Houseplants: Easy Plants with a Flair
Hundreds of woody and herbaceous plants are happy to grow and bloom as indoor houseplants, where they lend their character, fragrance, and color to our homes. We are pleased to offer a diverse selection, guaranteed to succeed, ranging from the graceful Clivia, which we consider to be the perfect houseplant, to eye-catching foliage plants, such as the fascinating Begonia 'Escargot', whose leaves resemble a snail's spiral shell.
Favorites for a Place in the Sun
Why not try a Gardenia on your sunny, southern windowsill? Gardenias produce corsage-like white flowers possessing one of the finest fragrances in the plant world. Or try one of our long-blooming Bella series of Abutilon, or Flowering Maple, which has apricot or light-yellow, paper-lantern-like flowers and arrives in a metal cachepot. A new take on an old-fashioned favorite houseplant is the Dwarf Chenille Plant, Acalypha pendula, with its fuzzy-textured, scarlet blooms.
Red topiary Azaleas, blue Hydrangea, yellow Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii', pink Holiday Cactus - we have flowering houseplants in every color. Some, like our easy-to-grow Orchids, require only strong, indirect light. 'She Shu', a new member of the Cattleya alliance, is pink and fragrant.
Foliage Plants with Flair
Our eye-catching foliage houseplants look great day in and day out. Selected for ease of care, among our offerings are the sculptural succulent Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, or Paddle Plant; Cyathea cooperi, the statuesque Australian Tree Fern; and a selection of distinctive Begonias, including 'Escargot'.
A Houseplant for Every Month
Too many choices? Why not receive (or send as a gift) one of our out-of-the-ordinary plants every month. We begin shipping in December and continue for as many months as you would like - from three months to an entire year! During the winter, we watch the weather closely and ship at the precisely right moment to assure safe arrival. Complete instructions for care provided.
How to Care for Your Houseplant
The following instructions are intended as a basic introduction to indoor plant care. Even if you are an experienced houseplant grower, please read these general instructions.
When your order arrives: Open the box right away and examine the contents. Unpack your plants from the box and remove any packing or wrapping materials around the pots. Please notify our Customer Service Department at 1-800-411-6159 immediately if you find a problem upon receipt of your shipment.
A special note to gardeners in mild-winter climates: These instructions are aimed primarily at gardeners who live in climates where frosts are a regular part of winter. If you live in a climate where frost is rare, you may be able to grow many of our houseplants outdoors year-round - either in pots or in the ground. Our knowledge of gardening in such climates is very limited, but we hope that these instructions will provide you with information on basic growing requirements - such as requisite sunlight, water, and temperature - as well as tips on pruning, pest control, and repotting.
Protecting your furniture: Please note that all houseplant containers have the potential to either scratch or cause water damage to tabletops, fine furniture, and windowsills. A cork coaster or plastic saucer placed underneath a pot will protect surfaces.
Light: The plants we offer differ widely in their light requirements, and we urge you to consult the instructions for individual plants before deciding where to put your plant. There are, however, three general points we want to stress at the outset.
First, many of the flowering plants we offer need full sun (6-8 hours of direct sun) to bloom. In northern areas, where the days in December, January, and February are very short, these sun-loving plants may wait until late winter or early spring to bloom.
Second, in order for a plant to get the light it needs - whether in a south-, west-, or east-facing window - it should be placed as close to the glass as possible. The intensity of light drops rapidly as distance from the window increases. You can move a plant to the center of a room for a special occasion, but return it to the window soon afterward.
Third, anytime you move a plant outdoors to a sunny spot, you must acclimate it to the relatively bright light gradually. If a plant is moved directly from windowsill to full sun, the leaves will scorch, and the plant will look forlorn until it can produce a new set. Put the plant instead in a sheltered, lightly shaded spot, and increase its exposure to sun and wind every few days. At the end of 2 weeks, it will be ready for its final outdoor home.
Watering: The key to watering most houseplants is to water only when the top 1/2 inch of potting mix is dry to the touch and then to water thoroughly, until water drains from the bottom of the pot. We strongly recommend that you avoid watering on a schedule. Instead, water each plant according to its needs. To determine whether a plant requires water, scratch the potting mix with your finger. If the mix is dry 1/2 inch below the surface, water. If it's moist, wait. By following this method, you'll discover that the need for water varies greatly with the season. Most plants need more water in spring and summer (when they are in active growth) and less in fall and winter (when most plants rest).
The most common cause of failure with houseplants is overwatering. Many people water heavily assuming that if water is good for plants, more water must be better. It is not. If the potting mix stays wet for a prolonged period of time, the roots of most plants will suffocate and rot. Initially, the symptom of overwatering resembles that of underwatering: the leaves wilt. If more water does not perk up a wilted plant, the plant is probably suffering from overwatering. Allow the potting mix to dry out, then resume the watering regimen described above. If the plant is not already past the point of no return, it should soon show signs of recovery.
Please note that most plants should not be allowed to sit in a saucer of water. Potting mix absorbs water like a sponge and will remain saturated until the water in the saucer evaporates. In the meantime, roots may die for lack of oxygen and begin to rot. If water remains in the saucer more than a day after watering, pour it out.
Fertilizing: For most houseplants, we recommend that you fertilize every 2-4 weeks during the growing season - generally from early spring to early fall - and that you withhold fertilizer entirely during fall and winter, when most plants rest. Use a water-soluble fertilizer designed for houseplants (available on our Web site or at garden centers) mixed at just half the rate suggested by the manufacturer. As with watering, plants suffer if overfertilized.
Please note that increasing the amount of fertilizer you use or the frequency with which you apply it is rarely the remedy for an ailing plant. In fact, giving a sick plant more fertilizer may seal its fate. Try to determine the exact cause of the problem (insufficient light? overwatering? air temperature too high? too low?) before you attempt to remedy it.
Humidity: Most houseplants are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world, where relative humidity is typically very high. They suffer in the dry air produced by furnaces and woodstoves. The best way to increase the humidity around your plants is to run a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation. (Our Humiditrays perform the same function without the need for pebbles. Please see our holiday catalogue or visit whiteflowerfarm.com for details.)
Pests: Houseplants, like plants grown outdoors, occasionally suffer from pests. If you see signs of infestation, the first step is to isolate the plant immediately; pests can spread from one plant to another very quickly indoors. Next, dunk all but the pot into warm soapy water (a bar soap such as Ivory seems to work best). Hold your hand over the potting mix to prevent the mix - and the plant - from tumbling into the bath. If the pests persist, spray the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves with insecticidal soap (available at garden centers). If the pests still refuse to give up, we recommend that you dispose of the plant to prevent the spread of the infestation to healthy plants.
Repotting: If you find that a plant is drying out more and more quickly, the plant probably needs a larger pot. For most plants, the best time to repot is early spring. Choose a pot that is about 2 inches larger in diameter than the old pot and purchase a potting mix blended for houseplants. Place the mix in a plastic tub and slowly add warm water, stirring with your hand until the mix is moist but not soggy. Next, remove the plant from its old pot by turning it upside down. If the plant won't come out, tap the pot against the heel of your hand and tug very gently on the stem. If you see that the plant is badly pot-bound, with roots matted at the bottom and circling the sides, cut ½ inch of roots and potting mix off the bottom with a sharp knife and make four deep vertical cuts in the root ball - the block of potting mix held together by the roots. Add a layer of moistened mix to the new pot and set the plant inside to check the level of the root ball. Add or remove potting mix from the bottom of the pot until the top of the root ball is ½ inch below the rim of pot. Then hold the plant by the stem with one hand and fill in around the root ball with mix, firming the mix as you go, without packing it down. Cover the top of the root ball with no more than a thin layer of mix. Firm gently one last time. Then water thoroughly.
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Abutilon: Abutilons are long- blooming houseplants, also known as Flowering Maples for the resemblance of their lobed- shaped leaves. They are relatives of Hibiscus and Hollyhocks, however, not Maple trees.
LIGHT: Abutilons bloom freely provided they receive 6-8 hours of direct sun. A south - facing window is usually ideal.
WATERING: Water when the potting mix is dry to the touch one inch below the surface. Avoid overwatering (which will cause the roots to rot and the leaves to yellow) or letting the potting mix dry out completely.
TEMPERATURE: Day and night temperatures above 65°F are fine year round. Avoid put ting plants in the path of cold drafts.
FERTILIZER: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced, water- soluble fertilizer (such as 20-20-20) mixed at one-half strength. A fertilizer designed to promote blossoms (formula 10-30-20) may be used instead.
CONTINUING CARE: Abutilons are vigorous growers. To keep your plant compact and bushy, prune back long stems with pruning shears, cutting just beyond the point where a leaf joins a stem. Prune just enough to give a pleasing overall shape; if you remove too much growth, you may prevent the plant from flowering.
Dwarf Chenille Plant thrives in full sun indoors or partial sun outdoors. Keep soil evenly moist and apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly from May through August. During the winter months, when the plant is not in active growth, water when the top one inch of potting mix is dry to the touch.
Azalea (Azalea Topiary)
Azaleas require full sun in winter and a nighttime temperature of about 60°F. Care should be taken to avoid letting the potting mix dry out completely - the plants may not recover if allowed to wilt. Remove spent blossoms as they fade to keep plants looking tidy, but take care to avoid damaging the green buds at the base of the blossoms. These buds are the source of future growth and flowering.
In spring, repot your Azalea using a peat-moss-based potting mix. Then move it outdoors to a spot in partial shade after the danger of frost has passed. To enable it to set flower buds for the following winter, leave the plant outdoors until frost threatens. Then bring it back inside.
As soon as your Azalea Topiary finishes blooming, pinch the new shoots back to 1 inch - cutting just above a set of leaves - to maintain the ball shape of the head. Also remove any shoots that appear on the main trunk.
Begonias thrive in bright, indirect light. An east-facing window is ideal, but a shaded west-facing window is fine. Provide warm room temperatures, from 60-70°F. Blooms may be sporadic; the leaves are the main reason for growing our selections. Be careful not to overwater; constantly damp potting mix may cause the stems and leaves to rot. If in doubt, allow the top one inch of potting mix to dry out between waterings.
LIGHT: 6-8 hours of direct sunlight such as can be provided by a south-facing windowsill.
WATERING: The potting mix must be kept damp but not soggy. This is critical. If the potting
mix gets either too dry or too damp, the flower buds will drop off or will not open. Do not leave the pot in standing water for more than 30 minutes.
TEMPERATURE: Daytime 70-85°F, nigh t time 60-65°F.
HUMIDITY: Gardenias are subtropical plants that appreciate high humidity. Don't place your plant close to a heat vent. The best way to increase the humidity around your plant is to run a humidifier in the same room. Our Humiditrays, shallow reservoirs covered with grids that allow moisture to rise to the plants above, are also effective. Please call for details.
FERTILIZER: Fertilize Gardenias every 2-4 weeks due ring their growing season - March to October. Use a water- soluble fertilizer mixed at half the recommended strength; a fertilizer formulated for acid- loving plants is best. Do not fertilize November through February.
FLOWERING: The buds on your plant should open in 4-6 weeks. Avoid handling the blossoms; they bruise and turn brown easily when touched. Most flowers last 3-8 days. They open white and mature to creamy yellow.
Native to South Africa, the Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) requires temperatures above 55°F year round. Partial sun develops the best color on the leaves. From spring to fall, water when the top 1 inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch and fertilize monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) mixed at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants require less water in winter, when they are not actively growing.
GENERAL ORCHID CULTURE
WATER: Watering houseplants is always a balance between too much water (which causes rot and eventually kills) and not enough water (which causes leaves, stems, and roots to dry up and eventually kills). Water your Orchid thoroughly when the potting mix feels dry 1 inch below the surface, usually about once a week. Lift the nursery pot from its basket or cachepot and carry it to the sink. Water until the excess runs out of the bottom of the pot. Allow the pot to drain, then return it to the container. Do not allow water to pool in the bottom of the container. If the nursery pot sits in water, the plant's roots will eventually rot. Keep in mind that your Orchid's need for water will vary throughout the year depending on its surroundings. The need for water increases when the plant is exposed to brighter light, higher room temperatures, or lower humidity, or when it is producing new shoots, leaves, and roots. Some Orchids have pseudobulbs (upright, thickened stems that store water and food). If the pseudobulbs begin to shrink, this means that they are losing water and you have kept your plant too dry.
HUMIDITY: Most Orchids are native to tropical or subtropical regions of the world, where relative humidity is typically very high. They suffer indoors in the dry air produced by furnaces and woodstoves. A relative humidity of 70% is best for your Orchid (provide a minimum of 50% relative humidity). You may increase the humidity around plants by running a humidifier nearby. You can also set plants in trays filled with pebbles or gravel. Add water to a level just below the tops of the pebbles (if the potting mix in the pots comes in contact with the water, the mix will draw water into the pot, which will cause the mix to become saturated, eventually leading to rot). Refill trays frequently to replace water lost through evaporation. Our Humiditrays perform the same function without the need for pebbles. Please see our holiday catalogue or visit our Web site for information about the various sizes available.
Please note: Although high humidity is important for Orchids, good air circulation around your plant is also essential to prevent disease.
FERTILIZER: During the resting period, when your Orchid is not producing new growth, fertilize monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer (analysis 20-20-20 or 30-10-10). During the growing season, fertilize more frequently - every 2-3 weeks.
FLOWERING: The Orchids we ship will generally begin blooming within one or two months. As the flower buds expand, you may need to support the stem with a bamboo stake. Tie the spike to the stake with a twist tie (both are enclosed with your plant). Do not remove the flower shoot of Moth Orchids until it is completely desiccated and lifeless; flower stems that appear to have finished producing blooms may send out more flowering shoots months or even years later.
An adequate amount of light (but never direct sunlight) is important for Orchids to grow and produce flowers. A change in temperature between day and night is also necessary for flowering - usually a difference of 10-20°F.
GROOMING: After bloom, remove spent flowers with a pair of scissors, cutting the flowers off where they attach to the flower stem.
REPOTTING: Repot your Orchid every other year or so after it blooms. Remove the plant from the pot and gently shake the old bark from the roots. If you find dead roots, either pinch them off with your fingers or cut them off with a sharp knife. Repot in a container no more than 1 inch larger than the previous one, using a medium bark designed especially for Orchids (available at most garden centers). Hold the stem in the center of the pot and fill the pot with pre-moistened bark, pressing it firmly around the roots with your fingers. The crown of the plant - the point where the stems meet the roots - should be level with or just below the surface of the bark. For Moth Orchids, the lowest leaf should just touch the surface of the bark. Water thoroughly after potting to settle the bark around the roots. If the plant is unable to hold itself upright, support with a bamboo stake and plant clip or twist tie.
Please note: Many Orchids produce fleshy, wormlike roots that have a tendency to push their way up through the surface of the bark. This is perfectly normal. There is no need to cover these roots with bark.
White Flower Farm is your dependable source for indoor potted Houseplants, Flowering Houseplants, and Green Houseplants. To view beautiful images of Flowering Houseplants and other indoor flowering plants, visit our Houseplants Image Library.