Monday, August 24, 2020

Aglaonema Schismatoglottis roebellini

Aglaonema Schismatoglottis roebellini

This particular Chinese Evergreen has a name that we always enjoyed pronouncing for curious plant buyers at the first plant store I worked at in the 1970's. We pronounced it as Shish-mu-glottis. That is the horticultural name of this plant. Its botanical name is Aglaonema crispum. 

Most plants are sold under their botanical name. I do not why official names in botany and horticulture sometimes vary. Scientists often disagree on things. Common names sometimes vary from area to area and it is up to the discretion of the grower which common name to use. You can call this a Chinese evergreen. Quite a long time ago, one of its common names was Painted droptongue!

What is most helpful to a plant owner is how to care for it so that it will live with you for a long time. The family of Chinese evergreens has the reputation of being among the hardiest of houseplants. With regular good care they rarely have problems. If their care is off-track for awhile, they usually recover well. 

My friend, Suzy, graciously allowed me to take this picture of her plant when I stopped by for a visit. 

Care Instructions:

  • Chinese evergreens tolerate fairly low light but bright indirect light or right in front of a north-facing window is best. Some direct morning sun is good; full afternoon sun is too much. The leaves will fade in color with too much light.
  • Aglaonemas in 8" (20cm) diameter or smaller pots should be very dry on the top of soil or up to about 1" below the soil line before watering.
  • Water with up to a pint of water for 6" (15cm) diameter containers.Use about 1 quart of water for Aglaonemas in an 8" (20cm) diameter pot 
  • Plants in 10" (30cm) diameter containers or larger can dry out up to about 2" below the soil surface. Water with about 1-1/2 to 2 quarts for a chinese evergreen in a 10" (25cm) or 12" (30cm) diameter pot.
  • Plants in a 14" (35 cm) diameter pot should dry out about 2" or more below the soil surface, then water with about 1 gallon of water.
  • Fertilize regularly for best growth.
  • Dust or clean the leaves with water occasionally. The spring can be a great time to get houseplants outdoors for a gently washing. A shower in the bathtub works, too.
  • The stems root well in water.
  • The plant can also be divided by taking the plant out or the pot, and gently pulling apart and separating the root ball into two new plants.Repot each plant section into separate containers..

**Be sure to see the video clip about the Aglaonema 'Maria' on The Indoor Garden TV YouTube Channel:

***To watch short video clips from the 1990's "The Indoor Garden" TV series, click below:



Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Tribute to the Plants of the Amazon

The link above will take you to YouTube for this short poem I wrote for a show we taped at the National Zoo's Amazonia exhibit. I think you will enjoy it. 

This clip was videotaped in 1992.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Succulent Lamb's Tail

Sedum x orpetti

This is my friend, Suzy's Lamb's tail. I just had to snap a picture of this great specimen! Her care for it is impeccable and it has thrived for quite a while in a very bright spot in her home. It's a hybrid of the more common Mexican native, the Burro's tail. Both are fairly easy to grow with consistent attention.
The Lamb's tail is distinguished from the Burro's tail by its fatter leaves that are spaced a little farther apart along their tasseled branches. This can also be grown beautifully as a hanging basket.

Care Instructions-- 
  • Direct sun indoors. They will probably do well with only an hour or so of direct sun.
  • Let them dry out some below the soil line. If they sit dry for too long, they will begin to lose lower leaves. Even though they are succulent a thorough watering when necessary is best so that all of the roots are moistened.
  • A plant in a 4" (10 cm) diameter pot should dry out slightly below the soil line, then water with about 1/2-3/4 cup, (enough so the water seeps through the bottom of the pot.)
  • A plant in a 6" (15cm) diameter pot should dry out about 1/2"'-1" (about 2cm) below the soil line before watering with about a pint of water.
  • In an 8" (20cm) hanging basket, let it dry out about 1" (2 1/2 cm) below the soil line and water with up to a quart of water.    
  • Fertilize regularly for best growth and blooming.

 *If you can't find your plant on this blog, here is a link to some other great blogs on houseplants:

Top 25 Houseplant blogs

**For a variety of  video clips on houseplant care from my 90's TV series, click on: 

   The Indoor Garden TV show


Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Graceful Variegated Algerian Ivy

This is the largest-leafed English Ivy variety that I've seen sold as a houseplant. This is the very handsome variegated Algerian Ivy and it is quite easy to grow. It can be grown as a hanging basket or kept trimmed as a shelf plant.  

Its botanical name is Hedera canariensis 'Variegata' and naturally lives in the Western Mediterranean, in North Africa,the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira. 

This Algerian Ivy was awaiting its new home at the lovely florist below. You can send indoor plants and floral arrangements just about anywhere in the world from this florist:

 Care instructions--
  • Prefers bright indirect light or some direct morning sun. Full afternoon sun will bleach the leaves. Its new leaves will be smaller in low light.
  • Water thoroughly when the soil surface is good and dry on top. 
  • A plant in a 6" (15cm) diameter pot should be watered with about a pint (or almost a half liter) of water
  • A plant in an 8" (20cm) diameter pot or 10" (25cm) diameter hanging basket, will use about a quart of water, when necessary.
  • Regular fertilizing keeps them looking robust. 
  • If they are trimmed back some, from time to time, you will have a fuller, lusher looking plant. Every few months, cut a few of the vines back a little, just below a leaf.
  • Longer vines can be cut back to the length you desire.  
  • This is the easiest way: Stem cuttings root very easily in water and can be planted in potting soil when the roots have grown to be about 2" long or longer.
  • They grow well in water or hydroponically, too. Refresh the water weekly. When you mix up some fertilizer for your other plants add a little of the fertilized water to any container of plants that are growing in water. 

***For a variety of  video clips on houseplant care from my 90's TV series, click here:

The Indoor Garden TV show


Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Peruvian Old Man Cactus

This is the Peruvian Old Man cactus, Espositoa lanata, not to be confused with The Old Man cactus, Cephalocereus senilis. The old man cactus has stiffer "hairs" that stick out and give it a more unkempt appearance in contrast to the soft whispiness that surrounds the Peruvian Old Man cactus.

I spotted this sitting on the windowsill while visiting my friend and plant-appreciator, Suzy. at her house the other day. It is growing well in its own naturally amusing way. She's had for a long time in great light and allows it to dry out thoroughly before watering it.That's the recipe for successful cacti growing!

This living wonder with its snow-white cottony hair is indigenous to Columbia and Peru. It will eventually grow to about 3 ft. (or 1 meter) high. I will have to remember remember to let Suzy know that.  

 Care Instructions---
  • Direct sun.
  • Water when dry 1" (about 2-3 cm) below the soil surface for plants in a 6" (15 cm) diameter pot.
  • Water when dry about 2" (5 cm) below the soil surface in an  8" (20 cm) diameter pot. 
  • A moisture meter for indoor plants van be a great way to monitor when your plant will need water. The meters should be easy to find online or at your nearest garden center.
  • It is tolerant of drying out more, if you should forget.
  • Fertilize occasionally.

To see video clips on plant care from my 90's TV series, click below

 The Indoor Garden TV Show


Monday, July 1, 2019

The African Violet's Cousin: The Streptocarpus

Streptocarpus caulescens

I was out visiting my friend, Suzy, who has a great appreciation for plants. Her mom is an avid African Violet fan. We talked about how African Violets are easiest to care for in front of a north-facing window. If one doesn't have a windowsill facing north, it can be a little tricky to find just the right spot where an African violet will thrive. 

Suzy does not have a north-facing window so hasn't grown any African violets. Fortunately, she was able to find just the right place in her home for this Streptocarpus in a hanging basket. During the summer, it lives in the shade under the eaves of her shed. The rest of the year, it hangs in a room with large windows and plenty of bright indirect light. 

Many nurseries and garden centers will carry different varieties of Streptocarpus. This one, the Streptocarpus caulescens is one of the easier ones to keep indoors. Its soft green foliage and lovely flowers make a beautiful hanging basket. 

Like African violets, the Streptocarpus is part of the Gesneriad family of plants. Sometimes known as Cape primroses, I've usually seen Streptocarpus' labelled for sale with their botanical name, not a common name. 

These enchanting, soft and fuzzy-leafed plants are native to East Tropical Africa.  


Care instructions--
  • Right in front of a north-facing window is the best place for them. Otherwise,very bright indirect light or a place with some morning sun, works too. Direct afternoon sun is too strong for these plants.
  • Water thoroughly as soon as the top is dry. A plant in a 10" diameter hanging basket will take about 1 quart or 1 liter of water, when ready.
  • Fertilize with African violet food regularly. Schultz Instant African Violet Plus works beautifully.

***For a variety of video clips on houseplant care from my 90's TV series, click below:

Friday, May 31, 2019

About the Aralia balfouriana 'Roseleaf'

This graceful Aralia Balfouriana 'Roseleaf' is over 40 years old! As it has grown its branches have taken on curves and twists giving it an asymmetrical and intriguing shape. I think of it as a living sculpture. 

It is potted in a 14" diameter pot. Its been in that same size pot since 1991! Every few years I prune off some of the roots and foliage and add some fresh potting soil. Aralias truly don't mind staying pot-bound, as you can see. They are a wonderfully easy houseplant to keep. I believe the most important thing to keeping them thriving is to water them thoroughly when the top of the soil is dry. They appreciate a good soak.

Its botanical name is Polyscias paniculata 'Variegata''. Most Polyscias species are sold as Aralias, their horticultural name. This Aralia Balfouriana 'Roseleaf" is native to Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean.  

Care Instructions---
  • Bright indirect light to some direct sun. Full afternoon sun may prove to be too strong.   Directly in front of a north or east facing window will work out well.
  • For all Aralias:  Water when the top of the soil is dry. They like a good soak but not to sit in water for long.
  • in a 6" (15 cm) diameter pot, water with 1 pint of water (almost 1/2 liter)
  • in a 10"(25 cm) diameter pot will use about 2 quarts of water (or 2 liters) when necessary
  • in a 14" (35 cm) diameter pot, use 1 gallon of water (almost 4 liters)
  • Fertilize regularly for best growth.
  • Misting daily with water would be appreciated but is not necessary. 
  • Once in awhile clean the leaves in the shower or outdoors with a hose on gentle spray. You can mix up about a tsp. of mild dishwashing soap in a pint bottle and soap up the leaves first.  

Watch this plant on YouTube as it is repotted in 1991:

Repotting a Large Plant (this Aralia!)

***To watch short video clips from my 90's TV series, click below: