Showing posts with label Houseplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Houseplant. Show all posts

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Care Of The Intriguing Carnivorous Venus Fly Trap House Plant Reviewed.

 

Venus Fly Trap
 

I am the recent caretaker of a Venus Fly Trap house plant.

I wasn't sure I wanted one of these carnivorous houseplants plants but hubby has wanted one for a long time so I purchased it for his birthday this year. 

From being really quite indifferent to this particular plant, I have developed a real interest and curiosity about it.

To be fair I had heard they were quite difficult to care for and I wasn't sure I was wanting the task of trying to keep it alive. 

However, I love how it is growing and flourishing in our home and it has been interesting learning all about it. The plant looks happy and has grown and developed well so that gives me joy! 

It is also named the species Dionaea muscipula -though there are many named cultivars with some different looks and habits. Part of the family of carnivorous plants, it only grows in a few places in nature now. Sadly habitat destruction has obliterated it from many of its sites. It can still be seen in the coastal bogs of North and South Carolinas.


Soil Conditions For A Venus Fly Trap

As for most of us, we will keep this plant in a plant pot so we need to copy its natural environment as much as possible. It likes to grow naturally in soil with very low nutrients and dampness all the time. However these days it is not advisable to use endangered peat supplies. So without using at-risk peat mixes you can buy specialist mixes or try the plant in sphagnum peat moss, or fine-milled bark mixed with lime-free horticultural sand or perlite, or just simply in pure sphagnum moss.

Repotting if needed should be done just before the end of winter, so around February for us before all the new regrowth begins.




Watering And Feeding Venus Fly Trap

With Venus Fly Traps watering is a fine balance. They do need the soil to be moist but not waterlogged, neither do they wish to dry out.

 So in the growing season, they like to be in a little standing water so I put a saucer under the draining pot and the saucer has a covering of water in it as it simulates the conditions it would have in the wild damp with higher humidity.

During winter the plant should be kept damp but they do not need so much water so I will likely remove the saucer and just make sure the soil is damp to the touch. 

This plant by far prefers rainwater. So I now keep a bucket outside to collect rainwater for this plant. If I forget then I do use tap water that has been left to stand for about 3 days to help dissipate the minerals and chemicals but even so, to be honest, it is not ideal and long term use of tap water is not good for Venus Fly Traps and will kill them.  

Venus Fly Traps which are kept outside will be able to find enough food for themselves. We put ours outside as much as possible on fine sunny days and the rest of the time on our sunny kitchen windowsill with the window mostly open and it certainly found enough food. 

If you really can't do that then it is possible to feed it yourself with freeze-dried mealworms, which can be bought from shops, but it is a specialist skill to read up on a specialist site. To be honest, it is not something I really want to have to do, so we will stick with a sunny open window and putting it outside as much as possible in summer! 

We do not need to use a plant fertilizer on a Venus Fly Trap, it is adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soil and feeding it in this way will only be harmful. 


Position in The Home For A Venus Fly Trap

A Venus Fly Trap will always require a sunny position in its growing season but does not like being in the direct hot sun all day. 

So aim for about 5 hours of bright sunlight. A sunny windowsill with the window open for part of the day is good. However, do not let it get scorched by the sun.

I have also during this summer put it outside in a sheltered sunny spot for a few hours and it really did seem to like that. 

I would also keep it out of reach of small children and pets, not so much that it is any danger to them but constant touching of the plant's traps, which are often fascinating to children,  may cause it to die. 


 


Winter With A Venus Fly Trap

We have not yet been through a winter with our plant but there are a few things to bear in mind for its survival. 

They do need a period of winter dormancy which in the UK is around November to the beginning of March. As they live in our homes, not the wild environment we need to try to replicate that so they need to have somewhere cold to rest.

We will therefore be moving ours from its sunny warm spot on our kitchen windowsill to a colder place in our home. If I had an unheated greenhouse it could go in there but instead, I will move it to a cold windowsill that is north facing. It's the coolest place in our home and I am hoping it will be cold enough. 

I have been warned not to panic during winter as the leaves will turn black and the beautiful little plant will die right back. At this point, we will trim off any dead growth. Then it is just a matter of keeping it damp and waiting for new growth in Spring! 


Information About the "Traps"

As it is a carnivorous plant its method of gaining nutrition is a little more gruesome than with most plants. It first needs to attract its prey which it does by exuding sweet nectar. 

The flies come in and movement triggers the tiny hairs and then the trap snaps shut just like a cage from which the insect cannot escape.

After that digestive enzymes dissolve the insect and use it for nutrition. The traps stay shut for about 5-8 days then open up again to restart the process with the added bonus, if you are a Fly Trap- of the leftover carcass also being used to attract more prey. 

I feel I should say at this point that we have not noticed any more flies coming in due to having this plant. In fact, we probably have less making it past the plant into the house now!

New Young Traps Forming On Venus Fly Trap


The Cycle Of The Traps

When a trap has opened and closed a few times, probably around five times, it goes black and dies off. For that particular trap, it is the end.

However, before that happens we see several new traps growing to take their place.

At first, I did not think they would grow large enough to keep the plant alive before the older ones died but nature knows what it is doing and the new traps grew and were big enough by the time the older ones died. 

I am more than happy to see now that when I bought it only had 4 traps and now it has double that amount so this shows the plant is happy. Over time and with care it will get better and bigger. 

Children find these Venus Fly Traps fascinating and the book below is a great informative and fun introduction to these amazing little houseplants. 


 


 A Word Of Warning About Venus Fly Traps

If you have one of these fascinating plants it is very important not to test out the traps by putting your finger or a pencil etc inside them. 

While it may seem like fun, to the plant it is torture. Every time the trap shuts it uses up energy and if there is no food in the trap then it has just wasted so much energy. Traps only close about 5 or 6 times before they die so if it is tormented like this with no food it will deplete the plant and eventually the whole plant may die. 

However, you cannot really hurt yourself on this plant. Just avoid touching it as much as possible for its own sake. 


Venus Fly Trap On Sunny Windowsill


So having been initially quite wary of this carnivorous houseplant the Venus Fly Trap, I am now more than fascinated with it and it is an unusual addition to our houseplant collection!


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Monday, July 19, 2021

Reviewing the Care Of Beautiful Anthurium Or Flamingo Flower House Plants

 

Stunning Anthurium Or Flamingo Flower Houseplant. 

 
I do love Anthurium. This beautiful house plant has a special place in my heart as the stems and red flowers of this plant were given as a gift as a gorgeous bouquet of stunning flowers to my husband and me as we came to the end of our honeymoon.

We kept these stems and flowers for weeks. So when we were all settled in our home, we decided to buy ourselves an Anthurium plant so that we could keep it always. 

I have to admit I was a little concerned about how I would look after this Flamingo Flower plant as it looks so exotic. I was sure it would need so much looking after!

However, while it does need a little care I was wrong that it needed a lot. 

I commonly knew this plant as a Flamingo Flower but it also has the common names Laceleaf, Painted Tongue Plant and Tail Flower.

Ours has bright red "flowers" although they are not technically flowering, as I will explain later. 

These Flamingo flower plants would grow in a very tropical environment in nature. They have no scent, just their stunning good looks! It is a lush, stunningly beautiful plant that graces any house with a subtle yet distinctly tropical look. Yet I feel most people could care for this plant with relative ease and just a little knowledge and have a gorgeous display in the home. 


Gorgeous Lush Leaves Of Anthurium Houseplant
 

Where To Site An Anthurium Houseplant

Where we position this plant in the house is vitally important and like with many houseplants, if you get that right the rest is really easy. 

We need to grow this plant in a bright position. If it is in direct sunlight it will scorch the leaves. If it is in constant dull light or too much shade, it may slow growth and stop producing its gorgeous flowers.  

The Flamingo plant benefits from a consistent temperature. We will know if the room you have it in is too hot as it will wilt. We need to remove it from the environment and try somewhere a bit cooler to give it a chance to survive. 

The ideal temperature is around 70-90 degrees but in my experience, the average house temperature is perfectly fine. Our house temperature is significantly lower than 90 degrees and our plant does well in our living room where it is generally warm and constant. Ours is positioned where it is not near an open window in case of drafts or cold chills in winter but it does have lots of light.

If your house goes from extreme heat to extreme cold that this plant will suffer badly, but I doubt many of us will do that intentionally in our homes for our own comfort! 

In a warm summer, we can take them outside for a while in daylight hours only but must keep them in a lightly shaded spot and bring them in before dusk.

I sometimes do this during June and July for a couple of hours a couple of times a week if we get a warm dry summer! 


Heart-Shaped Flower Or Spathe
 On Anthurium

Anthurium House Plant Flowers

Now to explain the "flowers" of this plant. They are very beautiful and shaped like a heart which is rather lovely! The bright red heart shaped structures on our plant do look like flowers but they are not. 

They are in fact waxy leaves and are called spathes. They can come in a gorgeous range of colours from pink, purple, white or red like ours. So if you have one in your home you can usually find one to suit your decor.  However, during this article, we will just call them flowers. 

In order to get those gorgeous waxy leaves that look like flowers, we need to feed the plant a feed with high prosperous content. This is only required about once every month and only during Spring and summer when actively growing. There is no need to use fertiliser in Autumn or winter at all.  

I find the flowers last quite a long time up to several weeks then they gradually dry up and my red one turns a dark brown. I like to trim them off before they start looking unsightly. However, do not just snip them off below the flower head. You need to feel right down the base and cut off low down with a pair of secateurs like these Wolf By Pass Secateurs or a strong pair of scissors. More flowers will soon appear! 


Anthurium Flower


Soil Conditions For Anthurium Houseplant

They grow naturally either in rich soil humus or on the surface of other plants.

For our purposes of growing this as a house plant, it is best and easiest to pot into a soil that is free draining but not as light as pure cactus soil. It is best in soil that has some water retention but is free draining which means the water will quickly pour through drainage holes. A blend of cactus soil with richer compost and grit would be good. 

However, as I could not get any cactus soil at the time, mine is potted into an ordinary multi-purpose compost that is sifted and mixed with fine grit and it seems to do just fine. 

As with most houseplants if the plant starts to look overcrowded and fills the pot that is the time to re-pot into a larger container. I do try to do this before it starts into new growth in early spring, though with this plant you may only need to do it only every few years.


Anthurium Flower Houseplant With Other Houseplants

Watering The Flamingo Flower

I only water when the soil is dry. To test this easily simply pop your finger in the soil and if the first part up to your first knuckle joint feels dry,  give it a good watering until the water pours out of the drainage holes. Allow it to drain off completely then place it back into its outer pot.

Ideally, you do not want Flamingo flower houseplants in any standing water. They like a humid atmosphere but from my experience no more humid than is comfortable for us.

 If you want to make it more humid without changing your comfort levels then a saucer with pebbles covered in water underneath the plant will help. We can also grow it together with other houseplants who like similar conditions or are not fussy about conditions and that will also increase humidity for all of them. I have our Anthurium keeping company with our spider plant and I like the contrasting forms and habit. 

We can mist these houseplants lightly as they like humidity but do not overdo it as they will respond badly to being soaked. I only mist once every couple of weeks in warm weather. Bathrooms often have natural humidity but you would also need to make sure the light levels were good for the plant. 

Beautiful Flamingo Flower Houseplant


Safety Around the Anthurium Plant And Health Benefits.

It is important to note that these plants are poisonous if eaten or tasted. They can cause swelling of the mouth and organs of the digestive system and severe pain. If you buy one do keep it well out of reach of children and pets. 

The sap can also be an irritant and can irritate your eyes quite badly so I am careful as I have very sensitive skin but it's probably best for anyone to wear gloves when handling a lot or especially when taking cuttings.  Do not rub or touch your eyes or mouth with gloves or your hands until you have washed them.

We have ours on top of a tall cupboard where you can see it and admire it but there is no danger to any visiting children or pets.

For these reasons, I try to keep handling this plant to a minimum. I have not yet taken any cuttings as that means much more contact with the plant and I have super sensitive skin. So far I have just repotted it probably every 3 years.

If you are ever lucky enough to see this plant in the wild, best to admire it visually and do not touch it. 

However, they are also good for our health being excellent plants for helping to purify the air in our homes and offices and can help rid the air of many toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and ammonia. They are also particularly good to help the air quality if you use technology like printers or photocopiers.  




So to summarize, Anthuriums or Flamingo flower plants are beautiful, stunning looking and will grace any home with a touch of the exotic. They are toxic if eaten and we do need to be careful when handling them due to the sap, but they are good for our health too in helping to purify our air. For such a tropical-looking plant the care is surprisingly easy. As with most houseplants, if you get the position, soil and watering correct the plant will be a gorgeous addition to your home for years to come. 


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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Caring for A Mother In Laws Tongue As A Houseplant Reviewed

 


A Houseplant With Many Common Names

This striking plant has a prolific number of strange common names which include Mother In Laws Tongue- supposedly the ends of the leaves looking like the sharp tongue of the mother in law. Now I loved my Mum in law to bits so this does not hold true, but that is folklore...

Its other commons names are Snake plant as it could look a little like a snake and St Georges Sword due to its sword like look. 

In addition it is known as Viper's Bowstring Hemp due to it being one of the sources for plant fibers used to make bowstrings. 

It is also known as the good luck plant! There may well be many more names but that is enough names for one plant!

Its Scientific name is Sansevieria trifasciata. In our home it was always known as Mother In laws Tongue. In this article I will refer to it as the Mother In Laws Tongue or the Snake Plant.

It is a rather bold, striking houseplant with smooth thick sword like leaves hence I can see the St Georges Sword common name. 

The leaves are not soft but neither are they spiky rather firm and bold to the touch. They have I think rather beautiful individual markings which are worth apprecaiting close up and I can totally see why they are given the common name of Snake Plant. 


Markings that give "Snake Plant" its common name.  


I can tend to these plants without gloves though I would wear gloves to repot. It can grow up to 3 or 4 feet high.  

It does flower but the flowers are insignificant and few people would grow it for its flowers. Neither is it scented. You need to like the shape and colour of the leaves to have this plant in your home. 

We always had two or three of these indoor plants around our home and the ones I have now are decendants or the original from my parents home. I find these house plants to be long lived and trouble free. 

It is essentially a succulent and as such needs a few care pointers which I cover below but is essentially a very easy houseplant to look after. 

 

Watering And Feeding The Mother In Laws Tongue. 

This plant has adapted to thrive on little water. All I do is to give it a good watering when I remember and let the soil dry out in between waterings. We need to water the soil, never the leaves or the space between the leaves as this will not be good for the plant.  

If we overwater or get too much water into the base of the leaves the signs are obvious. You will see the leaves go soggy to the touch and look damp and with possibly fungal or mold infections. If this plant is in standing water or overwatered for too long it will rot and then be more difficult to save. 

If we underwater and keep in a too sunny position as you can see in this photo the leaves shrivel up and may go brown or a pale sickly yellow. I have found it is a lot easier to rescue this plant if it is suffering underwatering simply by gradually increasing the water given and taking it a few inches away from the window. This is exactly what I will now do with this poorly underwatered plant and it will recover just fine.


Underwatered Mother In Laws Tongue In Wrong Position

If it is overwatered but not yet rotting, you can try to save it by totally repotting with fresh light well drained compost, leaving it in a light but not too sunny spot and watering lightly.  

We need to fertilise once a month in Spring and summer, but it is not necessary to fertilise in autumn or winter at all. 

Positioning A Snake Plant

It originates from areas of South Africa and Asia where the air is very dry and sunny with a desert like climate. Therefore it likes a light position and can even cope in strong sunlight though I think it does much better with a light spot out of direct sun.

The leaves on mine scorched a little and it never looked very happy when in a very sunny spot on a hot west facing windowsill. Positioned a few inches away from  the window on a table and it was quickly a different much happier plant. 

It needs to be in a dry room, not a bathroom or a kitchen or anywhere that is moist or damp. Perhaps a living or dining area or a study would be best. 


Beautiful Healthy Mother In Laws Tongue Houseplant

 

Division And Repotting

To make more plants I usually divide the plant in Spring and repot the separate parts. You can also grow from cuttings but I do find division easier and more instantly effective. 

You will know when the plant needs repotting as it will be pushing up against the sides of the pot and roots appearing through the end of th epot. I would advise repotting before you get to this stage as one of mine actually cracked the container it was growing in! 

Soil should be light and free draining so any good compost mixed with pearlight is a good choice for this plant. 


Mother In Laws Tongue Houseplant Sword Like Leaves

Care Around This Snake Houseplant

Do be careful if you have pets or young children, as it is toxic and if they eat it can cause vomiting and diarrhea and you may need a vet or doctor. We always kept ours in a room the dogs did not go into or higher up on a surface so that no one could not easily reach it. 

To be honest we never had any problems. I was raised in a house where we had many houseplants which could have been toxic but my perents just kept them out of my reach and I learned not to handle them. 

None of our dogs have ever shown the slightest interest in this plant either, but I would still be cautious and exercise common sense, especially with puppies, young pets or children just in case. 


Varieties Of Sansevieria Trifasciata 

There are a few different varieties of the mother in laws tongue. I just have the one variety I inherited years ago from my Mum but more are now available. 

The usual variety is Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, which has very long dark green leaves with golden yellow edges.

There are also other variants  with different leaf colours and shapes such as those variagated with gold or silver. There is one which is almost white ghost like  and one that is verging on black. 

Some have a shorter length of leaf and some have rounder or more fan shaped leaves. Then there are those with smaller slimmer leaf shapes. 


 

Displaying Your Houseplant

 As this plant grows quite tall and fairly compact it is very useful for light areas of the home where you want some height and grandeur to a display.

 They good on their own but lovely when they are displayed together with other plants with different leaf shapes. If you have several of the different varieties of this plant it can look really stunning. I find this gives a lively, companion like social atmosphere to the display. 

 Another striking and possibly more modern way to display them is to have three or four in a row of the same variety, that can look very effective in its simplicity. I think this looks especially good in a minamilist white room where the shape and dark green colour really stands out as a feature. 

 As with many houseplants this one is very helpful and beneficial to us as it helps to purify and humidify the air thus providing a very useful service in our homes.


  

 

It is an excellent  houseplant and an easy guest.I think it is a great gift for a housewarming present or for a student or young professional who likes houseplants but perhaps does not have time to do a lot of caring for them.

It is arguably one of the best houseplants for beginners and busy people and thrives on very little care while still looking good. 


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