It is early November as I am writing this and the Peace Lilies (Spathiphylum) white blooms are here. Some are small (6 inches) but the larger are about 18 inches to two feet. They do well in a wide North window for me with their long leathery leaves. These plants are in the list of plants that removes pollutants from the air. The fluorine in the tap water will sometimes burn the edges. I use the distilled water from the humidifier to water them part of the time and lessen the fluorine. I now have one with a variegated leaf.  It likes lots of compost in the soil as does the solid green ones.  The white blooms last for several weeks, somewhat resembling Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Summers it is on the East side of the house with a Linden Tree trimmed very high to mellow the amount of light.

          Nettle Spurge (Jatropha podaguca) with its fat leaves has an orange bloom held high above the leaves.  It has a habit of storing water (sorta lumpy) at its base and so is called “Buddha’s Belly”.  I have had it surprise me from new seeds that have fallen and then don’t sprout for months. It gets root rot easily if watered too much during winter.  One author recommends cactus food but nearly all my plants get the granular fertilizer Osmocote that dissolves slowly over several weeks time (90 days). The seed pod is oily and there is some attempt to grow it as an oil producer in Central America. The fat leaves (8 inches wide) have either 3 or 5 rather deep cuts. It spends the winter in a large South window. Caution-it is listed as poisonous if eaten!

          Another plant in the big South window is Allamanda cathartica, the Golden Trumpet, also know as Dogbane. It is listed as a vine but I read that the growers treat it with growth retardant so mine looks like a 3 foot  by 3 foot shrub. When the retardant wears off I wonder what I will have. It is a tropical so needs to be kept above 65 degrees F. It has been blooming all summer and fall with 5 petals that span 5 inches and I see new buds appearing.  Both references say to cut plants back by as much as two-thirds in late winter.

          In order to be a “Cactus” a plant must have “areoles” that are defined areas from which spines (desert cactus) or tufts (jungle cactus) arise. The two groups couldn’t be much different with the “deserts” liking full sun and tolerating hardly any moisture, while the “jungles” like light to partial shade. As different as the two groups are, to be Cactus you must have areoles. The species most of us are aware of is the Schlumbergera or the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus. I have a Jungle Cactus showing buds now at the ends of their flat little stem segments.  The areoles are located along the edges of the segments in notches.  Florists have learned how to get them to bloom by having night temperatures down to 40 to 50 degrees F. and cutting down on day length by keeping them in complete darkness. I leave mine outside until danger of freezing before bringing them in, but not into a room where lights are on at night.  After blooming, cut down on watering to give them a rest period. Most of my plants I turn whenever I water but not the “jungles”.  If I did this after the buds start to form, they have a tendency to drop their buds. To start new plants, separate a part of 2 or 3 sections and insert in damp potting soil.  It usually takes about 4 weeks to root. Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus need good potting soil and not Cactus mix. They like to be pot bound and do not like to be repotted.

          A plant that blooms year round is the tropical Anthurium. It usually has red, white, salmon, or pink, flat blooms with a white spadex coming from the base. This has caused it to be called a “pig tail plant” in some places. You might find it called “Flamingo Flower” or “Volcano Plant. I have even seen it named “oilcloth” flower from that shiny flat area. It will grow in a hollow of lava rock sitting in a pan of water.  The red one I have now was very small several years ago with a single bloom. It is now approaching 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide with a number of blooms.  At no time has it been without that bright red bloom.  A single bloom can last up to 8 weeks, and then it is easy to pull the brown stem from its base. Bit plants can be separated into smaller ones and placed in loose potting soil in a high humidity area. The name “Volcano Plant” will give you an idea it likes humidity. This native of Hawaii enjoys the immense rainfall there every year.

Copyright 2011





Always read the label

and Always follow label directions.”


          This quote can not be attributed to any one person as I hear it quite often from many experts. Protect your plants, the environment, and yourself.


          Always read the label on any product before using in the garden, on the lawn, on trees and shrubs, on your houseplants, etc.


          Always follow the label directions. If the label says mix 2 ounces in a gallon of water, do not put in 4 ounces. If the label says apply 5 pounds per 1000 square feet, do not put on 10 pounds per 1000 square feet.


          Read the label to make sure you have the right product, and that you can use it on the   desired plant. Read the instructions as the manufacturer has done research to determine the right amount for the plants listed on the bottle.


Always read the label and Always follow label directions.”