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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: 




(Haworthia species)

Heartleaf Philodendron

(Philodendron scandens)


(Helleborus niger)


(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Hyacinth Flower

(Hyacinthus orientalis hybrids)


(Hydrangea macrophylla)




(Impatiens hybrids)

Iron Cross Begonia

(Begonia masoniana)

Ivy Geranium

(Pelargonium peltatum)


(Ixora coccinea)



Jade Plant

(Crassula ovata)

Janet Craig Dracaena

(Dracaena deremensis)

Japanese Aralia

(Fatsia japonica)

Jasmine Plant

(Jasminum polyanthum)

Jerusalem Cherry

(Solanum pseudocapsicum)



Kaffir Lily

(Clivia miniata)

Kentia Palm

(Howea forsteriana)



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)



Madagascar Palm                                    

(Pachypodium lamerei)

Maidenhair Fern                                       


Mandevilla Plant                                       

(Mandevilla hybrids)

Martha Washington Geranium                   

(Pelargonium domesticum)


(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)



Nerve Plant                                              

(Fittonia verschaffeltii)

New Guinea Impatiens                              

(Impatiens x hawkeri hybrid)

Norfolk Island Pine                                   

(Araucaria heterophylla)



Oleander Plant                                         

(Nerium oleander)

Orchid Cactus                                         

(Epiphyllum species and hybrids)

Ornamental Chili Pepper                           

(Capsicum annuum)



Paddle Plant                                            

(Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

Panda Plant                                            

(Kalanchoe tomentosa)


(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


Peacock Plant                                         

(Calathea makoyana)


(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 rubra)

Pocketbook Plant                                    

(Calceolaria herbeohybrida)


(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)



Queen's Tears                                         

(Billbergia nutans)



Rabbit Foot Fern                                      

(Davallia fejeensis)

Rex Begonia                                            

(Begonia rex)

Rosary Vine                                            

(Ceropegia woodii)

Rubber Plant                                           

(Ficus elastica)



Sago Palm                                              

(Cycas revoluta)

Satin Pothos                                           

(Scindapsus pictus)

Scarlet Star                                             

(Guzmania lingulata)

Scented Geranium                                   

(Pelargonium species and hybrids)


(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)


Thanksgiving Cactus                                

(Schlumbergera truncata)

Ti Plant                                                   

(Cordyline terminalis)

Tiger's Jaw                                              

(Faucaria tigrina)


(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 elephantipes)

Zebra Plant                                              

(Aphelandra squarrosa)

ZZ Plant                                                  

(Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Sad News...


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!' 

September 21 2012 6 21 /09 /September /2012 10:51

christmas-palm-treePlant Summary

Botanical Name: Veitchia merrillii

Type: Foliage

Origin: Christmas Palm Trees originate from the Philippine Islands.

Height: This magnificent house plant can grow up to heights of 1.8 m (6 ft) even if kept indoors.

Soil: A well draining peat-moss potting mix should be used for this plant. A mixture of African Violet mix (three parts) and sand (one part) is perfect.

Light: Christmas Palm Trees like bright light and can handle a little direct sunlight.

Humidity: Humidity levels should be kept moderate (above 50 per cent) for this palm, using a room humidifier or a humidity tray to raise levels if necessary.

Temperatures: Room temperatures should be kept between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F) to keep this plant happy.

christmas-palm-tree-gtWater:  Christmas Palm Trees need to be watered regularly, but without allowing the soil to get soggy, as this will cause the roots to rot. For this reason, a pot with drainage holes should always be used.

Fertiliser: Slow-growing palms like this species do not require regular feeds with liquid fertilisers like other house plants. A slow-release food spike added to the soil once in spring , then again later on in summer will provide all the micro nutrients the palm needs to remain healthy and lush.

Propagation: Christmas Palm Trees are propagated from seeds. Patience is required, as the seeds can take several months before they finally germinate. Seeds should be sown and lightly covered with soil in spring or early summer. They should then be kept moist and warm (at temperatures of around 24 to 27 degrees C, or 75 to 80 degrees F).

Description and Care Tips

The adorable tropical Christmas Palm Tree makes a magnificent house plant. Reminiscent of the stately Royal Palms lining the boulevards of California and southern Florida, this plant's crown of pinnate arched leaves is supported by a single trunk. In autumn, the clusters of flowers emerging from the base of the crown are replaced by green fruits, around 2.5 cm (1 in) in size. By the time Christmas arrives, these fruits will have ripened to a bright red colour, giving them an appearance similar to red Christmas lights - the reason for this gorgeous palm's common name.

christmas-palm-tree-stChristmas Palm Trees are surprisingly tolerant of being grown in pots, and as long as they are given lots of sunshine throughout the year, they will thrive indoors. They can be moved outside during the warm summer months, but must be brought back inside when temperatures drop to around 4.5 degrees C (40 degrees F), as they do not take kindly to being cold.

Repotting - which is only necessary when the plant becomes severely root-bound - should be done in spring. Containers need to allow for root-growth and subsequently need to be fairly deep. They should also be quite heavy, as the Christmas Palm Tree - though slow-growing - will grow tall and top-heavy sooner or later.

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September 20 2012 5 20 /09 /September /2012 16:41

christmas-cactusPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Schlumbergera bridgesii

Type: Flowering cactus

Origin: The parent plants, Schlumbergera russelliana and Schlumbergera truncata, are native to Brazil's tropical rainforests.

Height: A Christmas Cactus will normally grow to a maximum height of around 60 cm (2 ft).

Soil: This cactus grows best in a 1:1 mix of fir bark (fine grade) and potting soil.

Light: Schlumbergera bridgesii likes bright, but indirect light.

Humidity: The Christmas Cactus prefers moderate levels (around 50 to 60 per cent) of humidity. A wet pebble dish or tray will help to raise humidity.

christmas-cactus-gtTemperatures: To get the plant to bud, room temperatures should be kept fairly low - 16 to 18 degrees C (60 to 65 degrees F) during the day, and 7 to 13 degrees C (45 to 55 degrees F) during the night. Once budding, day-time temperatures ranging from 21 to 24 degrees C (70 to 75 degrees F), with nighttime temperatures of between 16 and 21 degrees C (60 to 70 degrees F) are ideal.

Water: While the plant is growing, the soil should be kept moist, without allowing it to become soggy. Once flowering has finished, watering should be reduced until spring, when a new growth period begins.

Fertiliser: A diluted (1:1) liquid fertiliser (balanced) should be given to the Christmas Cactus every two weeks. After the last of the flowers have dropped off, fertilising should be stopped for a month, to give the plant a rest.

Propagation: Stem segments taken in spring can be placed into moist perlite to propagate the Christmas Cactus.

Description and Care Tips

christmas-cactus-woA hybrid of two epiphytes native to South American rainforests (Schlumbergera russelliana and Schlumbergera truncata), the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) does not exist as a native species.

The flattened, dark green stems of this plant consist of segments that are joined in a scallop-like pattern. As the festive season draws near, lovely flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink, red and purple begin to appear at the stems' tips.  

To produce buds, the Christmas Cactus needs around 8 to 10 weeks of cooler temperatures (see above). Moving the plant outside during the autumn months is perfect to get these temperatures. It is, however, vital to return the plant to its indoor position before the first frost sets in. Once budding, the plant should not be moved, as this may result in the buds or flowers dropping off. Drafts should also be avoided. 

christmas-cactus-stOnce flowering has ended, the plant needs to be given a month of rest, during which watering should be reduced and fertilising should be stopped. When the first new growth appears in spring, the usual watering and fertilising routine can be resumed. The soil should be kept just moist, without allowing it to dry out. If the stems appear limp and shrivelled, the plant is not receiving enough water. 

Spring is also the best time to repot the plant - which blooms best when slightly pot-bound (making repotting only necessary once every two to three years) and should never be repotted while flowering - and do some pruning. Regular pruning encourages the plant to become fuller by branching out where stems were cut. Stems should be cut using clean, sharp pruners (to prevent tearing). Cuts need to be made at the midrib where segments join together. 

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September 20 2012 5 20 /09 /September /2012 13:04

chinese-evergreenPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Aglaonema hybrids

Type: Foliage

Origin: Chinese Evergreens are hybrids derived from parent plants originating from Southeast Asia.

Height: As a rule, the Chinese Evergreen will not exceed heights of 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 ft).

Soil: Any good, balanced potting mix will suffice for this useful house plant.

Light: Unlike many other house plants, Chinese Evergreens prefer low light conditions. Too much light will, in fact, cause the leaves of this plant to fade.

Humidity: Average levels of humidity are ideal, although this plant will tolerate low levels of humidity fairly well. The plant should not be misted, as this will cause unsightly spots on the leaves.

Temperatures: Chinese Evergreen plants are happiest in rooms with temperatures ranging between 18 and 24 degrees C (65 to 75 degrees F).

chinese-evergreen-gtWater: The potting mix needs to be kept evenly moist the whole year round.

Fertiliser: A balanced, liquid fertiliser should be diluted by half and fed to the plant once a month from spring through to the end of summer.

Propagation: Chinese Evergreens may be propagated by root division or stem cuttings, which can be rooted in moist potting soil or water.

Description and Care Tips

Belonging to the Araceae, or Aroid, family, the Chinese Evergreen is an adaptable house plant that will tolerate dry air and low light conditions better than most other plants. It does not, however, appreciate being exposed to cold air. 

chinese-evergreen-stThe dark green, pointed leaves of this plant are fairly large, growing up to 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in) in length and 7.5 cm (3 in) in width. They are typically heavily marbled with cream, white or white and silver. As the plant ages, some of the lower leaves may drop off, resulting in the Chinese Evergreen looking a little spindly. Some of the newer varieties, like 'Silver Queen', for example, tend to grow in somewhat thicker clumps, leaving even mature plants looking bushy and compact.

During the summer months, some small flowers may appear. These flowers will be followed by red berries, which are poisonous, as is the sap of this plant. It is therefore vital to keep the berries/ sap well away from children and pets.

Chinese Evergreens have no tolerance at all for the cold, and temperatures dropping below 13 degrees C (55 degrees F) will cause them to suffer. They subsequently need to be kept in a warm place well away from cold drafts, which will cause the leaves to develop yellow-grey patches.

chinese-evergreen-woThis is one plant that should not be pruned - all new growth comes from the crown, and pruning will kill it off. If an older plant begins to look a little leggy, the bare stems can be hidden by planting another low-light plant, such as, for instance, pothos, in the same container.

This lovely plant is not only nice to look at, it will also do wonders for air quality in the room it occupies. It has an astounding ability to remove a range of toxins, including formaldehyde, from the air, making it a plant every home should have.

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September 20 2012 5 20 /09 /September /2012 12:22

china-dollPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Radermachera sinica

Type: Foliage

Origin: The China Doll Plant originates from China and Taiwan.

Height: Kept indoors, this lovely house plant will grow up to a height of around 1.2 m (4 ft).

Soil: China Doll Plants will thrive in any quality general use potting mix.

Light: This house plant likes bright light, but should be kept out of direct sunlight.

Humidity: A plant of few requirements, the China Doll will be happy in rooms with average humidity levels.

china-doll-gtTemperatures: Normal room temperatures averaging around 16 to 24 degrees  (60 to 75 degrees F) are perfect for this plant.

Water: The potting mix should be kept evenly moist throughout the year.

Fertiliser: A liquid balanced (10-10-10) fertiliser should be diluted to half its strength and fed to the plant once every two weeks.

Propagation: China Dolls can be propagated through stem cuttings of approximately 10 cm (4 in) in length during spring/ early summer.

Description and Care Tips

The small, evergreen China Doll Plant's long, bipinnate leaves feature deeply veined, glossy leaflets of around 5 cm (2 in) in length. Compact young plants have woody, branching stems. If not pruned back regularly, this fast growing house plant tends to become leggy fairly quickly.

china-doll-woTo keep the plant attractive, as much as needed should be cut off during spring or early summer. It is important to always make cuts above leaf nodes, which are essentially the points at which leaves are attached to the stem. Using a good set of sharp, clean pruners will prevent tearing of the stem. Pinching off growing tips on a regular basis will also encourage the China Doll to branch out, rather than growing tall.

While 'wild' plants in the subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, their native habitat, will produce white to yellow, fragrant bell-shaped flowers once mature, indoor plants rarely offer to bloom. Keeping this plant healthy means provision of plenty of indirect, bright light and evenly moist soil at all times. 

china-doll-stOver-watering should, however, be avoided, as soggy soil will cause the leaves of this plant to turn yellow. China Dolls prefer to be almost pot-bound, so repotting should only be done when the roots have completely filled the container. 

The best time to repot is early on in spring, and it is advisable not to make the new pot more than one size larger than the old pot. Choosing a new pot that is too large will result in the plant wasting its energy filling the container with roots, rather than actively growing and producing leaves.

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September 14 2012 6 14 /09 /September /2012 14:54

badger4.jpgIt is said that the badger, Meles meles, is one of Britain's most popular animals. Loved by many, this beautiful animal is comparatively widespread across both England and Wales (with some isolated populations in Scotland). Sadly, the badger is frequently harmed by man - sometimes by accident and on other occasions with cruel intention. All too often, the only time this shy, nocturnal animal is seen is as a dead body by the side of the road. 

Persecuted by man for a host of dubious reasons for centuries - to the extend of almost being wiped out to extinction on several occasions throughout history - Britain's badgers are once again under threat. This time, the threat does not come solely through illegal badger baiting, a cruel 'sport' with no real purpose other than to satisfy the bloodlust of some deranged individuals, but through a proposed cull. But more of that later...

Badgers can grow to a length of up to 75 cm (30 in), with a tail approximately 15 cm (6 in) long. They can weigh as much as 10 - 12 kg ( 22 - 26.5 lb). Their coat of coarse black and white hair can give them an appearance of being grey when seen from a distance. Females - or sows - are a little smaller than males - boars - and tend to have a shorter, bushier tail, with the male's tail usually being thinner, longer and pointed, with more white.

badger2.jpgFace, head, underside and leg hair is shorter than the hair on the back of the badger, which can grow up to 7.5 cm (just under 3 in) long and features a pointed black tip. The chest and forepaws of this gorgeous creature are black, while the head features prominent black and white stripes, and white tips on the ears. Badgers have five toes with long, powerful claws that are non-retractable and are used for digging. 

They live in setts, which are complex underground systems of tunnels and nesting chambers lined with grass, leaves and moss. These setts are typically dug into slopes - often involving tons of soil being shifted - near copses and woods, in particular if they are close to pasture land. Occasionally, they can be found in abandoned quarries, and urbanisation means they can also be found near farmland or in suburban areas.

In addition to the main sett, where a clan of badgers - usually around 6 adults and however many cubs, although some clans may include up to 20 adults - live, there is often also a secondary outer sett containing fewer nesting chambers than the main sett.

Classed as carnivores due to their large canine teeth, Badgers are actually omnivorous, meaning they will eat anything they can find. They are foragers, rather than active hunters, and their diet includes roots, fruits, bulbs, beech mast and acorns; wasps, snails, frogs, mice, voles, beetles and earthworms. 

While mating times may vary, this animal typically mates some time between February and July. Implantation is then delayed for between two and 10 months, usually resulting in the sows becoming pregnant in December. Once properly pregnant, the sow will give birth to two or three cubs after about seven weeks, usually some time between January and March. 

The young, or cubs, are born blind and have just a little fir, which is dirty white in colour, on their back. Sometimes, the cubs make whickering, high-pitched noises. Adults tend to purr when they are happy, or make deep growling or barking sounds to warn intruders off. 

badger3.jpgCubs will begin exploring the sett at the tender age of 6 to 7 weeks, going as far as the sett entrance by the time they reach 8 weeks. As a rule, they will not leave the sett until they are around 9 to 10 weeks old, and they will remain close to their mothers even then. Many of the cubs die within their first year. Those that survive circumstances and manage not to be killed by farmers or hunters and their dogs can live for five or more years.

On reaching adulthood, young boars will challenge the leader of the clan for his position in the established hierarchy. More often than not, challengers will be forced to leave the clan. Their options then include joining another clan, forming their own clan or living alone, although the latter is comparatively rare.

Like their relatives, which include pine martens, otters, weasels, stoats and polecats, badgers have musk-bearing glands below their tails. They also have a second pair of musk glands near their anus. The scent of the musk secreted from these glands helps members of a clan to recognise each other. It is also used to mark the clan's home range in an effort to deter non-members of the clan from stealing food or mating with the females. 

While the home range is an area clan members will use at some point or another, it may not be defended as fiercely as the territory, which is essentially the main area surrounding the sett and the location of the females.

In addition to being needlessly hunted and slaughtered by farmers and hunters, the British government is now proposing to cull 7 out of every 10 badgers in a completely misguided effort to eradicate what is known as bovine TB. This disease affects cattle. Unfortunately, it is passed on to badgers by cattle, ultimately resulting in badgers occasionally passing it back to herds. 

badger1.jpgThis cull is estimated to mean death for at least 130,000 badgers, reducing numbers in the south west of the country by around half, with an expected reduction of about a third of the population across England. Many local areas may end up losing all of their badger populations. In addition, thousands of these beautiful creatures could be left with crippling injuries, or be left to die a slow, painful death.

Going through with this cull will only have one result - it will decimate badgers. It will not, in any way or under any circumstances, help to eradicate bovine TB. There are better, more humane ways to deal with this disease. One of these ways would be to put the funds required to set up this senseless cull into developing an effective vaccine.

Readers can help to stop this atrocity by signing the petition against the cull at Care2. A similar petition has been launched by Just Do Something

Whichever way readers decide to help is irrelevant, as long as they do something and do it quickly - time is running out fast for badgers!





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Published by Paddy - in Endangered Species
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September 12 2012 4 12 /09 /September /2012 19:03

celosia-plumosaPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Celosia argentea var. plumosa

Type: Flowering

Origin: Most Celosia plumosa varieties are hybrids parented by plants originating from Asia.

Height: Celosias grow to heights of between 15 and 60 cm (6 to 24 in).

Soil: Ideally, Celosia plumosa should be planted in a potting mix based primarily on peat moss.

Light: This house plant loves bright light, and can be placed into full sun light without any problems arising.

Humidity: Average levels of humidity will keep this plant sufficiently happy.

celosia-plumosa-gtTemperatures: Average temperatures of around 16 to 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F) are perfect for the Celosia, which will easily withstand summer heat if taken outdoors. It will not tolerate cold, however, and most subsequently be brought indoors when outside temperatures start dropping below 16 degrees C (60 degrees F). 

Water: The potting mix needs to be kept moist, but not soggy, at all times.

Fertiliser: Balanced liquid fertilisers should be diluted to half their strength and fed to the plant every four weeks.

Propagation: This type is easy to grow from seeds sown in spring.

celosia-plumosa-woDescription and Care Tips

The compact Celosia plumosa is an annual with large bright blooms lasting from spring through into autumn. It thrives in sunny, hot conditions, and requires thorough watering to ensure the soil is kept moist. Adequate drainage must be provided through pots with drainage holes, as soggy soil will cause the roots of this plant to rot.

Easy to grow even from seeds, this low maintenance plant is available in a variety of colours, including yellow, orange, pink, purple and red. Grouped together or alone, these plants really are marvellous to look at, and will provide a splash of colour for months on end.

celosia-plumosa-stIt is often possible to get packets of mixed seeds, providing a spectacular display of eye-catching, vibrant plumes in a multitude of colours. Deeply veined, soft leaves cover most of the fleshy stems holding the plumes above the foliage.

It may have taken some time, but this gorgeous plant is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and is rising rapidly in popularity among both growers and house plant owners. 

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September 12 2012 4 12 /09 /September /2012 12:44


cat-palmPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Chamaedorea cataractarum

Type: Foliage

Origin: Cat Palm Trees are native to Southern Mexico.

Height: Kept indoors, this palm will grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft) high.

Soil: Good drainage is required, making a peaty potting mix ideal. Mixing three parts of African Violet mix with one part of sand works well for this house plant.

Light: Cat Palm Trees prefer bright light.

Humidity: The Cat Palm prefers moderate humidity levels and loves to get the occasional misting. If humidity levels drop below a relative humidity of 50 per cent, a room humidifier or humidity tray may need to be used.

Temperatures: Year-round temperatures of between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F) will keep this house plant thriving.

Water: The soil must be kept moist throughout the year. Adequate drainage to prevent the soil from becoming soggy is vital, as palms do not tolerate getting their feet wet.

Fertiliser: A time release palm fertiliser should be provided just once in spring, then again in summer. Fertiliser spikes formulated especially for palms are best, as they will contain the micro nutrients required by palms in order to retain their green, lush appearance.

Propagation: It is possible to grow Cat Palm Trees from seeds, but the wait will be long - seeds germinate slowly and seedlings will take years to grow into palm trees. Dividing the plant's clumps is possible, but not advisable, as the roots are fragile and easily damaged.

cat-palm-gtDescription and Care Tips

The stemless clumps of Cat Palm Trees feature pinnate leaves that carry leaflets of up to 2.5 cm (1 in) wide, 30 cm (12 in) long leaflets. Being real dust-catchers, these fronds can be kept clean by using a soft damp cloth to wipe them. 

As the plant loves bright light, keeping it in a sunny window or a sun room is ideal. Once a week, the plant should be given a one quarter turn to ensure even exposure to light. A plant caddy will make moving a large plant easier. 

In spite of common beliefs, palms are not desert plants and do require regular watering to prevent browning of the fronds. It should, however, be noted that the soil should only be kept moist, not soggy. 

The plant requires lots of moisture, and dry air, dry soil or fluoride in tap water may cause the leaf tips to go brown. Dry air can be remedied by the use of a humidifier, and using rain or distilled water will remove the risk of fluoride causing problems.

Chemicals in fertilisers and tap water are also likely to cause a build-up of soluble salts in the potting mix. This may damage the roots and leaves of this salt-sensitive plant. To avoid this type of damage, the excess salt can be removed from the soil by placing the pot into a sink - or taking it outside (weather permitting) - and slowly pouring tepid water over the soil. 

Once the water has drained out, the process is repeated. Doing this takes just a few minutes, and, if done two or three times a year, will help to keep the Cat Palm healthy.

cat-palm-stRepotting is typically only required once every three years. In order to limit the plant's size, it is best to keep the roots a little crowded. The new pot should therefore only be one size larger than the old one. When replanting the Cat Palm, it should not be planted to deeply, but roughly at the depth it was in its old container. 

The root ball must be kept intact - at least as much as humanly possible - as the roots are extremely brittle. Trying to spread out the roots will irretrievably damage the Cat Palm.


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September 12 2012 4 12 /09 /September /2012 11:54

cast-ironPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Aspidistra elatior

Type: Foliage

Origin: This house plant originates from China.

Height: Cast Iron Plants can grow to heights of around 90 cm (3 ft).

Soil: Any good general purpose potting mix will be suitable for this plant.

Light: Cast Iron Plants prefer low to moderate light conditions. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as this may cause unsightly brown scorch marks on the leaves.

Humidity: Although the Cast Iron Plant will tolerate comparatively dry air, it prefers moderate levels of humidity. In any case, it must be kept out of drafts.

Temperatures: Highly adaptable to temperature changes, this house plant will tolerate temperatures between 10 and 29 degrees C (50 to 85 degrees F).

Water: During the spring and summer months, the plant needs to be watered thoroughly on a regular basis, although the soil should be allowed to dry out between watering sessions. Watering is reduced during autumn and winter. Over-watering will often result in leaves turning yellow.

cast-iron-gtFertiliser: A diluted (1:1), balanced liquid fertiliser should be fed to the plant once every four weeks during spring and summer.

Propagation: This slow-growing plant must be divided in spring, when the pot becomes over-crowded. As a rule, this will only become necessary every five years or so. It is better to remove new shoots - with their roots attached - rather than repotting an older plant.

Description and Care Tips

The tough Cast Iron Plant will survive in conditions likely to kill any other plants, from low light and infrequent watering to extreme summer heat. It really does not like soggy soil, and practically thrives on being neglected. 

This plant does, in fact, have somewhat of a Greta Garbo ('I vant to be alone') attitude - it hates to be disturbed. Respecting this attitude and only repotting it when it is absolutely necessary will result in the plant getting on just fine for years to come.

cast-iron-stThe 15 cm (6 in) stems of this beautiful, evergreen plant grow in a clump, bearing dark-green, glossy leaves that will grow up to 10 cm (4 in) in width and 60 cm (24 in) in length. Some varieties may feature speckles or stripes on their leaves. While the plant does not mind dust, owners may prefer to keep the leaves shiny by wiping them with a damp, soft cloth from time to time. 

In spring, some rather unattractive small flowers in a purplish-brown colour may appear at the base of the Cast Iron Plant. They are hardly noticeable, and it is best not to expect them, as this plant does not flower often.

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September 12 2012 4 12 /09 /September /2012 11:14

card-palmPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Zamia furfuracea

Type: Foliage, semi-succulent

Origin: The Cardboard Palm Tree originates from Eastern Mexico.

Height: This slow growing plant can reach heights of around 1.8 m (6 ft) when kept indoors.

Soil: To allow for adequate drainage, equal parts of sand a a high quality potting mix should be combined for this house plant.

Light: Cardboard Palm Trees like bright light and can be kept in full sunlight.

Humidity: Low to average levels of humidity are perfect for this plant.

Temperatures: While this house plant prefers temperatures of 16 to 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F) throughout the year, it is hardy enough to tolerate lows down to -1 degree C (25 degrees F).

Water: After thoroughly watering the Cardboard Palm, the top 5 cm (2 in) of potting mix should be allowed to dry out before the next watering. Good drainage is vital to prevent soggy soil, so a pot with drainage holes should be used. Growth will slow during winter, meaning watering should be reduced.

card-palm-gtFertiliser: Feeding the plant requires administration of a time release fertiliser just twice per year. The first dose is given in spring, the second will become necessary in summer.

Propagation: While mature plants will produce seeds, they will not be fertile unless the plant was cross-pollinated. It is therefore necessary to purchase high quality seeds for propagation. These seeds germinate slowly, and patience is required, as it will take years for the seedlings to grow into tall plants. As the seeds are poisonous and could kill a pet or small child, they need to be kept in a safe place.

Description and Care Tips

Cardboard Palm Trees are, in fact, not palms, but Cycads. Native to Mexico, they are easier to keep indoors than real palms due to their tolerance of low humidity levels. Placed into a sunny spot and turned evenly to ensure even growth, this plant has few requirements to thrive.

Maintenance is exceptionally low for the Cardboard Palm Tree. A semi-succulent, it will hold water within its thick stem, and will survive if watering is occasionally forgotten. The soil should not be allowed to dry out too much, however, as the plant may drop its leaves as a result. 

card-palm-woThe leaves are thick and fuzzy, with a dry, papery feel to them. They grow in rosettes from the base right up to the top of the stem, creating a leafy, full looking plant that will provide a dramatic accent to a home. 

Cone-like structures that are either male or female - each individual plant will only produce one or the other - will form, but there is no point in collecting the seeds, as they will not be fertile unless cross-pollination has been possible. 

Root-bound plants need to be repotted in spring. As the plant can become top-heavy, it is important to use a heavy container if toppling is to be prevented. For older plants, it is often sufficient to replace (top dress) the top 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 in) of soil.

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August 30 2012 5 30 /08 /August /2012 10:52

cape-primrose.jpgPlant Summary

Botanical Name: Streptocarpus x hibridus

Type: Flowering

Origin: South Africa

Height: Cape Primroses can grow up to a height of around 30 cm (1 ft).

Soil: Potting mixes formulated for African Violets are perfect for this lovely house plant.

Light: Indirect bright or fluorescent light will have the Cape Primrose thriving, but direct sunlight needs to be avoided.

Humidity: This type of plant requires moderate levels of humidity, which can be achieved by misting it with water at room-temperature or placing the pot onto a wet pebble tray. Drafts should be avoided at all cost.

cape-primrose-gt.jpgTemperatures: Temperatures need to be comparatively cool, preferably between 16 and 21 degrees C (60 to 70 degrees F), as higher temperatures will cause Cape Primroses to wilt.

Water: The potting mix should be kept slightly moist.

Fertiliser: A plant like this needs to be fertilised every two weeks, using a liquid high potassium fertiliser that has been diluted to half its strength. Fertilising after the plant has been watered will prevent fertiliser burn.

Propagation: The Cape Primrose can be grown from seeds, which need to be sown in spring, or from leaf cuttings. These should also be taken in spring, or at the latest in early summer.

Description and Care Tips

cape-primrose-wo.jpgLike its relative, the African Violet, the showy Cape Primrose has deeply veined, long leaves that grow in rosettes. Tall flower stems rise above the leaves and carry white, pink, lavender, red, violet-blue or bi-coloured trumpet-shaped flowers in clusters. These velvety blooms often have contrasting throat colours or veins, and can vary in size between 2.5 and 7.5 cm (1 to 3 in) across, depending on the particular variety selected.

There are, as a matter of fact, hundreds of different hybrids on the market today. Some offer bigger blooms, others have longer blooming periods and the foliage of others still remains more compact. Dwarf and trailing varieties are also available now. 

What all of them do have in common is that given plenty of indirect light and moist soil, they will provide an abundance of blooms for months on end. Placing the plant under fluorescent light (one cool white and one warm white tube, below a reflector) for around 15 hours per day will work wonders with this little gem.

cape-primrose-st.jpgUnless collecting seeds is the idea, spent flowers should be pinched off. This will encourage the development of more blooms, rather than allowing the plant to use its energy to produce seeds. Once the last flower has faded, the flower stems need to be cut back.

Cape Primroses flower best when they are slightly pot-bound, so repotting generally only requires a slightly larger pot (no more than one size up from the previous pot) once every two years or so. Repotting should, in any case, always be done in spring, and a pot with adequate drainage holes should be used to prevent over-watering.

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