Christmas cactus (shown above)
As to light, it's pretty flexible, that is, it 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. And just to be picky, too much direct sunlight will burn leaves. Also, it would really appreciate some houseplant fertilizer every other week and temps between 60-70 degrees F. It's the ideal plant to place over a tray of pebbles filled with water. This increases the humidity in your home for all your plants (and you too!)
So when you get one of these beauties as a gift, don't kill it by leaving it too near a draft. Great holiday gift no matter what the season.
- 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 degree 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.
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.
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. I could wait for Tom to buy me flowers, but I could be waiting a very loooooooong time.
Umbrella tree (schefflera)
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?
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)
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.
Because they 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)
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 dry soil. 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.
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. Does that make sense?
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.
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.