Archive for the ‘Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants’ Category

Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis

Common name: Boston Fern, Wild Boston Fern

Family: Lomariopsidaceae

Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis

Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis

Distribution and habitat: Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis  is an evergreen fern, native to tropical regions throughout the world. It is common in humid forests and swamps, especially in northern South America, Mexico, Central America, Florida, the West Indies, Polynesia and Africa.

The fronds are 50–250 cm (20-98 inch) long and 6–15 cm (2-6 inch) broad, with alternate pinnae (the small “leaflets” on either side of the midrib), each pinna being 2–8 cm (1-3 inch) long. The pinnae are generally deltoid, cut into a number of segments, so that the plants have an exceptionally feathery appearance. The pinnate vein pattern is also visible on these highly compound leaves. The edges appear slightly serrate. Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis has gracefully arching fronds.

Houseplant care: Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis is one of the easiest of the ferns to grow indoors.

In some of the extremely feathery forms of Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis one of the fronds of the plant occasionally revers to the original species. Cut out any long, insufficiently segmented fronds as soon as they appear. If permitted to survive, they will take over the plant.

Light: Provide to Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis bright light without direct sunlight. If necessary these ferns can tolerate medium light for periods up to four or five weeks.

Temperature:  Normal room temperatures are suitable throughout the year. Minimum tolerable temperature is 10°C (50°F). For Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis grown at temperatures above 21°C (70°F) increase humidity by standing the pot on a tray of damp pebbles and mist-spraying the foliage daily.

Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis  may appear totally dead due to frost, it will re-emerge in the spring.

Watering: Never allow Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis to become dry at the roots. As long as room temperatures remains above 13°C (55°F), water the plant plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. If the temperature drops below 13°C (55°F) for more than a day or two, allow the top third of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings.

Fertilising: Apply standard liquid fertiliser every two weeks to Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis  actively growing in peat-based potting mixture. Feed actively growing plants that are in soil based mixture about once every four weeks.

Potting and repotting: Use either a standard peat-based potting mixture or a combination of half soil based mixture and half leaf mould. When the roots of the Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis have filled its current pot, repot in the spring, moving the plant into a pot only one size larger. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, remove the plant from its pot every spring, carefully trim away some of the outer roots and replace the plant in the same pot, which has been thoroughly cleaned. Add fresh mixture as required.

Propagation: This plant is usually propagated by division of the rooted runners, as named cultivars will not produce true spores. Propagate whanever desirable by potting up a new plantlet taken from any point where the tip of a runner has rooted down.  Use a sharp knife to cut through the runner about 5cm (2 inch) from the tip, thus releasing the rooted plantlet. Plant it in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of the preferred potting mixture for adult plants and treat it in the same way as a mature specimen.

Problems: Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis  will shed fronds if potting mixture dry out, at which point all fronds may be cut back to about 5cm (2 inch) to regenerate.

Pythium or Phytophthora: Symptoms include stunting, wilting, and graying or yellowing of the foliage. More likely to occur in cool, dark weather and cool, wet media.
Treatment: Fungicides remain an important method to control losses due to Phytophthora and Pythium spp.

Rhizoctonia: Aerial blight that occurs mostly in the summer. Symptoms include brown irregular lesions commonly in the crown of the plant.
Treatment: Apply fungicides: be certain the Nephrolepis spp. to be treated is listed on the fungicide label.

Insects: The most common are caterpillars, fungus gnats, mealybugs, mites, scale, and thrips.
Treatment: spay plants with appropriate pesticide.  Repeat the treatment after 3 days and again 10 days later. If the insect attack persist, try a different pesticide.

Uses:  Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis is a very popular house plant, often grown in hanging baskets or pedestals.

It is a perennial hardy plant in warm climate zones as erosion control, ground cover, massing or woodland garden. Outdoors Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis prefers partial shade or full shade, inside it grows best in bright filtered light.

Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis is said to act as a natural air humidifier, removes formaldahyde and is a general air purifier. Said to be among the best in air purifying houseplants.

Also, Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis is known to be non-toxic, so it is safe to be grown around pets (cats).

Note: Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis is classified as an invasive alien plant in South Africa. In some provinces it must, by law, be eradicated. In others, a permit is required to import, possess, grow, breed, move, sell, buy or accept one as a gift.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 60-90cm (24-36 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zones: 9-11

Ferns, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , ,

Schefflera actinophylla

Common name: Schefflera, Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree, Amate, Queensland Umbrella Tree

Synonym: Brassaia actinophylla

Family: Araliaceae

Schefflera actinophylla

Schefflera actinophylla

Distribution and habitat: Schefflera actinophylla is native to tropical rainforests and gallery forests in Australia (eastern Queensland and the Northern Territory), New Guinea and Java. It often grows as an epiphyte on other rainforest trees.

Description: Schefflera actinophylla  is an evergreen tree to 12m (40 feet) tall, with single or multi-stemmed trunks and greenish bark. Leaves alternate with petioles to 61cm (24 inch) long; palmate compound with mostly 7-16 leaflets shiny, light green, oblanceolate, up to 30cm (12 inch) long, with margins entire (or sparsely toothed when young). Flowers 25mm (1 inch) across, borne in dense clusters that form a large, red, showy inflorescence at stem tips above foliage. Fruit a purplish black, round, fleshy drupe to 7mm (0.25 inch) in diameter.

Houseplant care: Schefflera actinophylla  is an easy to care plant. This plant will live for many years if it is looked after properly. It is often lack of space – particularly vertical space  that brings about its end. If it gets too tall or to get a bushy Schefflera actinophylla plant cut back growth in the autumn.

Provide thin stakes for stems where necessary. The main stem will need to be tied to a stake at intervals as it grows taller, although this will be less necessary if growing tips are pinched out regularly.

The leaves of Schefflera actinophylla will benefit from being cleaned regularly with a damp sponge.

Water: Water plentifully in the summer – once or twice a week – and mist occasionally. In winter, water about once a week and mist every two weeks.

Do not let it stand in surplus water – it does not like wet feet.

Light: Schefflera actinophylla does well in a brightly-lit position – but it can also tolerate a shady spot.

Temperature: In summer, keep at normal room temperatures. It can stand outside, as long as the temperature does not exceed 21°C(70°F). In winter, the temperature should be kept above 12°C (55°F).

Fertilising: Feed once a month during the summer with a standard liquid fertilizer.

Propagation: Propagate Schefflera actinophylla in spring from tip or stem cuttings 7-10cm (3-4 inch) long. Take each cutting immediately below a leaf node, strip off lower leaves and dip the cut end on the cutting in a hormone rooting powder. Plant the cutting in a 7cm (3 inch) pot containing a moisture equal parts mixture of peat moss and coarse sand or perlite and enclose the whole in a plastic bag or heated propagation case. Maintain temperature of 18-23°C (64-73°F). At lower temperatures these cuttings are likely to rot before they can root.

In bright filtered light and steady warmth a cutting should root in three to four weeks. When renewed growth indicates that rooting has occurred, acclimatise the new plant to room conditions over a period of about two weeks by opening the bag or the case a little more every day and water the plant only enough to keep rooting mixture barely moist.

When the plant is uncovered, place it in bright lit situation, water moderately and apply standard liquid fertiliser monthly until a fine network of roots appeared on the surface of the potting mixture. This will have occurred by the time two or three new leaves have been produced.

Thereafter move the plant into a slightly larger container of soil-based mixture and treat it as recommended for mature Schefflera actinophylla.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Move the plant into a pot one size larger annually in early spring. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, plants should be top-dressed annually.

Yellow, falling leaves are due to overwatering or leaving the plant pot standing in water.
Treatment: Let the pot mixture to dray out a little between waterings and use less water in future.

Plants get thin, long and leggy when the temperature is too warm and the plant does not get enough light.
Treatment: Move the plant to a cool and brighter spot.

Brown scales on leaves and stems are insect attacks.
Treatment: Dab with cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirit and scrape off with a toothpick.

Uses: Schefflera actinophylla is commonly grown in mild to warm climates as a decorative tree in larger gardens and, when mature, it has bright red spikes of flowers with up to 20 racemes which develop in summer or early autumn.

With a minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F), juvenile specimens are grown in temperate regions as houseplants.

Schefflera actinophylla is said to remove benzene (a carcinogenic substance) from the air.

Availability: Schefflera actinophylla is available at all times of the year from nurseries or garden centres.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 4.7-6m (15–20 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 21°C (55-70°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Schefflera actinophyllaSchefflera actinophylla







Indoor Plants, Shrubs, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , ,

Philodendron hederaceum

Common name: Heartleaf Philodendron, Heart-leaf Ivy, Philodendron, Sweetheart Plant

Family: Araceae

Synonym: Philodendron cordatum
Philodendron cuspidatum
Philodendron micans
Philodendron oxycardium
Philodendron scandens

Philodendron hederaceum

Philodendron hederaceum

Distribution and habitat: Philodendron hederaceum is a hemiepiphyte vine native to Central America and the Caribbean. Most of these plants occur in humid tropical forests, but can also be found in swamps and on river banks, roadsides and rock outcrops. Philodendron hederaceum are often found clambering over other plants or climbing the trunks of trees with the aid of aerial roots.

Description: Philodendron hederaceum is an evergreen climber growing to 3–6m (10–20 feet), with heart-shaped glossy leaves 10cm (4 inch) long and 8cm (3 inch) wide with 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long leaf-stalk. The leaves have acutely pointed tips. The leaves look slightly brownish and almost transparent when they are new, but they quickly become deep green as they grow to maturity. Occasionally spathes of white flowers appear in mature plants.

Philodendron means “tree loving” and many of these species have two growth phases, a juvenile form and a mature form, which often look very different as leaf size and shape. Container-grown specimens almost always stay in the juvenile phase.

Houseplant care: Philodendron hederaceum is one of the easiest of all house plants to grow. It is very vigorous grower that can take a wide range of conditions.

Experienced growers recommend regular pinching out of the growing tips in order to make the Philodendron hederaceum bushy. Otherwise, the stems tend to grow too long giving the plant a skimpy look.
Try to pinch close to the node because any bare stem that is left will die, and the node will not grow a new stem. Use sharp scissors or pruners.

Water: During the active growth period water moderately, giving enough at each watering to moist the potting mixture throughout and allowing the top centimeter (0.4 inch) of so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. During the sort midwinter rest period water only enogh to keep the entire mixture from drying out completely.

Philodendron hederaceum is not terribly set back by dry indoor air, but moist air does seem to lead to larger leaves and faster growth. Mist the plant to increase the humidity. It is best to use purified water, minerals in tap water build up on the leaves.

Light: Philodendron hederaceum will tolerate low light, for quite a long time, though like most “low-light” plants, it will do better if given bright indirect light.

Temperature: Philodendron hederaceum will grow well in normal to warm indoor temperatures 24-27ºC (75-80ºF).  Philodendron hederaceum cannot tolerate temperatures which drop below about 13ºC (55ºF).

Fertilise: Throughout the months while the Philodendron hederaceum is actively growing apply standard liquid fertiliser once every two weeks.

Potting and repotting: Like other houseplants, philodendrons benefit from repotting to a larger container when they become root bound and outgrow the original pot.

Use a combination of half soil-based potting mixture and half leaf mould or coarse peat moss. Move Philodendron hederaceum into container one size larger only when their roots have completely filed the current one. Do this at any time of year except during the short rest period. After the maximum convenient pot size has been reach (probably about 25-30cm (10-12 inch)), an annual spring top-dressing with fresh potting mixture will help to keep the plat healthy.

Use a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot. If  a decorative container without drainage is used, then use it as a cachepot – just slip the plain nursery pot into the cachepot. It is recommended to cover the bottom of a cachepot with pebbles to keep the plant above the drainage water.

Propagation: Cutting and layering are popular methods of Philodendron hederaceum propagation. Try propagating them during the growing season.  Along the vine branches there are small brown nubs formed where the leaves meet the stem. These nubs, when in contact with soil or water, will grow roots. There are many ways to propagate this plant, the easiest being to cut a branch just below a root-nub and place it in water with a few pieces of horticultural charcoal to reduce the likelihood of rot. As soon as new leaf growth is noted, pot in rich soil. The plant can also be propagated within its own pot by pinning vines at the root-nub to the soil with hairpins or bent wire. The root-nub in contact with the soil will sprout new roots shortly. When sections of Philodendron hederaceum are rooted, the plant will greatly benefit from misting several times a day (with purified water, if possible).

Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale. Leaf spots may occur. Root rot can occur in overly moist soils.

Small leaves or long spaces between leaves show that the plant is not getting enough light.
Treatment: Move the Philodendron hederaceum plant to a brighter location, but not into direct sun.

Interesting facts: There is about 200 year old discussion going on about the true name of this plant. There are still references to Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron scandens and Philodendron cordatum in houseplant books etc., but Philodendron hederaceum is the actual correct name. The reason for all the names, in part, is that the plant has a really variable habit, depending on its age and growing conditions, so specimens collected at different times and places may differ in size, habit, coloration and texture.

Toxicity: Parts of the plant are known to contain calcium oxalate crystals in varying concentrations. Although the plant is known to be toxic to mice and rats, the current literature is conflicting with regards to its toxicity in cats. Its possible toxic effects on humans are currently unknown although likely very mild if not harmless.

Uses: Known for their ability to thrive in low-light conditions typical of many homes and offices, Philodendron hederaceum plants are often grown for their lush foliage. It can be grown as a climbing or training specimen depending on whether its long stems are trained up supports or are allowed to trail over the rims of the pots or hanging baskets.

Philodendron hederaceum as a climbing species is usually tried to a stake inserted into the potting mixture for support. For best results, dress the stake in sphagnum moss until form a 5-8cm (2-3 inch) thickness over the full length of the stake above the potting mixture level. Alternatively, nail a piece of rough-textured cork-bark to the stake. The sphagnum moss or cork-bark being used must then be sprayed with water at least once a day. Doing this it will stimulate the aerial roots of the Philodendron hederaceum to get a firm hold on this support. Be sure that the support is tall enough to accommodate the eventual total growth of the plant.

In the tropical and humid subtropical regions Philodendron hederaceum can be used as a ground cover or on arbors or trellises for dependable, soft green color and a tropical look, particularly around patios, windowsills and pools.

Philodendron hederaceum is also noted by NASA among the best types of houseplants for removing formaldahyde, especially higher concentrations. It is capable to absorb between 80 and 90% of the formaldehyde present in water-based paint, roofing felt or insulation material, glues in fitted carpets or even laminated wood floors!


Foliage – green
Shape – climbing and trailing
Height: 3–6m (10–20 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Climber, Foliage Plants, Indoor Plants, Low Light Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , ,

Chrysanthemum morifolium

Common name: Florist’s Chrysanthemum, Pot Mum

Synonyms: Anthemis grandiflora
Chrysanthemum stipulaceum
Dendranthema grandiflorum
Dendranthema morifolium
Matricaria morifolia

Family: Asteraceae

Chrysanthemum morifolium

Chrysanthemum morifolium

Distribution and habitat: Chrysanthemums are perennial flowering plants which are native to Asia and northeastern Europe.

Description: Chrysanthemum morifolium is herbaceous plant with deeply lobed, dark green upright leaves and large flower heads can be yellow, white, purple or red. The plant is 0.30–0.91m (1–3 feet) high and wide. The Chrysanthemum morifolium is inspiring with a lots of beautiful flower forms and colours to choose from. Favorites for autumn colour once most other annual or tough perennials have past in rest period, Chrysanthemum morifolium will bloom until late in the winter season.

Florist Chrysanthemum morifolium varieties are not hardy for growing outdoors in cold climates. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get Chrysanthemum morifolium to rebloom, so it is treated as an annual and tossed out after the blooming season is over. Plant it outdoors in the spring to possibly get another season of blooms.

Houseplant care: Care for the potted Chrysanthemum morifolium (often used as annuals) is quite easy, while garden Chrysanthemum morifolium treated as perennials require a little more dedication.

Faded blooms of potted Chrysanthemum morifolium should be removed to prolong flowering. Pinch them off as close to the stem as possible and Chrysanthemum morifolium will quickly form new blossoms instead of using nutrients to form seeds. Also, Chrysanthemum morifolium grown indoors require good air circulation. The secret to keeping blossoms fresh for several weeks is to keep Chrysanthemum morifolium in a cool place and well-watered.

Light: Keep Chrysanthemum morifolium in natural bright light or in direct sunlight, whether indoors or out. Chrysanthemum morifolium need plenty of sun for proper growth. Keep them away from night lighting, as this disturbs their flowering cycle.

Unlike other houseplants, Chrysanthemum morifolium requires natural light for healthy growth. This plant loves bright light and to encourage buds to open, it will need to be placed in a spot near an open window with direct sunlight.

Water: Water Chrysanthemum morifolium regularly throughout the year. Soak the pot of Chrysanthemum morifolium until water runs out through the drainage holes of the pot bottom. After the initial soaking, water daily or until soil is moist. Apply enough water to moisten the soil, yet not enough to leave it wet and soggy. Do not allow the potted soil to dry out, as this will harm the plant. It is advisable to water the potted Chrysanthemum morifolium with warm (not too cold) water.

An average room humidity will be good enough for Chrysanthemum morifolium. If the room is dry, use a spray bottle to mist potted Chrysanthemum morifolium plants once per day to increase the relative humidity.

Temperature: The potted Chrysanthemum morifolium will do well in cool temperatures 13-18°C (55-65°F) rooms; Flowers may not last as long if kept in a warm room.

Fertilise: Fertilizing is needed before the blooming period. Use a fertilizer that is high in potassium and nitrogen as it will promote a larger number of flowers and increase the size of the blooms. Water both before and after applying the fertilizer to prevent root burn. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for correct fertiliser dosage. Do not fertilize during the rest period which will occur in the winter months.

Potting and repotting: Repot Chrysanthemum morifolium in the fall using an fertile soil mixture and prune the plant. Choose a container with drainage holes. Plant Chrysanthemum morifolium in a 18cm (7 inch) container that will accommodate the root ball comfortably. Use a growing medium made up of two parts potting soil, one part peat moss and one part organic compost. Keep the potted Chrysanthemum morifolium in a location that receives full morning sun and partial afternoon shade during the first year of growth.

For spent Chrysanthemum morifolium pot: Allow the Chrysanthemum morifolium plants to go dormant over the winter. Keep Chrysanthemum morifolium pot outside once the blooms die and mound the pots with dried leaves or garden refuse to prevent premature freezing. Prune Chrysanthemum morifolium in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut back stems to about 30 to 45cm (12-18 inch) or shorter for bushier plants. Water mum plants in the spring as new growth begins and color returns to the plants. Keep them well watered throughout the spring, fertilizing once a week for the first couple months and then ceasing fertilization once blooms are present.

Garden Culture: Plant perennial garden Chrysanthemum morifolium during spring in full sun for optimum root establishment prior to winter. Choose a site with well-drained soil. Let 15-30cm (6-12 inch) space between bedded Chrysanthemum morifolium to allow for growth and air circulation. Tall cultivars may grow up to 0.9m (3 feet) tall, while dwarf varieties remain low and bunchy.

Prepare perennial garden Chrysanthemum morifolium for winter by mulching with up to 10cm (4 inch) over the plant. Do not cut back stems until spring to encourage overwintering success. In spring, remove the mulch from the beds of over-wintered Chrysanthemum morifolium and cut back dead plant material. Fertilize regularly during the early spring growing season to encourage late summer and fall blooms. Pinch back one-third of the new growth at a leaf bud junction up to three times during the summer prior to flowering. This routine maintenance creates a full, round perennial bush that will produce beautiful fall display in the garden. Water the Chrysanthemum morifolium every other day when the soil becomes dry.

For strong growth remove any lateral branches and leave the plant with only three stems to help developing buds. The branches should be removed when they are small and soft so as not to take away from the growth of the buds and stems.

Propagation: Chrysanthemum morifolium can be easily propagated through stem cuttings or root ball division. Take cuttings in early spring and root in soil mixture with sand on the surface, at 16°C (61°F). Place in a cold frame with ventilation and harden off in mid-spring.

Divide Chrysanthemum morifolium plant as needed in spring or fall after flowers are finished.

Problems: Chrysanthemum morifolium can be attacked by aphids, earwigs, nematodes, capsid bugs, leaf miners, whiteflies, thrips, and spider mites.

Potential disease problems include Botrytis, leaf spots, rust, powdery mildew, stem and root rots, verticillium wilt, aster yellows and viruses.

Uses: Chrysanthemum morifolium is used in beds, as cut flowers, for planters, as pot plant, display or borders.

Blooming houseplants are one way to add colour into any décor. Plants that are constant bloomers will keep a room lively. Chrysanthemum morifolium is one of the most popular plants available for providing long-lasting flowers to enjoy indoors or on porches and patios. The wide variety of flowers colours suit just about any indoor décor or patio planter colour scheme. Chrysanthemum morifolium can be grown in larger pots indoors or outdoors in the summer months. Chrysanthemum morifolium make colorful table plant or window plant. It is perfect for all kinds of containers and makes a breathtaking potted specimen plant.

Also, Chrysanthemum morifolium can be used for eye catching thematic arrangements, garlands, buttons, etc. Interior decoration with flower arrangements is most important use of Chrysanthemum morifolium as cutting flower due to long vase life of the flower.

Well known as a decorative flower, the Chrysanthemum morifolium is an amazing plant, which has not only beautiful flowers, but is also very good at filtering a variety of polluting compounds from the air. Chrysanthemum species are very effective at removing benzene, a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) associated with most chemicals, plastics, cigarettes and off-gasing. Also removes trichloroethylene (found in solvets and cleaners), formaldehyde and ammonia.

Note: Chrysanthemum morifolium leaves are poisonous. Keep it out from children and pets to avoid the risk of ingest it.

Availability: Potted Chrysanthemum morifolium is available from late summer to fall when the plant will already have bud sets ready to bloom when purchased from retailers. Choose a plant with plenty of buds that are just beginning to open to enjoy about 6-8 weeks of blooms.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – bushy
Height:0.30–0.91m (1–3 feet)
Wide: 0.30–0.91m (1–3 feet)

Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 18°C (55-64°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 5a-9b

Annuals, Cutting Flowers, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , ,

Schlumbergera truncata

Common name: Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Claw Cactus, Holiday Cactus, Crab Cactus, Zygocactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonyms: Cactus truncatus
Cereus truncatus
Epiphyllum truncatum
Zygocactus truncatus
Epiphyllum altensteinii
Zygocactus altensteinii
Epiphyllum bridgesii
Epiphyllum delicatum
Zygocactus delicatum
Epiphyllum ruckeri
Epiphyllum ruckerianum

Schlumbergera truncata

Schlumbergera truncata

Distribution and habitat: Schlumbergera truncata is endemic to a small area of the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil where its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist forests. In its native environment it is an epiphyte (occasionally lithophytic). In other words, these are cacti that grow in trees! They grow their roots into the bark of their host tree. Their only access to moisture and nutrients is from rain and droppings that fall from above. They also always grow under a canopy of trees and are never exposed to the full sun of the desert. The environment that these cacti have adapted to is that of the warm, humid jungle with sunlight filtered through the canopy of the forest. The shape of the flowers suggests humming bird pollination and red is attractive to birds. The berry is mostly red attracting other birds to spread the seed to other areas.

Description: Schlumbergera truncata have flattened, spineless, pendulous branches with prominent notches at the margins. The flat stem segments are long and narrow and connected by a mid-rib. The flowers are asymmetrical in shape and appear at the stem tips. Flower colours range from pink, lavenders and reds through to oranges, yellows and whites. Schlumbergera truncata blooms through autumn and winter.

Some plants  have rounded stem segments, other have more pointed type. The flowers also differ considerably in shape and colour.

Houseplant care: To obtain a fuller plant, prune the Schlumbergera truncata cactus. Cutting it back in spring will encourage the plant to branch out where the stem was cut. Flowers emerge from the ends of the stems so the plant will promote more blooms. Spring is the best time to prune it back, when it begins actively growing again. Cut the stem off between segments (the place where they’re joined together by midrib). Use sharp, clean pruning shears to prevent tearing the stems.

Give it a rest period after its winter flowering.

Flower buds are likely to drop off if the plant is moved or suddenly exposed to temperature changes.

Light: Schlumbergera truncata (as a jungle cactus) should never be exposed to full summer sunlight. Medium light at a partly shaded window is the best  throughout spring summer and autumn. The less powerful winter sun is not likely to harm these plants. Flower buds normally start to form in early autumn and full flowering is initiated by the restricted light of shortening days. Once these cacti have begun to bud, it is important do not keep them in a living room where artificial lights may be burning virtually all evening every day.

Position to an east- or west-facing window suits this plant well. Avoid placing it in direct sun. It can be put out in the garden or patio during the summer in a shaded place.

Temperature: Room temperature is suitable for Schlumbergera truncata all year round. Schlumbergera truncata needs to set flower buds cool temperature of 16-18°C (60-65°F) during the day and 7-13°C (45-55°F) during the night. Once buds set, 21-24°C (70-75°F) on day time and 16-21°C (60-70°F) on night time.

Schlumbergera truncata will benefit from being placed in a shady place outdoor during late spring and summer, but move them back indoors before the start of cold weather.

Water: Schlumbergera truncata are generally winter-flowering plants, their stem grow most actively during the months from spring to early autumn. During the entire year except for a brief period following the end of the flowering period, water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the poting mixture throughly moist, but do not allow pots to stand in water.

When flowering ceases (problably in late winter), reduce amounts and water only moderately – enough to moisten the mixture at each watering, but allowing the top centimeter (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. Resume plentiful waterings as soon as new stem growth starts to appear in spring.

For increased humidity mist spray the plants, especially in spring and summer. Because Schlumbergera truncata dislike the hard water (water with high calcium content), use rainwater if at all possible for watering proposes. Remember never to permit the potting mixture to dry completely.

Fertiliser: Feed every two weeks with liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing until new growth begins in spring.

Potting and repotting: To prevent waterlogging use a free-draining peat-based potting mixture which has been made more porous by the addition of one part of coarse sand to every three parts of the standard mixture. Grow the Schlumbergera truncata in ordinary pots or hanging basket. Repot every year after flowering and move into a larger container  only when roots have filled the current pot. Otherwise, shake off the spent potting mixture, replace the plant in its container which has been cleaned and add fresh mixture as necessary. Schlumbergera truncata do not have large root system and a specimen 30cm (12 inch) accross can be grown in a 10-13cm (4-5 inch) pot or basket.

Propagation: Most popular way of propagation of the Schlumbergera truncata is through cuttings. Just twists off part of the plant: they naturally come apart at the joints between stem segments. Segments that have fallen off on their own can sometimes also be propagated. Let the cuttings dry out for 2-7 days, then plant in or lay them on top of the potting mixture. For best results, take multiple cuttings from the same plant and plant them together (this will give a fuller-looking plant sooner). Rooting has started to happen when new growth appear at the tips of the old stems.

Uses: Schlumbergera truncata can be used as indoor plants, patio or conservatory plants in hanging baskets or tall pots flowers.
In its native area, Schlumbergera truncata is grown outdoors as an epiphyte or in rock gardens. In cooler climates, this plant can be grown in baskets or pots for brightly-lit window sills. It is sold primarily around the holiday season as a gift or decorative item.

Schlumbergera truncata can be used in a hanging basket or stand several in groups on an east- or west-facing windowsill. A wicker basket makes an attractive container. Do not move the plant or even turn it around once the flower buds appear. Moving it will inhibit flower production.

Stem may shrivel during rest period if the plant gets too little water.
Treatment: Give the plant a little water and it will recover quickly.

Root rot will set in if plant is left standing in water.
Prevention: Drain off excess water and provide a free-draining compost to prevent waterlogging.

Leaf fall is probably caused because the plant has been subjected to a sudden change —either in light quality or direction, or because the plant is in a draught.
Prevention: Leave the plant alone and do not move it from once buds have formed until the end of its flowering season.

Availability: Schlumbergera truncata is available from fall to winter, period when the plant is blooming. These plants will live for many years and grow fairly large.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – weeping plant
Height: 30-60 cm (12-24 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10b-12

Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dendrobium nobile

Common name: Noble Dendrobium

Family: Orchidaceae

Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile

Distribution and habitat: Dendrobium is a huge genus of orchids, containing about 1,200 species. The genus occurs in diverse habitats throughout much of south, east and southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Borneo, Australia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Zealand. The name is from the Greek dendron (“tree”) and bios (“life”); it means “one who lives on trees”, or, essentially, “epiphyte”. Dendrobium species are either epiphytic, or occasionally lithophytic. They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, from the high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains to lowland tropical forests and even to the dry climate of the Australian desert.

Dendrobium nobile orchid is one of the most widespread ornamental members of the family.

Description: Dendrobium nobile is a sympodial orchid which forms pseudobulbs. When the life cycle of the mother plant ends it produces little offsets, continuing the life of the plant. The same cycle is used every year. The stem is erect and during the flowering period it forms blooms on its sides along the whole length of the orchid. This monocot has thin, white roots and leads an epiphytic type of life.

Dendrobium nobile has yellows green pseudobulbs up to 1.2m (4 feet) tall, topped with several narrow leaves up to 10cm (4 inch) long and 2cm wide. The leaves are produced in early autumn. In late spring, a pseudobulb that is about to flower lose its leaves and replace them with a branching flower stalks. Each stalk carries two  to four flowers up to 8cm (3 inch)  across. The petals and sepals have wavy  edges. The lip is large and rounded, with a tubular base. Colour varies from lavender to deep purple, but the lip always has a deep maroon blotch in the centre. There are many varieties, some with fragrant flowers.

Houseplant care: Flowers usually should last for two to three months. When in full bloom, flowers will last longer if the plant is placed in a cool, dry spot away from any draft and out of direct sunlight.

Light: Bright light is essential  at all times, but filtered strong direct sunlight through a translucent blind or curtain.

Temperature:During the active growth period keep this plant within a temperature range of 15-21°C (59-70°F) and mist-spray them daily. During the winter rest period keep the Dendrobium nobile at 15-24°C (59-75°F) during the day and 10-13°C (50-55°F) at night. Dendrobium nobile can be kept outside in the fall to benefit from the cooler temperatures at night and brought inside just before the onset of freezing weather.

Dendrobium nobile do best when there is at least a 10-degree difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures.

Watering: From the time flowers buds start to appear and then throughout the active growth period, water the plants moderately, but let the potting mixture dry out nearly completely before watering again. Do not let drops of water rest on new growth, which will root if permitted to stay wet. During the winter rest period give only enough water to prevent the potting mixture from drying out.

Fertilise: During the active growth period only, apply a foliar feed with every third or forth watering.

Potting and repotting: Use any of the potting mixture recommended for orchids. These Dendrobium nobile do best if grown in small conventional pots with plenty of drainage material added. A plant with up to eight pseudobulbs can often thrive in only a 10cm (4 inch) pot. Move the plant to larger pots only when they are overcrowded. This is best done in spring, just as new growth begins.

Propagation: To divide a large plant, cut the rhizome into segments each with at least four pseudobulbs, one of which should not have flowered. Cut away and discard dead, brown pseudobulbs. Plant each segment in an 8cm pot of standard orchid mixture and water it sparingly until new growth appears. Thereafter, treat the young plant as a mature Dendrobium nobile.

Problems: Dendrobium nobile is prone to attack by red spider mites.
Daily mist-spraying may help ward off attack. Cut away badly infested leaves and adjoining stems and spray the plant with an appropriate pesticide.Repeat the treatment after 3 days and again 10 days later. If mites persist, try a different pesticide.

Whichever medium is used, it must be open enough to maintain some air around the roots. The Dendrobium nobile orchid cannot tolerate wet, soggy composts, which will inevitably damage and rot their wiry roots.

Uses: The Dendrobium nobile is the pot plant for decoration because they are more durable than general cut flowers. Dendrobium nobile hybrids make stunning potted plants. Staked upright they look exactly like a living bouquet, with flowers spaced so closely that it becomes hard to see the plant underneath. It is a pleasant decoration not only for living areas, but for offices as well being an easy to care and flowering for long time.
Used as cut flower, the Dendrobium nobile orchids will last for 15 to 60 days in vase.

Dendrobium filters formaldehyde from the air, being a wanted species of houseplants.


Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height: 1.2m (4 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 18°C (50-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 21°C (61-70°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 11

Dendrobium nobile Dendrobium nobileDendrobium nobileDendrobium nobile













Cutting Flowers, Orchids, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants ,

Nephrolepis obliterata

Common Name: Kimberly Queen Fern, Boston Fern, Sword Fern

Family: Lomariopsidaceae

Nephrolepis obliterata

Nephrolepis obliterata

Distribution and habitat: Nephrolepis obliterata  is a large, ground-dwelling or terrestrial fern which grows in rainforests upon rocks or in soil near lakes or streams native to northeastern Australia and New Guinea.

Description: Nephrolepis obliterata is considered to be one of the most beautiful among all ferns. It has large fronds and beautiful upright bushy and sword-sahped leaves. The leaf stems or petioles are covered with sparse red-brown hair-like scales with pale margins and a few longer hairs. The fronds are evergreen, long and feather like, the leaflets have margins which are lightly scalloped.

It has large fronds going up from the soil and beautiful upright bushy and sword-shaped leaves.

Houseplant care: Nephrolepis obliterata is one of the easier ferns to grow. This fern does great both indoors and outdoors!

Water: The Nephrolepis obliterata requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings. Do not let the plant stand in water. Nephrolepis obliterata is sensitive to both too little and too much water, so water the plant well but permit the soil to dry out between waterings.

Light: Nephrolepis obliterata is either low light or high light tolerant. The more sun, the more moisture is required.

Nephrolepis obliterata prefer bright, but indirect sunlight.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable throughout the year. For temperatures abouve 21°C (70°F), Nephrolepis obliterata should receive increased air humidity by standing the pot on a tray of damp pebbles and mist spaying the foliage daily. Minimum tolerable temperature for Nephrolepis obliterata is 10°C (50°F). Temperatures between 15 to  24°C (60-75°F) are best.

They are frost sensitive and are killed to the ground by a few degrees of a freeze. However, they will return if the cold weather is not a prolonged freeze.

Potting and repotting: Use either a standard peat-based potting mixture or a combination of half soil based mixture and half leaf mould. When the roots of the Nephrolepis obliterata have its current pot, repot in the spring, moving the plant into a pot only one size larger. After maximum convenient pot size has been reached, remove the plant from its pot every spring, carefully trim away some of the outer roots and replace the plant in the same pot, which has been thoroughly cleaned. Add fresh mixture as required.

Propagation: Nephrolepis obliterata reproduces by spores or is easily divided to form new plants. Propagate whatever desirable by potting up a new plantlet taken from any point where the tip of a runner has rooted down.  Use a sharp knife to cut through the runner about 5cm (2 inch) from the tip, thus releasing the rooted plantlet. Plant it in a 8cm (3 inch) pot of the preferred potting mixture for adult plants and treat it in the same way as a mature specimen.

Uses: Nephrolepis obliterata are quite popular for use on patios or covered decks during the spring and summer.  Ferns are used as specimens in atriums, greenhouses, and conservatories and can be found in the smallest apartments to the largest homes. They offer a quiet, graceful beauty by softening landscapes indoors and out.

Nephrolepis obliterata has the added benefit of reducing indoor air pollution. These types of houseplants clean formaldehyde, toluene and xylene out of the home.


Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 60-90cm (24-36 inch)

Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Ferns, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , ,

Aloe vera

Common name: Barbados Aloe, Aloe Vera, True Aloe, Burn Aloe, Medicine Plant

Family: Asphodelaceae

Synonym: Aloe barbadensis
Aloe vulgaris
Aloe indica
Aloe lanzae
Aloe perfoliata var. barbadensis

Aloe vera

Aloe vera

Description: Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100cm (24–39 inch) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90cm (35 inch) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3cm (0.8–1.2 inch) long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.

Houseplant care:
Light: Keep the Aloe vera plant in a bright location, with some direct sun in winter. If it is moved outdoors for the summer, make the move a gradual one. Ironically, Aloe vera sunburns easily if it is suddenly exposed to full sun.

Water: During active growing period Aloe vera should be well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Keep the soil slightly drier in winter, water it only enough to keep the plants from shriveling. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Aloe vera will do well in average room humidity.

Brown leaf tips on Aloe vera plant usually indicate that it is not getting enough water. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain.
Black spots on leaves are often due to overwatering. Do not allow water to collect in the rosettes of leaves, which causes the plant to rot.

Temperature: In the home environment, temperatures should range between a high of 30°C (85°F) to a low of 10°C  (50°F). Average room temperatures 18-24°C (65-75°F) will be perfect for Aloe vera.

Fertilizer: Spring through fall, feed monthly with a balanced house plant fertilizer.

Potting and repotting: Repot young plants in spring when they are outgrowing their pots. These types of succulents freely produces offsets. Keep plants from getting overcrowded by propagating offsets as they begin to form rosettes. Use cactus potting mix or add 1 part coarse sand with 2 parts all-purpose potting mix.

Propagation: Cut off new offsets in spring or early summer. Allow the cut portion to dry for a day or two to prevent the sap from oozing, then pot it in barely moist sandy potting mix.

Problems: Check it once in a while for scale insects and mealybugs that may infest this plant. Treat any infestation for these house plant pests immediately with insecticide.

Uses: Grown in containers, Aloe vera make a remarkable houseplant or installed on porches, patios, decks, etc. In the landscape (warm climates only), its need for good drainage makes it a popular choice for rock gardens. Aloe vera is drought-resistant once established, making an ideal choice for xeriscaping.

Extracts from Aloe vera are widely used in the cosmetics and alternative medicine industries, being marketed as variously having rejuvenating, healing or soothing properties. There is, however, little scientific evidence of the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extracts for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes, and what positive evidence is available is frequently contradicted by other studies.

Aloe barbadensis is able to absorb between 80 and 90% of the formaldehyde present in water-based paint, roofing felt or insulation material, glues in fitted carpets or even laminated wood floors!


Foliage – green
Shape – rosette

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – Low

Hardiness zones: 9-12

Indoor Plants, Succulents, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , ,

Hedera helix

Common name: Common Ivy, English Ivy, Hedera Helix, Ivy, Vine

Family: Araliaceae

Synonym:  Hedera acuta
Hedera arborea
Hedera baccifera
Hedera grandifolia
Hedera poetica Salisb.
Hedera poetarum Bertol.

Hedera helix

Hedera helix

Distribution and habitat: Hedera helix is a species of ivy native to most of Europe and western Asia. It is labeled as an invasive species in a number of areas where it has been introduced.
It is an evergreen climbing plant, growing high where suitable surfaces (trees, cliffs, walls) are available, and also growing as ground cover where there are no vertical surfaces. It climbs by means of aerial rootlets with matted pads which cling strongly to the substrate.
The leaves are alternate and have petiole; they are of two types, with palmately five-lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems, and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces. The flowers are produced from late summer until late autumn, individually small, in umbels, greenish-yellow, and very rich in nectar, an important late autumn food source for bees and other insects.
The fruit are purple-black to orange-yellow berries, ripening in late winter and are an important food for many birds, though somewhat poisonous to humans.

Description: Hedera helix has typically ivy-shaped leaves with tree to five lobes of which the one at the apex is the longest and most pointed. The original species has been superseded by its many varieties. Most of the following plants are self branching (each stem tend to branch naturally at frequent intervals) and this makes the plants dense and rather bushy.

Houseplant care: Winter growth of English Ivy plants tends to be very long without bearing many leaves. Trim areas like this with lots of woody growth but few leaves. For the plant to fill out properly during growth cut the stems down to strong growth areas.
Native to light woodland areas, Hedera helix as houseplant thrive in an environment of bright filtered to low light. Ample light helps the leaves become more colorful but filter the light to prevent excessive heat which can lead to drying and poor performance.

Temperature: Hedera helix plants are not greatly affected by hot and cold temperature, but fluctuating temperatures can stifle performance dramatically. Keep Hedera helix in an atmosphere with a consistent temperature and away from drafts, open doors, or vents. In temperatures above 18oC (64oF) provide extra humidity.
During the winter months encourage them to take a short rest by keeping them cool. A temperature of 10oC (50oF) is ideal.

Water: Hedera helix plants prefer an evenly moist environment. Water the plants freely during growth. Keep Hedera helix houseplants moist in the winter. Spraying Hedera helix with soft water weekly will help prevent spider mites from infesting the plants.

Fertilising: Hedera helix care requires the monthly application of liquid fertilizer or, another option often preferred, is to apply a quarter strength fertilizer when watering.

Potting and repoting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Overcrowded plants can be repotted during any season. Move the plant in a pot one size larger whatever pale roots emerge through drainage holes. Maximum pot size should be 12-15cm (5-6 inch). Top dress annually those plants that are not being moved on. For best effect put four or six small plants in a single basket.

Propagation: Root cuttings are the preferred method of propagation. Root the 10-15cm (4-6 inch) cuttings of young (not matured) growth during the spring to autumn. More mature cuttings (adult growth) of 18-23cm (7-9 inches) will produce a bushy “tree-ivy” type of growth but root very slowly if at all.

Problems: Plant care and maintenance helps reduce these problems.

Common pests affecting Hedera helix are spider mites, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. Red spider mites are often difficult to see without a close inspection. However, white webs formed on the plant are usually indicative of a spider mite infestation.
Treatment: Remove the infested leaves and treat the plant with a pesticide or insecticidal soap.

Typical pathogen (fungal and bacterial) problems affecting English Ivy houseplants are bacterial spot, stem rot and fungal leaf spots.
Treatment: Apply fungicides and repeat the treatment as mentioned on fungicide instructions.

Recommended varieties: There are several different species of the Hedera helix that have different leaf shape, size and color.

Hedera helix ‘Chicago‘ has 2-3 cm (0.7-1.2 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, medium greenleaves. The lives of one of its forms, Hedera helix ‘Chicago Variegata’ are creamy-edged. Those of another Hedera helix ‘Golden Chicago’ are marked with golden yellow patches.

Hedera helix ‘Cristata’ (Parsley Ivy) has 3-4cm (1.2-1.5 inch) long and 4cm (1.5 inch) wide medium green leaves that are so notably undulate as to seem curly-edged.

Hedera helix ‘Emerald Gem’ and Hedera helix ‘Emerald Jewel’ both have 2cm (0.7 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, sharply pointed, emerald green leaves.

Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ has 3cm (1.2 inch) long and 2cm (0.7 inch) wide leaves which are medium green with grey-green blotches, white marginal patches and pink edges. For dense growth this plant needs pinching out two or three times a year.

Hedera helix ‘Jubilee‘ has 2cm long and 1.5-2cm (0.5-0.7 inch) wide dark green leaves variegated with grey and white. This variety is notably dense.

Hedera helix ‘Little Diamond’ has roughly diamond shaped, 2cm (0.7 inch) long and 1.5cm (0.5 inch) wide, medium green leaves thinly bordered with white. It needs pinching out to become bushy.

Hedera helix ‘Lutzii’ has 3cm (1.2 inch) long and 2 cm (0.7 inch) wide, dark green leaves covered with pale green and yellow spots. Not self-branching it needs pinching out two or three times a year.

Hedera helix ‘Sagittifolia’ has  arrow-head-shaped, 4cm (1.5 inch) long and 3cm (1.2 inch) wide, dark green leaves. A variegated form, Hedera helix ‘Sagittifolia Variegata’ has light green and pale yellow markings. These plants make an excellent trailers, but growing points must be pinched out if bushy growth is desired.

Uses: Hedera helix is a popular ornamental, valued for its ability to thrive in shady places, provide excellent groundcover and cover unsightly walls, sheds and tree stumps. The evergreen, woody-stemmed plants are often seen trailing across yards and gardens, climbing walls, or encouraged as climbers along a supporting pole inside homes for a beautiful and decorative houseplant accent. Very easy to grow, ivy makes a very attractive hanging plant. Although the specimen above looks leggy, ivy can be very bushy if planted in mass.

Hedera helix is frequently used in cut flower arrangements, particularly in winter displays. The glossy, cream, ivory-like heartwood is sometimes used in flower arrangements.

Hedera helix is an ideal houseplant for people who have pets. Scientifically termed as Hedera Helix, this plant is known to filter indoor pollutants like fecal particles, formaldehyde aerosols and much more and keep the house toxin free.
It’s known for removing the chemical benzene, a known carcinogen found in cigarette smoke, detergents, pesticides, and the off-gasing of other synthetic materials, is said to be fantastic for asthma and allergies and also removes formaldehyde. Hedera helix is particularly effective against benzene found in oil-based paints, detergents and plastic material.


Foliage – green / variegated
Shape – climbing & trailing

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright
Temperature in active growth period – min 16oC max 24oC (60-75oF)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 5a-9b

Hedera helix 'Chicago'Hedera helix 'Chicago Variegata'Hedera helix 'Galcier'Hedera helix 'Cristata'Hedera helix 'Emerald Gem'Hedera helix 'Emerald Jewel'Hedera helix 'Jubilee'
Hedera helix 'Lutzii'Hedera helix 'Little Diamond'Hedera helix 'Sagittifolia'Hedera helix 'Sagittifolia Variegata'

Indoor Plants, Low Light Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dracaena fragrans

Common Name: Corn Plant, Chinese Money Tree, Cornstalk Dracaena, Happy Plant, Dracena Fragrans

Family: Asparagaceae

Synonym: Aletris fragrans
Cordyline fragrans
Dracaena deremensis
Pleomele fragrans

Dracaena fragrans

Dracaena fragrans

Distribution and habitat: Dracaena fragrans is a flowering plant species that is native throughout tropical Africa,  growing in upland regions at 600–2,250m (2,000–7,380 feet) altitude.

Description: Dracaena fragrans is a slow growing shrub, usually multistemmed at the base, mature specimens reaching 15m (49 feet) or more tall with a narrow crown of usually slender erect branches. Stems may reach up to 30cm (12 inch) diameter on old plants; in forest habitats they may become horizontal with erect side branches. Young plants have a single unbranched stem with a rosette of leaves until the growing tip flowers or is damaged, after which it branches, producing two or more new stems; thereafter, branching increases with subsequent flowering episodes.

The leaves are glossy green, lanceolate, 20–150cm (8–59 inch) long and 2–12cm (1–5 inch) wide; small leaves are erect to spreading, and larger leaves usually drooping under their weight. The flowers are produced in panicles 15–160cm (6–63 inch) long, the individual flowers are 2.5cm (1 inch) diameter, with a six-lobed corolla, pink at first, opening white with a fine red or purple central line on each of the 7–12mm (0.3–0.5 inch) lobes; they are highly fragrant, and popular with pollinating insects. The fruit is an orange-red berry 1–2cm (0.4–0.8 inch) diameter, containing several seeds.

Houseplant care: Dracaena fragrans grows well as a houseplant in nearly any location. It only requires minimal care to produce deep green foliage and lush growth.
Dracaena fragrans enjoys medium light but can tolerate low light conditions. New leaves will narrow if there isn’t enough light and direct sunlight will bleach the leaves.
In extreme cases, Dracaena fragrans is a great plant for low-light conditions.

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully, as often as necessary  to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow the pot to stand in water.
During the rest period water moderately, enough to keep the potting mixture barely moist, but allow the top centimetre or so to dry out between waterings.

Keeping Dracaena fragrans too dry will result in brown leaf tips.

Dracaena fragrans is not suitable for low humidity spaces. If the humidity drops below 40% for an extended time, the tips of the leaves can turn brown. Try misting the plant every day to provide humidity. Dracaena fragrans is also sensitive to fluoride and excessive salts, so try to use nonfluoridated water and flush monthly to remove fertilizer salts.

Temperature: Not suitable for cold conditions. Cold damage may appear on leaves if temperatures drop below 10oC (50oF).  They do best in 24 to 27oC (75-80oF).

Growth may cease completely below 21oC (70ºF), but will resume when warmer weather returns.

Soil: Dracaena fragrans can use loose, well-drained potting mix.

Fertilizer: During growing, fertilizer with slow-release fertilizer or use a liquid fertilizer at half-strength every month.
Iron deficiency can result in yellowing leaves between the veins—treat with an iron drench.

Potting and repotting: Dracaena fragrans grows well in any type of pot that contains drainage holes in the bottom. A standard potting soil for indoor tropical plants retains sufficient moisture without easily becoming soggy. The mixtures typically contain loam, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. A drip tray placed beneath the pot collects excess water and requires emptying after each watering. Pot size varies depending on the size of the plant. Dracaena fragrans requires repotting when the root ball fills the pot and the plant either begins to lift or send roots out of the drainage holes. Repotting into a pot one size larger every two to three years in late winter is usually necessary until maximum convinient pot size (probably 20-25cm (8-10 inch)) is reached.

Pruning: Dracaena fragrans rarely requires severe pruning. It produces canes, which you can cut back to the desired height if the plant becomes overgrown. Pruning is typically done in the spring but you can prune it any time the plant is actively growing. Leaves occasionally yellow and die. Remove these at any time to improve the plant’s appearance.

Propagation: Dracaena fragrans is propagated by cutting segments of old stems 10–20cm (4–8 inch) long. These are allowed to dry off, and then inserted into moist sand until they have rooted. They should root within a month. New growth, typically two or three shoots, comes from old leaf scars at the top of the stem.

Recommended varieties: There are two main varieties of Dracaena fragrans:

  • Dracaena fragrans (Dracaena deremensis) ‘Warneckii’ features stiff leaves that are striped in gray, green, or white. There are several popular cultivars of Warneckii, including ‘Lemon Lime’.
  • Dracaena fragrans (Dracaena deremensis)  ‘Janet Craig’ has solid green, flexible leaves. The ‘Janet Craig Compacta’ is smaller in appearance, but has much smaller (less than 8 in.) leaves.

Uses: Dracaena fragrans is used as specimen plant, container or above-ground planter, border or suitable for growing indoors.
Dracaena fragrans is suitable for low-maintenance container culture or specimen planting in the shaded landscape. Dracaena fragrans is widely grown as a hedge plant. Indoors, it works as single windowsill plants or as part of a mixed group, with their various leaf patterns complementing and overlapping one another.  The white striped and variegated cultivars can brighten a shaded yard or dark corner.

Dracaena fragrans is said to be a good overall air purifier, removing most air pollutants. Known for removing trichloroethylene, a chemical found in many solvents, dry cleaning solutions and refrigerants. Also said to remove benzene, a carcinogen.

Problems: Dracaena fragrans are susceptible to thrips and mealybugs.

Foliage – variegated
Shape – rosette

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 10C max 24C
Temperature in active growth period – min 18C max 30C
Humidity – high

Hardiness zones: 10b-11

Dracaena deremensis WarneckiiDracaena fragrans floweringDracaena deremensis Janet Craig







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