The Anti-Poinsettias

20161213_123343

Every year about this time I post about these pretty red and green plants, calling them “anti-poinsettias.”

These are aglaonemas, otherwise known as Chinese Evergreens. You often see them sold in pretty green and white varieties. I almost brought one of those home the other day, but it was so cold that I wasn’t sure that I could safely transport it from the store to my car so I will wait until warmer temperatures–in other words, July, in my part of the world!

Poinsettias don’t do well in my house. Like many New Englanders, we keep our house too cold for the heat loving plant from Mexico. So I have learned to stop killing them, and I grow these, which will tolerate my chilly low 60s.

20181206_193958

Here’s another variety, a pinker version, that’s about to bloom as well.

And the best part about these plants? Once the holidays are over, they’re still lovely to look at!

Juxtaposition

20181118_072405

Last Wednesday you may remember this zygo cactus from my “Happy Thanksgiving” Wordless Wednesday. It was hovering over a plush turkey that I am ridiculously fond of, for some reason.

The reason I am calling this post “juxtaposition” is because the cultivar name on the zygo cactus is ‘Christmas Fantasy.’ And yet, this year, it’s the earliest of my collection to bloom. Maybe that’s the fantasy.

20181118_072420

Then there’s this: an orchid whose name is bigger than it is. It goes by the ridiculous moniker of Elizabeth Ann Bucklebery FCC/AOS.

20181118_133600

It looks as if it should have bloomed at Halloween, with its somewhat creepy flowers.

I guess if I insist on forcing bulbs, I shouldn’t object when plants do their own thing on their own schedules!

Wait, What? This Plant is Trendy Too?

Because I write this blog (and columns here and there for other publications) I get a lot of things sent to me. Most come via email but occasionally I will actually get an old-fashioned press release in the snail mail.

Just recently I got an email newsletter about how we all ought to be ramping up our house plant design for the holidays (oh my. Even I am not quite ready to think about house plants for the holidays, but then again, I don’t get paid the big bucks for this).

20181031_184115

Interestingly enough, the newsletter had things like rex begonias, variegated and green dracenas paired, side by side, the ubiquitous ZZ plant and this plant–the Ponytail Palm (beaucarnea recurvata).

First thing to know–of course this is not a palm. It is native to Mexico, so for those of us growing in colder climates, we are doomed to grow the poor things in pots.

I have read that proper culture says that we are not to snip off the ends of the leaves as they grow. That may be fine for these plants “in the wild” but in our “over-heated” (or under humidified) homes, the ends of the leaves get quite messy and brown. I snip away with abandon once a year on mine–I can’t stand the look of a half dead leaf. The rest eventually dies off and is then removed anyway.

20181031_184150

The other important thing to know is that these plants prefer to be grown on the dry side. The swollen caudex (or caudices–in this instance, I have about 5 in this pot!) actually stores water so it is possible to over-water them and kill them.

Finally, I have not found that mine are particularly fussy about light–they grow in fairly dark conditions quite nicely. The photos I have seen of them “in the wild” show them in bright light and flowering. Mine haven’t done that, but I expect it’s a light issue (or maybe a light and warmth issue.

You can see that the one above is on a coffee table in the middle of a room. Granted, it’s an extremely bright room–the room has two bay windows that face south and east–but it’s still no where near a window!

As for the trendy part, I suspect it’s the sculptural aspect of these plants that makes them trendy. While I can’t see them being used in the way that the snake plants are–as room dividers, in a row–these are definitely funky accent plants (provided the tips of the leaves aren’t brown, of course.)

And since they’re very easy care, this is definitely a “trend” that could be appealing, especially at the holidays!