Where you live plays a big roll in how soon you can grow outdoors.
We have long and bleak winters here in Buffalo, NY. Holiday decor from Hobby Lobby does help but only up to a point.
And I’ve read over and over again how working with plants increases positive mood, self-esteem, feeling of calm and optimism, and gives a sense of stability.
Sounds cheaper than therapy to me. Just like having a cat, NASA studies have indicated that plant people have tested for lower blood pressure and heart rate. Not too shabby.
So if you missed part I of my must-have plant series, you’ll want to start here.
Otherwise, keep reading to learn what other plants you need to get your hands on soon to boost your morale!
Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus (shown above) or Easter Cactus
Thanksgiving cactus gets mislabelled at garden nurseries and plant store all the time as a Christmas cactus.
So if it’s keeping you up at night, the Christmas cactus has wide and flat segmented leaves that are smaller and rounder than Thanksgiving or Easter cactus.
The edges of the leaves have small scallops in contrast to Thanksgiving cactus leaves that have outward pointed claws that resemble spikes.The plant wants frequent and thorough watering, especially during its active growth period in spring and summer. Do this by keeping the soil moist.
Never let the plant completely dry out but don’t let it sit in water either. That causes the root and stem to rot.
This cactus can adapt to a low light home life. But the plant will produce blooms more happily if exposed to brighter light from time to time.
Too much direct sunlight will burn leaves. Houseplant fertilizer every other week and temps between 60-70 degrees F. would be ideal. Place plant over a tray of pebbles filled with water. This increases the humidity in your home for all your plants (and you too!)
Okay, I know I promised non-fussy plants but I just had to include the African violet as the bunches of blooms are so charming.
And if those clusters of blooms weren’t enough, the fuzzy leaves will win over your heart. Shabby chic, that’s your typical African violet.
- African violets like to be watered from the bottom and they do not like getting their leaves wet.
- Use room temperature water to keep the soil moist.
- Many do like it warm. 65 degrees F or even higher.
- Leaves getting thin and dark? That probably means they aren’t getting enough light.
- Ughhh. This is the tricky part. Fertilize every two weeks with a high phosphorous plant food, but only during summer when the plant is growing. Just like watering, over-fertilizing is more of an issue than under-fertilizing. So error on the side of caution.
- Re-pot as plant expands. Doesn’t like to be too squished. Leaves wilted? Good time to re-pot.
- Likes loose and well-drained soil, enjoys a good dose of organic matter. When you re-pot the plant it will thank you for the new potting mix or just choose a good all-purpose potting soil.
Boston ferns on the front porch of a brick house. Stunning. Boston ferns against a backdrop of white? Whoa.
The number one reason Boston ferns die is lack of water. As soon as the soil feels dry, water the plant and mist the leaves. Mist is big here so take a shower with your Boston fern. P.S. No one has to know your secret!
Because they love, love, love humidity. So during the winter months, you could splurge on a humidifier or let them chill anywhere in your bathroom where humidity is high.
Misting does help a bit with humidity, but won’t give it all it needs. Telltale sign Boston fern craves more humidity? Leaves will turn yellow.
Since they don’t mind indirect light they’d even be content to sit on a corner shelf in your bedroom.
And again, if plant feels at all dry, give it some water or a good mist. For its birthday, maybe that sprinkle in the shower would be appropriate.
And it’s working. Geraniums kind of have the same vibe. Sometimes, I just throw mine in the basement, close my eyes, cross my fingers and pray they make it to spring. And guess what? Sometimes they do!
At least in the basement, I am never guilty of overwatering my begonias, something they intensely dislike as it causes the roots to rot. Some experts even suggest you wait until the plant is a little droopy, and then water. And when you do, water under the leaves to prevent fungal disease.
They love bright, but indirect light and humidity. So there’s no time like the present to invest in a good humidifier! And while I appreciate green foliage, sometimes I just want a good bloom to stare at.
There are some new indoor varieties like the one pictured growing so well in my bathroom. Thriving on year three now. Let this beauty dry out between waterings! Mine has gone weeks without water at times and is totally fine.
Umbrella tree (schefflera)
It’s a super low-maintenance plant and doesn’t require much of me. I’ve had my umbrella tree for about two months now and managed to keep it happy and thriving.
I attribute this to not overwatering (schefflera hate to be overwatered) and giving it the right amount of light. Yellow leaves mean you’re watering too much.
An umbrella tree is a medium light kind of plant. This means they do like bright light, but not direct light as that fries the leaves and burns them.
Too little light may cause your plant to get leggy and spindly and that’s probably not what you want. It’s all about the right balance.
They have an almost tropical look? Right?
At this park? They were literally on every branch, even the ones on the ground. So I got my kids to help me harvest a few off the fallen branches. And I still have them growing on a log!
Air plant tips:
- No soil for air plants. The moisture in the soil could cause them to rot.
- Misting is a great way to water them. If they get too wet, they will rot.
- Let them dry completely before placing in a glass terrarium.
- Prune as you would any plant. Cut off ugly roots and pinch off brown leaves. Their roots connect themselves to trees and rocks in the wild, but aren’t necessary in a home environment. Who knew!
Air plants are hardy and easy to care for. Give them air, water and sunlight and they will be happy and you will be happy.
Corn plant (dracaena)
Mine has only been around a few weeks. So far…so good. Still alive. It lives on the plant ledge that’s close to the window meaning it does get filtered sun. I’ve read that too little light will result in the leaves loosing those tantalizing stripes. We can’t have that!
They like loose, well-drained soil or potting mix. Mine has a bit of bark feathered in for fun. Like most indoor plants, dryer is better than wetter even though they do like to be kept evenly moist.
But if it gets too dry, you’ll notice the leaves get brown tips. I know. You can’t win. And they like about 40% humidity and temps in the mid-70’s if possible. Never below 55 degrees F. Oh, and they hate fluoride. So if you use tap water, fluoride could be an issue. It’s the only plant in my home that I give my filtered water too. The rest can suffer.
If possible, throw in some calcium, either the chelated kind or try gypsum to prevent leaf-tip burn. I know, you’re cringing at the thought. Me too.
Orchids demand moist, yet well-drained living conditions. My complete failure to water one of my plants was a little “too well-drained” for my plant!
Instead of soil, you’re likely going to grow your orchids in bark (redwood or fir), sphagnum, peat moss, rocks, cork, charcoal, sand or any and all of the above mixed with potting soil.
Light lovers, they want it bright but not direct sunlight at the time. But If they don’t get the light they require, they won’t flower and that’s the whole point of having an orchid.
Try an east to south-facing window. Too much light will scorch your plants. Even when I move mine outside, I make sure they don’t deal with full-sun.
This is the crazy part. They like to be roughly 15 degrees cooler at night than during the day in order to bloom well. Insane? Right! Other than that, they are pretty flexible as to being a bit cooler or a bit warmer throughout their normal growing season.
They do need lots of water but should be allowed to dry out some between waterings. Poke your finger into the bark or whatever growing media you are using. Dry? Water.
Otherwise. Just let the plant chill. But the love of their life is humidity which is why mine reside in my bathroom. In fact, they like between 50-70% humidity!
Golden pothos (Devil’s Ivy)
For these reasons alone, they’ll do great at the office or even your bathroom where they fully expect to be neglected. Fluorescent light is fine with them, anywhere away from direct light.
The only problem is that they may loose their variegation if the light becomes too low. It also may grow at a slower rate.
Cool fact? It can grow in water or in regular potting mix. You can take cuttings from your original plant and root in water. You can also just root in a pot of soil.
But if you start a cutting in water, don’t switch it to the soil medium and visa versa. They won’t like the change up.
Fertilize your pothos once every three months to help it grow quicker. So if you’ve never grown a single plant in your life before, this is where you want to start to hone your green thumb.
Grow it in a hanging basket or on a shelf and let it trail down. Golden pothos does best in soil that stays slightly moist. Too many yellow leaves means the plant is staying wet too often, brown tips to the leaves means the plant has been kept too dry.
And they are blooming like maniacs this winter. One bush alone has over 20 buds today. On average, I get 3-4 blooms per plant per day and they just perk me up.
I did re-pot them all in much bigger pots (thank you Big Lots) and they loved my homemade soil.
Finally, my husband took over the watering task and what a success story. I think he got tired of the plants shedding all over the house when the leaves died and fell off the bush.
Mine bloom year-round, indoors and out and are my plant pride and joy. I have a few since my wedding (that was 10 years ago) so if I haven’t managed to kill them in that span of time, neither will you.
The key to the rubber plants heart is not to give it too much light or water. Sure, it likes bright light, but prefers indirect bright light that isn’t too hot.
I have these sheer curtains in my front windows that provide just the right type of shade for the rubber plant. This way it gets tons of bright light but it’s shaded bright light.
When it’s growing, it likes to be kept moist. If you’re going overboard, you’ll quickly get the drift as the leaves will yellow, then turn brown…finally falling off. It also likes those leaves misted.
You could also wipe them down with a cloth which is twofold because it’ll get dusted at the same time.
During its dormant season in winter, you probably only need to water twice a month. So go ahead. Take that vacation. Your rubber tree does not need you when you are gone.
Housewives apparently knew how to grow these and would pass along the clippings to neighbors and friends so they could have their own plants. Pretty cool. Huh?
Basic cares requires bright, but indirect light and to be kept slightly moist. If the light is too dim, those vibrant leaf markings as shown just above will actually fade.
Water too much, and the plant will rot. But you don’t want it to become too dry either so maybe misting is the best answer I can give you. Each month, feed your Wandering Jew with half-strength liquid fertilizer.
You’ll probably want to pinch back those long leafy tendrils from time to time to keep your plant from getting too scruffy. They tend to loose their leaves at their base while the long spindly legs keep growing.
Since they propagate well in water, you may just want to start over. Snip a few clippings and bury the ends in either fresh potting soil or try rooting in water.
Ironic that a plant that hates to be overwatered enjoys rooting itself in water…but there it is. And since my experience is that gardeners love to share, maybe take a few to a friends house.