Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving (and Receiving) Plants for the Holiday Season

Christmas Cactus Plant

Christmas Cactus - Zygocactus truncatus

The Christmas Cactus is a beautiful, flowering type of forest cactus. In their natural environment, a forest cactus will attach itself to trees in wooded areas and jungles. So it is not too surprising that they are so different looking from their typically spine-covered desert cousins.

The Christmas Cactus is one of many popular plants to give or receive during the winter holiday season. If you know someone who loves plants, you might like to give them a beautiful Christmas Cactus for the holidays.

This beautiful plant is usually in full bloom when received as a gift. Zygocactus truncatus or Schlumbergera truncata are botanical names for the Christmas Cactus. It is called Christmas Cactus because it blooms between late November and mid-January.

When in full bloom, this is one beautiful plant. Flowers may be white, red, pink or purple.

This plant (similar to its close relative the Easter Cactus) has branching, arched stems made of leaf-like, flat segments. Each segment is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. The segments of the Christmas Cactus have a distinct, toothed edge, while the Easter Cactus has more of a scalloped edge. And, of course, the Easter Cactus blooms in April or May.

Although we don't typically use this plant as an interior landscape plant, we do often give them as gift plants to our wonderful, interior landscape customers during the holiday season.

If you receive one of these flowering, forest cacti as a gift, you may have a hard time inducing it to flower again. If you want your Christmas Cactus to flower again in the following year, you will have to follow a few rules. Provide a dry and cool resting period, do not move once buds appear and allow to harden outdoors during the summer. You will need to keep your plant in good light, also.

Here is the Christmas Cactus Schedule:

  • Mid November - mid January, Flowering Period. Water normally, minimum temperature of 55 degrees F.
  • Late January - March, Resting Period. Water infrequently, keep in cool temperatures, 55 degrees F.
  • April - May. Maintain regular watering schedule. Water thoroughly when potting media begins to dry out.
  • June - mid September, Hardening-Off Period. Place outdoors in a shady spot, protect from slugs, snails, earwigs, etc.
  • Mid-September - mid-November, Pre-Flowering Period. Move to a well lit location where you can keep it thru the flowering period. Keep potting media on the dry side and temperatures to the cool side until flower buds form. Then increase water and temperatures.
Now you are back to the first step, mid-November through mid-January, continue to water normally and maintain at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees F. Then start it all over again!!

Have a happy holiday season and give beautiful flowering plants to the plant lovers in your life. Thanks for reading this and I hope you have beautiful blooms on your Christmas Cactus next holiday season!

If you need any help with your indoor house plants, whether it is an indoor plant identification or house plant care assistance, come visit at PlantAndFlowerInfo.com ...Happy Holidays!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

House Plant Care - How to Have Great Looking Plants

Watering for Healthy Plants

Watering Rules, House Plant Care

Working in the interior landscape business for more than 20 years has gotten me lots of questions about how to care for indoor potted plants.

Customers ask about their own plants at home...why does my plant have yellow leaves... what causes brown leaf tips...how come the new growth on my plant is dying...I water my plant everyday but it still isn't doing well...how much should I water my house plant?

It can be hard to diagnose every indoor plant problem when you do not have access to the plant itself. So I generally find myself asking them questions about how they care for their plants. Most often, the problems are solved by changing watering habits. 

In almost every instance, changing the way they look at watering their indoor plants gives them positve results with their houseplants.

I care for indoor plants as my job and I know that there are not many plants that I care for that always use the same amount of water or need watering on a rigid schedule. Many different things influence a plants water use.

Customers turn off the lights, leave the lights on, turn off the air conditioning, turn up the heat, close the blinds, open the blinds. All of these things, and many other things, influence the way you need to water an indoor plant.

There are many things to consider when you are watering your house plants. Read more about watering properly for good results with your indoor house plants... 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Dracaena Plant is Too Tall, Now What?

Dracaena Warneckii Plant

Plant Questions and Answers

Here is a recent email question from Grace, someone looking for some help with her houseplant...

"I got a plant for my moms funeral and now it's very tall and don't know if and how to split it. Any help? I attached a picture of it. Card that came with it says it's a dracaena but couldn't find any helpful information on line."

Hi Grace,

Thanks for the picture. Your plant is a dracaena Warneckii. You can cut back the stem any place that you want to and it should regrow from that point.

Is that what you wanted to know? Your plant looks nice and healthy! Good job.
Let me know if you have any other questions or if I did not tell you what you wanted to know....

Hi again Grace,

Forgot to mention that you can root the piece you cut off in moist sand, then you can plant into its own pot when the roots get a few inches long.
You should remove the leaves (from the cut piece) when you are rooting. The leaves often die anyway, so help your dracaena grow some new roots faster and remove them.
You can cut the dracaena cane into smaller pieces and root them all.  Three to four inches long is a good size. Using a rooting hormone is also helpful
good luck with your plants and thanks for visiting PlantAndFlowerInfo.com.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

One Very Popular Houseplant-Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata plant

Dracaena Marginata Plant Care

The marginata plant is one of the most popular houseplants. It is one of my favorites and I get so many emails asking questions about Dracaena marginata that I have to think it is one of everyones favorite indoor potted plants.

One of the care questions that I get most often about this beautiful, indoor plant is about pruning. Is it alright to cut it back if it is too tall? Where should I cut the stem?

The answer to the question is yes, you can cut back the stems or canes of dracaena marginata. You should cut the stem just above the height that you want new growth to start. It is best to do this in the spring time when most plants do much of their growing.

If you look closely at the stem you will see rings that encircle the stem. This is where the leaf nodes are and where your dracaena marginata will push out some new growth. You will most likely get a few new "heads" starting before you know it.

It is best to do this before your plant gets so tall that it needs support to stay upright. Also, it may be a shock to you when you see your plant cut back so far. It also encourages healthy new growth and keeps your plant fuller and healthier looking. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Best Indoor Houseplant For Beginners

Snake Plant - Houseplant

As an interior landscape technician, I get a lot of questions from people during the work day. Some want to know why their plant is not doing well. Others ask what the little bugs on their plant are and how to get rid of them. Some people want to know the best way to prune or propagate their houseplants.

Another common houseplant question is: What is the best houseplant to get if I have never had an indoor plant before?

That is one of the easiest questions to answer as it doesn't require finding out alot of other information. The answer to this question is undoubtably...The Snake Plant!

Snake plants are great indoor plants as they will tolerate an owner that doesn't pay them much attention. They will live in lower light but they will become thin and leggy over time if the light is not sufficient.

However, if you are one of those people that likes to water their plants everyday, you should not get a Snake plant! There are not many indoor plants that will last long with everyday watering!

Snake plants are known as Sansevieria. The long tall foliage looks something like a snake and that is no doubt where the name Snake plants come from. Another name is Mother-In-Law Tongue. Someone will have to explain that one to me.

Anyway, if you are looking for a houseplant that does not need a lot of attention, try a Snake plant. Read about Snake Plant care, Sansevieria houseplants...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

House Plants for Beginners - This Plant is Not For You

My New Variegated English Ivy 

Thinking About Getting a New House Plant?

If you are thinking about getting a new house plant, you should consider carefully before you purchase a new one, especially if you are a little new to house plant care.

Pictured here is one of my new plants, a Hedera helix or English Ivy.  Looks nice and healthy, right? 

For the most part, it is. However, before I bought it I made sure to check for spider mites.
I found what I expected to find...Spider mites!

I have been caring for indoor plants for over 20 years and I can't remember any time that I had a new English Ivy that did NOT have spider mites.

English Ivy usually come from the growers looking pretty clean and spider mites are hard to detect at first unless you know what to look for (and where to look). But they reproduce rapidly, especially in hot, dry places and can do quite a lot of damage to your house plants. Before you know it your English Ivy will be looking pretty bad and you will wonder what you did wrong.

List of best indoor plants for just about everyone...

As soon as I got this one home, I put it in my bathtub, turned on the shower and used the hand-held sprayer to give it a good shower, especially on the undersides of the leaves.

A few days later those pesky little bugs were showing up again. (I knew they would) Truthfully, I intended to plant this plant in a clay container and put it out on my patio and leave it there. I got it for the photo with the intention to use it as an outdoor container plant.

My outdoor English Ivy always does so well, it needs minimal care and spider mites never seem to trouble it.

I like trouble free indoor plants and, although some may disagree with me, English Ivy is not my idea of a trouble free indoor plant.

English Ivy can be great indoor plants if you can get one that has no spider mites. Problem is, that is uncommon (but not impossible).

Anyway, this is just some information for people new to indoor plants, to let you know you may want to avoid English Ivy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

People Are Funny - And They Love Houseplants

House Plants at Gate C7 - Airport Adventures

Sure a lot of people that really like to ‪#‎grow‬ ‪#‎houseplants‬

I was at the local international airport on Friday, taking care of plants and replacing some #Pothos with Hoyas. The new plants were so full that I had to drastically prune them to fit in their new containers. 
I left all of the cuttings on my cart on the concourse and when I came back there was a woman stuffing all of the ‪#‎Hoya‬ cuttings into one of her pieces of luggage.
I just had to laugh. Nice to know that so many people ‪#‎love‬ #houseplants. 
Hope she made it to her flight on time!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Help-My Indoor Palm Has Problems!

Rhapis Palm with Insect Problem

Indoor Potted Palm Problem

A recent email from Ernestine about a plant problem that needs a solution...

 My Rhapis Palm has mealy bugs as there are white masses on leaves and stems.  I have sprayed with Confidor two or three times, but, the palm still has white areas on leaves and stems.  Could you suggest a better solution for me to attack this pesty little beast!!! Thank you for reading my notation.


It sure looks like mealy bug but could possibly be some kind of scale. I personally would just wipe this off with a sponge or rag with some water/alcohol mixture or water/soap mixture. Another option is a hard spray from a hose to just rinse them off. This is best done outside, of course and must be repeated.

Mealybugs are hard to get rid of and the only other things I might use would be Safers Insecticidal Soap or 1600 X-clude. Don’t know if they are available where you live but if you do use them, make sure to always read and follow the label directions. 

In my opinion, it is always best to avoid using commercial pesticides and insecticides.

Most insects have an incubation period of 7-10 days so anything you do needs to be repeated every week for a month to 2 months to eradicate new generations as they appear.

Rhapis Palms have a lot of hiding places for bugs so it will be a challenge, but it can be done. I have done it before, you just need to keep treating until you are sure they are gone.

One more thing, removing any badly damaged leaves or fronds is often helpful. This physically removes a big part of your problem. However, with a palm do NOT cut off the newest leaf at the top of any stalk as this will stop further growth from this point.

Also, mealybugs may be present under the pot, in the pot, in or on the topsoil, on walls and carpets or anything nearby, so make sure to vacuum, wipe walls and basically keep the area clean as well as your plant. Read more about Rhapis Palm plant care...

Good luck with your Rhapis palm plant!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Plants, Flowers, Orchids, Mushrooms and Travel

Do you love to ‪#‎travel‬ and also love ‪#‎plants‬? Love to visit the local ‪#‎botanical‬ gardens when you visit someplace new? If you happen to be in the vicinity of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, you might want to set aside a few hours to visit ‪#‎LongwoodGardens‬
The grounds of Longwood Gardens encompasses over 1,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, gardens and fountains. Spring and summer are great seasons to visit as many plants and flowers will be in glorious bloom!

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

The largest conservatory in the U.S. is located at Longwood Gardens with 4.5 acres of wonderful plant life to enjoy. And please don't miss the Orchid Room in the conservatory, a grand collection of more than 9,000 plants. Sounds like a wonderful trip!
And if you visit in September, plan to take in the 30th Annual Mushroom Festival on September 12 and 13, 2015. Known as the mushroom capital of the world, this area produces about one million pounds of mushrooms per week! Wow, that's alot of mushrooms...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Orchids - Pretty Plants for Your Home

Beautiful Blue Orchids

Everytime I go into the local home improvement store, I automatically gravitate to the greenhouse area. It is my favorite area to walk through and enjoy all of the displays and the lovely plants.

Even though I spend all day caring for tropical plants on commercial accounts, I still love to browse through the tropical potted plants and the orchids are some of my favorites. But I guess everyone loves orchids, how could you not?!

You can grow these beauties in your home and they add so much to any room for such a small tropical plant. If you find you have brought one of these blooming beauties home and now wonder how to care for it, well maybe I can help out. If you are thinking of acquiring an Orchid, it is handy to know some things to look for when you buy.

When your Orchid arrives home, you should place it in a window, if possible. East or West facing spots are ideal but be sure to protect it from hot afternoon sun. Direct sun, especially through glass can damage any plant.

In less than adequate light, you will need to reduce the frequency of watering and the blooms will not last as long as they would in a well lit room. Read more about care for your orchid...

Friday, April 17, 2015

Peace and the World

To attain peace and harmony, you need only accept them into your heart...
Such a simple concept, it is hard to understand why there is so much unrest in the world today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cute, unique decorative planters...

Saw these cute and quite interesting planters while browsing around the internet. While they may not be ideal for all indoor plants, as there are some that really don't do well when they get water in the leaves, they certainly are more fun than just pouring some water into the soil.
Maybe use them on your deck, in the sunroom or on the patio??
What do you think of these planters? Would you use them? What would you plant in them?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pruning Mystery Plant - Dracaena Warneckii

A recent letter from a PlantAndFlowerInfo.com visitor:

"Hello. When I purchased this plant it was distressed and about 1 foot tall. It is now 7'2" tall. Is it a type of Dracaena? It's in an 18" pot. It does not have a woody looking stem. The leaves are 20" long, and are dark green down the center, with a small white stripe on each side of the dark green, and then a lighter colored green on the outside of the leaf. I would like to know the name of the plant. Can I cut it shorter? Can I plant the piece I cut off? Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Attached are 2 pictures - one is a full view and the other is a close-up of a leaf.Thank you very much. Hortie"

Close up of Dracanea Warneckii leaf
At first, I had not received the attached pictures and replied that it sounded like a Dracaena Warneckii. Eventually the pictures confirmed that it is a Dracaena Warneckii

Yes, you can cut or prune the stalks back to whatever height you would like. The plant will put out some new "heads" below the cut. The cut piece can be rooted in moist sand. You can cut into many pieces if you like and plant when the roots are a few inches long.
Dracaena Warneckii is a great indoor potted plant and requires little care. They really add a touch of color to any room. One of my favorite Dracaenas.
Read more about Dracaena Warneckii...