Tag Archives: houseplants

Getting Ready for College: Don’t Forget to Bring Your Houseplants

Small Arrowhead Plant

As my kids get ready for college, I think (as all gardeners do) of suitable houseplants for their dorms. My twins will be at different colleges and from orientation tours I know the light level in these rooms will be very low. Quite possibility the plants may not get watered but I think their green will be appreciated and viewed as “decoration.” Unbeknownst to my kids, the plants will be functional. They will improve air quality by removing chemicals and carbon dioxide and supplying oxygen. Plus, they will provide a positive psychological impact by increasing memory retention and concentration and reducing stress. Quite possibility the presence of plants will remind my kids to text their parents every now and then but this remains to be seen.

I knew I would not be able to drag them to a nursery so I showed them photos of five low light, low maintenance plants. I explained that I picked these five because of the variety in shape and color and they don’t have to worry about watering often, it won’t interfere with their studies. For all of these plants, the soil should be kept barely moist and fertilized only once a year.

ZZ Plant

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The ZZ plant is native to eastern Africa. The unusual botanical name comes from the cycad genus Zamia because the foliage is similar to cycads and culcas, the Arabic name for elephant’s ear plant (Colocasia). I thought this fact alone would endear them to my 18-year-olds. But they liked the ZZ plant’s distinctive glossy, dark green foliage. The pinnate leaves are about a foot long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets, about 3 to 6 inches long, spaced in such a manner that they look like a ladder.

The plant can grow to a few feet tall so it is not a desktop plant. The roots are actually swollen rhizomes, which means the plant can tolerate very dry conditions. Although ZZ plants are not grown for flowers, they do bloom at the base of the plant with peace lily type flowers. I doubt this will happen in a dorm.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.)

Chinese evergreen plants vary in color and size. Although it is an upright plant that grows to a foot or two, it is possible to purchase a young small one for the desk. There are plants with variegated green and cream leaves or green and silver leaves, and there is a new variety called red aglaonema with red, pink, and green leaves.

Arrowhead plant (Syngonium spp.)

Like the name suggests, arrowhead plants have arrow-shaped leaves. They are often sold as small plants for terrariums, which make them suitable for desks. There are also full grown plants about a foot tall. The leaves usually are white and green but there are gold and green varieties and plants with a blush of pink.  As the plant matures, the leaf shape and color changes so that mature leaves can be all green.

Arrowhead with Pink Blush

Snake Plant

Snake plant (Sansevieria spp.)

Snake plant is very popular with its foot long, sword-shaped leaves. Leaves are usually a mottled green, with yellow, gray or silver margins. There are varieties with more yellow or silver coloring in the leaves. For a new take on snake plant, look for Bantel’s Sensation, which has narrower leaves with white vertical strips or the cylinder snake plant with very narrow, cylindrical leaves. There are some very short, almost stunted versions, that are suitable for desks. Usually they will be tall enough to grow in a container on the floor or on a stand.

Devil’s ivy or golden pothos (Scindapsus spp.)

Devil’s ivy or golden pothos has heart-shaped leaves with green and yellow or green and white variegation. There are golden varieties as well. In the tropics, this is a vine so it has a trailing or cascading effect when grown indoors. It is available in small containers and can be grown on a desk. The stems also can be allowed to cascade down by placing containers on top of shelves or closets. Cuttings of the stems root very easily, which makes a great plant to share with friends or grow in a vase of water.

White and Green Variegated Pothos

My daughter and son chose the ZZ plant as their top choice for its distinctive foliage. My daughter’s second choice was the Chinese evergreen and my son’s second choice was the snake plant. Try showing this article to your kids to see what they would prefer and surprise them with their choice when you visit in the fall during parents’ weekend!

Golden Pothos

Anthurium: Alternative Poinsettia

When I was young, we lived in Thailand and my mother (who grew up in Milwaukee) would buy plants and orchids from the market. I remember one houseplant in particular: the beautiful flowers were so waxy they looked like they had been polished with furniture polish. The red flowers would last for months. My mother of course did not speak Thai so we did not know the names of the plants but we enjoyed their exotic beauty. Now that I am older, I know the waxy plants are called anthuriums. Although I associate them with tropical Asian countries, they really hail from South America tropical environments.

Anthuriums are members of the Araceae or arum family. The “flower,” the red, heart-shaped part, is a modified leaf called a spathe. The actual flowers are tiny and appear in the center vertical structure called the spadix. The “flower” lasts a long time, making them ideal for cut flower arrangements.

As a houseplant, anthuriums can grow in low light conditions. However, the more light you can provide the more likely it will bloom throughout the year. It definitely does not like moist soil. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Anthuriums are easy, low maintenance plants, perfect for the home and office.

Usually one sees red-flowering plants at the hardware store or nursery but pink, green and white, and purple colored cultivars are available. There is even a black flower cultivar called ‘Black Love‘. My plant was less than ten dollars at the local hardware store but it was very root bound in a 4-inch pot so check your plant’s roots after you purchase it.

Because I see red flowering anthuriums during the holidays, I think of anthuriums as alternative poinsettias. Although poinsettias are instant Christmas, anthurium flowers last longer than poinsettia flowers and the plant tends to have a more exotic, year round appeal. This year I bought both, poinsettias for the home for instant Christmas décor, and an anthurium for the office for year round beauty.

National Indoor Plant Week: Snake Plant

Snake plants vary in stripes, color and leaf shape.

This is the last day of National Indoor Plant Week. To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, I published an article each day on low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. I also collaborated with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Snake plants provide a strong vertical accent.

Today, Day 5, is about the snake plant, Sansevieria. The snake plant has one to 1 1/2 feet long, sword-shaped leaves, which usually are a mottled green, with yellow, gray or silver margins. There are varieties with more yellow or silver coloring in the leaves. For a new take on snake plant, look for Bantel’s Sensation, which has narrower leaves with white vertical strips or the cylinder snake plant with very narrow, cylindrical leaves. All are low light level, low humidity plants where the soil is kept barely most. Fertilize once a year.

To learn more low light, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home, see Day 4, pothos; Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, Arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Pothos

This particular variety of pothos is called Marble Queen.

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Neon pothos has yellow leaves.

Today, Day 4, is about the devil’s ivy or golden pothos, Scindapsus. The heart-shaped leaves are variegated green and yellow or green and white with a waxy sheen. In the tropics, this is a vine so indoors it has a trailing or cascading effect. Take advantage of the roaming nature by putting on top of office credenzas or kitchen cabinets. Or cut the stems back to keep a round shape in a planter. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. However, this plant roots very easily in water and can be grown in a vase of water for a period of time. Fertilize once a year.

To learn about previous plants, click on Day 3, Chinese evergreen; Day 2, arrowhead, and Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen plant with white and green stripes

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Chinese evergreen plant with more pronounced silver bands

Today, Day 3, is about the Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema. Plants have large, wide leaves with variegated green and cream or green and silver coloring. There is a new variety called red aglaonema with red, pink, and green leaves. The plant has an upright appearance and grows from a foot to two feet. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Click here for Day 2, the arrowhead, and for Day 1, the ZZ plant.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead plant with a blush of pink in the center of the leaf

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 2, is about the arrowhead plant. Like the name suggests, arrowhead plant, Syngonium, has arrow-shaped leaves. The leaves usually are white and green but there are gold and green varieties and varieties with a blush of pink.  As the plant matures the leaf shape and color changes so that mature leaves can be all green. To keep the variegation, just cut off older leaves. The plant grows to about one foot tall. This is a low light level, low humidity plant where the soil is kept barely moist. Fertilize once a year.

Baby arrowheads are often available for small containers or terrariums

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant (see Day 1 for a description), subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

National Indoor Plant Week: Low Light, Low Maintenance Plants

This week is National Indoor Plant Week to promote and increase public awareness of the importance of live plants in interior spaces. Plants provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and increase humidity. Plants improve air quality by helping to remove chemicals. Numerous studies have shown that plants have a positive psychological impact on people such as reducing stress and increasing memory retention and concentration.

To celebrate National Indoor Plant Week, each day from Monday, September 17, to Friday, September 21, I will focus on a low light level, low maintenance plants suitable for the office or home. These plants do well if you cannot devote a lot of time to take care of them and if you cannot put them near a window. Plus, I will be collaborating with Costa Farms to give away one particularly distinctive plant: the ZZ plant.

Today, Day 1, is about the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which has distinctive foliage. The pinnate leaves are about a foot long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets, about 3 to 6 inches long. They are spaced in such a manner they look like a ladder. The dark green leaves are so glossy they look like they have been polished. Although ZZ plants are not grown for flowers, they do bloom at the base of the plant with peace lily type flowers. The plant can grow to a few feet tall, does well in low humidity, low light, and low soil moisture, and is pest resistant. The roots are actually swollen rhizomes, which means the plant can tolerate very dry conditions. Water when the soil dries out and use a general purpose houseplant fertilizer once a year.

To enter the giveaway to win a six-inch pot of a ZZ plant, subscribe to Pegplant’s Post, a monthly newsletter for people interested in gardening in the Washington DC metro area. Subscribe between now, Monday, September 17, 2018, and midnight, Friday, September 21, 2018. The winner will be drawn at random from all new subscribers in this time period. Subscriptions are free, all that is needed is an e-mail. To subscribe, click here or visit pegplant.com and enter the “subscribe” button on the right column. Each issue of Pegplant’s Post lists at least 50 gardening events for the month in the Northern Virginia, MD, Washington DC metro area, recently published gardening books, gardening articles, tips, and advice, and a giveaway.

The ZZ plant cannot be shipped outside of the United States, Canada, California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Costa Farms is a third generation, family owned group of companies headquartered in Miami, FL. They grow more than 1,500 houseplants and outdoor tropical plants. You can find Costa Farms plants at many retail outlets in this area or you can order the plants via Amazon.com. Costa Farms has a great website with an online database to help you find the perfect plant for your particular needs and informative houseplant descriptions and photos. Photos in this article are from the Costa Farms website.

Glowee: Glow-in-the-Dark Houseplant

When my kids were young, we caught fireflies in the summer. As the sun descended, the lawn glittered and we madly rushed about capturing as many as we could by hand. I truly believe that gardening organically led to our bounty of fireflies; I never applied any chemicals to the lawn. When the sunlight diminished our plastic containers were so full they were blinking. The kids put the containers on their nightstands to serve as nightlights but after they fell asleep, I retrieved the containers and released the fireflies back into the yard. The memories of these magical “firefly” nightlights has my kids, now teenagers, excited about trying Glowee, “Glow-in-the-Dark Plant That Light the Night.” The first glow-in-the-dark houseplant, Glowee is a snake plant (Sansevieria) whose long, green leaves glow after being exposed to light.

The Glowee snake plants are grown in 4-inch wide pots by Costa Farms, a Florida-based, wholesale producer of indoor and outdoor tropical plants, houseplants, bedding plants, annuals, and perennials. Glowee will be available for sale at Home Depot stores in Florida in October and at Home Depot stores across the country by the end of November. Currently, they are available in Canada at WalMart.

Although they make perfect kid gifts, (what a great Christmas present!) adults will find them useful in many ways. They are perfect for:

  • Reminding people what time it is. For coworkers or bosses who work too much, they will see the glow as the sun sets, reminding them to knock it off and go home.
  • Serving as outdoor landscape light fixtures. Simply pot them up in large containers along the walkway to the front door during the warm months; the rain won’t wash off the “glow.”
  • Illuminating your summer parties. Place a few on the deck, on your patio table, or in the windows to add a romantic glow during your party after the sun sets.
  • Serving as a “get well” gift that offers more. Imagine giving these as get well gifts to people who are in the hospital, home bound, or bed bound. The glow would put a smile on their face!
  • Holiday gift giving time. Give one for Valentine’s Day with a small, heart-shaped, mylar balloon attached and a card that reads “you really make me glow.”
  • Decorating for Halloween. Although Glowee will be introduced after Halloween, they will be available for Halloween next year. Put these glow in the dark houseplants in haunted houses or use as centerpieces for Halloween parties!

When I asked how they glowed, Justin Hancock, Consumer Marketing and Digital Specialist, Costa Farms, explained that it is propriety information but he assured me that the plants are not toxic and are not genetically modified. The Glowee plants will glow with different intensity and for varying amounts of time based on the brightness, duration, and type of light to which they are exposed. He said the more or longer the light exposure, the better and longer the glow. Justin explained that his own Glowee plant at home is in a west-facing window, gets direct sun, and glows for 3 to 4 hours after the sun sets. There is a stronger, longer lasting glow with direct sunlight while fluorescent lights work better than incandescent lights in rooms without windows. The leaves of Glowee should retain the glowing capability for years. New growth will not have this capability; however, this particular species is so slow growing there will be very little new growth. Snake plants in general are popular, low maintenance houseplants.

photo of Glowee courtesy of Costa Farms, left image in daylight, right image in dark to illustrate glow

Glowee photo courtesy of Costa Farms. Left image in daylight; right image at night.