We all have them. Plants that we hate that we love. Peace Lilies, Parlor Palms, Dumbcane and Prayer Plants are a few of the plants that I just cannot resist, no matter the number I have failed. Rather than give up on these beauties, I have decided to learn all I can about each and face the challenge.
A Peace Lily that creates Peace
I am on my third in (five?) years. I took a break for a bit; swore I would never again fall prey to its wild white flowers and stunning glossy leaves. Yet, here I am gazing at this beauty in the corner of my room, batting it’s lashes at me. So, what is a horticulture nerd to do? Find out what it loves and nurture it! After visiting various sites and through my own bloody thumb, I have learned the following:
Peace lilies are officially called Spathiphyllum and are native Columbia and Venezuela. As the origins of this plant are the deep, dark jungle, it does well in indirect light. Consequently, it does need a bright room in our domesticated environments. And, be cautious to not place this lady in direct sunlight, as it will burn her leaves. In relation to water, she likes to dry out a bit and then be watered well, so that the soil feels moist to the touch. Just don’t drown her (I think I did this to Peace Lily #2)! If using a water meter, she should register around two or three when she needs a drink, seven once watered.
Fertilize your Peace Lily once every two weeks during the growing season. Alas, a healthy Peace Lily should bloom several times a year, but usually only produces a few flowers at a time. This one was a surprise to me, as the latest one I adopted had numerous blooms. How did this happen? The grower used a type of “plant steroid”. Not natural and not something I want to use. Finally, keeping the humidity level up a bit, also helps this plant to thrive. For me this means I will be moving my girl this winter, away from the heating vents and next to my humidifier.
That “Dumb” Cane!
Okay, my first one of these tortured me over several years and even grew from a small house plant to a mini tree. I am sure many of you are familiar with this plant’s beautiful twist of green, yellow and even white leaves—along with the constant half dead ones that droop away from the others. I also admit that when I placed it on the front porch for the summer it genuinely thrived!
Sadly, moving it back indoors for our Northern winter simply did it in. Why did this happen?
Dumb cane, Dieffenbachia, is named after the numbing feeling the plant leaves behind if chewed on–leaving one momentarily speechless. I swear, I have never taken a bite. However, in the West Indies where this plant is native, a paralysis of the tongue will ward off predators. Regarding care, dumb cane can be a bit temperamental, as it loves to drop drooping yellow/brown leaves and just look plain sick! That is, if you, overwater, underwater, put it in direct sunlight, repot it too early, or not soon enough!
As with the others, this plant needs bright, indirect light. Sometimes this means moving the plant around and watching it very carefully. Watering should be done completely, followed by drying out completely. This needs to be adjusted depending on season and climate. Also, if you are looking for your plant to stay compact and leafy, do not repot it too often (Did this!), or it will become tall and leggy. Finally, if repotting, remember how the Dumb cane got its name and wear gloves!
My Pathetic Parlor Palm
A picture tells a story and my current parlor palm tells a sad one (not pictured here!). Both my mother and I have had a hand at torturing this twig.
Chamaedorea elegans is an elegant plant, especially while healthy. This plant is even considered to be easy and low maintenance! Well, not so, that is if you live in a dry climate with cold winters and hot air blasting from the furnace. In fact, this tropical plant is similar in care to the Peace Lily.
Indeed, bright light, yet indirect sun suits this plant’s light needs. Regarding watering, do not let this guy dry out completely (yes I have done this), and mists frequently to keep the humidity levels up. Another hard lesson learned is to be gentle repotting this plant, as it has a weak root system. In fact, only repot when the plant’s roots can be seen in the bottom of the pot and then be sure to use loose and fluffy soil, one that has a peat moss in it. This will ensure you do not end up with root rot and that you are being kind to the Palm’s root system.
Praying for this Prayer Plant
Ahhhh–those Calatheas. I had two that thrived for several years and then I made one wrong move and. . here I am starting all over again. With the name prayer plant, doesn’t this one belong in the same room as the Peace Lily? Well it is, and although it is a cutting from its late mother, it appears to be slowly rejuvenating,
Lighting needs? You guessed it! Bright, indirect light and my north facing window seems to be just the place for it. Differently from a few of the others, these plants like to be kept moist at all times. A potting mix that drains well, but can still hold moisture is a advantageous. A heartwarming fact about this plant is that it’s common name is a reflection of the plant folding it’s leaves up at night, similar to praying hands. Knowing this will help you to understand it is not dying in the evenings, simply praying for the Peace Lily!
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