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House Plants Beginner

Crown of Thorns

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You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Crown of Thorns is the perfect combination of beauty and strength. With a combination of delicate pink, yellow, or red flowers and long sharp spines, this succulent is beautiful to behold, but painful to be held! It’s even believed in some places that the luck of the plant owner is reflected in the amount of flowers the succulent produces.

Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii, is easy to care for and can handle moderate levels of neglect, so it’s perfect for beginners. Crown of Thorns can be expected to grow up to 3 feet tall, but more commonly can be found between 4 and 6 inches in height. Like other Euphorbia plants, Crown of Thorns grows tear shaped leaves from its ridges. Specifically for Crown of Thorns these leaves are bright green in color. It’s neither pet safe nor air cleaning, but it’s easy to stow on a high shelf away from little fingers or paws (which you’ll definitely want to do because this plant is considered poisonous to both pets and people).

An ideal placement for Crown of Thorns is a location that will get bright indirect sunlight and has a temperature range of between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Crown of Thorns isn’t picky and will make itself at home in a wide range of conditions. Water Crown of Thorns in Spring through Fall when the top inch is dry. In Winter, water less often, waiting for the top 3 inches to be dry. Use a cacti and succulent soil and make sure that your pot is well draining. Use the “drench and drain” method of water – flood the soil and let it completely drain out of the bottom of the pot. If your pot does not have good drainage, use a moisture meter to determine the moisture levels both before and while watering. Because Crown of Thorns is a succulent, it’s very susceptible to root rot. If you have to err, err on the side of under watering. If you do over water your Crown of Thorns, gently tip the pot to the side so that the excess water can run out. Be careful not to dislodge the soil. Crown of Thorns will also benefit from having its leaves misted. 


Happy Plant Parenting!

Hoya Hindu Rope

By | Blog Post, House Plants Beginner, Medium Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Hoya Hindu Rope is an epiphytic semi-succulent with very curiously shaped leaves and incredible clusters of pink and white star-shaped flowers. Native to East Asia and Australia, the Hoya Hindu Rope (or Hoya Carnosa Compacta) is both drought-tolerant and humidity-friendly. The succulent aspect of the plant enjoys dry soil and stores its water in its leaves like other succulents. Keep its roots dry to avoid root rot! The epiphytic (air plant) aspect of the plant likes to absorb some of its moisture through its leaves, so it appreciates some humidity (think a humidifier, tray of pebbles and water, or misting).

Another of its many unique and fun traits is its growth habit. Hoya Hindu Rope is a vining plant, but it will also trail. It does well in a hanging pot, or climbing up a pole, and can even be trained around strong shaped wire. This plant loves bright, indirect sunshine but will tolerate low light as well. This means that Hoya Hindu Rope will not die from lower light conditions, but you will likely not see its incredible flowers unless it’s in bright indirect light. It also does well with artificial light if you do not have a sunny spot for it.

Plant Hoya Hindu Rope in a smallish pot as it prefers to be slightly root bound, and is even known to be more likely to bloom if its roots are nice and snug. Use a lightweight and very well-draining soil. Remember, these plants would simply grab onto a tree or another plant with their roots in the wild. Water Hindu Hoya Rope when the soil is completely dry to the touch. You can also use the “squish test” with this semi-succulent to see if the plant needs water. (Succulents store their water in their leaves rather than drinking it only from the soil as they need it, so if the leaves are soft and give when you gently squish them, they are no longer full of water and could probably use some.) When watering Hoya Hindu Rope, drench the plant with running water for a few minutes and then make sure it’s not sitting in any standing water before you put it back in its home. If your pot doesn’t have any drainage, take extra care to not over-water, and use a Moisture Meter to see if the soil at the bottom of the pot is dry.

Hoya Hindu Rope is said to be air cleaning, and is pet safe, so options for placement are great for this plant. Because it likes a bit of humidity, it would do well in a bathroom or with a humidifier or tray of pebbles and water nearby. Overall the plant is really quite easy to care for, so we consider Hoya Hindu Rope to be great for beginners.

Happy Plant Parenting!

Money Tree

By | Blog Post, House Plants Beginner, Medium Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Money Tree is a great plant for giving as a gift. It doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance and can be placed in medium to bright indirect light. Best of all, it’s said to be lucky!

Money Tree, or Pachira aquatica, typically comes from northern South America. According to lore, luck becomes “trapped” in the braided trunk. Although Money Tree does not naturally grow in its braided form, growers will actually train the young, pliable “trunks” of Money Tree into a braided shape. Money Tree is also said to be good for Feng Shui as the five sections of its palmate leaves represent the five elements (earth, fire, air, wind, and metal). As if that weren’t enough interesting information, this little indoor tree is related to cotton and hibiscus as a member of the Malvaceae! This particular member of the Malvaceae family can be expected to grow up to 6 feet tall indoors, but will not bloom.

To care for Money Tree, start by planting it in a well-draining pot with soil that is also well-draining, and preferably somewhat sandy. Place Money Tree in a spot that will get medium to bright indirect light, and is typically between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch out for drafts, vents, and cold windows as Money Tree very much prefers a consistent environment. If Money Tree is relocated or if something in its environment changes, you’ll likely see it drop some leaves. Money Tree is pet safe and air cleaning, so combined with the ability to survive with only medium indirect sunlight, this plant has greater flexibility than many other houseplants when it comes to where it can be placed. It does, however, prefer humidity, so it might end up needing a humidifier or to be placed in a bathroom with at least medium sunlight (though Money Tree can also tolerate artificial light, so you can add light as needed.)

Money Tree is also great for a gift or for beginner Plant Parents because it has much lower watering requirements than most houseplants. While the majority of houseplants need to be watered when the top one to two inches are dry, you can wait until the top 4 inches of Money Tree are dry to water it. To water Money Tree, go with the standard “Drench and Drain” method of allowing water to pour over the soil for a few minutes, then allowing all of that water to completely drain out of the bottom of the pot before placing it back in its home. If your pot does not have drainage at the bottom, we highly recommend a Moisture Meter. This tool can help you to determine the level of moisture at the bottom of the pot before you water, and it can also help you gauge how much water to give your plant since it won’t be able to run out the bottom. Never let a plant sit in soggy soil!

Happy Plant Parenting!

Orange Prince

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner, Low Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Orange Prince is a relatively new plant on the houseplant scene. Discovered in the early 2000s, this philodendron has made a name for itself with its incredible coloring. It’s signature leaves start out yellow, warm up to a bright orange, and then before turning green develop a dark tint turning the leaves a copper color. These leaves grow from the center of the plant, unlike most philodendrons whose leaves grow along a trailing vine. Typically, Orange Prince Philodendron (whose name has many variations) can grow to be up to 3 feet tall and wide.

Orange Prince is very easy to care for, and has minimal requirements when it comes to its environment. It can handle everything from bright indirect light to shade, and will tolerate artificial light, as well. Watch your plant for fading colors, as this is a sign that it is getting too much sun (some plants fade in the sun much like some hair colors will lighten in the sun). Take caution when placing Orange Prince when it comes to pets as it is not a pet safe plant.

Water Orange Prince when the top two inches of soil are dry, and take care not to overwater, or to let the plant sit in water. Use the “Drench and Drain” method of watering. This means you will let the water pour over the soil and run out the bottom for a few minutes before turning the water off and allowing excess water to flow out of the bottom of the pot. Don’t allow the plant to sit in water in a tray or saucer as this can cause root rot. If your pot does not have drainage in the bottom, use a Moisture Meter to detect the level of moisture in the bottom of the pot both before and during watering to avoid adding too much water. If you do add too much water, gently tip the pot to the side and allow excess water to run out, but take care not to allow the soil to run out of the pot.

A Cactus and Succulent soil is a great option for Orange Prince as it will allow the roots plenty of room to breathe, and allow excess water to run out of the soil quickly. As mentioned above, a pot that is well draining is important, but no other precautions need to be taken when choosing a pot. Rotate Orange Prince regularly to encourage regular and even growth, and take a damp cloth to the leaves every now and then to keep them glossy and free of dust. Keep Orange Prince within a temperature range of 65-80. Overall this plant is very tough and only really at risk of being overwatered. We think it’s a great plant for beginner Plant Parents.

Happy Plant Parenting!

Red Tree Peperomia

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner, Medium Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Like most Peperomia, Red Tree Peperomia is one of the easier houseplants to care for. Tolerant of different levels of light and forgiving where watering is concerned, Red Tree Peperomia is great for the Plant Parent who has mastered philodendrons and is ready to level up to something a little more exotic looking, but still manageable.

Red Tree Peperomia, or Peperomia Metallica, is another showy member of the Piperaceae family. Its dark green and deep maroon foliage has a metallic sheen to it that is sure to catch the eye. This peperomia is rather compact, growing in a bush habit to around 8 inches in height. Red Tree Peperomia will not flower, but it is pet safe and is said to be air cleaning. Note, we assume it is pet safe because other peperomia are, but as this particular peperomia is still new, we’re not completely sure about some things. For that reason it’s best to avoid taking chances.

Red Tree Peperomia likes bright indirect light, but it will tolerate medium light as well. Red Tree Peperomia is slow growing, so don’t worry if you don’t see a lot of growth. Plant Red Tree Peperomia in a soil that will drain well and let the roots breathe – Orchid or African Violet soil are great options. This plant likes humidity, and for temperatures to be around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Any well-draining pot will do, just try to choose one with good drainage holes. Let the soil dry out about halfway before watering. You can also watch Red Tree Peperomia’s foliage for signs that it’s time to water – the leaves will begin to droop when it needs a drink. Use the “Drench and Drain” method to water. Allow the water to flow over the soil until the water runs out the bottom of the pot. Leave it running for a few minutes and then allow the excess water to drain. Never let a plant sit in soggy soil or in standing water. If your pot does not have drainage holes in the bottom, use a Moisture Meter to keep track of the moisture level before and during watering to avoid overwatering. If you do add too much water, tip the pot carefully to the side and allow excess water to gently drain out of the pot, but be careful to avoid spilling the soil.

Happy Plant Parenting

Sansevieria Samurai

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner, Medium Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Sansevieria Samurai is an easy to grow succulent that asks little and takes up little space. What makes this plant special is the way its spiked leaves grow in a spiraling fan-shaped manner. While most Sansevieria (think of plants you might know as “Mother in Law’s Tongue” or “Snake Plant”) grow with their thin, sword shaped leaves pointing up to the sky, this particular Sansevieria has thicker and shorter leaves that grow out toward the edges of the pot, and stack on top of each other. From the top they look like a spiral, and from the top they look like a fan.

Sansevieria Samurai is a member of the Asparagaceae family. It typically will grow to be around six inches tall. This plant is not pet safe, so keep it out of reach of pets and other little ones who might like to chew on things. Sansevierias are known to be plants that clean the air around them, so it’s a great plant to keep around for fresher air indoors. Plant Sansevieria Samurai in Cactus and Succulent soil, and put it in a spot where it will get bright indirect light.

They like to be kept in temperature between 60 and 80 degrees, and while they like humidity, they don’t require it. Keep Sansevieria Samurai in a place free from drafts and vents. Wait until the soil has dried out to water Sansevieria Samurai. Any pot will do, but make sure it’s well draining. Succulents are known for being especially susceptible to root rot if they are left in soggy soil, or if their pots are left in trays or saucers with standing water. Watch for leaves that become brown and soggy as this could indicate that root rot has taken hold. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, use a Moisture Meter to test the moisture levels at the bottom of the pot both before and during watering in order to avoid overwatering. If you do happen to add too much water, carefully tip the pot sideways and allow the excess water to drain away. Just take care with the soil and the plant as they can both easily become dislodged. Succulents have small root systems and are unable to hold onto the soil and stay in the pot as well as plants with bigger roots systems.

Overall, Sansevieria Samurai’s requirements are perfect for beginners but still have the look of a plant kept by a seasoned Plant Parent.

Happy Plant Parenting!

String of Dolphins

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner, Medium Sunlight | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

String of Dolphins might be the cutest succulent in existence. This plant, whose scientific name is Senecio peregrinus, has leaves that are shaped like little dolphins leaping out of the water. These little dolphins grow on trailing vines like other “String of” plants such as hearts, bananas, turtles, pearls, etc. String of Dolphins is actually bred from the cross-pollination of Senecio Rowleyanus (String of Pearls) and Senecio Articulatus (hot dog cactus)These vines can grow to be around three feet long, and look wonderful spilling out of a hanging basket or trickling down over bookshelves or the edge of a stair rail. Part of the Asteraceae family, the flowers that grow from String of Dolphin plants (when the plants are very happy and in just the right conditions) are daisy-ish and are said to smell like cinnamon.

While most succulents rarely need water and like as much light as possible, String of Dolphins does better in medium indirect light, and needs water a bit more often than its cousins. String of Dolphins can, in fact, develop a sunburn in too much sun. The good news is that they are tolerant of artificial light as well as medium indirect sunlight, which allows them to be placed in a better variety of places within the home or office than some houseplants. Just keep in mind that String of Dolphins is not pet safe, so you’ll want to keep this plant away from pets and small children (and anyone who likes to chew on things).

When watering String of Dolphins, use the “Drench and Drain” method. Give them a nice long drink by allowing the water to run over the soil (use Cactus and Succulent soil for String of Dolphins) for a few minutes, and then allow excess water to run out the bottom of the pot. You’ll want to let the soil dry out completely, but you can use the “squish test” to determine just how thirsty your Dolphins are. Since succulents hold their moisture in their leaves, they will be nice and firm when they’re full of water, and get a little squishy when they need a refill. However, if they become brown and squishy, that could be indicative of root rot setting in.

 Follow these instructions and keep String of Dolphins in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, and even our beginner Plant Parents should have few if any issues with String of Dolphins.

Happy Plant Parenting!

African Violet

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You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Not many houseplants promise flowers indoors, but African Violet does just that! Along with its fuzzy, rounded leaves, African Violet flowers and small size make it ideal for adding color and texture to your space. While African Violet (Saintpaulia) is not actually a violet but instead a member of the Gesneriaceae family, its flowers can be found in shades of blue, purple, and pink, and occasionally red and white, hence its comparison to the violet. Most often the foliage is a rich green, but sometimes you can find a rare variegated African Violet with white leaves. To keep African Violet look its best can require some extra effort, but in general they are not difficult plants – we rate them at an intermediate level.

African Violet has some very specific wants. When watering African Violet, you’ll want to use distilled water for water that has been left out for 48 hours. This helps to avoid watering African Violet with cold and chlorinated water, neither of which African Violet likes. Water African Violet under the leaves and avoid splashing water onto the leaves. While most plants prefer to be watered after the top inch or two of soil has dried, African Violet wants to stay watered. But, never soggy. (See what we mean, it’s got a very specific list of demands!) Keep the soil at the top of the plant moist, but never let the bottom of the plant sit in water. Pots that drain well but will retain moisture are great for African Violets. African Violet likes a cozy pot and will bloom best when root bound, so take your time when it comes to repotting. Pinching off spent blooms will help the plant to bloom more, as well. It’s also important to use the right soil – go with a mix specific to African Violets to get the most out of your plant.

African Violet wants medium to bright indirect light. As with most houseplants, too much light can cause leaf burn spots, so keep an eye out. Don’t have a lot of natural light? African Violet will tolerate fluorescent light as a substitute for natural sunlight. Because African Violet doesn’t grow to be very large, it’s a great plant for window sills and desks. Generally they will only grow to be between 8 and 16 inches across. They’re also pet-safe so placement doesn’t have to depend on keeping them out of reach. These air purifiers like a somewhat humid environment, so consider placing a humidifier nearby. You can also place the pot on or near a tray of pebbles filled with water to add some humidity to your African Violet’s home. The evaporation will create a slight humidity that can be beneficial in a dry climate. Keep African Violet at a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees, but take care to avoid vents and drafts. Winter heat will dry African Violet out faster, and summer air conditioning can cause the plant to become too cold.

Happy Plant Parenting!

Birkin

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

Birkin is a newcomer to the houseplant scene! With its light in color and fine stripes running along its bright green leaves, Birkin is the Pinstripe Suit of the plant world. As Birkin is a new discovery, not many definite characteristics are known about it.

Here’s what we do know:

  • We know that this philodendron member of the araceae family is more slow growing than some of its family members.

  • It grows in a vertical direction, with leaves extending out, but not far from the plant.

  • It is not pet safe, but is thought to be air cleaning.

  • Birkin’s signature stripes grow to be more prevalent as the leaves mature.

  • It may produce flowering spathes, but few have been recorded.

  • Birkin prefers medium to bright indirect sunlight. It likes humidity but will tolerate a dry climate, and prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Like Philodendron Hope, this is a non-vining philodendron.

  • Use a soil and a pot that are well draining. Because Birkin is slow-growing, it will be a while before you have to re-pot.

  • As with other houseplants, Birkin will benefit from having its leaves dusted now and then.

  • Birkin is a great plant for beginners who want something unique to add to their growing collection!

Birkin is related to the Red Congo Philodendron. As a result of this relation, you may see your BIrkin begin to develop red spots or leaves, and it could eventually morph back into its Red Congo coloring. This isn’t due to poor care, but instead just a natural possibility for this very interesting plant. Typically this change occurs near the topmost part of the plant, and it may be possible to stop the change by clipping away the part that is beginning to change.

Happy Plant Parenting!

String of Hearts

By | Blog Post, House Plants, House Plants Beginner | No Comments

You might have seen the Mile Marker boards that parents create for their children – they highlight things like the height, weight, likes, and dislikes of their child at various stages of life. We at Nick’s Garden Center think Plant Parents should have something like this for their Plant Babies as well! Our Plant Parent Chalkboard Photos and blogs will provide you with an overview of what each plant needs in order to “grow up” happy and healthy!

“String of” plants are some of the most fun and easy plants to grow – as long as you give them plenty of neglect! These plants are considered to be “semi succulents,” as they store some of their water in their “leaves,” but they also have a rhizomatous root system that also stores water. For this reason, these “String of” plants need very little water. As with most succulents, you want to let the soil dry out between watering, and you can also use the “leaves” as a guide. If they are firm, that means they are full of water and not in need of any extra. If they have become a little squishy, and the soil is dry, they are ready for a drink. Just water the plant until water begins to seep out the bottom of the pot. If your pot does not have a drainage hole, take extra care when watering, and err on the side of too little water. Succulents and Semi Succulents are very susceptible to root rot, which is caused by over watering.

The scientific name of String of Hearts is Ceropegia woodii, and it belongs to the Apocynaceae family. Its claim to fame is its thick heart shaped leaves. They are medium green in color, with light sage green veins running artfully through the surface. A rare flowering houseplant, String of Hearts’ flowers are tiny, pink, and shaped like trumpets, and have curios looking dark purple (and fuzzy!) fingers reaching out from the center. String of Hearts will flower around Spring and Summer under the right conditions. String of Hearts grows in a trailing habit and can grow to be up to 12 feet long in its natural habitat in South Africa, but as a houseplant it can be expected to grow to at least 2 feet in length. Pet safe and somewhat air cleaning, String of Hearts is a friend to all. Give it a place in indirect but bright sun that is warm (between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit), and keep it away from drafts and vents. If you notice that the “hearts” are spacing themselves out further and further, and are growing lighter in color, it’s a good indication that they may need more light.

Use a hanging pot, or place a non-hanging pot on a high shelf or stair. It’s not necessary to repot String of Hearts upon purchase, but when the time does come, use a cactus and succulent soil mix. As mentioned about, plant String of Hearts in a pot that has good drainage. If you’ve read many of our other Plant Parent blogs, you know all about Moisture Meters. But if you haven’t, a Moisture Meter is key for pots that do not have good drainage. Remember that you can gauge the water needs of succulents by testing the leaves to see if they are strong or if they give when gently pinched between the fingers, but a moisture meter can help you make sure there’s not excess water in the bottom of the pot.

String of Hearts, also known as Chain of Hearts, Rosary Vine, or Sweetheart Vine is closely related to the Hoya plant, and is very easy to care for. We’re rating it as a great option for beginners. It’s also great for travelers who can’t always water their plants often.

Happy Plant Parenting!