Monthly Archives: September 2016

Types of Houseplants

Decorating with plants is a great way to add liveliness to your home. Here are different types of house plants to consider.

Indoor or house plants are popularly used to decorate homes and offices these days. There are numerous varieties of plants, available in different varieties like flowering and non-flowering, herbs, cacti, etc. Tropical or semi-tropical plants are mostly used as indoor plants. Here are some of the best types of house plants that will be suitable for indoor gardening.

Begonia

As it flowers in many colors like white, pink, red, and yellow and also has attractive leaves, Begonia is commonly used as a house plant. These plants require warm conditions, and hence, avoid direct sunlight or complete darkness. They are perennial, and are grown all year round in hanging pots, indoors as well as outdoors. You should keep these plants in pebble trays, add fertilizer every month, and re-pot them every year.

African Violets (Saintpaulia)

African violet, a herbaceous perennial plant is widely used as a houseplant for its long-lasting blooms of violet flowers. They grow well in sunshine (avoid direct rays) or even in artificial light. This plant needs to be watered every two days. There are fertilizers available in the market specially made for African violets.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lily, or White Sails, has large dark green flowers and beautiful white flowers. They grow well in low amounts of sunlight as well as darkness. Plant care includes regular, adequate watering and maintaining a specific level of humidity. They are evergreen perennial plants and survive even with little or no maintenance. They also serve the purpose of air-purifiers.

Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)

Amaryllis, with its beautiful reddish flowers, is the best indoor house plant to sparkle and cheer up your room or office. It is advisable to plant only one amaryllis bulb in a single pot. Amaryllis’ thrive well in sunlight coupled with some fertilizer. These plants are available in a ready-to-grow variety in plant nurseries, and you can see them grow and bloom just by watering them regularly.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Many varieties of this plants are available, with leaves in different shades of green. These climbers can grow on rocks, windows or even horizontally when no support for trailing is available. English ivy grows well in cool temperatures and in medium light (without direct sunlight). They are great plants to grow in hanging baskets or in greenhouses.

Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)

The Spider plant is the most popular type of indoor house plant, because of its ability to grow in any condition and without daily care. You can grow them in hanging pots so that their shoots hang down. They thrive in low or medium light, but avoid direct sunlight or cold conditions. Also avoid over-watering or using too much fertilizer. They are also said to be useful in keeping indoor air pollution in check.

Along with the aforementioned ones, you can also check out the following plants; Cacti, Aloe vera, Pothos, Scarlet star, indoor Bonsai, Dracaena, Azaleas, Basil, Parsley, Chrysanthemum, Dumb cane, etc. Apart from these, citruses like lemon; and plants like rubber plants, palm, fern, purple heart, orchid, etc. can also be grown.

While growing house plants, one has to remember to water and fertilize the plants regularly. For some plants, changing the soil every year is also essential. One needs to be patient about the plant’s growth and flowering; or you can just get a ready-to-grow variety from a plant nursery. Remember that a beautiful houseplant will brighten and liven up your home as well as your office.

Grow And Care for a Coral Cactus Plant

The coral cactus plant is a beautiful, potted plant variety, which can display a lot of versatility in beautifying outdoor landscapes as well as indoor areas. Its coral reef like appearance is where its name originates from. Let us now look at the best way to grow and care for a coral cactus plant.

This weird-looking plant closely resembles an ocean coral. It is extremely hardy and requires almost no care to survive. Its green and pinkish color makes it a popular choice in many gardens, even though it can also be used to increase the appeal of the ambiance indoors. It is a small plant that does not grow more than 25 inches in height.

The plant is a result of grafting the crest-shaped top of a Euphorbia Lactea on the stock and root of a Euphorbia neriifolia, or on the root of a cactus. The plants have their origins from the nurseries of a few experimental horticulturists. Although the grafting process is a little complex, taking care of a successfully grafted plant is a piece of cake in comparison. We shall first look at how the plant is grown and propagated followed by tips on coral cactus care, to help it thrive.

Growth and Propagation of Coral Cactus

To successfully graft a coral cactus, the following procedure has to be followed:

  1. A v-shaped cut has to be made at the base of the Euphorbia lactea plant’s crest. The cut should curve outward.
  2. Now the root stock of the cactus or Euphorbia neriifolia has to also be cut in a v-shape. However, the cut must curve inwards.
  3. Now place the two sections together in such a way that the joint comes together well.
  4. Cover the joint with grafting wax, to prevent the plant from drying, and tie the plant with rope or twine to hold the two pieces of the plant together till it heals.
  5. If the two plants are compatible, the graft should completely heal in a few weeks. If you find that the plant has not healed fully, replace the wax and rope. However, be careful during this time, as a little damage can set back the healing process considerably.
  6. Babies of the coral cactus will eventually grow from the same plant. Cut off these new growths, and dry them for a couple of weeks and pot them. The plants will soon get roots. After this happens, plant the saplings in the soil; however, these new saplings may or may not form crests, and there is no way to force the way these plants will grow. If your new euphorbia does form crests, you may have to repeat the above process all over again.

With proper care, your coral cactus can bloom with beautiful purple or pink flowers. This usually takes place around a year after the grafting, and occurs yearly, in warm conditions.

Coral Cactus Care Tips

  • Plant the coral cactus plant in a gritty soil which drains easily. You can do this by mixing regular potting soil with an equal amount of sand.
  • Do not bury the plant more than root deep. It helps protect the euphorbia from rot.
  • The plant can thrive in an arid environment. To artificially stimulate this, place the plant in a place with warm, bright, but indirect sunlight. The ideal temperature around the plant should be 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Water the plants intermediately, to keep the soil slightly moist. Excess water causes the plant to start dying. The root and the flesh of the plant start to rot. To avoid this, let the soil completely dry from the previous watering before you pour some again. Burying your finger deep in the soil will give you an idea, about whether you should water it or not.
  • Use diluted solutions of fertilizers once during spring followed by once in the fall.
  • Regularly turn the plant side which is facing the sun. This prevents the plant from growing lopsided.
  • Re-potting the plant is needed as soon as you bring the plant home, because the store-bought container is usually ceramic, which is not suitable for the plant’s growth.
  • The hardiness zone of this plant is 10-11, so grow the plant accordingly.

The coral cactus plant produces toxic latex sap, hence it should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. One must always use gloves while handling the plant and should wash them after, just to be safe. However, this is a great low-maintenance plant that is sure to increase the appeal of the area it is kept in, be it your home, office, or garden, so what are you waiting for? Go ahead, and get one for yourself.

Exotic Plants for Window Boxes

Does the very thought of growing colorful flowering plants delight you? If yes, then the idea of a window box is sure to appeal to you. Read on to know how to choose plants for your window box, which are the plants for window boxes, and more.

A window box is a rectangular container that you can hang outside your window. Its dimensions are such that you can grow quite a few number of small to medium-sized plants in it, and it comes with provisions for draining out excess water. All you need to do is get a window box, fill it with soil and voilà! You have a little flower bed before you, ready to be decorated with colorful flowers! Window boxes are available in a variety of materials ranging from plastic to fiber glass to terracotta. If you have the required skills, you can even make one at home, using wood.

Choosing Flowers for Window Boxes

Window boxes are a great way to add a touch of color and beauty to your windows. What’s more, it doesn’t even require much time and effort from your side, unlike a garden or a flower bed. A window box is your personal little garden that gives you a lot of opportunity to experiment. Also, if you are a beginner who is interested in gardening, a window box is the perfect way to get started, as there is ample scope to learn by trial and error. However, there are certain things that you need to take care of, before you start planting in your window box. The most important part is choosing your plants. The ideal plants for your window box are those that do not grow taller than 6 to 12 inches, grow easily in the climate of your region, do not require too much care and maintenance, are pretty and colorful, and add an exotic touch to your little garden.

You can use your imagination to choose from a wide range of flowers out there. The only thing you need to keep in mind is the location of your window box. Depending on which direction it is facing, you have a completely different list of flowers to choose from. This is because different directions mean different levels of exposure to sunlight and wind for the plants. So, if your window box is facing either the south or the west, go for plants that grow best in direct sunlight. However, if you have one that is facing the north, it is advisable that you choose plants that grow best in shade, which includes some of the best indoor plants as well.

Another factor for choosing the plants, is the aesthetic appeal of your hanging garden or, for that matter, the kind of look you want. If you have a particular color scheme in mind, you can choose the plants accordingly. Usually, it is a good idea to use contrasting colors for your window box. You can even design the box keeping a single color in mind. Choose plants of varying heights to add dimensions to your garden and don’t forget to add some vines for that cascading effect.

Plants that are Best for Window Boxes

You can opt for either annuals or biennials while choosing plants for your window box. Here is a list of the best plants for window boxes, sorted under the different categories discussed above.

  • Plants For Sun
    Sweet potato
    Nasturtium
    Verbena
    Miniature roses
    Lavender
    Salvia
    Periwinkle
    Petunia
    Marigold
  • Plants For Shade
    Fuchsia
    Wandering jew
    Creeping myrtle
    Pansy
    Impatiens
    Hosta
    Coleus
    Astilbe
    Ferns
  • Annual Plants
    Balsam
    Begonia
    Petunia
    Marigold
    Scarlet sage
    Impatiens
    Snapdragon
  • Perennial Plants
    Polyanthus
    Ajuga
    Basket-of-gold
    Bergenia
    Blue fescue
    Bunchberry
    Winter pansy
  • Trailing Plants
    Ivy
    Pelargoniums
    Nasturtium
    Blue lobelia
    Sweet pea
    Chilean glory flower
  • Aromatic Herbs
    Tobacco
    Petunia
    Evening stock
    Sweet violets
    Lavender
    Scented geraniums

Now that you are familiar with the best plants for window boxes, you can get one for yourself too. Remember to water your plants on a regular basis and deadhead them, i.e., pull out the dead flowers from the plant. Doing this will ensure that you have plants that bloom for a longer period. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and create a beautiful little garden with ‘smiling’ flowers that you can call your own!

Tips to Take Care of Kimberly Queen Ferns

Ferns have been a very popular and elegant part of many gardens for centuries. These plants are very versatile, as they can be grown both indoors and outdoors. The Kimberly Queen fern is an extremely attractive variety, that is sure to make the area more appealing. Let us have a look at how to care for the Kimberly Queen in the correct way, so as to ensure that it thrives.

Unlike a Boston or Dallas fern, the Kimberly Queen or Australian sword fern (scientific name: Nephrolepsis obliterata) grows upright, rather than spreading out towards the sides, giving it a neater appearance and making it easy to care for. The Kimberly Queen is also a very resilient species, and can tolerate heavy winds and rains. The plant grows just as well in a hanging basket as on the ground, giving it an advantage of versatility as a decorative plant.

One can easily buy these fern saplings from nurseries, and they are not very expensive either. They make good borders in landscape gardens, and increase the appeal of the area, especially when they are planted with other shade-loving plants like begonias, heliconias, and impatiens. They also look good when planted in pots or hanging baskets, and placed near the doorways in homes.

Kimberly Queen Fern Care: Tips

1) Although the fern can grow in direct sunlight, it is best planted in partial shade or filtered sunlight.

2) The Kimberly Queen does well in the USDA hardiness zone 9 – 11. Consider the location of planting the fern accordingly.

3) Watering should be done once in 2 – 3 days, depending on the climate. The soil should be moist but not too wet. Watering the fronds as well as the soil will encourage the plant to grow well. Never allow the soil to completely dry out.

4) Spread mulch in a thickness of 2 – 3 inches around the base of the plant every 3 – 4 months. This is necessary to protect the roots during the winter in areas that are very cold, because the roots give out new fronds in spring.

5) The Kimberly Queen fern cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, so if you live in such areas, grow the plants indoors.

6) If you have planted the fern indoors, make sure the environment has a reasonable amount of moisture, or the leaves will gradually turn brown. You can use a humidifier for this purpose. Regularly spraying the plant with water will also help.

7) Apply a water-soluble fertilizer in the soil around the fern once in 3 months.

8) When planting the fern in a pot, mix soil and peat moss in equal quantities, and plant the roots in the mix for best results.

9) Regularly remove any dead fronds that you may find to encourage healthy, rich, and green growth. Heavy pruning near the level of the soil, once in 2 – 3 years just before the advent of spring will keep the plant green and extend its lifespan.

10) If the temperature falls below 60°F the plant will stop growing. You should make necessary arrangements to transplant the fern whenever needed. However, transplanting the plant too often will weaken it, so prior planning is a must.

11) This fern is propagated very easily by the process of plant division. To do this, you must remove the plant from the soil, and gently with your hands separate the ball of the roots from each other. Each one of them is capable to grow a new bunch of ferns. Plant division is best done when the fern starts to overcrowd the pot or its designated area in the garden.

12) This species of fern is highly resistant to pests and diseases. However, if affected, appropriate pesticides can solve the problem.

13) The Kimberly Queen fern is a non-toxic species, but it can still cause mild sickness in pets and humans if consumed. Hence, the location of the fern should be kept out of the reach from small children and pets.

With winter coming soon, make necessary arrangements to create the ideal growing environment for the Kimberly Queen fern, and enjoy the beauty of the new fronds that will appear at the start of spring.