The following five houseplants are worth growing just for the sheer fun of it. All share a few common features - they are obtained from planting seeds, pips, or plant tops from fruits and vegetables you buy for eating. Even better - they cost nothing more than what you pay for them at the supermarket.
When planted, carrot tops (Daucus carota) produce an attractive spray of feathery foliage. Kids, especially, seem to love to grow them - maybe because most kids enjoy eating them. To plant, cut off the top inch of a mature carrot and trim off the leaves. Push the cut end into compost in a 5 inch pot, leaving just the crown exposed. It will take about a month for the foliage to grow, but no matter how much you wish for it, you will not be able to grow another carrot.
Note: Plants from carrot tops make fun hanging baskets for the kitchen and pretty centerpieces for dinner parties.
Pineapples are bromeliads, and bromeliads are typically expensive houseplants to buy. Fortunately, you can get one for practically nothing by planting the top of a fresh pineapple (Ananas comosus) you bought for eating. When you're at the grocery store, choose a fruit with a healthy crown of leaves. Cut off the top inch of the pineapple and peel away the outer soft flesh so that you are left with only a leafy crown attached to the cylindrical fibrous core. Leave the core out to "cure" for a couple of days to reduce the risk of rot. Place the crown in a clear glass of water and place it on top of the refrigerator or in a spot away from hot or cold drafts. Change the water every 4 to 5 days. In three weeks you should see healthy roots. Transplant the top and roots to a pot filled with lightweight potting soil.
An avocado plant (Persea americana) is easy to grow from the large stone inside the fruit. After planting, it can take only a few years to produce a plant that is 3 feet tall. Start by opening the avocado and removing the stone from the center. Push 3 toothpicks into the thickest width of the stone. These will be used to suspend the stone over a glass filled with water (toothpicks resting on the rim of the glass). Suspend the stone so that the wide base of the pit is under the surface of the water, while the top part remains exposed to the air. Place the glass in a bright window sill. Keep the water level high enough so that the base of the pit stays submerged in at least 1 inch. In 3 to 6 weeks, the top of the avocado pit will begin to split and a stem will emerge. Roots will start to grow at the base. When the stem grows to a height of 5 to 6 inches, transplant your avocado plant to an 8 inch pot.
The pips of many citrus trees are some of the easiest and most enjoyable to grow, including those from lemons (Citrus limon), oranges (C. sinesis) and grapefruits (C. paradisi). As you eat the fruit, drop the pips (seeds) into a glass of warm water to prevent them from drying out. Leave the pips to soak in water overnight and then press each 1/2 inch deep into a 3 1/2 inch pot filled with compost. Keep the soil evenly moist and store the pot in a warm, dark place until the shoots appear before moving it to a sunny spot. Let your plants spend the summer months outdoors and move them to a semi-cool room (50-60 degrees F) in the winter.
By Ellen Brown
I love plants in my home, especially herbs that I can use all year long! I had a small child's toy bear that I added to my bonsai plant and really liked the look! So I went to garage sales and found other animals that would look good in my plants, all just for fun! Take a look!
I just check out flea markets for little plastic animals that I like and try to match them with the plant settings to create little jungles, all just for fun!
These are rosmary and thyme and other houseplants with my little horse. It reminds me of Assateague Island where we vacationed and where the horses roam free!
These chives reminded me of the jungle plants, so I added an elephant to my rainforest.
Deep in the forest, roam the cats!
Grazing wildlife amid the jungle! Adults and kids really love these rainforests!
Add some whimsy to your houseplants! Have fun adding your (or your childrens or grandchildrens) favorite pets and create your own jungle!
By Janette from Parkersburg, WV
Make sure that the plant you choose fits your space in terms of size and growing requirements (light, temperature, and humidity). Then consider your skills and how much time you are willing to invest when it comes to taking care of it. Many popular species of house plants have a reputation for being easy to care for and will do well despite our inexperience and neglect. Other species are considered more delicate and demanding. These types of plants are better suited to someone with plenty of time, patience, and experience.
Inspect Prospects Carefully
If you're buying plants in the winter, check for signs of cold damage (burned or dropped leaves), especially on tropical species. Inspect the undersides of the leaves for visible signs of scale, mealy bugs, white flies, or other pests. Then look under the pot. If roots are visibly sticking out of the drainage hole, the plant will probably need to be re-potted immediately. Because the plant has already endured plenty of stress during its journey from greenhouse to market, you're probably better off looking for a different specimen. Avoid plants that exhibit the following:
Prepare Plants for Transport
During winter weather, it is best avoid buying plants online. If you do, ask for an insulted shipping carton and be prepared to pay the higher costs. Also, make sure someone will be home when your plant is delivered. If you buy the plants locally, try to transfer the plant to a warm car for the ride home. Before leaving the store, wrap the plant with newspaper or several layers of tissue paper. Close it securely at the top to protect leaves and stems from cold drafts. During summer heat, avoid putting plants in your trunk of your car and leaving them to cook inside while you continue shopping. It's better to place them securely in box in the back seat and transport them home as soon as possible.
After you bring your new house plant home, keep it isolated from your other plants for two weeks just to make sure it is healthy. During that time, keep it out of direct sunlight, protect it from temperature extremes, and be careful not to give it too much water. While your plant adjusts to its new environment it may shed a leaf or two. Don't panic. This is perfectly normal. Just leave it alone in a moderately warm spot out of the sun.
Place Them Properly
Once you know your new plant is healthy, move it to its permanent location. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Let Them Settle In
Once your new plants are in their permanent location, try to avoid moving them. Just like outdoors plants, house plants like to feel as through they "put some roots down." Sudden changes can cause stress that results in leaf or bud drop and may leave plants more susceptible to insects and disease. Unless absolutely necessary, resist the urge to repot them until they are well settled in.
By Ellen Brown
By Connie from Oden, Arkansas
1. Water Them Properly
Roots need air as well as water. Keeping the compost soaked at all times means certain death for most houseplants. In fact, more plants die from over watering than any other single cause. On the other hand, too little water and the end result is the same. Different plants have different water needs depending on the size of the plant, the size of the pot, the environment and the time of year (almost all should be watered sparingly in winter). Research your plant's specific water needs and use a moisture meter to determine when it's time to water.
2. Feed Them Good Food
Whether in your garden or your house, all plants need an adequate supply of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and trace elements. The most effective way to deliver houseplant food is to use a liquid fertilizer. That way, food and water are delivered as a single operation. The amount of food needed will depend on the size of the plant and the size of the pot. When the plant is in the rest period, reduce or stop feeding altogether.
3. Bathe Them in Light
Nearly all plants need 12-16 hours of natural (or sufficiently strong artificial) light daily to maintain active growth.
There are two aspects to providing your houseplants with correct lighting-duration and intensity. Nearly all plants need 12-16 hours of natural (or sufficiently strong artificial) light daily to maintain active growth. Less light means reduced food production and induces a rest period.
The number of quality of blooms is directly related to light intensity. Intensity requirements vary from plant to plant, and although most foliage houseplants require bright light without direct sunlight, most will adapt to semi-shade. Plants with variegated leaves need more light than green-leafed plants, and the succulents (cacti, etc.) have the highest light requirements of all. Flowering plants generally need at least some direct sunlight.
4. Keep Them Warm
Although most houseplants are native to the tropics, few will grow well in households at temperatures above 75°F. This is because normal household conditions provide much less light and humidity then natural tropical environments.
Temperatures ranging from 55°F-75°F during the growing season are suitable for most houseplants. Sudden wide fluctuations in temperature (20° or more) are much worse than short periods above or below the optimum range.
5. Give Them Fresh Air
Although plants are the providers of fresh air, the can also benefit from it. Certain household vapors (fresh paint, ripe apples, dirty oil heaters) can be damaging to many houseplants and their flowers. A change of air can remove these harmful vapors as well as strengthen stems, reduce humidity (in overcrowded situations) and lower air temperatures in hot weather. Provide plants with fresh moving air by opening a door or window, but take care to guard against cold air drafts when temperatures outside are appreciably less than those inside.
6. Let Them Rest
Beginners are usually surprised to learn that nearly all plants need a rest (dormant period) in winter.
Beginners are usually surprised to learn that nearly all plants need a rest (dormant period) in winter. This usually means providing them with less water, less feeding and less heat than in the active growing period. Winter-flowering plants are the exception to this rule, and must be fed and watered as usual for as long as they are displayed indoors.
7. Maintain Good Grooming
Dust should be removed from houseplant foliage for several reasons: it prevents leaf pores from breathing properly, blocks out daylight, often contains damaging chemicals and spoils the appearance of plant foliage. Use a mister or soft cloth to remove dust from leaves. Do this early in the morning so leaves have plenty of time to dry before nightfall. Support the leaf with your hand while removing dust, and instead of hand washing young leaves, wash away dust with a syringe. Dust from hairy leafed plants like African violets can be gently swept away with a small artists paintbrush. Avoid products that produce an artificial polish on leaves.
8. Offer Them Extra Humidity
The atmosphere of a centrally heated room in winter is as dry as desert air. Use tepid water in a spray bottle to deposit droplets of water on the plants leaves. Not only will this provide them with a shot of humidity, it helps prevent spider mites and removes dust. Humidifiers and spill trays filled with gravel and water will also add humidity. Plants grown in pots share the humid effects of moist compost when placed close together. As a general rule, plants with papery leaves require more humidity in the air than those with leathery leaves.
9. Treat Trouble Promptly
Expert or beginner, trouble will strike your houseplants at some time. One or two scale insects or mealy bugs are easily picked off; an infestation might be incurable. Over watering is not fatal at first, but kills when prolonged. Learn to recognize the signs of trouble quickly and act immediately to find a resolution.
10. Group Them Together
Nearly all plants look better and grow better when grouped together.
11. Learn to Repot
After a year or two, most plants can begin to look sickly; in many cases, the plant simply needs repotting into a larger container.
12. Use the Proper Tools
Buy a watering can with a long, narrow spout and a mister for increasing humidity, reducing dust and controlling pests. You'll need a reputable brand of compost and a collection of pots, stakes and plant ties or string. Drip trays will keep water off the furniture. A bottle of organic liquid fertilizer and safe pest killer will keep your plants looking healthy. To complete your tool kit include soft a sponge, small artist's paintbrush, an old kitchen spoon, fork, and a pair of small-sized secateurs.
By Ellen Brown
By Ellen Brown
By Pam from Los Angeles
By Angelna from Glendale, CA
By Ellen Brown
By Ellen Brown