one or two articles can be added at a time. In the meantime, why not take a look at some of these general care articles:

 

A brief Guide to Potting Mixes

 

When and how to repot House Plants

 

Grooming House Plants - the Basics

 

Indoor House Plants and Light

 

Ten House Plants tolerating low Light Conditions

 

Indoor House Plants and Humidity Levels

 

Watering Indoor House Plants

 

Fertilising House Plants

 


To save readers having to scroll through the whole alphabet when looking for a specific plant, each section will be moved to its own page once all corresponding articles have been added. 

 

Yet to come: 

 

H

Haworthia

(Haworthia species)

Heartleaf Philodendron

(Philodendron scandens)

Hellebore

(Helleborus niger)

 Hibiscus

(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Hyacinth Flower

(Hyacinthus orientalis hybrids)

Hydrangea

(Hydrangea macrophylla)

 

I

Impatiens

(Impatiens hybrids)

Iron Cross Begonia

(Begonia masoniana)

Ivy Geranium

(Pelargonium peltatum)

Ixora 

(Ixora coccinea)

 

J

Jade Plant

(Crassula ovata)

Janet Craig Dracaena

(Dracaena deremensis)

Japanese Aralia

(Fatsia japonica)

Jasmine Plant

(Jasminum polyanthum)

Jerusalem Cherry

(Solanum pseudocapsicum)

 

K

Kaffir Lily

(Clivia miniata)

Kentia Palm

(Howea forsteriana)

 

L

Lady Palm

(Rhapis excelsa)

Lantana Plants

(Lantana camara)

Lily of the Valley                                      

(Convallaria majalis)

Lipstick Plant                                          

(Aeschynanthus lobbianus)

Living Stones                                           

(Lithops species)

Lucky Bamboo                                        

(Dracaena sanderiana)

 

M

Madagascar Palm                                    

(Pachypodium lamerei)

Maidenhair Fern                                       

(Adiantum)

Mandevilla Plant                                       

(Mandevilla hybrids)

Martha Washington Geranium                   

(Pelargonium domesticum)

Medinilla                                                 

(Medinilla magnifica)

Ming Aralia                                              

(Polyscias fruticosa)

Miniature Roses                                        

(Rosa chinensis hybrids)

Mona Lavender                                        

(Plectranthus hybrid)

Money Tree Plant                                     

(Pachira aquatica)

Moses in the Cradle                                 

(Tradescantia spathacea)

Mother of Thousands                                

(Kalanchoe daigremontiana)

Mother-in-Law's Tongue/ Snake Plant        

(Sansevieria trifasciata)

 

N

Nerve Plant                                              

(Fittonia verschaffeltii)

New Guinea Impatiens                              

(Impatiens x hawkeri hybrid)

Norfolk Island Pine                                   

(Araucaria heterophylla)

 

O

Oleander Plant                                         

(Nerium oleander)

Orchid Cactus                                         

(Epiphyllum species and hybrids)

Ornamental Chili Pepper                           

(Capsicum annuum)

 

P

Paddle Plant                                            

(Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

Panda Plant                                            

(Kalanchoe tomentosa)

Pansy                                                     

(Viola x wittrockiana)

Paperwhite Narcissus                               

(Narcissus jonquilla)

Papyrus Plant                                          

(Cyperus papyrus)

Parlor Palm                                             

(Chamaedorea elegans)

Parrot Flower                                           

(Heliconia psittacorum)

Passion Flower                                        

(Passiflora caerulea)

Peace Lily

(Spathiphyllum)

Peacock Plant                                         

(Calathea makoyana)

Peperomia                                               

(Peperomia caperata)

Periwinkle Flower                                     

(Catharanthus roseus)

Persian Shield                                         

(Strobilanthes dyerianus)

Persian Violet                                          

(Exacum affine)

Piggyback Plant                                      

(Tolmiea menziesii)

Pink Calla Lily                                         

(Zantedeschia rehmannii)

Pink Quill                                                

(Tillandsia cyanea)

Pitcher Plant                                           

(Nepenthes hybrids)

Plumeria                                                 

(Plumeria rubra)

Pocketbook Plant                                    

(Calceolaria herbeohybrida)

Poinsettia                                                

(Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Polka Dot Plant                                       

(Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Ponytail Palm                                          

(Beaucarnea recurvata)

Pothos/ Devil's Ivy                                    

(Epipremnum aureum)

Powder Puff Tree                                      

(Calliandra haematocephala)

Prayer Plant                                            

(Maranta leuconeura)

Primrose Flowers                                     

(Primula hybrids)

Purple Heart Plant                                    

(Tradescantia pallida)

Purple Passion Plant                                

(Gynura aurantiaca)

Purple Shamrock                                     

(Oxalis regnellii)

Pygmy Date Palm                                     

(Phoenix roebelenii)

 

Q

Queen's Tears                                         

(Billbergia nutans)

 

R

Rabbit Foot Fern                                      

(Davallia fejeensis)

Rex Begonia                                            

(Begonia rex)

Rosary Vine                                            

(Ceropegia woodii)

Rubber Plant                                           

(Ficus elastica)

 

S

Sago Palm                                              

(Cycas revoluta)

Satin Pothos                                           

(Scindapsus pictus)

Scarlet Star                                             

(Guzmania lingulata)

Scented Geranium                                   

(Pelargonium species and hybrids)

Schefflera                                                

(Schefflera actinophylla)

Sensitive Plant                                         

(Mimosa pudica)

Shamrock Plant                                       

(Oxalis species)

Shrimp Plant                                           

(Justicia brandegeana)

Siam Tulip                                               

(Curcuma alismatifolia)

Spider Lily                                               

(Hymenocallis littoralis)

Spider Plant

(Chlorophytum comosum)

Split-Leaf Philodendron                             

(Philodendron bipinnatifidum)

Staghorn Fern                                          

(Platycerium bifurcatum)

Strawberry Begonia                                  

(Saxifraga stolonifera)

String of Pearls                                        

(Senecio rowleyanus)

Swedish Ivy                                             

(Plectranthus species)

Sweet Potato Vine                                   

(Ipomea batatas)

Swiss Cheese Plant                                 

(Monstera deliciosa)


T

Thanksgiving Cactus                                

(Schlumbergera truncata)

Ti Plant                                                   

(Cordyline terminalis)

Tiger's Jaw                                              

(Faucaria tigrina)

Tulips                                                      

(Tulipa hybrids)

 

U - V - W

Urn Plant                                                 

(Aechmea fasciata)

Venus Fly Trap                                        

(Dionaea muscipula)

Wandering Jew                                        

(Tradescantia albiflora)

Wax Begonia                                           

(Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum)

Wax Plant                                               

(Hoya carnosa)

Weeping Fig                                            

(Ficus benjamina)

Windmill Palm Tree                                  

(Trachycarpus fortunei)

 

X - Y - Z

Yucca                                                     

(Yucca elephantipes)

Zebra Plant                                              

(Aphelandra squarrosa)

ZZ Plant                                                  

(Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Sad News...

quote-10-06-2013-RIP.jpg

Stop Animal Cruelty

Instead of protecting the precious diversity of life on our planet, many countries, groups and individuals delight in performing acts of incredible cruelty to and on animals. To help stop this insanity going on, please go to The Petitions Site and add your voice to the thousands of individuals who are prepared to stand up and say: ' Enough is enough. Stop this now!' 

March 6 2013 4 06 /03 /March /2013 16:45

Plant Summary

gerbera-daisyBotanical Name: Gerbera jamesonii

Type: Flowering

Origin: Gerbera Daisies originate from South Africa.

Height: Regular Gerbera jamesonii will grow to heights of around 60 cm (2 ft), while dwarf varieties tend to grow to a maximum height of 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in). 

Soil: Potting mixes for Gerbera Daisies should be peat-moss based.

Light: This house plant needs plenty of bright light and will cope easily with exposure to some full sun.

Humidity: Average levels of humidity will be quite sufficient for a Gerbera Daisy.

gerbera-daisy-gtTemperatures: This plant prefers cool to average temperatures between 13 and 24 degrees C (55 to 75 degrees F).

Water: The top of the potting mix (around 2.5 cm/ 1 in) should be allowed to dry between sessions of thorough watering.

Fertiliser: During the blooming period, the Gerbera Daisy should be fed once every 14 days with a diluted (1:1) liquid fertiliser (balanced).

Propagation: Gerbera jamesonii can be grown from seeds or propagated via division. 

Description and Care Tips 

gerbera-daisy-woThe large, velvety flowers of the Gerbera Daisy are long-lasting and extremely showy. Held on leafless, thick stems above the foliage - deeply veined roughly 15 cm (6 in) long leaves with soft, furry undersides - Gerbera jamesonii flowers range in colours from white, pale yellow or soft pink to vivid shades of orange, pink, red and purple. Some of the compact new hybrids may produce as many as six of these vibrant blooms at a time.

Fairly easy to care for, this house plant requires lots of light, so it will be happiest in a sunny window or in a sunny spot on the patio. It should, however, not be exposed to temperatures higher than 24 degrees C (75 degrees F), as too much heat may well cause it to wilt.

To prevent potential dry pockets around the plant's roots causing the Gerbera Daisy to wilt, it should be watered thoroughly by adding water until it begins to seep out through the pot's drainage hole. Any water left in the saucer should be discarded (leaving the plant standing in water may cause it to rot), and the soil should be allowed to dry a little (see above) before watering again.

gerbera-daisy-stGerbera jamesonii also needs good air circulation if leaf spot is to be prevented. This is a fungus and will show up as brown spots with light borders on the plant's leaves. Plants suspected of being infected should be isolated immediately, followed by removing affected leaves and - if necessary - treating the Gerbera Daisy with a suitable leaf spot fungicide.

Another potential issue to look out for is aphid infestation. Here, too, the first move is to isolate the plant as soon as these creepy crawlies are spotted. Infestations that are spotted early enough can often be cleared fairly easily and quickly - click on the 'Green Thumb Says' image to find out how to deal with aphids and a variety of other common pests, or go directly to 'Aphids come in many Disguises'. 

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March 6 2013 4 06 /03 /March /2013 15:26

Plant Summary

geraniumBotanical Name: Pelargonium x hortorum

Type: Flowering

Origin: Pelargonium x hortorum - Geraniums - originate from South Africa.

Height: The overall height of Geranium plants varies between 30 and 90 cm (1 to 3 ft).

Soil: Geraniums are best planted in soilless, peat-moss based potting mixes.

Light: This particular house plant loves bright light and can handle some full sunlight.

Humidity: Pretty undemanding, Geraniums do well in the average humidity levels typically found in living environments.

Temperatures: Budding is triggered in Pelargonium x hortorum by providing the plants with warm day temperatures of 18 to 24 degrees C (65 to 75 degrees F) and somewhat cooler night temperatures of 13 to 16 degrees C (55 to 60 degrees F).

geranium-gtWater: After watering the Geranium thoroughly, the top of the potting mix (2.5 cm/ 1") should be allowed to dry before watering is repeated. This, combined with drainage holes in the plant's container will prevent soggy soil, which may cause root rot. During the winter months, watering should be cut back, though it is essential not to allow the plant's roots to dry out altogether. 

Fertiliser: Fortnightly feeds during the growing period - spring and summer - should consist of high-potassium fertiliser.

Propagation: Pelargonium x hortorum can be grown from seed (sown early in spring) or from stem cuttings rooted in fresh, moistened potting mix in spring or early summer. 

Description and Care Tips 

Whether grown in containers on the patio or kept indoors as house plants, Geraniums are vigorous growers and will provide a spectacular display of large, colourful clusters of single, double or semi-double flowers throughout the summer. 

geranium-woGrowing several heads at a time on succulent stems, Pelargonium x hortorum blooms come in varying shades of salmon, white, pink, red or purple. Removing spent flowers by deadheading them will promote new blooms and prolong flowering periods.

The best way to encourage abundant blooming is to provide plenty of light - including some direct sunlight - from spring through into the early months of autumn. A sunny window, porch or patio will be ideal.

Caring for Pelargonium x hortorum is comparatively easy. In spring, Geraniums should be repotted to give them fresh soil. As they prefer to be a little pot-bound, new containers should be no more than one size larger than the previously used ones. To control the plant's size, it may be kept in the same container, as long as the soil is refreshed.

This is also a good time to prune the plant using sharp, clean pruners to cut stems at a 45 degree angle (this prevents diseases attracted by torn stems). Cutting the plant's stems back fairly hard will keep it compact, while simultaneously encouraging new growth and an abundance of flowers. Pinching out growing tips will also encourage branching, giving the plant a fuller appearance.

geranium-stMoving the plant into a sunny spot outside will also help to promote abundant blooming. As the plant is a tender perennial, it is, however, necessary to return it indoors before temperatures fall to around 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) during the night.

To prevent sudden changes in light levels causing the plant's leaves to drop off, it is best to make this move gradually by first of all moving it into a slightly more shaded spot. Taking care not to brush against flowers while moving the plant is also necessary - they do tend to drop off rather easily if knocked about.

To ensure this house plant will bloom again the next year, it should be given a cool winter rest with temperatures no lower than a minimum of 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) - this plant will not survive frosts. During this period, the plant should be watered just enough to prevent the roots from drying out completely, allowing the foliage to naturally die back. 

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March 6 2013 4 06 /03 /March /2013 13:58

 

Plant Summary

gardeniaBotanical Name: Gardenia jasminoides

Type: Flowering

Origin: Though growing wild in India, Japan, Southern China, Taiwan and Vietnam, cultivated Gardenias typically originate from China.

Height: Gardenia jasminoides can grow to heights ranging between 30 and 90 cm (1 to 3 ft). 

Soil: This type of house plant prefers a potting mix that is lime free.

Light: Gardenias like bright, but indirect light. During the winter months, a little direct sunlight will not harm them.

Humidity: A wet pebble tray or a regular room humidifier will provide the humidity Gardenias love. During summer, misting is recommended, although care should be taken to mist only the foliage - Gardenia flowers should not be misted. 

gardenia-gtTemperatures: Gardenia jasminoides thrives in normal room temperatures ranging around 16 to 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F). Providing night temperatures at the lower end of the range and day temperatures reaching the top end will promote budding.

Water: Throughout the growing season, the potting mix should be kept evenly moistened. Allowing the mix to dry a little between watering sessions and using a pot with drainage holes will prevent over-watering, which may lead to yellowing leaves. In winter, watering should be reduced slightly.

Fertiliser: Fed a diluted (50:50) liquid balanced fertiliser once a fortnight from spring through into late autumn. To prevent fertiliser burn, feeding should only take place while watering the plant.

Propagation: Gardenia jasminoides can be propagated by taking 8 cm (3") long cuttings of stem tips. Best cut in spring - or at the latest in early summer - the cut end should be dipped into hormone rooting powder, after which they need to be placed into moistened potting mix and covered to retain humidity. A plastic bag or cloche will be perfect for this purpose.

Description and Care Tips 

gardenia-woAlso known as Cape Jasmine, Cape Jessamine or Common Gardenia, the evergreen Gardenia jasminoides is a flowering shrub belonging to the Rubiaceae family. Cultivated in China for around a thousand years, Gardenias are often planted in gardens within subtropical/ warm temperate climates, while being kept as house plants in cooler temperate regions.

Since the plant was introduced to the gardens of England in the middle of the 18th Century, many different forms have been bred. Some forms are low growing, while others have particularly large, long lasting flowers. 

What all of these forms have in common are the beautiful creamy white and heavily scented flowers that appear among the prominently veined, shiny dark green leaves and greyish bark during late spring and summer. The flowers are later followed by comparatively small oval fruit. 

In its native habitats, this fruit is used to create a yellow dye for both food and clothing, and apparently, traditional Chinese medicine uses them in potions to treat fevers. 

Often given as welcoming/ house warming gifts, Gardenias should be repotted - selecting a fairly small container will control the plant's overall size - and pruned in late winter to keep them in shape and promote blooming. Pruning should be done using a clean, sharp pruner to cut stems just above nodes (where branches/ leaves are attached to them) at a slight angle.

gardenia-stWarm days followed by cooler nights (see above for ideal temperatures) and plenty of indirect, but bright light will trigger buds. Once the buds start appearing, the plant needs to be kept in a draft-free, well-lit area away from fire places or gas stoves (the fumes of natural gas can seriously harm this house plant).

Regularly checking the soil will prevent it from drying out - flowering Gardenias are extremely thirsty, and dry soil will result in the buds dropping off. It is, however, vital not to get the soil too soggy, as this may not only cause the leaves to turn yellow, but may also result in dropping buds.

It is important to avoid using very hard water to water Gardenias, as this will make it difficult for the plant to absorb the nutrients it requires. If using hard water is unavoidable, adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to it will lower the water's pH and make life a little easier for the plant. 

If placed outside during the summer, Gardenias should be kept in a shaded position and must be returned indoors if temperatures threaten to drop below 16 degrees C (60 degrees F). Well looked after, happy Gardenias may even flower a second time during the autumn months.

While keeping these gorgeous little shrubs happy seems to require a lot of effort, the magnificent flowers and intoxicating fragrance are well worth it.

 

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December 31 2012 2 31 /12 /December /2012 15:20

coverThis list includes a selection of common, not quite so common and unusual house plants beginning with the letter 'F'. If the name of a plant is not known - sometimes well meaning friends remove details before giving a plant as a present because the price happens to be on the label - it may be possible to first of all identify it by taking a peek at the images shown in the Green Thumb Photo Album

Plants are listed purely in alphabetical order, as opposed to splitting them by type, to make finding them a little easier. It can be difficult to find a plant if only armed with a name, rather than knowing whether it is of the flowering, foliage, succulent or cactus type. 

F

False Aralia

(Dizygotheca elegantissima)

Fiber Optic Grass

(Isolepis cernua)

Ficus Alii

(Ficus binnendiijkii 'Alii')

Fiddle Leaf Fig

(Ficus lyrata)

Firecracker Flower

(Crossandra infundibuliformis)

Firecracker Plant

(Russelia equisetiformis)

Fishtail Palm

(Caryota mitis)

Flame Violet

(Episcia cupreata)

Flaming Katy

(Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Flamingo Flower

(Anthurium scherzerianum)

Florist Chrysanthemum

(Chrysanthemum morifolium)

Flowering Maple

(Abutilon hybrids)

Foxtail Fern

(Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers')

Freesia Flower

(Freesia hybrids)

Friendship Plant

(Pilea involucrata)

Fuchsia Plant

(Fuchsia hybrids) 

Nobody is perfect, and there may well be some plants readers are aware of that are not featured here, so if any one has an idea or knows of a plant that should be included here, please leave a comment. The plant in question will then be researched and included as soon as humanly possible. 

It would also be appreciated if a photo that can be used here would be included with such suggestions, as the writer obviously does not have these plants readily available to take photos (otherwise they would already be included), and finding images that are not bound by copyrights is not always as easy as one would imagine. 

In the hope that this list and the associated images and articles will prove helpful, enjoy having a read, please share the articles with family, friends, colleagues and other acquaintances, and please feel free to leave comments of any kind - as long as they are not rude :-) 

While it is appreciated that it will not be possible to please everybody all the time, constructive criticism is worth far more - and will be taken note of - than raving abuse, which will simply be deleted.

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December 31 2012 2 31 /12 /December /2012 15:10

Plant Summary

fuchsiaBotanical Name: Fuchsia x hybrida, or Fuchsia hybrids

Type: Flowering

Origin: Fuchsia Plants originate from Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

Height: Regular Fuchsia hybrids grow up to heights of around 90 cm (3 ft). Dwarf varieties are naturally significantly smaller.

Soil: This house plant will do well in any general purpose, quality potting mix.

Light: Fuchsias like lots of bright light, but do not take kindly to direct, full sunlight.

fuchsia-gtHumidity: Fuchsia hybrids prefer moderate levels of humidity, so it may become necessary to raise levels slightly to keep the plant happy.

Temperatures: For most of the year, Fuchsias like to be kept fairly warm - at temperatures ranging between 16 and 21 degrees C (60 to 70 degrees F) - during the day, but a little cooler during the night, when temperatures should not exceed 10 to 13 degrees C (50 to 55 degrees F). In winter, the plant requires a cool rest, with minimum temperatures of around 7 degrees C (45 degrees F).

Water: The soil for Fuchsia hybrids should be kept evenly moist throughout spring, summer and autumn. As plants in hanging baskets tend to dry out quite rapidly, it is therefore necessary to check frequently, especially if the basket is kept outside. In winter, when the plant goes into dormancy, watering should be reduced.

Fertiliser: A liquid, balanced fertiliser needs to be diluted to half its strength and should be given to the plant once every two weeks during the months of spring and summer.

Propagation: Spring is ideal for propagating Fuchsias from 7 cm (3 in) long stem tip cuttings placed into moistened potting mix.

Description and Care Tips

fuchsia-woWith adequate care, Fuchsia hybrids will provide a dazzling display of magnificent blooms from spring through into late autumn for many years. Fuchsia blooms are spectacular, with pistils and stamens extending from bell-shaped single, double or semi-double petals toped by four flared sepals, which are often in colours contrasting with those of the petals. 

There are thousands of stunning hybrids, offering a choice of many rich colours - including red, pink, white, lavender and purple - in varying combinations. While most of the varieties sold in nurseries and garden centres are trailing, some varieties do have upright habits, although there is nothing quite like a mass of Fuchsia flowers cascading out of a hanging basket, or a container on a pedestal.

To provide adequate light, it is best to keep Fuchsias near a window, although they should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Moved into a shady spot outside, they will really thrive, but it is vital to return them indoors before temperatures are likely to drop below 7 degrees C (45 degrees F), as this plant does not tolerate frost.

fuchsia-stPinching out the growing tips during spring (or, at the latest, in early summer) will encourage the Fuchsia to branch out, giving it a much fuller appearance. The pinched out tips can, by the way, be used for propagation, as they will root easily. Spring is also a good time to prune this plant, using sharp pruners to cut stems cleanly just above leaf axils and at an angle of 45 degrees. This will help to give the plant an attractive shape and encourage new, vigorous growth. Naturally, it is important not to remove any flower buds during pruning.

After giving the plant a cool rest with reduced watering during the winter months, it can be repotted in spring. As Fuchsias have shallow roots and will bloom best when they are slightly pot-bound, the new pot should not be more than one size larger. Once the Fuchsia has reached the desired size, it can be kept in the same pot, although the soil should be refreshed regularly (once a year, in spring).

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December 31 2012 2 31 /12 /December /2012 14:21

Plant Summary

friendship-plantBotanical Name: Pilea involucrata

Type: Foliage

Origin: The Friendship Plant has its native habitat in South and Central America.

Height: Pilea involucrata typically grows to a height of around 30 cm (12 in).

Soil: Friendship Plants are happiest in African Violet or peat-moss potting mixes.

Light: This house plant needs moderate to bright light, but should not be placed into direct sunlight.

Humidity: As this plant likes high humidity, it is best to keep levels above 50 per cent (relative humidity) with the help of a humidifier or a wet pebble tray.

Temperatures: Being a tropical plant, Pilea involucrata prefers room temperatures of around 18 to 27 degrees C (65 to 80 degrees F).

friendship-plant-gtWater: While the soil can be kept a little drier during the winter, it should be kept evenly moistened from early spring until late autumn.

Fertiliser: During spring and summer, Friendship Plants should be fed with a diluted (half and half) balanced fertiliser on a monthly basis.

Propagation: Pilea involucrata can be propagated via easy rooting stem tip cuttings. These should be taken in spring, placed into moist potting mix (firmed down around stems to keep them upright) and covered with a plastic bag (around the complete pot) to retain high humidity.

Description and Care Tips 

friendship-plant-woThe ovate leaves of the Friendship Plant grow in opposing pairs and may be smooth, with silvery veins (like in the 'Norfolk' variety) or quilted and apple-green with veins that are deep bronze in colour, like those of the popular 'Moon Valley' variety. This latter variety is also more upright than the species, which is effectively a trailing plant, and the undersides of its deeply textured, toothed leaves are dark-red. In spring, clusters of pinkish-green, tiny flowers may emerge, but these flowers are generally considered to be insignificant in comparison to the gorgeous showy foliage.

To keep this fast-growing house plant looking full and bushy, yet compact, the growing tips - which root well and can be used for propagation - can be pinched out. It is certainly worth propagating this house plant, as the lower leaves of older plants tend to drop off, resulting in the plants becoming rather leggy and a little unattractive. 

friendship-plant-stSoggy or dry soil may also cause the leaves to drop off, so keeping the balance just right when watering Friendship Plants is essential. Given adequate humidity levels, warmth and careful watering, Pilea involucrata will reward its owner with beautiful foliage for many years to come. Keeping the plant away from direct sunlight (as this will scorch the leaves), drafts and heat vents (which will dry the surrounding air too much) will also help to keep this lovely house plant a joy to behold.

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December 31 2012 2 31 /12 /December /2012 12:17

Plant Summary

freesia-flowerBotanical Name: Freesia hybrids

Type: Flowering

Origin: Freesia Flowers originate from South Africa.

Height: The stems of Freesia hybrids can grow to heights of around 45 cm (18 in), and often need staking to keep them upright.

Soil: A good general purpose potting mix will be sufficient for this house plant.

Light: Freesia hybrids need plenty of bright light, and can handle a little direct, cool morning sunlight.

Humidity: This plant prefers average to moderate levels of humidity.

Temperatures: Until the corms of the Freesia Flower start sprouting, they should be kept fairly warm at temperatures around 27 degrees C (80 degrees F). The plant should then be kept cool - at temperatures ranging between 16 and 18 degrees C (60 to 65 degrees F) - during the growing and flowering periods. 

freesia-flower-gtWater: The soil should be kept slightly moistened. Over-watering can cause corms to rot, and should be avoided.

Fertiliser: From the appearance of the first flower buds until flowering ends, the Freesia Flower should be fed once a fortnight, using a diluted (1:1) liquid fertiliser high in potassium.

Propagation: Although the corms will not bloom again when kept indoors, they will produce offsets, which can then be planted. Once flowering has finished, the foliage should be allowed to naturally die back. After cutting off the stems, the offsets can be removed and stored in a dry place until planting.

Description and Care Tips

Funnel-shaped and highly fragrant, the blooms of Freesia hybrids may be single or double, and come in a selection of gorgeous colours - from white, pink or red through yellow and orange to lavender or bi-coloured varieties. The slender, long flower stems are surrounded by strap-like, long leaves. Often purchased as cut flowers, the sweet scented, beautiful blooms of Freesia Flowers can be enjoyed far longer if the Freesia is grown as a house plant.

freesia-flower-woThe corms of Freesia Flowers are easily forced into blooming, and should be planted from late summer into early autumn for an abundance of blooms in winter or early spring. To force Freesia Flowers, a fairly shallow container - which should have a minimum depth of 7 cm (3 in) - should be filled loosely with a suitable potting mix. 

The corms are then set - pointed end up - lightly into the potting mix. They should be approximately 5 cm (2 in) apart, and should not be pressed into the potting mix, as it needs to remain loose enough to allow the tender roots to easily grow through it. They are then topped with an additional 2.5 cm (1 in) of potting mix (again keeping it loose) and watered minimally.

freesia-flower-stThe pot then needs to be moved to a warm - 27 degrees C (80 degrees F) - and bright spot for around 8 weeks, keeping the mix barely moistened throughout. Once the emerging shoots reach a height of around 5 cm (2 in), the pot should be moved to a cooler - 16 to 18 degrees C (60 to 65 degrees F) - bright location until buds begin to form. To ensure even growth, the pot needs to be turned every two days or so. Keeping Freesia Flowers in a bright spot - but out of direct sunlight - when in full bloom will help to prolong the blooming period.

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December 30 2012 1 30 /12 /December /2012 03:44

Plant Summary

foxtail-fernBotanical Name: Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers'

Type: Foliage

Origin: Foxtail Fern originates from South Africa.

Height: The plume-like fronds of the Foxtail Fern can grow up to around 90 cm (3 ft) in length.

Soil: Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' will do well in any quality potting mix, but, like other Asparagus Ferns, will benefit from the addition of a little peat moss.

Light: Foxtail Ferns like bright, but indirect light. Strong full sunlight may scorch its needle-like leaflets, which will turn yellow or drop off if insufficient light is provided.

Humidity: This house plant prefers moderate to high levels of humidity, and will benefit from being placed onto a pebble tray. It will also appreciate (though not need) a misting with room-temperature water from time to time.

Temperatures: To keep this plant happy, average temperatures should range between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F).

Water: While watering should be thorough, the potting mix should be allowed to dry a little before watering again, as over-watering may cause root rot. During the winter, watering should be done sparingly, although the soil should never be allowed to completely dry out.

foxtail-fern-gtFertiliser: From spring into autumn, Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' should be fed once a month with a diluted (50:50) balanced fertiliser.

Propagation: Foxtail Ferns can be propagated via division, which should be done in spring. After carefully removing the plant from the container, the thick roots should be cut with a sharp knife to prevent pulling and tearing.

Description and Care Tips 

Easy to grow, beautiful and - according to some - more decorative than the Asparagus Fern, its close relative, the Foxtail Fern features gorgeous emerald coloured, upright plumes that make it a magnificent accent plant.

The fronds of Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' are densely covered with 2.5 cm (1 in) long, needle-like leaflets, giving this house plant a feathery, delicate appearance. In spite of this delicate appearance, it is an aggressive grower and will need cutting back or dividing during the months of spring to keep it under control.

Cutting back the stems will keep the Foxtail Fern bushy and compact, and removing older, faded fronds will encourage new growth and keep it looking its best. Spring is also the best time to repot the plant. The new pot should be only a single size larger than the previous one. As the tuberous, fleshy roots occasionally push up the soil as they grow, it is best to leave some space - approximately 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in) - between the top of the soil and the pot's rim.

foxtail-fern-woThis house plant likes dappled sunlight, and too much sunlight may not only scorch the leaflets, it may also cause them to drop, as will dry soil. Although Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' will tolerate occasional short drought periods, it will grow best when watered well, especially during active growing periods. It is, however, vital not to over-water Foxtail Ferns, as the thick roots store water and soggy soil will inevitably lead to root rot.

Rapid changes in temperature, changing light conditions and over-watering, as well as under-watering, may cause the leaflets of the Foxtail Fern to turn yellow, as will spider mite infestations. As a rule, once the problem causing the plant distress is resolved, new growth will resume quickly. In addition to spider mites, Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' is also prone to infestations by scale insects and mealy bugs. Preventative measures and regular checking are therefore essential. If an infestation does become serious, it is best to cut all stems right back to the base and allow new growth to form from the bulbs.

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December 18 2012 3 18 /12 /December /2012 12:30

Plant Summary

flowering-mapleBotanical Name: Abutilon hybrids; Abutilon hybridum

Type: Flowering

Origin: The Flowering Maple originates from the tropical regions of Brazil.

Height: Indoor Abutilon hybrids are usually pruned back to keep them at a maximum height of around 90 cm (3 ft), but if left to its own devices, a plant will keep growing up to 3 m (10 ft) tall. Staking may become necessary for fairly tall plants.

Soil: This house plant is served best with a potting mix primarily consisting of peat moss.

Light: Abutilon hybrids require lots of bright light, even full sun, although they should be kept out of direct sun during midday.

Humidity: This plant requires moderate levels of humidity, and should be misted every two or three days (as required) with water at room temperature. This is particularly important during the winter months, when air tends to be drier.

Temperatures: Flowering Maples do not like to be cold, and should be kept in temperatures between 16 and 27 degrees C (60 to 80 degrees F). Anything less than 16 degrees C (60 degrees F) is likely to cause Abutilon hybrids to drop their leaves and enter a dormant state. If a plant is moved into the garden for the summer, it must therefore be returned indoors before night-temperatures drop to 13 degrees C (55 degrees F) or lower.

flowering-maple-gtWater: Watering thoroughly should be followed by allowing the top 2.5 cm (1 in) of the potting mix to dry before watering again. While the soil needs to be kept evenly moistened, it should not be allowed to become soggy, as this will invite root rot.

Fertiliser: A Flowering Maple should be fed once a fortnight (spring to autumn) with a liquid fertiliser high in phosphorus.

Propagation: This plant can be propagated in spring by dipping the cut end of 10 cm (4 in) stem cuttings into rooting powder, then planting them in moistened potting mix.

Description and Care Tips 

Abutilon hybrids, which are often also known as Chinese Lantern Plants due to their papery drooping flowers, owe their common name of Flowering Maple to the shape of their foliage, which resembles the leaves of the Maple tree. 

flowering-maple-woAvailable in a plethora of varieties (the image above show just a small selection of possibilities), the Flowering Maple features large, bell-shaped flowers, which will more or less cover the plant from spring right through into autumn.

Thorough, even watering is essential, as uneven watering may cause dry pockets of soil, which will rapidly result in wilting. To prevent soggy soil and subsequent root rot, the container should have drainage holes, and drainage trays should be emptied immediately after watering.

To keep the plant at a manageable height, it is best to prune it back before its most vigorous growth-period in spring. As this house plant responds well to being pruned, it can be cut back quite harshly by up to a third. Pinching out growing tips will encourage branching and create a fuller, bushier appearance.

flowering-maple-stSpring is also the best time to propagate and repot Flowering Maples. As this house plant will bloom better when its roots are slightly pot-bound, repotting should only be done when necessary, and the new container should not be more than one size larger than the previous one.

Given conditions as close as possible to its natural habitat - plenty of sunlight (though shading from midday sun is essential), adequate humidity levels, warmth and moist soil - this plant will provide masses of blooms for the best part of the year.

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December 17 2012 2 17 /12 /December /2012 15:18

Plant Summary

florist-chrysanthemumBotanical Name: Chrysanthemum morifolium; Chrysanthemum x morifolium

Type: Flowering

Origin: Chrysanthemum morifolium originate from China

Height: Florist Chrysanthemum grow to heights ranging between 30 and 60 cm (12 to 24 in).

Soil: Chrysanthemum morifolium typically grow best in potting mixes based on peat moss.

Light: This house plant needs lots of sunlight, but must also have sufficient darkness throughout the night in order to bloom abundantly.

Humidity: Average levels of humidity are adequate for this plant.

florist-chrysanthemum-gtTemperatures: To prolong blooming, plants are best kept in temperatures ranging between 13 and 18 degrees C (55 to 65 degrees F).

Water: To prevent foliage wilting, the soil should be kept evenly moistened at all times.

Fertiliser: Potted Florist Chrysanthemums typically do not require fertilising, but those planted out should be given a slow-release 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 fertiliser in spring.

Propagation: This house plant can be propagated from seeds or stem/ leaf cuttings, which should be taken in spring.

Description and Care Tips

Cultivated in China for two millennia under the name of Chusan Daisy, Florist Chrysanthemums, which are often simply referred to as Xants or Mums, were introduced to Japan  - by Buddhist monks - during 400 AD, where they became so popular, the imperial family adopted them as their emblem. Some Japanese cities host spectacular Chrysanthemum exhibitions each year even today. The plants reached Europe during the late 18th Century, and were initially known as Pompon Chrysanthemums.

A member of the Asteraceae family, which includes more than 1,000 genera and around 20,000 different species, the Florist Chrysanthemum has dark green foliage and may feature daisy or anemone-like, pompon shaped or spider-like flowers. 

florist-chrysanthemum-woOriginally golden yellow (hence its name Chrysanthemum, which essentially means Golden Flower), this plant is now available in a plethora of colours, including white and off-white; pink, red, and burgundy; yellow, bronze, lavender and purple.

To keep it flowering for longer, the plant should be placed into a well-ventilated, cool - but sunny - position and watered regularly, as dry roots will cause the foliage to wilt and stunt formation of buds. 

Part of the Florist Chrysanthemum's popularity is due to the wealth of meanings associated with its flowers. In addition to this flower symbolising fidelity, joy, long life and optimism, red flowers are said to convey love; white flowers are used to symbolise loyal love and truth, and yellow flowers are often used to symbolise slighted love. 

In Italy and parts of Germany, Florist Chrysanthemums are associated with funerals, and many refuse to have them in their house  - especially if white or yellow -for any other reason. This is based on a superstition that having these flowers in the house will result in a funeral becoming necessary - and is a real shame considering their beauty.

Used in ancient China as a medicine, or fermented into wine, the petals of Chrysanthemums are said to be edible and can be used in salads, sprinkled on top of clear soups or in tea. Chrysanthemum flavour tea is said to be useful as a relaxant. It should, however, be noted that the leaves of this plant are toxic and should never be ingested.

As it is not possible to get this plant to bloom again indoors, it is often thrown out after flowering has ended. This is a shame, as this comparatively easy to grow plant can be cut back (down to 7 to 10 cm/ 3 to 4 in) and transferred into the garden, where it will require fertilising (see above) in spring. 

florist-chrysanthemum-stPinching growing tips out every two to three weeks, starting when new spring growth has reached 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) and ending in early summer, will result in the plant becoming bushier and producing more flower buds. Deadheading spent flowers will also encourage prolonged blooming. 

As Chrysanthemum morifolium is susceptible to various common pests (in particular aphids and spider mites) and diseases (including powdery mildew, septoria leaf spot and verticillium wilt), it is vital to regularly check for signs of such problems and deal with them as soon as possible to prevent spreading infestations/ infections.

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