Flower Gardening

Seven Easy Tropical Houseplants

By Darren Sherriff


Even the Worst Brown Thumb Can’t Kill This One!

 Cast Iron PlantAspidistra Elatior is a native of Japan / Taiwan and gets its name from an association with the characteristics of cast iron metal. Both have the ability to withstand an enormous amount of neglect. With regard to the plant, a bright-lit room is good, but not a necessity. In fact, it can live with very low levels of light and should be kept away from direct sun as such contact will burn the leaves. The most common problems are over-watering and re-potting too often. The Cast Iron Plant is yet another of the air-purifying plants. Note to Brown Thumbs: The Cast Iron Plant is well known for its ability to tolerate lack of light, dry air and lack of watering.

                    Cast Iron – photo by Darren Sheriff

 

Are You Feeling Lucky?

Lucky BambooDracaena sanderiana became popular several years ago because it is an easy to care for houseplant that can be grown in water. Incidentally, that is not the best way to grow it! Even though it is a native of West Africa, the name lucky seems to have been given by the Chinese that practice Feng Shui and believe that this plant brings good fortune into a home or workplace. It is also not a true bamboo. Lucky Bamboo grows best in a pot with soil (not water) and will have a longer life. Some prefer to grow Lucky Bamboo in a glass vase, which admittedly looks very cool. Lucky Bamboo can also be grown in an aquarium and is sometimes sold in pet shops submersed in water. Still, it is not the correct way for growing because the continuous exposure to water will eventually rot the plant. In it’s native habitat, Lucky Bamboo grows under the shade of trees, so place your plant in a bright spot that is protected from direct sunlight.

 

Ending with a Prayer

Prayer PlantMaranta leuconeura is my favorite. It’s why I left it for last. Native to tropical Central and South America as well as the West Indies, it earned its common name from the fact that the leaves tend to fold together at night, like a pair of praying hands. You can literally see it move. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and can quickly kill the plant so be careful where it’s placed. It prefers bright but indirect sunlight and is generally tolerant of lower light areas. The prayer plant prefers well-drained soil and requires high humidity to thrive. It is an excellent choice to grow in your bathroom.

 

Final Thoughts on Tropical Houseplants

This is just a short list of some of the easy-to-care-for tropical plants that you can use as houseplants. Occasionally, you may have an insect problem which can be managed with insecticidal soap. It is safe to use indoors, organic, and does a pretty good job on the majority of pests that you may encounter. Diseases for the plants in this survey will not likely be a problem as long as you do not over water. Indeed, root rot will be the biggest threat to your success.

In addition to the advantage of the aesthetics of having plants in your home or office, you probably noticed that almost all of the plants listed act as air filters. According to NASA, as far back as the 1980s, it was found that some species of plants could eliminate up to 87% of toxins in the air. These toxins come from things like paint, varnishes, cleaning solutions, insulation, wood, furniture, carpeting and other products. NASA says that 15 to 20 air-filtering plants in the house can maintain the level of emissions from these toxins in accordance with environmental standards.

Use this list as a guide to some foolproof tropicals that can be easily and safely brought into your living areas. Your luck may improve, your Feng Shui will thank you, and you could very well be breathing much better!

 

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