Herself's Houseplants

Killing plants so you don't have to

Archive for the ‘Succulent’ Category

Top watering or bottom watering?

without comments

I received an interesting question by email this week, someone wrote to ask if there was a list of plants preferring to be bottom watered as opposed to top watered.

Most people know that African Violets prefer bottom watering and that’s about it.  While I don’t know of a list of plants preferring bottom to top watering I can give you some rules of thumb:

Bottom water preferring plants:

– Plants that are tropical and prefer moist soil, including African voilets but any plant that prefers moist soil and warm temperatures.

– Plants that don’t like wet leaves, this is usually your warm weather tropicals and plants with fuzzy leaves, like Purple Passion/Purple Velvet plant.

– Bog plants including Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and other bog plants grown inside.

Top water preferring plants:

– Any plant planted in sand like cactus, the sand doesn’t wick up enough water from the bottom to water the plant.

– Any plant in bark, same as above, to bottom water a plant you need  a soil that will wick the water up.  So orchids in bark need water from the top.

Written by Linda MacPhee-Cobb

January 25th, 2009 at 9:49 am

Cactus as an office plant?

without comments

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

without comments

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