Herself's Houseplants

Over 110 houseplants specific care, tips, and help

Archive for the ‘Succulent’ Category

Cactus as an office plant?

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It never occurred to me to grow a cactus in an office setting. I would think they would need more light. But if you have a bright office you might consider giving it a try.

. . . It’s easy to become a corporate cactus cultivator if you know a bit more about these unique plants. They are all succulents, which are species that contain specialized cells that hold water for a long time. Ordinary plants can’t store water this way and are thus more dependent on consistent groundwater to keep them hydrated. They need extensive root systems to hunt and absorb the water.

Cacti produce rather small, shallow root systems just inches beneath the ground. There they suck up rainwater the moment it falls to earth. This ability to take up moisture faster than ordinary plants is their key to survival in excessively dry climates. It also means that you don’t need a big pot for cactus plant roots.

Succulents are vulnerable to one thing — rot. Once waterborne bacteria or fungus enters these interior tissues, the rot spreads uncontrollably. In the wild, cacti prefer porous gravelly or sandy soils that water passes through quickly. Very little is left in contact with the succulent roots. Success with cacti depends on soil porosity in your pot. Fast or express drainage practically ensures you’ll never overwater this plant. That is, of course, if you don’t let water sit in the saucer for more than five minutes. . .

[ read more Cactus plants can thrive in office setting]

Of course there is the other side who consider cactus to be bad Feng Shui in the office

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

March 20th, 2008 at 5:00 am

Toxic house plants

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An awful lot of people come here and look for information on poison plants. I can’t tell if they are looking to do in a significant other or if they have become paranoid about the plants talking and are concerned the plants will try to do them in? ( Have you been taking good care of your houseplants? )

I’ve only had one problem with pets and houseplants. I had a lab who ate every house plant I brought home. Then he ate a 1 foot tall very spiny cactus. It was the last houseplant he ate. He was fine in a day or two. ( Only a lab wouldn’t stop after the first bite of spines and cactus. )

GLP Poisonous Plants has a huge list of links to several houseplant databases about toxic houseplants.

The reason I haven’t covered toxic plants in detail is because there is a great deal of conflicting information on the net about which plants are toxic. So I hesitate to give out information that may be inaccurate. When in doubt the Extension Office or .edu website is far more likely to have correct information than a .com/.org/.net website.

And, of course, don’t eat your houseplants.

Recommended sources for information on toxic plants:
Toxic Houseplants, ( Army ) has an extensive list with tons of detailed information.
Utah Poison Control Center Poisonous Plant Guide has an extensive list with photos.

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

January 11th, 2008 at 5:00 am

Christmas and Easter Cactus plants

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Thanks for the lovely photo!

The biggest difference between a Christmas cactus and an Easter cactus is when they bloom. Each blooms near its respective holiday. Christmas cactus have scalloped stem segments. Thanksgiving ones have between two and four pointy teeth along the edges of leaves and Easter cactus have rounded teeth. They are members of the Zygocactus  truncatus family which is native to Central and South America. You might also see them referred to as ‘Jungle cactus’.

These are extremely easy houseplants to grow. While they love light, they will grow in your east and west windows as well as your southern exposures. Keep them from cold, drafty windows and doors, these are tropical jungle plants and they do not like the cold. The more light they receive the more flowers will bloom.

Water a bit more than a traditional cactus. For they are not traditional cactus but epiphytes who grow on decaying trees. They are accustomed to tropical jungles. You can treat them like an orchid and they will do fine. Or plant them in a humus soil and water when the top gets dry.

Like all tropicals they love humidity and make great plants for kitchens and bathrooms. If you are having trouble with yours try increasing the humidity.

They make excellent gifts. As the branches get long and you wish to trim them back, save the cuttings. Each leaf planted upright about 1/3 below the soil, 2/3 above will root and give you a new plant. Just be careful not to trim near blooming time.

Every one I’ve owned has bloomed yearly at its proper time with no effort on my part. If you are having trouble getting yours to bloom then place them in a dark place ~ 50′. Place them in a brown paper bag to block out sun for 14 hours each day. Water sparingly. Do this for six weeks. Stop two weeks before you wish your plant to bloom.

Bud drop often happens because of low humidity or exposure to cold temperatures or very warm temperatures.

If the stems show yellow or brown on them near the soil stop watering so much, that is rot setting in.

More information:
The case for Christmas Cactus

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

January 9th, 2008 at 5:00 am