The Green Thumb Almanac

YOUR ONLINE GARDENING INFORMATION CENTER

Tropical and Indoor Plants

Creating an indoor oasis is the perfect remedy for a bad case of the winter blues.  Fortunately for us, the interior of the modern home is very similar to the dimly lit floor of the tropical forests from which many of our houseplants originate.  Knowing what part of the world your plant comes from will give you clues to its preferred growing conditions.  Indoor plants are not only pretty, they create oxygen, reduce dust, humidify the air and generally make the atmosphere healthier. 
 

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  • The Best "Hard-To-Kill" Indoor Plants
  • Where to Place Your Houseplants
  • Indoor Plants for a Healthier You

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The Best "Hard-To-Kill" Indoor Plants

Here are a few of the 'Hard to Kill' plants. If you are a beginner, or just want something that's easy to grow, these plants may be of interest to you!

Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior

Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema

Corn Plant, Dracaena massangeana

Golden Pothos, Scindapsis aureus

Jade Plant, Crassula ovata

Lucky Bamboo, Dracaena sanderana

Mother-in-law's tongue, Sansevieria

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvate

Raphis Palm, Raphis excelsa

Schefflera, Schefflera arboricola

ZZ Plant, Zamioculcus zamifolia

Anthurium

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Bromeliads

  • Cast Iron Plant
    Cast Iron Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
    Chinese Evergreen
  • Corn Plant
    Corn Plant
  • Jade Plant
    Jade Plant
  • Lucky Bamboo
    Lucky Bamboo
  • Mother-in-law's tongue
    Mother-in-law's tongue
  • Ponytail Palm
    Ponytail Palm
  • Golden Pothos
    Golden Pothos
  • Raphis Palm
    Raphis Palm
  • ZZ Plant
    ZZ Plant
  • Anthurium
    Anthurium
  • Phalaenosis
    Phalaenosis
  • Bromeliads
    Bromeliads
  • Schefflera
    Schefflera
Cast Iron Plant
Cast Iron Plant

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Where to Place Your Houseplants

Deciding what houseplant to buy will largely be determined by how much light you have in your home.  The duration (number of hours) and the intensity of sunlight are the main considerations when choosing a plant for inside your home.  Temperature is also a factor as some windows can be warmer than others.  Except for the very darkest areas of your home you can always find a plant to suit your needs.

Arrowhead Vine

North Window

North Window

Windows which face north are considered to be low light.  This is true because the sun does not typically shine directly through this exposure.  Plants chosen for this location should be low light tolerant.

Norfolk Island Pine

East Window

West Window

West facing windows tend to be warm and receive higher light intensity than east windows.  Plants which would do well here require bright, indirect or direct light with 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight.

East Window

East facing windows are generally characterized as being cool with indirect light.  Plants selected for this window should prefer bright, indirect light with no more than 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight.

African Violets

West Window

South Window

Southern exposures receive the greatest amount of direct light and are also considered the hottest.  This window is ideal for plants which enjoy strong light intensities and high temperatures such as cacti and many flowering plants.

Croton

South Window

Low Light Plants for

North Windows

Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra

Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema

Parlor Palm, Chamaedorea

Grape Ivy, Cissus

Corn Plant, Dracaena

Bird's Nest Fern, Asplenium

Dumb Cane, Dieffenbachia

Philodendron

Swedish Ivy, Plectranthus

Snake Plant, Sansevieria

Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum

Arrowhead Vine, Syngonium

Bamboo Palm, Chamaedorea

Lady Palm, Rhapis

Peacock Plant, Calathea

Medium Light Plants for

Cool East Windows

Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria

Asparagus Fern, Asparagus

Rex Begonia, Begonia

Boston Fern, Nephrolepis

Piggyback Plant, Tolmiea

Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum

Coffee Tree, Coffea

Podocarpus

Lady Palm, Raphis

Oyster Plant, Rhoeo

Pygmy Date Palm, Phoenix

Exacum

Steptocarpus

Cyclamen

Medium Light Plants for Warm West Windows

Spider Plant, Chlorophytum

Pothos, Epipremnum

Weeping Fig, Ficus

Rubber Tree, Ficus

Aluminum Plant, Pilea

Staghorn Fern, Platycerium

African Violets, Saintpaulia

Schefflera

Spiderwort, Tradescantia

Peacock Plant, Calathea

Areca Palm, Chrysalidocarpus

Wax Plant, Hoya

Flame Flower, Episcia

Gloxinia

Mother-of-Thousands,Saxifraga

High Light Plants for

South Windows

Aloe

Bromeliad, Aechmea

Cacti

Citrus

Croton, Codiaeum

Ti Plant, Cordyline

Jade Plant, Crassula

Sago Palm, Cycas

False Aralia, Dizygotheca

Gardenia

English Ivy, Hedera

Bird-of-Paradise, Strelitzia

Yucca

Wandering Jew, Zebrina

Areca Palm, Chrysalidocarpus

Pleomele, Dracaena

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Indoor Plants for a Healthier You!

 

Studies have shown that people spend, on average, about 90% of their time indoors.  Thus, indoor air quality is very important to our overall health.  In addition to their beauty, indoor plants help to purify our air of volitile organic compounds (VOC's) such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.  Plants also remove carbon dioxide and produce fresh, clean oxygen.  Indoor plants lift our spirits, make us more productive at work and beautify our environment!  The following chart lists some common indoor houseplants and the toxins that they remove from our air.

 

Benzene-Based Toxins

From:  Detergents, Inks & Dyes, Plastics, Rubber Products, Petroleum Products, Synthetic Fibers, Tobacco Smoke

Plants

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Dracaena species

Gerbera (Gerber Daisy)

Hedera species (Ivy)

Chrysanthemum (mum)

Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Formaldehyde-Based Toxins

From:  Carpeting, Cleaners, Foam Insulation, Furniture, Paper Products, Plywood and  Particle Board

Plants

Ficus species (Weeping Fig)

Philodendron species

Chlorophytum (Spider Plant)

Sansevieria (Snake Plant)

Chamaedorea (Bamboo Plant)

Hedera species (Ivy)

Epipremnum (Golden Pothos)

Trichloroethlene Toxins

From:  Adhesives, Dry Cleaning, Inks and Dyes, Lacquers and Paints, Paper Products, Varnishes

 

Plants

Dracaena species

Gerbera (Gerber Daisy)

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Chrysanthemum (mum)

How many plants do you need?  About 3 average floor-standing plants or 6 standard table-top plants for an average-sized office.  The more you have the cleaner your air will be.  (Information provided by "Green Plants for Green Buildings" http://www.gpgb.org/  )

Clean Your Air with Crispy Wave!

New from Aerify Plants is 'Crispy Wave' (Japanese Asplenium nidus Fern).  'Crispy Wave' has been proven to effectively remove harmful particles from the air and converts CO2 to oxygen at a higher rate than other plants.

The waviness of the Crispy Wave's fronds increases their actual surface area compared to other ferns which, according to NASA's air purifying plant study, is the number one factor in determining a plant's oxygen producing capabilities.

'Crispy Wave'  prefers low to medium sunlight.  Water weekly when dry, and fertilize monthly with a liquid fertilizer.  Learn more by visiting Aerify Plants!

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Houseplant Care

You can have happy and healthy houseplants by following a few simple steps.  First learn what kind of environment your plant prefers.  Read plant tags for care information.  Don't love your plants to death.  Most plants die from over watering...when in doubt let them dry out!

Watering

Humidity

Temperature

Plants need a thorough watering, even if it's delivered irregularly.  Water thoroughly, not just an occasional drop or two as you pass by.  Add room temperature water until it flows out the drainage hole in the bottom of the container.
Many indoor plants have tropical origins. They prefer a moist humid atmosphere like a greenhouse. In the drier air of your home you can add humidity by grouping plants together.  You can also fill a tray with pebbles, add water and set the pot on top of the pebbles.
In general, temperatures between 65 degrees F and 75 degrees F are great for most houseplants. Temperatures about ten degrees cooler at night are also good.  Avoid placing plants near heating or air conditioning vents and also keep them away from cold drafts such as by a door or window.

Fertilizing

Grooming

Light

Don't over do it!  During spring and summer, the active growing season, use a general purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength when you water.  During fall and winter, when most plants stop growing, do not fertilize at all.
Keep your plants foliage clean.  Simply wipe the dust off of the leaves with a damp cloth or take them to a shower and give them a bath.  This will keep insect pests at bay and provide the extra humidity your plants love.
Select plants based on the amount of natural light which is available in your home.  You can also supplement this with artificial light if necessary.  'Grow lights' and fluorescent bulbs provide a good amount of light.  Place these as close to your plant as possible.

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