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Mandevilla, Tropical, Annual

Say Hello to Summer with Tropical Plants

Tropicals instantly evoke a sense of serenity with their ability to make us dream of white sand and blue water. This summer, create your own vacation hideaway at home by adding tropical plants to your outdoor living space. If you have a tropical plant already, now is the perfect time to take it outside for the season. Here are a few plants that you can enjoy both inside and out this season.

Boston Fern

Boston Fern

If you are looking for beautiful foliage, look no further than the Boston Fern. This popular fern’s trailing, flat fronds make it an excellent addition to any hanging basket. Native to the forest floors of the tropics, these plants thrive in cool places with high humidity and indirect light. The key to keeping your fern healthy is to keep it moist, mimicking its natural environment as closely as possible. Feed your fern a diluted amount of Jack’s All Purpose fertilizer during the summer, then provide it the standard dose of fertilizer when it goes back inside for the winter. When indoors, keep it away from wood stoves or fireplaces, which dry out the air and deprive your plant of the humidity it loves.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern

The Asparagus Fern is not actually a true fern, but a member of the lily family. Its trailing foliage is perfect for containers and hanging baskets. This fern’s needle-like fronds and produce white flowers and red berries when situated in ideal conditions. Just like the Boston Fern, keep this fern moist to keep it happy and place it far away from your fireplace or wood stove during the cool months! Feed it a diluted amount of all purpose fertilizer during the summer to help its foliage show better and then the recommended amount when your fern goes back inside for the winter.

Citrus Plants

Lemon Tree

Keep a slice of tropical paradise in your home with a potted citrus plant. Fragrant flowers and delicious fruit we all love make this plant is one that will delight all year. There are many varieties of citrus fruits, though the most popular ones are lemons (Meyer and Ponderosa varieties), limes, and oranges. Bring your citrus plant outside for the summer to provide your plant with more sun and to allow for pollination. The best month to transition your plant outdoors is May, and the best time to bring it back inside is toward the end of September. Let the plant slowly acclimate to the new light and the space when transitioning indoors and out. To encourage health and beauty in your plants, fertilize every 7-10 days with a citrus fertilizer like Jack’s Citrus Feed.

Medinillas

Medinilla

Native to the Philippines, medinilla has been prized as an exotic houseplant by European nobility for hundreds of years! This tropical features dramatic, drooping pink blooms that last about 3 months, and a grape-like cluster of lavender flowers which bloom for a shorter time. When caring for your medinilla, water it well all the way down to the bottom of the pot and then let it dry ¾ of the way before watering again. Check regularly to find out how long this takes. These plants enjoy at least 4 hours of sun each day, but dislikes direct light.

Mandevillas

Mandevilla

Mandevillas with their stunning pinwheel shaped flowers provide vibrant color year round. Native to the southwestern United States and Central America, they come in many wonderful colors as well as night illuminating whites. They are easy to care for, thriving in bright, indirect or filtered sunlight. Give your plant  a balanced, high phosphorus fertilizer (20-20-20 or Osmocote) once every two weeks in the summer to boost the blooms. It is a vine, so give it a trellis to climb up as it grows!

Our Top 10 Picks for Low-Maintenance Houseplants

Paul Knight, Merrifield Plant Specialist

Many people think that growing plants indoors requires a lot of time and attention. After all, most houseplants in our area are tropical plants that naturally thrive outdoors in warmer climates. How in the world are you supposed to take care of them inside your home?

Well, it’s easier than you think! Low-maintenance options can provide all the beauty and benefits of indoor plants without the fuss. Here are our top picks for low-maintenance houseplants, by light requirements (see our blog on understanding indoor plant light levels to get started).

Bright, Indirect Light

(Three to five hours of early morning or late afternoon sun)

Hoya

Also known as Wax Plant, this is an easy to grow vine with waxy leaves and fragrant clusters of blooms. The foliage comes in a few different colors: solid green, variegated green and white, and a tricolor of red, green and white. There is another foliage form, Hindu Rope Plant, which is green and white and very crinkly. Regardless of which variety you choose, Hoya is great for hanging baskets inside the home.

Tillandsia

This exotic “air plant” is one that you can enjoy individually or in colorful combination displays. Air plants come in many shapes and sizes with blooms that are pink, yellow or purple. They are so low maintenance, they don’t even grow in soil! They just need to be sprayed with water 2 to 3 times a week.

Moderate to Low Light Levels

(Three to five hours of indirect sun to light that is not bright enough to cast a shadow or read)

Aglaonema

Also known as Chinese evergreen, this lovely plant has varied leaf patterns and shapes. Aglaonema has an upright growth habit with bushy leaves and can produce creamy white flowers that nestle within the leaf clusters. It’s very drought tolerant and doesn’t require frequent watering, making it exceptionally low maintenance.

Dracaena

This popular plant has rosettes of leaves on graceful upright stems. You can choose from plants with all green leaves or stripes with green, pink or burgundy. It’s great for the office or any areas that need a vertical element. There is also a variety called corn mass cane, which is said to bring good luck.

Neanthe Bella

This is an excellent dwarf palm with full, graceful green foliage that can reach 4 to 5 feet tall. And unlike some houseplants, this one is cat friendly for those nibblers you might have in the house. Also called Parlor Palm, this plant is one of the best at purifying the air in your home.

Philodendron

With rich green, red, neon green, yellow or even orange leaves that grow on vigorous vining, upright, or trailing plants, philodendron is very versatile with a wide range of uses in the home or office. Depending on your needs, it can be grown as a tabletop, hanging basket or floor plant.

Pothos

These graceful vines come in green, white, gold or neon green with leaves are a pointed heart shape. Pothos grows happily without pampering, and is beautiful in hanging baskets or cascading over a tabletop pot.

Sansevieria

Also known as snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, this enduring plant comes in shades of light to dark green. Sometimes you can find ones that are variegated with white or yellow, depending on the variety. Sansevieria thrives on neglect, making it the perfect low maintenance indoor plant. It comes with upright foliage as a floor plant, to rosette shapes for tabletops.

Spathiphyllum

This plant has dark green foliage with graceful, curving white flowers. It tolerates low light levels and will bloom just with fluorescent light, making it great for your home. It is also known as Peace Lily.

Zamioculcus zamiifolia

Since it’s botanical name, Zamiouculcus zamiifolia, is quite a mouthful, it’s easier to refer to this plant by its common name, the “ZZ” plant. It has a curiously dramatic shape, with glossy, waxy coating, dark green leaves and bulging tuberous roots. It’s very drought tolerant, making it super easy to care for.

We hope you’ll try some of these easy to grow houseplants in your home or office, and see how fun growing indoor plants can be.