BY THEA RICHINSON
Hi, I’m Thea, and I love plants very much. Recently, I was talking to someone who couldn’t find a plant to keep in a windowless room, and decided to combine my love of plants with my love of writing and researching for hours. I hope you find something in this that you like and find a great new friend for the space you spend time in, or for a friend you love as much as I love plants! A * beside a word is defined at the bottom of the article.
Peace Lily – Air purifying plants that can tolerate low light levels and under watering. Over watering these plants is where most people kill them; less is more with these plants. The plants also like being wiped down to remove dust and dirt from the leaves, allowing easier photosynthesis.
Lucky Bamboo – This plant likes water and low light levels. It can be grown in water or in well draining soil, so long as it is not allowed to be soaked when in soil. Lucky bamboo is actually in the dracaena family along with the Dragon Plant and is often mistaken with Bamboo that is in the grass family and grows tall and thick.
ZZ Plant – One of the easiest plants to care for as they thrive on neglect. They love low light levels and little water, and can be killed by overwatering. Letting the soil dry out between watering is a good way to keep the plant happy and growing well. It will do well in direct or indirect lighting, but when the leave turn yellow and fold up, it needs to be moved into less direct light.
Snake Plant – A very tolerant plant that is drought and neglect tolerant, purifies air, and can survive in low light levels. They like well drained soil and don’t need to be fertilized. They go for long periods of time without care and still look beautiful.
Spider Plant – Spider plants like well draining soil, indirect light, moderate watering, and crowded growing. It is very easy to care for and only really needs to be repotted when it’s root are crowded and showing through the soil.
Philodendron – Very adaptable and tolerant of needs, this plant also has a very quick response to watering, feeding, and repotting, so it is a good choice for beginner plant owners and teaching them how to look for signs of what a plant needs. These plants can be epiphytic* or hemiepiphytic*, very rarely can they be terrestrial.
Bromeliad – Epiphytic* plants that have long, scoop-shaped leaves and flower at the end of their life. They like medium to bright light and can be watered through their built-in, natural cup made of its own leaves. It also fairs well in shallow pots with orchid-growing mediums of bark mixed with sphagnum moss.
Pothos Plant – Leafy vine-like plants that help purify air and grow very long. The heart shaped variegated leaves have beautiful patterns that are vary between plants and even leaves. It is also known as a variegated philodendron. They are extremely tolerant of low light levels and minimal watering, but grow fast, so lots of pruning, unless you want everything covered in vines, is the only thing that needs worrying.
Air Plant – epiphytic* plants that are very hardy. Greener air plants dry out faster than silver species, which are more drought-tolerant. When these plants are happy, they flower. To be happy, they need good air circulation and weekly watering either by misting or being put in the sink, rinsed, and then left to drain. Most species do well in filtered, partial, or indirect light.
Ficus – Ficus like well draining soil in deep pots and moist soil conditions, with bright lighting and regular rotations to ensure a well rounded growth. Ficus are very touchy when being moved, under or overwatered, or have light levels changed on them when the season change. It reacts to these disturbances by dropping leaves; they turn yellow and drop off. Knowing your ficus plant and deviated from its needs is important, so take time to get to know your plant.
Rubber Plant – A very popular, glossy leafed house plant in the ficus family that thrives in medium light with regular watering. It is easy to take care of and seemingly thrives on neglect. The rubber sap it produces when cut or scraped is an irritant, and should be treated with caution if it seeps from the plant.
Dragon Plant – Another very good air purifying plant and very drought-tolerant, this plant is a great, slow growing, easy to care for, and is a very quick responder to good conditions. The grass-like leaves are poisonous to cats and dogs, so be sure to keep them away from pets if this is a plant you really want.
Jade Plant – These are pretty easy plants to care for if you know to follow a few rules. Bright, full sun, watering when the top layer of soil is dry, keeping the plant in warm spaces, and always fertilizing with diluted solution after watering the plant. Watering before fertilizing is necessary so as not to harm the roots.
Prayer Plant – Prayer plants are a little pickier than the rest of the plants on the list, needing humidity to stay happy. It also like being watered with warm water every season but winter. In winter, these plants like to be drier, and kept with other plants to increase humidity. It can also be increased by keeping a bowl of water very near the plant. These plants are also susceptible to pests, so regular checks are needed. The plants also do thrive in bright light, but can tolerate low light levels as well.
Quick-Tips On The Signs That Plants Give Us And How To Listen To Them
Some plants, like ficus, are touchy, and drop leaves easily when:
1) Their watering routines are changed.
2) They are moved.
3) Their lighting changes.
You can avoid this by knowing the routine your plants like and sticking to a schedule, or at least knowing when your plant shows it needs more or less of something.
1) Needs more or less water. Most plants like a good soak so all the soil is moist enough that water drains out the bottom of the pot. Keep in mind though that most plants do not want constantly wet roots, as this leads to root rot. Check the roots of the plant to see if you need to increase of decrease watering. If the root ball is dry, increase watering; if it is wet, decrease watering.
2) Repotting. If the leaves droop even though you water thoroughly often, try repotting the plant. When plants, like the fast growing pothos, get root bound, their leaves droop. The roots need more space to grow to feed the plant and help it grow.
Needs more light. Leggy growth is a result of the plant reaching for the light it needs to survive. Placing the plant closer to a good light source will encourage thicker growth, as the plant no longer needs to reach to those life giving rays.
1) A sign of the plant needing to be repotted. Roots are struggling to feed the plant, giving the leaves a strangled, deformed look.
2) Attacked by pests. Checking under the leaves for pests and getting rid of any eggs or nests is a must. Pests can be removed by rinsing a plant upside down daily and wiping it dry, or using neem oil or garlic in the soil, or other pesticides.
3) Too much sun. The plant curls in on itself and get away from the light, move it away or cover the source of light with transparent cloth.
4) Overwatering. Root rot may also be occuring, check the roots for any rot and trim infected strands. Make sure the soil is well draining and let it dry out before watering again.
5) High Humidity. Try placing it somewhere dryer or cooler, or letting air circulate better by opening a door, window, or turning on a fan.
Fungus in the Soil
A trick I use for moldy or mushroom-growing soil is to sprinkle cinnamon on the soil. A light layer is all that is needed, along with not watering until the soil has dried out. Fungus like moist conditions, so using cinnamon’s natural anti-fungal properties as well as depriving the soil of water quickly gets rid of any mold.
Term Meaning Used Throughout Article
An epiphyte is a plant that grows on the surface of another plant and is watered from the air by rain or moisture in the air. Their roots do not make contact with the ground and do not need soil to live. They grow on their host plants without being harmful, so they are not parasitic.
A hemiepiphyte is a plant that starts out as an epiphyte. Primary hemiepiphytes germinate up off the ground and grow roots down to the ground for nutrients. Secondary hemiepiphytes start with roots in the ground and climb up other plants before disconnecting from their roots and living epiphytically.
A terrestrial plant is a plant that has roots in the soil for its whole life and gets its nutrients from the ground. Terrestrial plants are usually hosts for epiphytic and hemiepiphetic plants.
A aquatic plants live in water and can survive submerged or on the surface of the water.
A lithophytic plants live in or on rocks and don’t require very many nutrients, as it is hard for them to get nutrients regularly.