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Tropical Plants Tips

Read these 25 Tropical Plants Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about English Garden tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Can I take cuttings of my "mother-in law´s" tongue plant?

Propagating A Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Before you recoil in horror,"Mother in Laws Tongue" is a succulent plant with 2-3ft long sword-like leaves! (It certainly IS well named.)
If you have the yellow edged form of Sansieveria or "mother in laws tongue",you can easily propogate it by division.
Knock the plant out of its pot and cut through the root ball so that you end up with several rooted leaf portions. Pot these up in 3" pots of gritty compost.
A peculiar quirk of nature is that you can also root 2" leaf cuttings of yellow edged Sansieverias, but the resultant plants don't have the yellow edge. this is why division of the plant is recommended.

Green Sansieverias can be divided as above or you can use the leaf cutting method:
Cut off an entire , healthy leaf from the mother plant. Lay it flat on the table, the right way up.Using a sharp knife,cut the leaf up into 2" long sections.It is very important that you insert the cuttings the right way up , so a good tip at this stage is to cut a "v"shape out of the bottom end of the cutting.
Fill a tray with gritty compost and push the "v" end into the compost, leaving the top inch or so of the cutting exposes.Place water the tray in and place on a bright , warm windowsill or propogating frame in the greenhouse.
Water the cuttings only when they are dry and within a couple of months you will see a new plant growing from the leaf section. Pot up individually in small pots and grow on.
Spring and summer are the best times to try this technique.

   
Do I Treat Foliage House Plants Differently From Flowering Plants?

Foliage Plants: The Basics.

Foliage house plants, in general, need less light than flowering houseplants. Plants with variegated leaves, however, must be in good natural light or they will lose the variegation.

   
How do I choose the best real Christmas tree/

Buying A Real Christmas Tree.

Christmas trees sometimes could have been cut six or seven weeks prior to you buying them. So if possible buy fresh from a Christmas Tree grower.
The traditional Christmas tree , the Norway Spruce, is not the longest lasting by a long chalk.
If you must have the traditional shape,the longest lasting is the Nordman Spruce, more expensive, but will see the New Year!
Pines also last the full season and do not shed there needles and look superb when decorated.
The best tip of all is to buy a live tree with roots,it is possible to reuse them year after year.
My tips for buying and looking after real trees are as follows:
(1) Buy fresh from a specialist grower
(2) If this is not possible,buy a Nordman spruce or any type of pine.Or buy a pot grown tree.
(3) Check for freshness, by sqeezing the needles: If they feel hard or some fall off,reject the tree. Fresh needles are soft and springy.
(4) Treat your tree with an anti-transpirent Christmas tree spray.This slows down the process of the needles drying out.
(5) Store the tree outside untill abot 10 days before Christmas for potted or 5-7 days for cut.
(6) For cut trees,before you bring them indoors,saw a couple of inches off the base.(The old cut will have healed over and be unable to take up water )
(7) Either buy a Christmas tree stand that will hold water or set the tree in a large pot,(make sure it does NOT have drainage holes), of wet sand.
(8) Add a couple of pints of water to the tree, (whether it is cut or pot grown), every day, including Christmas Morning!
Relax and enjoy one of the true wonders of Christmas.
Remember that Christmas trees are grown as a crop and every year more and more are being planted, so you are not depleting some natural forest by buying a real tree!

   
When do I feed my foliage houseplants?

Feeding: When To Feed Foliage Houseplants.

Foliage plants can be fed once every two weeks in the growing season- April to September inclusive.
Foliage houseplants do not need to be fed from October through to the end of March.

   
How do I look after a Christmas Cactus?

Schlumbergia: The Christmas Cactus.

Available in many beautiful colors including bicolors, the Christmas cactus is a traditional festive plant.
It is not hard to look after, as long as you remember it is not a desert cactus, but an epiphite or tree dweller,native of the south American rain forests.
Water regularly , keep it on a bright window sill and feed only when the flowerbuds appear. Use tomato fertilizer.
Be careful not to over pot or the plant grows rampantly at the expense of flowers.Benefits from being outside from June to September , but watch out for slug and snail attack.
When the flowerbuds appear, do not move the plant as it resents being disturbed and is likely to drop all the flowerbuds.

   
How do I get my Poinsettia to bloom again?

Getting That Poinsettia To Bloom Again.

Poinsettias are day length responsive and only bloom when the hours of daylight fall below 11 hours per day.
Indoors, the light from your lamps will prevent it from ever flowering again.
The object is to give your plant at least 14 hours darkness, every day from late September until you see the red bracts well formed.
From the end of September ,place your poinsettia inside a black poly bag and tie up the top. The best time to do it is when you come home from work. Next morning take the plant back out of the bag, just before you leave for work.This way the poinsettia gets the darkness it needs to initiate flowers and you have an easy to remember routine. When the coloured bracts have fully developed,( around the beginning of December),stop the poly bag treatment and enjoy your plant.
Did you know that poinsettia plants, when in bloom, respond well to a weekly liquid feed of tomato fertilizer.The potash in the feed gives larger and stronger coloured bracts.

   
What do I look for when buying Christmas Plants?

Choosing Christmas Plants.

There are several do's and don'ts when chosing Christmas plants. So whether you are buying to decorate your home this Yuletide or buying as gifts for friends or family follow my tips for the best results.

Don't buy plants that are tired looking, sitting outside or are very dry. All will lead to your plant not making it to New Year.
Tired plants may never recover. Plants siting outside or in draughts will drop all their leaves.Dry plants will drop all their flower buds.
Never carry a plant direct from the store to the cold outdoors. Pop your new purchase in a large polythene bag and tie the top.Take it straight home then unpack.This prevents the plant getting a shock.

For the best results, choose good looking , healthy plants from a Nursery. Poinsettias should have pea sized unopened true flower buds in the center of the brght bracts.If they are open or missing don't buy.
Cyclamen should ideally have only a handful of open blooms, with plenty of healthy unopened flower buds. Reject plants with yellowing foliage or drooping flowers.
Pot mums -Choose plants with partly opened flowers.Often plants in tight bud fail to develop in winter.
Christmas Cherries- Reject any plants with wrinkled berries, berries falling off or yellowing leaves. The best plants should be bushy with dark green leaves,afew orange berries and many more green berries.
Hyacinths should have a few "bells" showing color.

   
How do I Apply a foliar feed?.

Feeding : Applying A Foliar Feed.

Mix up a solution of feed as directed on the product label. Apply with a hand sprayer or watering can with a rose attached. Apply evenly over the entire plant, till the solution starts to run off the leaves.
It's a good idea to either do this outdoors or in the bath, where the solution will not spoil furnishings.
Never apply foliar feeds in bright sunshine as the plant will be scorched. Apply in the shade, on a dull day or in the evening when the sun is off the plant.

   
What is A Foliar Feed?

Feeding: Foliar Feeds.

A foliar feed is a quick acting liquid feed that is applied directly onto the leaves, rather than into the pot. The plant foliage absorbs the fertiliser.

   
What are the rules of feeding my foliage Houseplants?

Feeding : The Rules For Feeding Foliage Houseplants.

Only feed April till October.
Never pot feed sick plant: Damaged roots can't take up fertiliser.
Never feed a plant that is dry: The fertiliser will burn the roots.
Never overfeed: Only use the recommended rate and frequency of application that is listed on the manufacturers packaging.
Never decant liquid fertiliser into another bottle: A child may mistake it for soda!
Always use up dilute fertiliser on the day you make it: Solutions spoil.

   
How do I care for my planted bowl arrangement?

The Planted Bowl Arrangement.

The Planted Bowl Arrangement.
Many thousands of these highly decorative planted arrangements are given as gifts each year .
Water carefully due to the lack of drainage holes.
All arrangements should be regarded as temporary as they soon outgrow the confines of the bowl.Pot plants up seperately when this becomes necessary.

   
How Much Water Do Houseplants Need?

Watering Those Indoor Plants : How Much To Give Them.

It may seem very obvious, but a dry plant needs much more water than one that is slightly moist. Water often runs straight through a pot without wetting the compost and although you give the plant what seems like enough water, the roots are still dry.
Plunge a "bone dry" houseplant in a bucket of water, till the air bubbles stop rising

   
What Are The Ideal Conditions For House Plants?

Basic Conditions For House Plants.

Although the ideal conditions vary for the many sorts of house plants none can survive long if the basics are not met. Bare the following in mind when you are positioning a new house plant.
Light: Always place as near to a natural source of light as possible.
Draughts: A draughty position is fatal.
Water: Extremes of moisture will cause the death of the plant.
Humidity: All plants require a reasonably humid atmosphere. Dry air causes the leaf tips to burn.
Feeding : Hungry plants never look well.
Temperature: Extremely hot or cold conditions will cause the death of the plant.

   
What tropical plant will bloom indoors in the winter?

Hibiscus

Hibiscus will bloom throughout the winter months indoors if it is placed in a cool, draft free location with lots of light.

   
Why did my bloom fall off?

Fertilization Is The Key

Tropical plants require more nutrients to create a bloom then many perennials. In order to bloom, the flower must draw its energy from the plant. If the fertilizer is not right, the bloom many times will not open.

   
Is there a foolproof way of watering my houseplants correctly?

Watering Those Indoor Plants : Taking Away The Guesswork.

The trick is to look at the surface of the pot. When you see the compost turning light brown, the plant needs a drink.
Let the plant drink what it wants. Take the plant out of it's Cache or decorative outer pot and sit it in a dish of water. After half an hour, empty any remaining water away. By this time the plant will have drank all the water it needs and there is no chance that you have over or under watered.

   
What type of fertiliser should I use on my foliage house plants?

Feeding: Slow Release Fertilisers For Foliage Houseplants.

Slow release fertilisers do what they say, that is release fertiliser slowly over a period of time, when the plant needs it. The market leader is Osmocote, from the Scotts Company. Mix it through the compost at the recommended rate when potting up plants.
Osmocote pellets are a great idea, that works well. They consist of an accurate quantity of Osmocote granules stuck together. Push a pellet into the compost of a ready potted plant and up to a years worth of fertiliser is released slowly when the plant needs it. Larger plants will need more than one pellet, check the side of the box for the correct quantity for your plant.

   
What are the advantages of having a greenhouse?

Winter Protection For Tender Plants

Tender exotics such as, Agaves, date palms, cabbage palms, windmill palms, tree ferns, Bougainvilleas, Brugmansias and Abutilons as well as all your Fuchsias, Geraniums and Marguerites need only frost free conditions to get them through the winter.

   
How do I choose and look after a Poinsettia?

Poinsettia: The Christmas Star.

Poinsettia: The Christmas Star.
Poinsettias have become as much part of the festive season as Santa Clause, Mistletoe and Holly.
The traditional reds remain the most popular, but look out for the many beautiful shades of salmon ,cream , pink ,orange , purple white and marbled types .
Not such a temperamental beauty as it once was, varieties nowadays will often last till spring.
Choose a plant that has no sign of yellowing leaves, unblemished bracts and which has unopened true flowers or sciathia intact in the centre of the "bloom" (these appear as pea sized , yellowish green buds.) .
Poinsettias actually seem to enjoy central heating as long as they are near bright light. Water regularly by sitting in a saucer of water. after half an hour the plant wil have drank it's fill and any remaining water can be poured away.
Feed with liquid tomato fertiliser once a week to maintain the bract colour.

   
How do I care for an Amaryllis?

Amaryllis : The Ideal Christmas Gift.

The flowers of Amaryllis, or as it is more correctly known, the Hippeastrum come from the largest and most most easily grown tropical bulbs .
Brightly coloured square boxes of Amaryllis are every where at the moment and make a beautiful growing gift.

Choose the largest bulbs you can find as they will produce the most blooms. Plant in large pots of compost, leaving half the bulb exposed. Place the pot in a warm location indoors, near a radiator is ideal, and when the first shoot is around 3 inches tall move to normal room conditions in good light.

Water when required and the bulb you potted will bloom within eight weeks.

Recommended Varieties:
Apple Blossom: Pink and white.
Christmas Gift : white.
Belinda : Orange.
Hercules :Lavender pink.
Minerva :Red with white stripes.
Liberty :Crimson
Rilona : Peachy Salmon.
Susan : Deep pink.
Look out also for the following newer varieties:
Jewel :Double white.
Picotee White with a thin red edge to the petals.
Double Picotee : Same as Picotee, but with double blooms.
Lady Jane :Double Salmon pink.
Mary Lou :double appleblossom.
Lemon and Lime : Most unusual limegreen.

   
How do I look after the Indian Azalea pot plant?

Rhododendron simsii: The Indian Azalea.

Available in white, blush pink through to red, salmon, and several bicolours, the Indian Azalea is both the classiest and most expensive Christmas pot plant.
It requires cool room conditions and needs to be watered regularly with rainwater, if you live in an hard, (or chalky), water region.
For a long lasting display, choose a plant that has only a few open flowers, mist over regularly and pick of faded blooms as required.

   
What type of fertiliser should I use on my foliage house plants?

Feeding: Liquid Fertiliser For Foliage Houseplants.

There are a number of excellent liquid fertilisers on the market , specially formulated for houseplants. Any of these will do, but Baby Bio is an excellent product. Follow the instructions on the bottle for dilution rates and never give "one for luck."

   
How often do I water my houseplants?

Watering Those Indoor Plants : Frequency.

Frequency of watering is directly linked to :
Air Temperature: The higher the temperature, the more often you will need to water.
Season : House plants are semi- dormant in winter and thus require less water.
Humidity: Plants growing very humid rooms, (eg the kitchen or bathroom), require less watering.
Light: Houseplants in a bright , sunny, position will need watering more often than those in a less bright area of the house.
As these conditions are very variable, it is never a good idea to water to a set pattern.

   
What is a commonly used tropical flower for floral arrangements?

Bird-Of-Paradise

Many florists use the bird-of-paradise in exotic flower arrangements.

   
Can I foliar feed my houseplants?

Feeding : Foliar Feeding Foliage Houseplants.

Foliar feeds are a useful way of giving a plant a quick boost and should be used occasionally to supplement any fertiliser that you currently use. Foliar feeding can be used on plants that are sick and have damaged roots.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Jerry Mayo