The Great House Plant Migration

It’s that time of year again. Night time temperatures have dropped into the 50s (farenheit) so it’s time for any house plants (and at my house, that’s a good number of them) to return indoors for the long winter’s nap, so to speak.

Whenever I lecture on house plants, I get the question about bringing “things” in with my plants. For those of you who have been following this blog for long time, you may remember the time that I brought a bird in inside a very dense hanging basket!

That’s the only “thing” that’s ever come in that was unwanted–and thank goodness, it cooperated by remaining in the basket while I took it back outside!

So, with that out of the way, what do I do to bring in the plants? Generally, I wash off the pots–and sometimes the plants, if I have had an issue with insects when the plants went outside–then I will set their saucers or trays in place and bring them in.

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What that means is that windows that once looked open and airy all summer now look like this. And I can no longer water with a hose. Ah well. Only 9 months until they can go back outside.

Is It or Isn’t It?

This post actually ties together 2 things I have been thinking about: patterns in foliage and misidentification of plants online.

Lately I have been seeing so many plants being misidentified online. It seems to be happening when folks use stock photos. There’s nothing wrong with stock photos–they are significantly better than mine!

In certain instances, it might indicate carelessness on the part of the writer, or lack of knowledge. So be careful: writers need to know their plants–please!

And we all get tired on occasion. I perpetually confuse hyacinth and hydrangea when I am speaking. I can be looking right at the shrub “hydrangea” and call it the bulb “hyacinth” or vice versa. It’s my own personal issue.

Online, one of real confusions I see is between pothos and philodendron–and plants that are neither. So here we go.

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This is philodendron ‘Brasil’. It is a true heart-leaf philodendron. You can actually see the heart shaped leaves in the photo.

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This is a pothos. I believe the cultivar is Marble Queen, but don’t quote me. Botanically it is epipremnum aureum ‘Marble Queen.’ You’ll notice that the leaves are also heart shaped but both they, and the stems are thicker.

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You may see this plant referred to as either neon pothos or neon philodendron. Technically, botanically, it is epipremnum aureum, which would make it a pothos.

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While we’re confusing things, here is a plant sold as a pothos, satin pothos. This isn’t a pothos and it’s not an epipremnum. Confused yet? It is scindapsus pictus hybrid.

So when I call for clarity in plant names–and using the correct photos–it’s only in an attempt help folks learn what they’re growing so that they can do it well.

Patterns in Foliage

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Indoors or out, I am a huge fan of “patterns” on my leaves. You may remember my maranta montage for Wordless Wednesday just 2 days ago. I showed 4 different versions of the same patterned leaf plant–except that all the patterns were different, of course.

Marantas and calatheas are plants that are having a bit of a moment right now despite the fact that they can be a little difficult. They prefer warmer temperatures, need more humidity than a lot of our house plants, and some of them have an annoying habit of losing almost all their leaves at times before refoliating. As if that isn’t enough, they’re prone to mites. But if you know all that, you can watch for their tendencies and stop problems before they start.

I am a firm believer that plants need to look interesting in most seasons. Marantas and calatheas manage to do that if you can keep them healthy. They’re worth the effort.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

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Remember this plant from Wednesday? It’s a “lobby” plant from a small commercial office building where I go to get my hair cut. Colloquially known as ZZ plant, this plant regularly makes lists of “world’s easiest house plants.”

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Really? Okay, here’s my version of the same plant. As I always say, here’s where you know that I am an organic gardener because the plant isn’t overly fertilized or watered. In other words, no excessive inputs.

I have had the plant probably 3 years. And while it is still living, I surely wouldn’t say it is one of my prettiest plants, one of my hardier ones or even one of the easier care. The thing falls over out of its pot several times a year–at best, an annoying trait. I can’t say it’s my favorite plant.

Maybe if my plant looked more like the “lobby” plant, I would like it a lot more.

Succulent Corner

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One of the first things that you might notice is that I have tagged this post “house plants.” That’s not because succulents aren’t hardy for me: it’s just that I have very poor clay soil. And nature has been over-performing in the moisture area in the last couple of years so succulents are not something that I try to grow in the ground very often.

In fact, about the only place that I can grow them is where the bedrock juts out of our yard. I have some success growing succulents on the rock face of that stone. This is what that looks like.

But for the most part, I keep my succulents indoors, although they do migrate out to the sun porch for a “summer” vacation.

After all, even plants should enjoy the little bit of summer that we get here in the frozen north.