Tag Archives: Indoor plants

New To Houseplants? Let Us Help!

If you’re of a certain age, you well remember when houseplants were a mainstay in most houses. The home I grew up in in the 1970’s was filled with plants.

My mother tended them, each week working her way through the house with her watering can and sometimes a sponge to wipe dusty leaves. Even now, at the age of 86, she has a house filled with plants.

I remember floor-size planters and smaller pots grouped together on end tables and beautiful green and variegated leaves of varied shapes and sizes. If you looked up, macrame hangers supported pretty pots filled with hoyas, pothos, creeping fig, and ivy, the trailing vines winding their way here and there.

Today you can Google houseplants or look on Instagram and many similar images appear. Houseplants are making a comeback. Hallelujah, it’s about time!  Whether you’re a novice  with a few small pots on a windowsill in your first apartment or live in a downtown loft and need something bigger, there really is a houseplant for everyone.

Theories abound as to why houseplants are making such a comeback. Some say it’s that younger people need something to nurture. Others say it’s cyclical, and it was just time for them to reappear. Still others say it’s because the world is in such turmoil that  people are turning to their homes for comfort. Whatever the case, plants are a warm and lovely addition to any indoor space.

Plants help purify the air too. There are lists of those that researchers have deemed the most helpful for this. They include many old favorites like spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), snake plant (sanseveria), pothos (Epipremnum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ivy (Hedera), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), aloe, dracaena, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), rubber plant (ficus robusta), and nephthytis (Syngonium).

Of course this listing is just the tip of the houseplant iceberg. A few other plants pictured here include the puckered leaved peperomias, hardy Norfolk Island pines, alocasias, succulent jade plants, philodendrons, and, in the background one of our greenhouse “mascots”, a very large Monstera deliciosa, filling out its new pot. We love our plants too!

Monstera deliciosa

 

 

Some basic houseplant info: Light is important. Pay attention to how the sun moves through your home. Is your landscape outside filled with trees that block the light coming in on certain sides? Are there buildings that shade even western or south facing windows? Is your home bright and filled with windows that are unobstructed, or does it feel dark even on sunny days? Plants that don’t have enough light tend to “stretch”, leaning toward the sun and may be pale even with diligent fertilizing.

Assorted pothos

Plants that tolerate low light levels are the workhorses of the houseplant world. They’re also some of the best plants for beginners. Here are a few to try:

Pothos are virtually indestructible in low light and also prefer to be on the dry side. Don’t overwater and they’ll live happily in your home. Sanseveria thrive in bright light but also will add a lovely vertical accent in low light spots too. Philodendrons, spider plants, prayer plants, many ferns, and the indestructible ZZ plant are other good choices.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree

If you have bright, light flooded rooms with plenty of windows, the choices widen. Peace lilies prefer this  light, though they’ll tolerate lower light levels too. Ficus, including ficus lyrata, the popular fiddle leaf fig, aralia, jade plants and other succulents, croton, ponytail palm, hoyas, grape ivy and aloe vera need the brightest light you can provide.

Anthurium

If you’re not sure you have enough light for those but want to try something other than the low-light plants above, Chinese evergreens, parlor palmsanthurium, bromeliads, ivy, creeping fig, Schefflera arboricola, fittonia, or peperomia are worth trying.

Each plant will have specific water requirements, and I remember my mom checking hers each week, watering if it was needed or simply “grooming”, removing yellow or dead leaves and clipping wayward stems.

Sanseveria

 

 

The amount and frequency of water depend on the brightness of the light, how warm or cool the room is, and the type of plant. Moisture meters can be helpful to determine the moisture in a planter, especially if they’re large. With so much information at our fingertips, researching individual plants is easy; so learn as much as you can about your new purchase to give it the proper care.

Healthy plants need food, and fertilizing should be done at least every two weeks during the growing season, spring through summer, and monthly in the winter months when growth slows.

Cissus, Grape Ivy

Even with the best conditions, indoor plants may be susceptible to insect damage.  These pests might include cottony-looking mealy bugs that hide in leaf axils or along stems, spider mites (Common  when humidity levels are low and, in advanced infestations, even showing webbing on plants.), scale (Usually seen as dark bumps on stems and the underside of leaves.), and aphids, soft bodied insects typically found on tender new growth.

If you tend your plants weekly you should spot insect problems early on when they’re more easily managed with a natural pyrethrum or soap spray. There are also systemic granular insecticides that can be sprinkled onto the soil. Always read the labels before using.

 

Houseplants not only look good and purify our indoor air, they add to our interior style, give us something to care for, and bring a littlle of the outside in. So, with the “comeback” of the houseplant, we say, “Cheers!”

Plants to use with caution around children and pets: Dieffenbachia, Easter lily (very toxic to cats), and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Myrtle Topiaries…Just In Time For The Holidays!

Myrtle topiaries in pretty pots...

Myrtle topiaries in pretty pots…

Finally, after many years absence, we have myrtle topiaries back in stock!  Many moons ago we had a small specialty grower in Georgia who supplied us with these pretty plants. When she retired, we turned to another supplier in North Carolina, who, inexplicably (To us, anyway!), stopped carrying them a number of years ago. We’ve been searching for a good wholesale supplier ever since and are so happy to have finally found a source once more . These are available in 5″ and 6″ pots – hopefully there will be other sizes in the future.

Myrtle, myrtus communis,  was an integral part of Roman gardens and is widespread in Mediterranean regions where it is cultivated as a large ornamental shrub.  The topiaries we carry are a dwarf myrtle, Myrtus communis ‘Compacta’,  and are happiest grown outside in containers  through the summer in a sunny to partly sunny spot. Kept watered regularly, the long, hot summers will bring on small flower buds that open to white blooms. With fall and cooler temperatures, it’s best to trim it for the winter and place it indoors in a bright room.  The glossy and pleasantly aromatic leaves are a beautiful shade of green, and the entire plant takes to shaping very well – simply trim it when it becomes shaggy.

myrtle has glossy, aromatic leaves...

myrtle has glossy, aromatic leaves…

Myrtle Topiary Care

Give them plenty of light – they prefer to be in sun in their native habitat, so a dark room won’t give them the light they need. If you know you don’t have enough light where you really want them (on a mantle in a dark room) you may need to swap them out periodically, placing them in a sunny spot to grow well, then moving them back and forth.

Water! It’s important not to let them dry out, but be careful they’re not sitting in water too. If  your topiary is root bound, it will need more diligent watering. Repot it in the spring if, when you pull it out of the pot, you see a mass of roots.

During the growing season, March through September, fertilize your topiaries with a 20-20-20 fertilizer every couple of weeks.  An excellent organic feed is Annie Haven’s Compost Tea. We carry it, though  if you’re not in the Birmingham area you can also order it on-line.  When you bring it in for the winter,  cut back feeding to once a month.

When you trim your topiary, it’s best not to shear the tips. Try to cut back a bit into the plant. Remember wherever you cut, two stems will grow, creating a nice full head of foliage.

Note: We get many calls from people from around the country asking us to ship our myrtle topiaries when we have them in stock. Unfortunately we are not set up to ship at this time.

The Greenhouse in Winter – Beautiful Foliage…

Some pictures from the greenhouse in winter…Rex begonias, agloenemas (Chinese evergreens), angel wing begonias, fronds of a neantha bella palm, variegated Algerian ivy, Sanseveria, plumosa ferns, aloe and succulents. Can you find them all?imageimageimageimageimage

Garden Up! These Vertical Gardens Are Easy To Make!

These vertical gardens are fun to make!

These vertical gardens are fun to make!

Vertical gardening is hot! We have been searching for a user friendly vertical garden system for our customers to try, and think we may have found it!

These are sturdy frames with a coco liner insert. The liner has openings cut so insertion of plants is easy peasy…there are nine openings along the front and three on each side and, of course, the top is plantable as well. You can even put more than one together to make a larger vertical garden. We have the frames available for you to purchase and plants like those shown here if you’d like to give it a try! (Or, buy the frame now and save it for planting in the spring.)   We’re going to try a succulent version next – we’ll keep you posted!

Air Plants (Tillandsia) – Come In Now For A Great Selection!

Have we got a great selection of tillandsia, or air plants right now! These very cool indoor plants are the largest genus in the bromeliad family and are epiphytes, absorbing moisture and nutrients through the air.image

Like other bromeliads, their life cycle ends after blooming, but new plants, called pups, form around the base of the plant. They do not require soil to live – the roots help them to attach to a host, whether it be on a plant, tree or piece of wood. They are not parasitic, meaning they won’t harm the host plant, rather, they use it as a support, taking nutrients from the air and water you supply.
.

hanging air plants...

hanging air plants…

air plants - we think they will look great attached to the bark pieces here!

air plants – we think they will look great attached to the bark pieces here!

There are tillandsias with rather stiff, gray or faded leaves and those with softer, greener foliage. As a rule, the stiffer leaved, gray ones will need more light but less water – and those with softer, greener leaves tolerate lower light levels but appreciate more moisture.

look at the contrast in colors here!

look at the contrast in colors here!

In their native habitat, tillandsias live on trees, so they get light, but it’s diffused through the canopy. Try to emulate this in your home, giving them strong, but indirect light (not right in a window, as that could burn the foliage and cause it to dry out faster too) or place them outside through the summer, in a shady spot, or at most a location with morning sun and dappled light.

As noted, the gray leaved tillandsias need less water than the softer leaved green ones but when you water, take them to your sink and water thoroughly, shake the excess moisture off (you don’t want water ever sitting in their base) and return them to their home. If they get too dry, they’ll look shriveled – you don’t want them to get to that point!image

If you display them outside, bring them indoors for the winter when temps drop below 40 degrees. Don’t worry about fertilizing – they are susceptible to over feeding – best to leave well enough alone!

Stop in and take a look at these cool plants – we’re sure you can find somewhere to try one or two – they’re too fun not to!

 

 

Add Some Color With Rieger Begonias!

Rieger begonias add color and beauty to containers, or are wonderful on their own too!

Rieger begonias add color and beauty to containers, or are wonderful on their own too!

It’s so nice to be able to add some long lasting color to our homes during the winter months.


Rieger begonias do just that, and are long lasting houseplants as well. Give them a bright spot in your home and let them go a bit dry between watering. Get more than one and make yourself a beautiful arrangement like the one above, or come in and let us do it for you! Rieger begonias are available year around, and can be purchased in 4″ and 6″ pots.

Need Your Terrarium Planted? We Can Help!

Reindeer moss and small rocks enhance this miniature landscape in glass ~

Reindeer moss and small rocks enhance this miniature landscape in glass ~

Terrariums, gardens in glass, are everywhere these days. We’ve noticed many of our customers have them, either given to them as a gift, or purchased on a whim because they thought it would be a fun project. So…do you have one and not know what  to do with the darn thing? Well, that’s just the sort of thing we can help with!

Of course, a terrarium can be any glass container with a lid, or open at the top like the one shown here. A customer brought one in the other day that had been used as the centerpiece at her wedding in 1974 – she was thrilled to let us do the planting honors for the first time in 19 years! You want to plant one yourself you say? We can give you tips and advice to help you create a beautiful ecosystem to enjoy for years.

The terrariums shown here have a layer of pebbles mixed with aquarium charcoal, (The charcoal keeps bacteria from forming in the moist environment.) a layer of potting soil, and plants with decorative rocks and moss added for the final touch. Isn’t the 2 tier terrarium fun? What a wonderful focal point it would make in an office setting or home! Most terrariums need water rarely – if enclosed, the environment stays quite moist. Those with open tops will need water more often, but be careful not to overwater since there’s obviously no drainage. Ferns, fittonias, creeping fig, nephytis and selaginella are just some of the plants that thrive here. .

A double tier terrarium - twice the fun!

A double tier terrarium – twice the fun!

Terrariums in all shapes and sizes...

Terrariums in all shapes and sizes…

We Love Creating Great Container Combinations!

imageContainer gardening – putting together great combinations that are long lasting and beautiful is something we love to do! The planters here show groupings of houseplants (yes, you can use combinations of houseplants too!) chosen for the variation of leaf color, shape and size…and perfect for a summer on a shady porch or patio.

imageOne is a loose, informal combination and the second arrangement is much more structured – see the difference?

imageThe last example is a small planter filled to the brim (don’t be skimpy with your plants!) and designed to be seen on a table or shelf.  We’ll continue to showcase more container ideas to spark your imagination and creativity and help you choose the perfect combinations for your home and garden.  We may be in the middle of winter now, but spring is fast approaching and we want you to enjoy creating your own container gardens – or, if you’re in the area we’re always glad to help. Happy planting!

Valentine’s Day is Approaching!

Orchid arrangementsIt’s almost February and that means Valentine’s Day is just about two weeks away! We have lots of live arrangements that will last far longer than cut flowers. Or you can choose something from the variety of flowering plants that we have in the greenhouse and we’ll dress it up for you! Let us know what you need now so we can have it ready for you when you need it! And have a Happy Valentine’s Day!