Recently Researching: 2015 Goal House Plant Edition. Part One.

I wasn't sure where to put this blog topic... I could put it under 2015 goals bc taking care of my house and plants is a big goal for me this year. Or I could put it under Recently Researching bc, well, it's something I've been researching lately... So I kinda did a mash up of the two! I couldn't think of a super catchy name for it, tho. 

I think every house should strive to have three things: cats, musical instruments, and plants. Luckily, I've got all three covered. 

In effort to take better care of the plants I have (and therefore feel justified in getting more!), I've been researching my house plants. This is something that seems like a no brainer, but I've never actually done it before. I always claim to have no green thumb and maybe this is partly why. 

Here's a rundown of some of the plants I have, as well as some facts, and care for each. 

Aloe - This guy's a succulent, but I often forget that. That means that this soothing medicinal plant should be watered well, then let to dry completely before watering again. Aloe should be kept in bright light and a small pot, as it enjoys being root bound. Aloe's healing properties are well known, but I can never bring myself to break the leaves when I need to treat a burn or scrape. I keep a bottle Aloe Gel in the house for that instead.  Did you know that Aloe actually refers to a whole genus, so the typical plant we see is sometimes called "true" aloe. 
I've had a few different aloe plants, and I think my problem is that I over eater them. I moved my current plant to  the brightest window, and am trying to make it flourish, but at the moment, it's kind of languishing. 

Schefflera/Umbrella Tree - Again we have a plant that is commonly called by it's genus, but the big type we see in pots are usually the Schefflera actinophylla. This plant can grow quite large and full and flower when in the right environment. It can live in medium indirect sun, but prefers bright light. This plant should be watered well, then it's upper soil should be let to dry before watering again. If it's leaves turn yellow and fall off, it's under watered. If they turn black and fall off it's been over watered. (Mine tends to have the former problem). 
When we moved to Park Slope and into a larger apartment, I searched Craigslist for some larger plant and found the schefflera I currently have. We had a harrowing but memorable drive thru the neighborhood with it propped in the back of our truck. I call it our "bedroom tree" (every bedroom should have a tree!) and it's about 7 feet tall. The family we got it from said it was about 8 - 10 years old, then, so now it must be about 12 years old or older! We repotted it once, and it's not living it's best life. Sometimes it grows the cutest little baby new leaves, but mostly it just hangs around looking droopy. I've been trying to water this guy more regularly and I think it'll benefit when we open the windows so it can get fresh air and more light. 

Pothos Epipremnum Aureum - This is the most commonly seen Pothos, which has shiny light green, or variegated light and dark green leaves. The standard pothos grows well in low light, and is super easy to maintain, needing water only when it's soil is about 50% dry, or even dryer. Leave will yellow and fall if left too dry for too long. These plants prefer warm climates and will die if left to get too cold. Pothos prefer to be root bound, sending out long tendrils which can be pruned, or coiled to keep the plant bushy. These easy houseplants keep the air clean, so are good to have on hand, but can be poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep in a safe place!
I have quite a few of these guys, and most do really well. One was left by an open window, got too cold and is on it's last legs. One has some sort of white mildew which my schefflera also gets. I've found that giving it more sun after gently wiping away the white powdery substance usually solves the problem. Sometimes I forget to water them until I see the leaves start to droop. I'm trying to avoid this, but haven't had any dies like this. I've tried to propagate cuttings from some of my Pothos with mixed results. Some start growing roots right away and live long lives, but others fail completely. Growing new plants from cutting is a goal for me with these. My cats don't bother these plants much, so I don't worry about them, but I do try to keep them in higher places, if possible. 

Rubber Plant - This plant (ficus elastica) used to be grown for the rubber that could be made from it's latex which is like sap, but separate. Now it's mostly a decorative plant and it's cousin the Para Rubber Tree is grown to make the rubber we use today. These two trees actually have a different genus and the house plant is more closely related to the fig tree. It likes indirect light and does well in low, medium or bright as long as it's not direct. They don't need too much water and prefer it a little dryer in cooler climates. The leaves can yellow from being over or under watered but usually fall off if overly saturated. Rubber trees can grow quite large and get nice think trunks. This plant prefers warm temperatures and will die in cold weather, but overall I've found them to be quite hardy!
My rubber trees are my longest lived plants and I always have to stop myself from getting more and more of them. They are so easy to care for and lovely to have around. I do need to tie them up better as their branched can start to get wild and out of control. And I need to dust their leaves more often (or ever) bc it's better for them to be dust free. 

I've learned a lot about how to care for the house plants I currently have. And this is only the first installment. By my count, I have 9 or 10 more varieties to learn about! I feel that when I am better able to take care of my plants, I will be ready to get more. Hopefully by that time, we will be living in a more light soaked home and one where my plants can spend some summer days outside. Even house plants like a field trip!

Do you have an tricks or tips for these house plants? If so, I'd love to hear them in the comments! 

Check out my pinterest page for more on these and previous Recently Researching topics.