Yes, we have all seen the same plants in interscape for years. These can also appear in magazines as interior design elements. The reason that the same old, same old plants keep showing up is two-fold. One, most of the time they are easy to grow since they meet the indoor growing requirements easily and two, because they bring us comfort in the design. This may seem a little old but think about when you see say an African violet sitting on a table. Personally, I think of my great-grandmother, sitting in her sitting room with her corner table full of blooming African violets.
While this is a great approach, you do have choices that can easily grow in the indoor environment, provide texture and visual interest along with color. So let’s jump into the world of plants and explore some unique houseplants that you may never heard of but will love.
LADY PALM (Rhapis excels)
The lady palm is a small palm that fits well in the indoor environment if the light is right. It produces numerous stems that are topped with split fronds that look like a fan.
When it comes to growing the lady palm, the needs are seasonal. During the summer months, make sure to keep the room that the plant is in around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to the sunlight, a dabbled exposure is best since the bright light of a summer sun can burn the fronds. As long as the container that the lady palm is planted in has drainage holes, you can water every time the soil feels dry.
On the other hand, winter care is a little different. First, the room that this plant is placed in needs to be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at all times along with being away from any drafts. When it comes to the sun exposure, make sure to put it in full sun. Back off on the watering and only water when the soil feels dry.
While you can start this palm by seed, this palm growing indoors will not flower. To get more lady palms, you will need to remove the suckers when you transplant the palm, which should occur every other year in the spring. But…..make sure not to disturb the root mass and use a well draining potting soil mix.
Stromanthe saguinea ‘Tricolor’
This plant is also known as Triostar Stromanthe. The Triostar or Tricolor describes the leaves, which are uniquely patterned in pink, cream and green. Beyond the colorful leaves, this plant also produces red flowers in the spring and folds up at night, which shows the relationship it has with the prayer plant.
While this plant is easy to grow, there are a few tricks that one needs to follow so that you are successful at growing this plant. First, make sure that the Tricolor is placed in a room that is not exposed to cold or warm drafts. As far as the temperature goes, an average indoor temperature is fine. Second, do not place this plant in an area that receives direct sunlight. This sun exposure will burn the leaves. On the other hand, not exposing the plant to enough sunlight will cause the leaf colors to fade. The solution is to place the Tricolor in a location that receives indirect sunlight. The perfect amount of sunlight will really make the colors pop.
The hardest part of growing Tricolor comes from the watering. This plant does not like to have extremely wet feet (roots) nor does it like to be dry. During the growing season, it is very important to keep the soil moist without it being dripping wet. A too wet soil will cause the roots to rot. On the other hand, you should never let the soil dry out. In doing so, always check the soil before watering and slightly back off on the watering during the winter months but never let the soil completely dry out.
Another environmental factor is humidity. One trick that can build humidity around the plant is a humidity tray, which is a simple dish that is filled with pebbles and water. But when using this approach, make sure that the pot is sitting on the pebbles and not the soil.
Propagation of this plant begins with removing a rhizome with two to three leaves attached. Place the rhizome in a pot filled with damp all-purpose potting soil. Slightly cover and place in a warm location with correct sunlight. Keep it evenly moist as you would the adult plant.
JUNGLE DRUM OR PERUVIAN FAN (Carludovica)
While this plant’s color is not showy, what really makes it a wonderful indoor plant is the texture. Each stem has a two-lobed frond that is pleated, which adds a lot of texture to the room. The Jungle Drum’s natural environment is one of the tropics. It can be found growing under other plants and in doing so is referred to as an understory plant. This may sound like it likes shade. Yes, it can grow in areas in your home where other plants have failed, the best location is to place it on a surface by which it is exposed to indirect sunlight. Full sun will cause the leaves to bleach out.
What may surprise you with this plant is the watering requirement. Since it is from a tropical environment, you may feel that the soil needs to be wet all the time but……this is not so. Prior to watering your Jungle Drum, make sure to check the soil with your finger. It needs to be dry one inch down. Once this requirement has been met, do not water again until it is tested. If the soil is too wet, the leaves will quickly turn yellow and die. On the other hand, if the soil is too dry, the leaves will also turn yellow and dry but this will occur slower than with too wet soil.
If these symptoms appear, adjust your watering schedule according to what the leaves are telling you. To keep the plant looking its best, remove any spent fronds.