House Plants



Showy flowers give bright color for eight weeks or more each year to anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum, also known as flamingo flower). Flowers typically are red, but you can find hybrids in shades of pink, lavender, white and even green. Anthurium flower blossoms make superb cut flowers because they last a long time. Note that the pretty, heart-shape leaves contain toxic sap, so make sure pets and children do not ingest them.

Size: To 2 – 3 feet high and 2 feet wide
Growing conditions: Medium to bright light with no direct sun; 65 – 80°F; evenly moist soil (barely moist in fall and winter)


Peace Lily

Spathiphyllum Wallisii

The easy-care peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) tolerates low humidity and low light. Its glossy, lance-shape leaves tip arching stems that surround the central flower spikes. The spoon-shape flowers normally appear in summer, but many cultivars bloom intermittently throughout the year. The dark leaves look attractive in a plain pot with a glossy finish.

Size: To 1 – 6 feet high and 1 – 5 feet wide
Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60 – 85°F; evenly moist soil




Peperomia’s most interesting feature is its leaves, which vary in shape (heart shape to narrow), texture (waxy to wafflelike) and color (green, reddish or silvery gray). Plants occasionally produce slender flowery spikes that resemble rat’s tails. Use on tabletops and as a companion in dish gardens and mixed baskets. The plant tolerates the low light of a north windowsill and stays small enough to fit on a desk or to be used in a terrarium.

Size: To 6 – 12 inches high and 6 – 12 inches wide
Growing conditions: Low to medium light; 60 – 75°F; moderately dry soil


Snake Plant

Snake Plant

This carefree, tough succulent grows almost anywhere. Snake plant (Sansevieria spp.) tolerates neglect but responds nicely to good care. Leathery, sword-shape leaves grow edged with yellow or white. Snake plant is great for beginners, but experienced houseplant growers also love it for its dramatic upright form. When grown in bright light, it sends up a tall stalk of greenish fragrant flowers. The dwarf rosette varieties make nice desktop or tabletop plants.

Size: To 6 – 48 inches high and 6 – 36 inches wide
Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60 – 85° moderately dry soil


Cast-Iron Plant

Aspidistra Elatior

Slow-growing cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) lives up to its name. It’s almost indestructible, withstanding neglect, low light, low humidity and a wide range of temperatures — perfect for a dark corner. Start with large plants since plants grow slowly.

Size: To 1 – 2 feet high and 1 – 2 feet wide
Growing conditions: Low light; 45 – 85°F; evenly moist soil (barely moist in fall and winter)

Pictured: Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)




Arching pointed leaves up to 12 inches long, usually marbled with white or cream, grow out of a canelike stem. The large leaves of dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.) provide a tropical architectural accent; the plant also blends well into a mixed grouping of foliage. One of dieffenbachia’s common names, dumb cane, comes from the toxic sap in the leaves and stems that causes tongue numbness and swelling when chewed by humans or pets.

Size: To 1 – 6 feet high and 1 – 3 feet wide
Growing conditions: Low to medium light; 65 – 80°F; evenly moist soil


English Ivy

English Ivy

This versatile foliage plant’s dainty demeanor makes it suitable for hanging baskets or pots. It’s among the best houseplants for training on topiary forms or using as a groundcover beneath larger houseplants. Place English ivy (Hedera helix) on a mantel or shelf where the stems can hang down. The stems can grow quite long but are easily controlled with pruning.

Size: To 6 – 12 inches high and 6 – 72 inches wide, trailing
Growing conditions: Medium to bright light; 55 – 70°F; average to high humidity; evenly moist soil


Planting A Rooftop Garden

Rooftop gardening is nothing new. City dwellers have been tucking plants on roofs and fire escapes for generations. Even green roofs, roofs covered with soil and plants, have been around for years. It seems no matter how much land a gardener has, we always seem to be looking for more space, and rooftop gardens of all kinds are gaining popularity in both residential and commercial sites.

There are plenty of good reasons to consider a rooftop garden:

  • They make use of unused or underused space
  • A garden beautifies an eyesore
  • They can provide privacy
  • They can be extremely environmentally friendly
  • There is usually good sun exposure
  • No deer

If you’re considering a rooftop garden, there are a couple of directions you could go in. Fully planted green roofs, where the roof is covered with soil and the plants are in the ground, make great environmental sense, but they are too difficult for homeowners to undertake on their own. Green roofs can easily top 100 lbs. per sq. ft., before adding people. You would need to need to hire a structural engineer or architect to conduct a structural analysis and probably a professional company to install it.

The easiest and most personal approach to rooftop gardening is the use of containers and raised beds. You can create any style of rooftop garden with container grown plants, from a few simple herb plants to a formal, elegant potager.

Containers are perfect for rooftop gardens because they are light, portable, flexible and affordable.

While caring for container grown plants on a rooftop is much like maintaining containers on the ground, there are a few rooftop idiosyncrasies to consider before you start hauling your pots outside.

  • Permission: First, check with your landlord and/or building code. Questions about accessibility, building height restrictions and fire regulations can prohibit any type of roof use.
  • Structural Integrity: Make sure the roof can hold the load. Get a licensed pro to do this. Soil and pots are heavy to begin with and will get heavier as the plants grow. If you’ve ever tried to move a pot full of wet soil, you know how much weight water can add.
  • Access: How are you going to get your materials and supplies in and out? If you live in an apartment, make sure you are allowed to use the elevator. Some municipalities require multiple access/exits and possibly exit lighting, fire alarms and emergency lighting.
  • Water: Will you be able to run a hose out to the roof? Watering cans can become a nuisance and containers require a lot of water. Consider installing a rain barrel and drip irrigation.
  • Sun Exposure: Are you shaded by nearby buildings or the terrace above you? Even fun sun can be a problem when plants are sweltering on top of concrete.
  • Heat: Besides the sun beating down on the roof, there is ambient heat being reflected from the roof surface, surrounding buildings, street cars and metal exhaust and utility structures. You will probably want to provide some sort of shade, if not for the plants, then for you.
  • Wind: Wind can whip down straight urban streets, especially on high-rises. You may want to consider some type of wall or fencing. If so, you will probably need to check your building code again for required heights and structural stability. This is especially important when building safety barriers for kids and pets.
  • Privacy: Most rooftops are surrounded by neighboring buildings. If your rooftop garden will be in full view, you may want to plan for screening. You can plant a hedge of evergreens, run vines up a trellis wall or simply tuck under an umbrella table.
  • Electrical Wiring: Electricity isn’t essential, but it sure makes things easier. If you are planning on enjoying your garden at night, candles aren’t the best lighting for weeding.
  • Storage: There’s a lot of paraphernalia associated with gardening: tools, fertilizer, compost, buckets. Space is limited on a rooftop and it’s hard to camouflage a storage area. Shelves will suffice. Some rooftop gardeners opt for narrow closets. Another option is bench seating with built in storage, to do double duty.
  • Cost: Last but not least, how much are you willing to spend? You can start small and add on, buying more pots and plants (and soil) as you go. The real expense comes when you want to start hardscaping and building on the roof. Laying tiles or stone, building raised beds and boxes, adding lighting and furniture can all start to add up. Plus, you may need more structural work to support them. – source

How To Plant A Tropical Garden

The tropical garden has one foot in the exotic South Pacific and the other in the Equatorial rainforest. These humid climates produce an incredible array of plants in what we once called the “jungle.” The glitzy coast of Florida, languid vacation lifestyle of Hawaii, or the more rustic feel of the Mexican Riviera can inspire themes for this style.

Even if you don’t happen to live in a hot, humid climate, you can create the essence of the tropics.


Three Keys to a Tropical Garden

First, do a little research about what grows well in your area. If your climate is hot and dry, you can still create the topical feel, but with easy-care plants that won’t triple your water bill. So instead of thirsty Ferns, you might choose Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai).

Strelitzia Nicolai

Plants for the tropical garden need not be intolerant of frost. Many tropical-looking plants will stand up to freezing temperatures. Like the Hardy Fiber Banana (Musa basjoo).

Hardy Fiber Banana


Second rule — the essence of the tropical garden is dense planting. Only with a lot of plants in a small space can you achieve the desired jungle-like appearance. Create a wall around the garden – think vertical layers. Surround yourself in plants.

The final design rule is color. Hot, bright colors just scream tropics. Not only bright flower colors, but striking variegated foliage. And, use color in your hardscape and décor. –

Greenhouse Growing

Growing tropical plants is easier if you have a frost-free greenhouse or shed that you can move plants to in winter. If you have the equipment, and think you are up to the challenge, there is little to rival a tropical border in late summer.


Border Basics 

  • Size: 10×6 ft (3×2 m)
  • Suits: A deep border
  • Soil: Well-drained but enriched with organic matter
  • Site: Sunny

Shopping List 

  • 1 x Musa ornata
  • 3 x Canna “Durban”
  • 1 x Verbena bonariensis
  • 3 x Dahlia “Grenadier”


Sowing and Aftercare

As some of the plants in a tropical border are tender, it is important to wait until late spring, when all danger of frost has passed, to plant out. Verbena bonariensis is half-hardy and can stay in the soil all year in some zones, but all of the other plants will need some help to get through winter.

Cannas can sometimes cope with winter frosts if given a thick mulch after they have died down, but it is safer to lift the whole plant and store it in a frost-free place. Likewise, the tubers of Dahlia “Grenadier” will need lifting, but if you choose a hardier dahlia, such as “Bishop of Llandaff,” you will save yourself this trouble.

Most musas are not hardy and will need to be taken indoors, but plant Musa basjoo and you can get away with just wrapping the stems in winter. – source