Growing Dieffenbachia as a Houseplant

Here is one houseplant which is quite popular. Dieffenbachia is grown for its attractive patterned foliage, and is commonly found as a houseplant due to its ability to tolerate shade. However, if you have pets which love to chew houseplants, or you have young children in the house, you may want to skip this one. Once the kids are older and it can be protected from the pets, you may want to consider this one.

Now that we have that warning out of the way, here is more information on the growing of this popular houseplant.

Dieffenbachia are a tropical perennial from the family araceae, which also includes philodendrons, anthurium, caladium, and spahtiphyllum. They are commonly grown for their variegated foliage, which may be varying greens, white, and yellow. Most plants will grow to about 4 feet tall, although plant height of 8 feet has been reported, especially in semitropic and tropical areas. Like all aroids, dieffenbachia will occasionally flower, with very small flowers appearing on an inflorescence called a spadix. A spathe, or hood, often accompanies the spadix and may partially surround it.

Due to their preference of shade, but bright indirect light, dieffenbachia tend to do well as houseplants. Normally near an east or west facing window will supply enough light, but southern windows may provide too much or too direct of sunlight. If near a southern window and leaves appear to yellow and fall off, you may want to try moving it to a more shaded location and see if its condition improves.

Dieffenbachia are tropical plants, and as such prefer a more humid environment. This being said, the base and roots of your dieffenbachia are susceptible to rot caused by overwatering. Let soil mostly dry out between waterings, and your dieffenbachia should not experience root rot. Like all houseplants, if you neglect your dieffenbachia too long though, it will wilt and die from underwatering, so don’t forget about it and don’t get too paranoid about overwatering.

Like all houseplants, you will need to supply fertilizer to your dieffenbachia. A timed release foliage houseplant fertilizer can be used as per instructions, or a liquid fertilizer can be applied when watering once every two to four weeks. Dieffenbachias should be fed during spring through fall.

Another thing to consider, especially if you are a dieffenbachia lover in more extreme climates, is that these particular houseplants do not tolerate extreme cold well. During the winter months, be careful about drafts from windows and doors, which can adversely impact your dieffenbachia.

So, you’ve now kept one of these prime examples of foliage houseplant alive for a while, kept all nearby creatures from snacking on it, and now you’ve decided they’re like a brand name potato chip. You can’t have just one. Here’s how to get another one.

Before I get into propagation, there is one thing I should mention. Any time you work with this plant, especially cutting it, you should thoroughly wash your hands and any surfaces which have come into contact with the cut parts. The easiest way to propagate your dieffenbachia is by air layering. This method involves making a cut in the stem, and applying rooting hormone to the cut. Moist peat or coir is then applied around the stem cut, and is held in place with plastic and twist ties. Once roots are visible near the cut, cut the dieffenbachia stem below the newly formed root ball and plant as normal.

Enjoy the looks of this wonderful plant, and take care to keep it safe from pets and kids, and keep pets and kids safe from it.

Houseplants That Filter the Air We Breathe

The quality of the air we breath and houseplants are becoming closer and closer related everyday. Many physicians recommend a relaxing hobby like gardening for their patients suffering from stress related illnesses. But it has been found that cultivating plants indoors may also lower the risk of asthma, allergies and “Sick Building Syndrome.” The Environmental Protection Agency has cited indoor air pollution as one of the top five public health threats in America, and the main culprit in the sixty percent rise in asthma over the last decade. Now researchers are looking to houseplants for a solution to help with polluted indoor air. With the release of the extensive NASA study on using houseplants to filter air the question is posed: What houseplants will filter air the best? With the exception of the dwarf banana plant which is a fairly unusual plant, the bulk of the list of plants NASA tested reads like a “Who’s Who” of the interior plant world. They are:

· Ficus benjamina known as Weeping fig
· Hedera helix known as English ivy
· Chlorophytum comosum known as spider plant
· Epipiremnum aureum known as golden pothos
· Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa” known as peace lily
· Aglaonema modestum known as Chinese evergreen
· Chamaedorea sefritzii known as bamboo or reed palm
· Sansevieria trifasciata known as snake plant
· Philodendron scandens oxycardium known as heartleaf philodendron
· Philodendron domesticum known as elephant ear philodendron
· Dracaena marginata known as red-edged dracaena
· Dracaena fragrans Massangeana known as cornstalk dracaena
· Dracaena deremensis known as “Janet Craig”

Using houseplants can be very beneficial in our lives. These plants can purify and renew our stale indoor air by filtering out toxins, pollutants and the carbon dioxide we exhale and best of all replace them with life sustaining oxygen.

Although it can be safe to assume that all plants are capable of removing toxins from our air, the research done by NASA showed that some house plants are more efficient in filtering out toxins than others. The houseplants known as Philodendrons, Spider plants, and Pothos were found to be the most efficient in the removal of formaldehyde. Gerbera Daisies and Chrysanthemums were found to be highly effective in the removal of benzene which is a known carcinogen.

Most plant experts state as a rule of thumb, allow one houseplant per 100 square feet of living area. It is important to keep in mind that the more vigorous the plant, the more air it can filter. Yet it is also important to realize that plants will not do much to alleviate tobacco smoke or dust in the air.

Despite the results of several studies (including NASA’s work) there are skeptics that remain. Some researchers are unconvinced that houseplants can make a real difference in air quality. Many researchers feel that the conditions that were used to study plants in a lab versus a “real life” situation make the results of houseplants filtering air not reliable when placed in the real world. Many researchers also feel that the density of plants needed to make a difference in air quality would be unrealistic within the space confines of home or office.

Researchers who favor the results of houseplants that filter air are working to overcome the obstacles thrown at them by the skeptics. Growing plants hydroponically (in water) overcomes some of the problems stated in terms of space and density and humidity needed. Filters using hydroponic plants, fans and activated charcoal will be on the market within a year, and many researchers feel will improve air purification as much as two hundred-fold. This is due to the fact that hydroponically-grown plants do not produce mold spores, and are easy to maintain. These plants were tested against empty rooms and it was found that in home tests, rooms devoid of plants had airborne microbe levels fifty percent higher than plant-filled rooms.

The debate may rage on as to whether houseplants clean the air or not(and there’s plenty of evidence that they do) but regardless, houseplants will continue to decorate the homes of people who appreciate bringing the outside inside.

The Best Flowering Houseplants

Flowers have long been considered one of the most beautiful things in the world. We give them to each other at times of joy and at times of real grief. They have been the subject matter of poets and artists for centuries, and for good reason. However, for those of us who are flower lovers, the seasons change, and with the coming of winter we wave goodbye to their beauty. Many of us forget that there are several flowering houseplants that can fill your winter days with remarkable beauty. A houseplant can brighten almost any cold or dark corner of a home and turn the boring or depressing into something vibrant. A home with many houseplants feels alive and expresses something about the life of those who live there. If you have not tried to grow some flowering houseplants then you should give it a try immediately. Here is a list and set of descriptions of some of my favorite flowering houseplants:

1. Flowering maples (also called Abutilons) are very delicate and have remarkable bell shaped flowers. Flowers come in many different colors, including pink, red, white, yellow, and peach. Some people report having these plants bloom throughout the winter. My friends have said that they thrive in well fertilized soil and with lots of light.

2. Jasmines are another great option for a flowering houseplant because they tend to emit wonderful scents. They do well in nitrogen rich soil and they do well in full sun or with some shade.

3. Angel trumpet is a remarkable plant with very large drooping flowers. It is highly fragrant and can bloom through the winter. Keep this plant well watered and make sure that it gets direct sunlight.

4. A favorite of mine is the passionflower vine which can grow up a trellis or other structure. The flowers are truly amazing and give off an amazing scent. Like so many other plants, passionflower vine requires lots of exposure to sunlight.

5. Lavender is another option, although not one that you might think about when considering an indoor plant. Lavender likes a great deal of sun but it does not need a huge amount of water. The best thing about the plant is that it produces that wonderful lavender smell. Imagine a house in the dead of winter, nothing alive outside, filled with the smell of fresh lavender!

These are just a few of many great flowering houseplants that you should consider trying in your home or office. Remember that flowering houseplants don’t need to just go in a home! They can easily be grown in any number of environments without too much work. An otherwise impersonal office becomes something beautiful and unique when a great houseplant is brought into it. There are all sorts of options when it comes to where you put the plant-don’t be limited!

Realize that houseplants have their own set of needs that you should be aware of. Many of them can be easily over watered and suffer from severe rot problems. Make sure to never drench your houseplants or to simply set them under a sink. This can also literally drown the roots and kill the plant quickly. With this said, you should realize that flowering plants generally do need a bit more water than non-flowering plants. This is because they require more energy while in the process of flowering. Give them a little extra water but don’t drown them. If your first attempts with flowering houseplants are failures keep trying. With some patience and hard work you will see great results for years to come!