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House Plant Selection

LOW LIGHT - (Dim light, unlit corners)

 CHINESE EVERGREEN - Slow growing, medium sized plant with dark green leaves and slight silver markings. Tough plant. May develop a calla-like flower with small red seeds. Prefers moist organic soil with normal home temperatures. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soil at cool temperatures. Use as a specimen plant or for height in a mixed planter.

PEWTER PLANT - A variegated form of the Chinese Evergreen. Grows up to 3 feet in height with silvery variegations on medium green foliage. Similar culture.

PARLOR PALM - Medium sized plant which tolerates cramping when young. Keep soil moist but not wet; won't tolerate improper watering. Mites can be a problem. Can be used in terrariums and dish gardens when young; larger plants make specimens for low tables, floor, or pedestal.

MEDIUM-LOW LIGHT - (North window - moderately lit)

 FIDDLELEAF PHILODENDRON - Glossy-leafed plant with leaves shaped like a violin or fiddle. Keep soil moist but not wet. Tie up to increase size. Fewer new leaves with low light or high temperature; in low light reduce water. Use in a tub or planter.

DIEFFENBACHIA - Large, upright plant with deep-green, white-spotted leaves. It prefers regular, well drained potting soil which should be allowed to become moderately dry between waterings. Overwatering can cause the lower leaves to yellow as well as possible root and base rot. Fast growing plant. Normal to lose older leaves as plant grows. Sap is toxic to open cuts. Use as a specimen plant.

'RUDOLPH ROEHRS' DIEFFENBACHIA - A variety which has yellow-green leaf blades that are blotched with ivory and edged in green. Requires a higher light to help maintain the ivory white leaf color. If dieffenbachia become large and lose lower leaves, cut off top portion with leaves and root in water, spagnum or sand.

RUBBER PLANT - Large, erect growing plant with shinny, leathery, dark green leaves. Relatively easy to maintain. Seldom needs repotting. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Overwatering causes the leaves to yellow and fall quickly. Lack of fertilizer causes leaf yellowing and dropping. Use as a specimen plant.

WEEPING FIG - Same family as the Rubber Plant. Has shinny deep green leaves with a slight twist. Moving the plant can cause the plant to shed its leaves; will releaf within a short time. Cold drafty locations will also cause leaf drop. Will develop into a small tree; use as a specimen plant.

ARECA PALM - Grows to a height of 3-5 feet. Keep soil uniformly moist but not wet; never allow to dry out. Never expose to direct sunlight or cold drafts. Needs to be pot bound. Specimen plant for floor container.

SWORD PLANT (Sansieveria) (Mother-in- Laws Tongue) (Snake Plant) - A tall plant with heavy, sword-like leaves arranged vertically. Very tolerant plant. Tolerates low to high light but doesn't like low temperatures or excess water; can cause rot at ground level. Useful in many areas. Pot plants, dish gardens, and mixed planters.

BIRDSNEST SANSIEVERIA - Short, spreading plant with rosettes about 4 inches high and 6-8 inches wide. Growing conditions similar to Sword Plant. Mixed planters, dish gardens, and succulent terrariums.

BOSTON FERN - Elegant, long arching fronds, spreading their rich green influence in a rosette 3-5 feet in diameter. Needs high humidity, moist soil, and cool temperatures. Hard to keep nice in the average home. Don't get water on the fronds; may cause rot. Don't rub against or break fronds; stop growing when broken. Protect from chilling. Fronds yellow in too much light. Needs extra water during times of growth. Specimen for table top or hanging.

NEPHTHYTIS (Arrowhead Plant) - Young plants are erect and have arrowhead-shaped leaves; older plants are trailing or climbing and have 3 to 5 to 9 lobed leaves. Train around a moss pole to reduce the unwieldy trailing habit. Overwatering causes the leaves to yellow. Reduce water and fertilizer for more compact growth. Pots, mixed planters, or dish gardens.

COMMON PHILODENDRON (Heart Leaf) - Very popular vining or trailing plant with heart shaped leaves. Resistant to most pests. Low light causes smaller leaves and a slower rate of growth. Lower leaves yellow from overwatering. Useful in mixed planters or hanging baskets. Mantels, ledge gardens or room dividers.

POTHOS (Devils Ivy) - Trailing or vining plant with lightly variegated heart shaped leaves. Vines up to 6 feet or more and leaves up to 5 inches. Only produces one new shoot when cut back. 'Marble queen' is a white variegated form. May lose variegation if light is too low; also causes a blackish or yellow discoloration. Useful in mixed planters or hanging baskets when contrasted with Common Philodendron.

MEDIUM LIGHT - (East window, morning light)

SCHEFFLERA (Umbrella Tree) - Large to very large foliage plant with leaflets radiating from the leaf stalk. Leave soil dry out moderately between waterings. Overwatering under low light conditions can lead to root rot; also causes dead tips or blackened leaves. Low light causes the petioles to be longer giving a leggy appearance. Leaf drop caused by low light or improper watering. Mites, mealy bugs and scales can be a problem. Specimen plant.

NORFOLK ISLAND PINE - Large tropical tree used as a pot bound house plant; very fine soft needles. Slow growing. Rotate frequently to maintain symmetry. Branches droop in low light. Needs moist soil, high humidity, and cool temperatures. Dry soil, high temperatures, or lack of fertilizer may cause lower branches to brown and drop. Mites can be a problem. Use as a specimen plant.

SPLIT LEAF PHILODENDRON - Durable jungle vine with large irregularity perforated leaves that gleam like polished leather. Stout stems and thick aerial roots. Proper light and soil fertility will increase leaf splitting. Can get very large if tied up. Decrease water and increase light to slow growth. Use as a specimen plant for low tables or floors or to climb up screens, trellises, poles or bark.

CORN PLANT - A Dracaena, grows up to 6 feet tall with broad yellow-banded leaves that arch like corn leaves. Lose of lower leaves is often from improper watering, lack of nitrogen, inadequate light or drafts. Use in a large pot, tub or planter.

RED MARGINED DRACAENA - Leaves are long and narrow with red margins and arranged in a rosette fashion on a slender trunk. Tolerates moderately low light. Leaf tip burn can be caused by low humidity or excessive soluble salts. Specimen plant.

ZEBRA PLANT - Very attractive plant; waxy leaves with white veins. Striking yellow flower. Nice when young but soon drops its lower leaves in the average home; sever the top and root a new plant. Needs high humidity and moist soil; never allow wilting. Specimen plant in pot or in small mixed planter.

ASPARAGUS FERN - Not a true fern; easier to grow. Upright to trailing plant with fine feathery foliage; similar to garden asparagus. Prefers cool temperatures and moist but not wet soil. Browning of foliage during winter months results from low humidity, low light and high temperatures. Needles may yellow and fall because of over or underwatering especially at high temperatures. Planters, pots or baskets.

MEYER FERN - Species of Asparagus Fern with similar growing conditions. Short, dense foliage on spikes. Use in planters, pots, or hanging baskets.

PRAYER PLANT - Folds its leaves at night. Leaves are light green above and purple beneath; leaf veins are fine and have a silken sheen. Needs moist soil, high humidity and warm temperatures. Don't allow water to stand on the crowns; stems rot easily. Hard to grow. Dish gardens, small planters, or pots.

SILVER NERVED FITTONIA - Low spreading plant with medium sized leaves marked with intricate patterns of white veins. Require high humidity; don't allow to wilt. Avoid drafts. Difficult to grow. Dish gardens, planters, and terrariums.

AFRICAN VIOLETS - Small low light flowering plant. Low light: abundance of lush green growth and few flowers. High light: flowers good with pale light green hardened leaves. Good with artificial light. Don't overwater; crown rot may develop. Spray leaves with tepid water to remove dust. Cold water on leaves will cause leaf spotting. Remove old faded blooms for continuous flowering. Pot plants.

VARIEGATED PEPEROMIA - Smooth waxy leaves with milky green and creamy white variegations. Good light needed for good variegation; leggy and weak with poor light. Allow soil to dry out between waterings; overwatering can cause root rot. Do well in warm temperatures and low humidity. Dish gardens and mixed planters.

EMERALD RIPPLE PEPEROMIA - A sturdy plant with corrugated deep-green leaves. Allow soil to dry out between waterings; overwatering may cause rot at soil level. Good in mixed planters.

WAMDERING JEW - Rapidly growing vines of attractive leaf color and markings; good light enhances the colors. Pinch back to get bushier plants. Easy to propagate and grow. Will flower if light, moisture, drainage and nutrition are right. Dish gardens, hanging baskets as room dividers and window boxes.

MEDIUM - HIGH LIGHT (East or west windows - bright light)

HAWAIIAN TI PLANT - Grow up to 3 feet tall; often confused with the dracaenas. Long narrow leaves; better color under higher light situations. Keep well drained soil moist but not wet. Perlite can cause leaf spotting. Low humidity, low light or hot dry air can cause leaf loss. Use in large planter or tub on floor or table.

FALSE ARALIA - Leaves are narrow with jagged edges and grow in palmate fans; can become quite large in size. Good drainage is essential but don't allow soil to be dry for more than one day. Overwatering or low light can cause leaf drop. Dry soil causes leaf tip burn. High humidity is important. Keep out of drafts. Specimen for low table or floor.

VELVET PLANT - Soft thick covering of iridescent purple hairs on the leaves; best color in high light. Fast growing; better looking when young. Pinch to encourage bushy growth. Can't tolerate dryness and high temperatures; overwatering can be a problem. Use in dish gardens, mixed planters and pots. Poor terrarium plant.

ALUMINUM PLANT - Fairly easy to grow but becomes leggy and needs pruning to maintain decent looking plant. More attractive plants can be selected. Over watering is a common mistake. Use in dish gardens, mixed planters or pots.

MOON VALLEY PILEA - Bright green puckered leaves with bronze markings. Attractive small plant. Don't overwater. Dish gardens, mixed planters and pots.

WAX BEGONIAS - Small upright plants with waxy leaves of l-3 inches. May have red, white, or pink; single or double flowers. Pinch back to keep plant bushy. Needs a high humidity. Use in dish gardens, window boxes and as a pot plant.

ANGEL WING BEGONIA - Upright plants with medium to large sized leaves which are dark green in color and spotted with silver. Require a moist organic soil and a high humidity. Don't mist; hairy type leaves won't tolerate lingering moisture droplets. Overwatering can cause crown rot. Dry air can cause browning of leaf tips or dropping of leaves. Use in pots. Not easy to grow in the home.

STRAWBERRY BEGONIA (Strawberry Geranium) (Mother of Thousands) - Small plant with rounded olive green leaves having an attractive silvery vein pattern. Spreads by runners like a strawberry plant and will occasionally produce white flowers. Likes good air circulation and cool temperatures. Overwatering may cause root rot. Use in terrariums, dish gardens, or hanging baskets.

IMPATIENS - Bushy plants with soft succulent stems and small red, rose, white, or pink flowers. Needs pinching to prevent leggyness. Likes organic well drained soil; kept on the moist side. Will drop leaves at temperatures below 65 degrees. Mites. Use in pots, planters, dish gardens, or outdoors during the growing season.

HOLIDAY CACTUS - Three types: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. A pendant cactus with small flat stem segments and double funnel shaped flowers. Grow dry from late summer until buds form. Short day length or 55 degree night temperature will cause flower bud set. Increase water and fertilize every 2 week at half strength when buds appear. Bud drop may be caused by low light or warm temperature. Don't move or rotate plant once buds are set. Avoid overwatering or poor drainage. Specimen plant.

WAX PLANT - A trailing vine with dark green thick leaves. Capable of producing clusters of flowers in early summer if given a distinct drought in late winter and spring. Allow soil to dry between waterings. Won't flower in low light conditions. Don't move or feed plant when buds are forming. Don't remove trailing stems or old flower stems. Hanging basket.

ENGLISH IVY - Medium to small leathery leaves and are available with varying leaf shapes, leaf color or growth habit. Keep foliage dry; don't overwater. Growing tips will brown if allowed to dry out. Doesn't like high temperatures, low humidity and/ or dry soil. Mites and scales; worst at high temperatures. Hanging plant.

NEEDLEPOINT IVY - Finer foliage than English Ivy. Use in terrariums, hanging baskets and planters.

SWEDISH IVY - Fast growing trails of dark green waxy leaves with small white flowers in clusters. Prefers moist, well drained soil and cool night temperatures. Over watering causes the lower leaves to yellow and drop. When overgrown take and root cuttings rather than cutting back mature plant. Easily grown in water. Hanging baskets and planters.

GERMAN IVY - Trailing vine with soft succulent, light green leaves with several pointed lobes. Should be kept on the dry side but if allowed to dry out will lose bottom leaves. Won't tolerate low light. Prune for more compact plant. Use in hanging baskets and planters.

VARIEGATED WAX IVY - Same family as the German Ivy. Ivy shaped waxy leaves with bright green and cream coloring. Requires frequent pruning. Keep drier and in more light than German Ivy. Remove stems with all white leaves. Hanging baskets or planters.

GRAPE IVY - Trailing plant with medium sized bright green leaves; fast growing. Needs good drainage; overwatering will cause leaf yellowing. Low light reduces leaf size. Use in a hanging basket or as a filler in a planter.

VARIEGATED SPIDER PLANT - Arching grass-like leaves and shots that suspend small plants from the mother plant. Star-like flowers may open along shoots if enough light and humidity are provided. Plantlets will develop under short days (8 hours) and good light. Leaf tip burn can be caused by low humidity, salty water or over fertilizing. Burnt tip can be clipped off. Hanging baskets, planters and pots.

PURPLE PASSION VINE - Closely related to the Velvet Plant. Soft and thick covering of iridescent purple hairs holds its color best when given good light and moist soil. Pinch to encourage bushy growth. Looks better when young. Remove flowers in bud stage; bad odor. Overwatering can be a problem. Can't tolerate high temperature and dry soils at same time. Used in planters and hanging baskets.

HIGH LIGHT - (South window - full sun)

 COLEUS - Medium sized plant with small to medium sized brightly colored and marked leaves; square stems. Turn and pinch regularity to maintain shape. Color fades with poor light. Prune off flowers. Very easy to propagate and grow. Tall, spindly and loses lower leaves in low light. Use in mixed planters, dish gardens or pots.

CROTON - Bushy to tall plant with long, lobed, or twisted leaves, often brightly colored with reds, golds, yellows, and greens. Encourage bushy growth by pruning and high light. In low light loses leaf color and drops lower leaves. Poor light and overwatering may cause root rot. Keep out of drafts and provide high humidity. Very hard to grow. Use in large planter or tub as a specimen plant.

GERANIUM - Familiar house and bedding plant with red, pink, white, or salmon flowers. Prune back severely to improve shape. Likes well drained soil. Leave soil dry out between waterings; lower leaves yellow from too much water. Don't usually bloom during winter because of low light; under potting may help encourage flowering. Night temperatures above 60 inhibit flowering. Use in mixed planters, dish gardens or pots.

CHRYSANTHEMUM -(Mums) - Very popular gift plant. Prefers loamy soil, medium moist soil and temperatures of 60 -70 . When buying, select a plant with some partially open buds. May need water daily; don't allow wilting. Pot plant.

POINSETTIA - Showy Christmas plant with large red, pink, or white bracts. Prefers loamy soil and temperatures of 60 -70 . Don't allow soil to dry out; colored bracts will drop. To rebloom, needs short days starting October l. Pot plant

JADE PLANT - Upright, tree-like plant with deep green, thick waxy leaves; leaf margins may turn red in high light. Low light can be a problem. Very susceptible to root rot from overwatering. Dry out well between waterings. Erroneously called rubber tree. Very resistant to neglect. Best grown as a specimen plant.

TRUE ALOE - Famous for the medicinal use of the jelly-like substance from its severed leaves for skin blemishes, cuts, or burns. Dry out moderately well between waterings; overwatering is the biggest problem. Good drainage is essential. Flowers are produced on a tall stalk with yellow to coral colored blossoms. Use in a succulent dish garden or planter.


Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707
E-mail: todd.weinmann@ndsu.edu

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