Die hard houseplants for the brown thumb (part 2 of 3)

Much research has been done on the benefits of keeping houseplants. Studies show plants make you happy and improve your mood, give you a sense of well-being, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, enhance cognitive function and boost creativity. Plants enhance our quality of life.

Dracaena deremensis.

Dracaena marginata.

Dracaena fragrans.

Dracaena sanderiana ‘Celles’.

Dracaena

Dracaenas are hard not to love. They come in a variety of species and heights. Varieties such as dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ can grow up to six feet tall. Their strappy leaves are made even more beautiful by coloured variegation, usually in reds and yellows, offering a tropical feel in terms of decor. Dracaena deremensis ‘Lemon Lime’ is a show stopper with its electric yellow and green striped leaves.

There are six common varieties of dracaena most often found at greenhouses: marginata (tall, thin plants), sanderiana (lucky bamboo plant), fragrans (corn plant), deremensis (green plant, e.g. Janet Craig), draco and cinnibari.

Like our other die hard houseplant options these plants can tolerate low light levels and the odd missed watering. They do require a mix of sun and shade, so do not place them in direct sunlight.

Lower leaves will yellow as the plant grows, remove these, the trunk will scar over. Of course another sign of yellow leaves could be over watering.

Plants can be pruned at any height and two clusters of leaves will sprout from near the top where the cane was cut. Canes can be propagated by placing them in moist soil.

Most people are unaware that dracaenas can bloom, but they can, up to three times per year. Their flowers emit a heady scent. These plants do not like being repotted, once every three years is probably fine. Repotting and relocating the plant may stress it out and prevent blooming.

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Saintpaulia ionantha ‘Ballerina Fully’.

Saintpaulia ionantha ‘Bells’.

Saintpaulia ionantha ‘Wendy’.

African violet
Saintpaulia ionanthaOnce a very popular plant, African violets were found on almost every kitchen window sill. They are making a comeback and rightfully should. Given the right window (they prefer east or west facing windows), and watered properly (from underneath, they don’t like to get their leaves wet), they will thrive and flower for almost anyone.

Saintpaulia ionan are one of the hardier varieties for brown thumbs wanting to try their hand at a flowering plant. If you are having trouble getting them to bloom, they may need more light. However, if the leaves look bleached out they are getting too much direct light.African violets prefer to be kept slightly moist but will forgive a dry pot from time to time, over watering though can prove deadly. When watering, water below the leaves to prevent leaf spot.

This plant’s leaves are slightly hairy, which helps it to retain moisture but it does not like cold temperatures and the leaves will wrinkle in protest.

There are a variety of colourful and lacy looking varieties to choose from that will suit your mood or decor.

For Part 1 (Pothos & Snake Plant), click here.

For Part 3 (Radiator plants and Spider Plants), click here.

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