Monthly Archives: January 2019

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 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 little 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

 

 

 

 

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

A Repurposed Bird Tree For the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Pollinator Garden

Better Late Than Never GardenAs usual, the ‘Better Late than Never’ pollinator garden received very little attention through the holiday season, other than a much needed clean up that included cutting all the dead vines off the two arbors, pulling out spent summer annuals, and giving it a good raking.

It’s been a sleepy little garden since then, though the winter seedlings of larkspur and some bachelor buttons have appeared – along with more than a few weeds.  I’ve only seen a few poppies; I hope they’re just slow to come up this year.

January days at the shop are also filled with mundane tasks – cleaning, completing inventory, and, just like everyone, trying to get rid of the last of the Christmas tree needles that never seem to all quite go away.

In fact, we still had one very large Christmas tree to be disposed of after Christmas. It lay on its side in the nursery, a sad leftover from the holiday season. What a shame it was never decorated or showed off pretty wrapped gifts under its branches, I thought. Contemplating this, I eyed the tree. Then it occurred to me that I could use it in the little garden across the street.

Yes, I’d decorate it for the birds.  It would have a purpose, and I’d feel better about the whole situation. Enlisting Bert’s help to cut the top out of the 9’ tree I ended up with about a 6’ section that he put up on a tree stand for me. It was perfect!Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

The next day I strung popcorn on raffia, took apart an old scarf I never wore so the yarn could be used for nesting material, and made a list of things to buy for the tree or use from the shop.

There were pinecones that I tied yarn around to hang, smeared with peanut butter, and rolled in bird seed. How many of you did that as a kid and have long forgotten about it? It’s just as messy as I remember…thank goodness for latex gloves!

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never GarenYarn threaded through cut up pieces of orange slices added more color to the little tree, and pieces of cotton from an old wreath added fluff for their nests. I worked on it  all morning at the nursery, then when it was finished Alyson and I loaded it onto the cart and rolled it to its place of honor in the garden.

I stood there surveying the little tree standing in front of the white fencing, hoping the birds would make their way back to our bare winter garden and discover my gift to them. How nice it would be if the community would add to the little tree too, I thought.

With this in mind I walked across the street to the library and then on to the Chamber of Commerce, asking them to spread the word about the Christmas tree with a new life in the ‘Better Late Than Never’ pollinator garden and that anyone was welcome to participate.Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

I’m tickled with our repurposed tree for the birds in the little pollinator garden on the corner and hope you like it too. If you’re walking by, take a minute to admire the Christmas tree that became something even better, the symbol of a good and hopeful way to begin the new year. Just maybe you’ll see some happy feathered friends, too.

By Kris Blevons