Scientific name: Begonia hybrids
Common name(s): Rex Begonia, painted leaf, fan Begonia
Origin: tropical South America
Light: high to medium filtered light; protect from direct sun.
Watering: moderate moisture, avoid soggy soil, let the soil dry slightly between watering
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 2-3 months in spring and summer. Do not feed in winter.
These durable plants are grown and cherished for their gorgeous foliage. Numberless cultivars have been produced so there are many unusual specimens available. Many people collect them. Rex Begonias are a great alternative to blooming plants when something colorful is wanted in a basket arrangement or mixed planter.
Scientific name: Beaucarnea recurvata
Common name(s): pony tail palm, elephant foot tree, bottle palm
Origin: the deserts of Mexico
Light: high to very high light
Watering: water thoroughly, then allow soil to dry out before watering again
Fertilizing: use a cactus mix every 3 to 4 months
This very slow growing plant makes a great accent in dish gardens when small and a dramatic statement as a single mature specimen. It is a tough plant requiring very little care and drawing attention with it’s unusual shape.
Scientific name: Asplenium
Common name(s): bird’s nest fern, spleenwort
Origin: Southeastern Asia
Light: medium to high, protect from lots of direct sun
Watering: even moisture; let soil surface dry between waterings
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 2 months
This epiphytic fern is commonly found growing in the trees of it’s native home, because of this, it is more tolerant of low humidity than some of the other ferns. It gets it’s common name from the way the leaves uncoil from the heart of the plant forming a bird nest like rosette.
Scientific name: Aspidistra elatior
Common name(s): cast-iron plant, parlor plant, parlor palm
Origin: Japan, China
Light: low to medium
Watering: allow surface of soil to dry out between waterings
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 2-3 months
This plant is tough! It is a hard to find favorite that has been around for quite some time and proven itself to be undemanding. It survives almost any where inside the home and is also hardy out doors where it adds a tropical flair to any shade garden. It’s strap-like leaves, which are frequently used in the floral industry, make great additions to cut flower arrangements.
Scientific name: Asparagus
Common name(s): asparagus fern
Origin: West Africa
Light: medium to high light
Watering: allow soil to dry slightly between watering
Fertilizing: an all-purpose every 2-3 months
The asparagus fern is not a true fern. It is a very versatile plant that can be used as a summer annual, works great in mixed planters, takes well to water-culture, and also looks great alone. It tends to shed and become messy when not given sufficient light.
Scientific name: Ardisia
Common name(s): coral berry, marlberry, spice berry
Origin: China, Japan, Malaya
Light: high light
Watering: moderate; allow soil surface to dry out between waterings
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 2 months, a blossom booster mix to encourage flowers
This little tree loves to spend summers out doors in a protected area. Given good light it will bear clusters of white flowers and brilliant red berries. A young seedling is a perfect specimen for bonsai training. It is slow growing but may eventually reach a mature height of 2-4 ft.
Scientific name: Araucaria heterophylla
Common name(s): Norfolk Island pine, starpine, Christmas tree plant
Origin: Norfolk Islands; off the coast of Australia
Watering: moderate; allow soil to almost dry out before watering again.
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 2-3 months
The Norfolk Island pine, with it’s delightful symmetry is a favorite at Christmas time, but makes a great floor plant any time of year. It adapts well and is fairly undemanding. To keep it’s growth even and its tiered branched well-balanced, rotate it regularly so that all sides receive good light.
Scientific name: Aphelandra squarrosa
Common name(s): zebra plant
Light: bright filtered light
Watering: keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Some surface drying is alright, but do not allow to wilt.
Fertilizing: all-purpose mix every 2-3 months, a blossom booster mix when encouraging blooms.
Bright yellow long-lasting bracts of flowers may appear in the summer, provided enough light, and if given a “cool shock” of 40 degrees F for several weeks in the fall. The plant should also be allowed to become pot-bound prior to flowering. These plants need good humidity to stay healthy, placing them on a humidity tray is the easiest way to achieve this.
Scientific name: Anthurium
Common name(s): flamingo flower, little boy plant, tail flower, oilcloth flower, wax flower, hoja de corazon
Origin: tropical South and North American jungles
Light: medium light for growth, high light for flowering
Watering: moderate even moisture, let soil dry slightly between watering
Fertilizing: all purpose mix every 3 months, a blossom booster can be used when encouraging blooms
This beautiful exotic flowering plant is sure to attract attention. The plant itself makes a great decorator plant when not in bloom and withstands lower light levels and some neglect as well. The large waxy flowers appear throughout the year and each bloom lasts for several weeks. Most familiar is the red-flowered Anthurium, but also occasionally available are shades of pink, white, and orange. It’s natural epiphytic nature makes it suitable for mounting on rocks or bark.
Scientific name: Aloe vera
Common name(s): aloe, medicine plant, bitter aloe, first-aid plant, Barbados aloe
Origin: Cape Verde, Canary Islands
Watering: keep soil on dry side. Water throughly, then allow soil to dry completely before next watering
Fertilizing: cactus and succulent blend of fertilizer every 2-3 months
Aloes are sun-lovers and do wonderfully outdoors in the summertime, but also make excellent houseplants. They need only a minimum of care and as much light as possible. They are prized for their medicinal uses; Their juicy pulp soothes and moisturizes sunburned skin. There is a smaller leaved variety native to India, Vietnam, and Taiwan (Aloe vera chinensis).