Considering the natural lighting of your home is a great place to start when buying indoor plants. Each window will offer different lighting and a plant that will thrive in one window may suffer in another. Knowing the direction each window faces before you set foot in a plant shop will keep you from buying the first plant that catches your eye!
North-facing windows never see the sun’s rays and widows with obstructing views of the sky can make some rooms uninhabitable. Low light tolerant plants can survive in a room where a book can be read with the lights off. In these rooms, plants shouldn’t be placed more than four feet away from a window. If a plant is suffering from lack of light it will begin to lean towards the nearest light source, becoming leggy and unhealthy. Plants that will tolerate low light conditions include; Dracaena trifasciata “snake plant,” Zamioculcas zamiifolia “zz,” and Aglaonema “Chinese evergreen.”
East-facing windows provide mellow morning sun, while southern windows offer bright reflective light throughout the day. Chalathea, Maranta “prayer plants,” and most ferns will thrive in east-facing windows. South-facing windows are beneficial for almost all indoor plants as they provide the most reflective light throughout the day and are best for sustaining large houseplants. A great rule of thumb, when placing plants that need bright indirect light, is making sure the plant can “see the sky.”
Cacti and succulents prefer a hot west-facing window that gets plenty of afternoon sun. While this window can be great for a wide range of indoor plants, be careful not to put sensitive plants directly in the sun’s rays. Philodendrons, ferns, and other plants can scorch if they are placed directly in a west-facing window.
Feeling the soil before you water, and watering thoroughly is key! During the spring and summer your tropical plants and ferns will likely need water weekly, but be sure to always check the soil first! Check for moisture by feeling an inch down into the soil for tropical plants, a half-inch for ferns, and for cacti and succulents the soil should be completely dry all the way through before watering. If your plant is moist to the touch, refrain from watering and check it again the following week.
When you do water, water thoroughly making sure to cover the entire surface area. Water until the pot drains. You can do this twice if the plant is in a porous pot and is placed outside to drain. Pots should always have drainage and a tray to capture excess water if watered indoors. This keeps the plant’s roots from sitting in standing water which will cause rot. If you do have a pot without drainage, it is best to nest the nursery pot of the plant into the container rather than transplanting.
Pests are usually a sign that a plant is experiencing stress from lack of light or improper watering. Plants, like people, need to be in good health to ward off infections.
The most common houseplant pests include mealybugs, spider mites, fungus gnats, aphids, thrips and scale. Treatments can be very effective as long as the bugs are detected quickly. Many of these pests are extremely vigilant and are hard to defeat once they have spread.
Checking for pests weekly can save you from having to treat your entire collection of houseplants for weeks due to an undetected pest! When watering, take extra time to look the plant over for any possible infection. Knowing a few of their favorite hiding spots will give you the ability to check quickly and prevent large outbreaks. The most common forms of treatment include foliar spray and systemic mixes. It is best to use organic sprays and solutions. Systemic mixes (usually powder) can be added straight to the soil and watered in. This treatment boosts the plant’s defenses as it is absorbed through the roots and makes the plant itself lethal to unwanted guests.
Mealybug is a fuzzy white insect that leaches nutrients from the plant’s leaves, stems, and any nook and cranny it can fit itself into. Dabbing the insect with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol is the best form of topical treatment. Treat mealy every three days for nine days, and be sure to give your plant a good rinse so alcohol isn’t left on the leaves or stems. After the mealy has cleared up, be sure to check the plant for any new outbreaks over the next several weeks.
Spider mites are a lot smaller and can spread very quickly if not stopped early enough. You can usually find them hiding in small webbing on the underside of leaves, down the leaf’s center or midrib, and between petioles (where the leaf and stem meet). The infected plant should be treated twice a week for 3 to 4 weeks. These bugs can be taken care of with an organic foliar spray specifically for spider mites, or systemic treatment. This pest is common among Scheffleras and Calatheas.
Fungus gnats are tiny flies that favor damp soil. The larva of this pest is the real predator as it feeds on roots beneath the soil. To kill the larvae make sure to let the infected plant’s soil dry several inches deep. Larvae cannot survive without moisture. To get rid of the pesky files, set a small sticky trap on the surface of the soil. By allowing the soil to dry and using a sticky trap the files should dissipate in roughly 2 weeks.
Aphids normally appear on the plant’s leaves and stems. These bugs come in a variety of different colors including green, white, yellow, and black. Aphids reproduce quickly and can infest your plant within a few days. Spray these pests with insecticidal soap, or hose off the foliage until the bugs are dislodged.
Scale is a hard-bodied insect that sucks sap from the veins and stems of the plant. Due to its protective shell, this bug is relatively hard to kill. Like most pests, if caught early enough the infected plant can recover quickly. These bugs can be removed with a soft brush or by hand. Systemic treatment can aid in the defense as long as the infestation is minor. These pests are persistent, so check your plant for several weeks after removal for any new outbreak.
Thrips like fungus gnats are the most damaging to plants while in the larva phase. These larvae, however, favor the foliage of the plant. Monstera deliciosa and various philodendrons are the most susceptible, leaving the leaves blotchy and discolored. Use insecticidal soap weekly until the larvae are gone. The discoloration is permanent and any scarred leaves should be pruned.
Up-potting and fertilizing are important practices in maintaining the health and longevity of indoor plants. A plant will need to be repotted or “up-potted” when the roots have begun to press around the sides of the pot or grow out the drainage hole in the bottom. To replant, lightly tease the roots, and plant into a pot roughly two inches wider in diameter and depth to prevent root rot. Organic potting soil is great for most houseplants, but if you are replanting cacti or succulents be sure to use a well-draining cactus mix.
Fertilizing your indoor plants can make a huge difference in the spring and summer. Use an organic fertilizer with an NPK of 3-3-3 or below. Generally, cacti and succulents will not need fertilizer, but if the plant is in a bright west-facing window and the soil is drying quickly, it would be happy to receive an extra boost. You can fertilize these plants with a fertilizer specific to cacti and succulents, or further dilute the one you use for tropical plants.
Knowing these important basics will help you choose the right house plant for your living space, while giving you the confidence to care for and recognize possible health issues. While these houseplant basics will set you up for success, researching further will help you master care for specific plant varieties. We recommend checking out these additional links for more information.
A customer at our Portland garden center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood walked in the other day quite distraught. Earlier in the spring, she had purchased a rose fertilizer developed by the Portland Rose Society from us.
In the past, she had always bought the conventional form of it directly from the Society, but this time, she had bought the organic version, and she was not pleased.
Fuzzy Rose Mold?
Something that seemed like “rose mold” had developed on the soil surface wherever she had used this fertilizer. She even brought us a sample to see. She said her roses looked fine but requested a refund for what was left in the bag.
if you’ve ever bought plants from a nursery, you might have noticed this white stuff on the bottom. Don’t remove it!
We were all mystified. We had never seen this kind of thing before and refunded her money. But I was still curious, so I called the Rose Society to find out if they had seen or heard about this phenomenon from other rose growers. Indeed they had! In fact, the rosarian on the other end started laughing!
It turns out that the fuzzy stuff was simply mycorrhizae doing its thing, except in overdrive. Mycorhizzae is a naturally existing fungus that has existed in soils for over 450 million years. It forms a symbiotic relationship with plant root systems, and essentially extends the plant’s nutritional network, boosting its ability to absorb water, key nutrients, and trace minerals.
Usually, this network is hidden underneath the soil surface. In our customer’s case, it had continued expanding above ground – manifesting itself with this white fuzz. Long story short – prolific mychorrhizae is exceptionally good news for your garden.
image courtesy of wikipedia.org
The world’s mycorrhizae networks are easily disrupted by construction, or even just digging. It is often completely disabled by industrial farming practices or the addition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
The Benefits of Mycorrhizae Mold On Soil
Mycorrhizae boosts the plant’s immune system, and strengthens its chances of prosperous survival.
Per our amused rosarian – the addition of mycorrhizae to the custom rose fertilizer was the main reason the organic variety cost more than the conventional.
If you ever observe a fuzzy substance like the one in the photo growing near the roots of your roses – you will be prepared to treat it like the gift it is! 🙂
We often get asked: “What plants do well in a coastal situation?”
Having just returned from a week on the southern Oregon coast, I had the time and opportunity to see for myself, and am happy to share some good options.
Here in western Oregon we have what is usually referred to as a Mediterranean climate, meaning mild winters and warm, dry summers.
As any gardener here knows, the possibilities to grow interesting, unique, and fabulous plants here are nearly endless. On the coast, there are three additional important factors to keep in mind that might make beach plants and coastal gardening challenging.
To my mind, these factors render coastal conditions even more truly Mediterranean than our more forgiving inland version.
The three factors of the coastal challenge:
High and frequent winds
Often sandy, fast-draining soils
Salt – both in the air and often in the groundwater
Because of the less extreme temperature fluctuations near large bodies of water, you can also often push your boundaries with beach plants a little more than you can farther inland, which is always fun! 🙂 As a result of this, you will, for example, see Phormiums at the coast of a size you hardly ever see in Portland.
And I’ll bet coastal gardeners have never even heard of a “Phormium winter” like we experience in Portland from time to time, when all our lovingly tended New Zealand flax dies.
This Phormium is in bloom, which is another feature we don’t often see in Portland. It is of an entirely different proportion than its inland brothers and sisters.
The windy coastal conditions creates a need for screening. Here, the evergreen density of Escallonia is put to work to create shelter from the breezy barrages so often experienced on seaside properties.
Climbing roses, Bergenia, Agapanthus, Sedums, Zauschneria, Cistus and ornamental grasses accompany the dark foliage of the ornamental cherries anchoring this coastal cottage garden.
There is a decidedly Californian flair over this seaside, streetside garden – Leucadendron, Parahebe perfoliata, Phormium, ornamental grasses, Ilex, etc. The large Rhododendrons in the background give a nod to a more traditional Oregon plant palette.
Hebes is a great alternative – here seen with a wind-whipped Pine. The general rule of thumb when it comes to Hebe varieties is that the smaller the leaf, the hardier they are.
6. Coastal Hebes
Since you can push the envelope in milder coastal climates, you can get away with using showier, larger-leaved varieties. Hebes are evergreen and bloom for a long time, with white, pink, or purple blossoms. They are quintessential west coach beach plants.
7. Erigeron and Agapanthus
Erigeron is a tough, pretty, mounding plant that blooms for a long time with small, daisy-like flowers. Here placed in front of a row of Agapanthus.
Succulents are a fantastic option! Agaves, Sedum, and Sempervivum all perform fantastically. Here is the hot pink Delosperma planted with pink Seathrift (Armeria) that has mostly finished blooming.
9. Sedums and Sempervivums
These incredibly exposed wild succulents were growing on a vertical rock face out in the ocean. These are a mix of Sedums and Sempervivums.
Eucalyptus is a perfect evergreen tree for fast-draining soils. The leaves might turn red when heat stressed.
Conifers often do well on the coast. Junipers, Pines, and Cypresses are common. Here is the free-form silhouette of a conifer paired with a more formally clipped broadleaf evergreen shrub and the sky blue rounds of the Agapanthus.
12. Exposed Pines
These exposed Pines put up a constant battle against the Western winds of the Pacific Ocean. As you can see, wind is a major factor in seaside gardens. Use the lee side of your house to your advantage to cultivate your less sturdy plants.
The dramatic foliage of an Echium is a great addition to any garden, but be sure to put it in a less windy spot to ensure its towering flowers do not collapse.
Rosemary does phenomenally well on the coast. After all, it is a Mediterranean plant in a very Mediterranean climate.
Hydrangeas do great on the coast. This one is on the lee side of a building with an eastern exposure, but normally this would be a great spot for a Hydrangea, but this one is looking rather sad. Hydrangeas are thirsty plants and love ample moisture. If you plant them in fast-draining soils, you need to provide them enough water to look their best. You can see from the crispy mopheads that the above Hydrangea is not entirely happy. 🙁
16. Cordyline Australis
You can tell that these photos are from the southern Oregon coast, as some of the plants are decidedly Californian in stature. Here are a couple of mature Cordyline Australis – the likes of which you may not readily see on the northern coast. Yuccas might be a good alternative in those colder areas.
17. California Poppies
A little past their prime, but still lovely, tough-as-nails California poppies adorn the seaside landscape. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Roses, Crocosmias, Agastache, Ceanothus, Achillea, Salal, Lavender, Santolina, Cannas, Poppies, … the list of tough, excellent, salt-tolerant plants is a long one. You can find an excellent list here. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas of what might work where you are. We are always available to answer more questions. Just stop by our Portland garden center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood.
A successful garden starts out with a good garden plan. Haphazardly throwing plants, trees, and shrubs together without a well-informed plan can be a recipe for disaster.
Understanding your local climate is essential to solid garden planning. In the beautiful Pacific Northwest that we call home, we frequently receive questions about plants that do well in the moist environment of the Portland area. But the Northwest presents a wide range of climates from the high deserts of Bend to the mild coastal regions of Seaside. Following are some ideas to help your garden planning process, no matter what type of conditions you might live in. We carry many of these in our Portland garden center.
The following is a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, and all-around wet soil plants. Most every Portland landscape has a need for a few plants that thrive in moist soil. Here are several to choose from!
Trees for Wet Areas
Acer Rubrum Red Maple
Acer rubrum – Red Maple
Acer saccharinum – Silver Maple
Alnus – Alder
Betula nigra – River Birch
Fraxinus latifolia – Oregon Ash
Larix – Larch
Liquidamber stryaciflua – Sweetgum
Lirodendron – Tulip Tree
Malus – Crabapple
Magnolia virginiana – Sweet Bay
Metasequoia glyptostoboides – Dawn Redwood
Nyssa slyvantica – Sourgum
Picea sitchensis – Sitka Spruce
Platanus – Poplar
Quercus bicolor – Swamp White Oak
Quercus palustris – Pin Oak
Salix – Willow
Taxodium distichum – Bald Cypress
Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar
Shrubs For Wet Areas
Andromeda Polifolia – Bog Rosemary
Andromeda polifolia – Bog Rosemary
Ardisia japonica – Japanese Ardisia
Aronia arbutifolia – Chokeberry
Calycanthus – Spice Bush
Chaenomeles – Flowering Quince
Cornus stolonifera – Red-Osier Dogwood
Ilex glabra – Inkberry
Ilex virginica – Sweetspire
Leucothoe fontanesiana – Drooping Leucothoe
Lindera benzoin – Spice Bush
Lonicera involucrate – Twinberry
Myrica pensylvanica – Bayberry
Rosa palustris – Swamp Rose
Salix – Shrub Willow
Sambucus Canadensis – Red Elderberry
Spirea douglasii – Douglas Spirea
Syphoricarpus orbiculatas – Coral Berry
Viburnum opulus – Snowball Bush
Viburnum trilobum – Cranberry Bush
Perennials For Wet Areas
Aruncus dioicus Goatsbeard
Aruncus dioicus – Goatsbeard
Aster novae-angliae – New England Aster
Astilbe – Astilbe
Bellis pernnis – English Daisy
Caltha palustris – Marsh Marigold
Camassia – Camas Lily
Canna – Canna Lily
Chelone – Turtlehead
Cimicifuga – Bugbane
Dicentra Formosa – Bleeding Heart
Eupatorium maculatum – Joe-Pye Weed
Filapendula – Meadow sweet
Gunnera – Dinosaur Food
Iris – Iris
Lilium canadense – Canada Lily
Lysimachia – Loosestrife
Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Lobelia
Mentha – Mint
Mimulus – Monkey Flower
Monarda – Bee Balm
Mysosotis – Forget-me-not
Polygonatum – Solomans Seal
Primula japonica – Japanese Primrose
Rodgersia – Rodgersia
Schizostylis – Kafir Lily
Sisyrichium – Blue-eyed Grass
Tolmiea menziesii – Piggyback Plant
Trollius – Globeflower
Viola – Violet
Zantedeschia – Calla Lily
Grasses For Wet Areas
Acorus gramineus Japanese Sweet Flag Image courtesy of Monrovia
Acorus gramineus – Japanese Sweet Flag
Calamagrostis – Feather Reed Grass
Carex – Sedges
Chasmanthium latifolium – Northern Sea Oats
Deschampsia – Tufted Hair Grass
Juncus – Rushes
Miscanthus sinensis – Maiden hair Grass
Molinia – Moor Grass
Panicum virgatum – Switch Grass
Beach Flowers: Garden Planning with Plants that Thrive in a Coastal Environment
Acer ginnala Amur Maple
Acer ginnala – Amur Maple
Arbutus menziesii – Pacific Madrone
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana – Port Orford Cedar
Chamaecyparis obtuse – Hinkoki Cypress
Crataegus – Hawthorn
Cupressocypraris leylandii – Leyland Cypress
Ilex apuifolium – English Holly
Laurus nobilis – Bay Laurel
Picea sitchensis – Sitka Spruce
Pinus contorta – Shore Pine
Pinus mugho – Mugo Pine
Pinus nigra – Austrian Black Pine
Pinus ponderosa – Ponderosa Pine
Pinus sylvestris – Scotch Pine
Pinus thunbergiana – Japanese Black Pine
Prunus – Flowering Cherry
Pseudotsuga menziesii – Douglas Fir
Robinia – Black Locust
Salix discolor/ caprea – Pussy Willow
Sequoia sempervirens – Coast Redwood
Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar
Shrubs That Thrive on the Coast
Abelia grandiflora Abelia
Abelia grandiflora – Abelia
Arbutus unedo – Strawberry Bush
Aucuba japonica – Aucuba
Berberis – Barberry
Buxus sempervirens – Boxwood
Ceanothus – California Lilac
Choisya – Mexican Orange
Cistus – Rockrose
Cotoneaster – Cotoneaster
Cytisus – Broom
Eleagnus – Silverberry
Erica – Heath
Escallonia – Escallonia
Euonymus – Euonymus
Garrya eliptica – Silktassel
Hebe – Hebe
Hydrangea – Hydrangea
Ilex aquifolium – English Holly
Ilex glabra – Inkberry
Lonicera pileata – Box Honeysuckle
Myrica californica – Pacific Wax Myrtle
Potentilla – Potentilla
Prunus laurocerasus – English Laurel
Prunus lusitanica – Portugal Laurel
Punica granatum – Pomegranate
Pyracantha – Pyrancantha
Rhamnus – Rhamnus
Ribes – Flowering Currant
Rosa rugosa – Rugosa Rose
Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary
Syringa vulgaris – Lilac
Taxus – Yew
Vaccinium ovatum – Evergreen Huckleberry
Viburnum tinus – Laurestinus Viburnum
Yucca – Yucca
Perennials For A Coastal Environment
Achillea – Yarrow
Antennaria – Pussy Toes
Arabis – Rockcress
Armeria maritima – Sea Thrift
Artemisia – Mugwort
Bergenia – Bergenia
Carex – Sedge
Cerastium – Snow in Summer
Coreopsis – Tickseed
Dianthus – Pinks
Echinops – Globe Thistle
Festuca – Fescue
Gaillardia – Blanket Flower
Gypsophilia – Baby’s Breath
Fuchsia – Hardy Fuchsia
Helianthemum – Rockrose
Kniphofia – Red Hot Poker
Lavandula – Lavender
Limonium – Sea Lavender
Santolina – Lavender Cotton
Sedum – Sedum
Sempervivum – Hens and Chicks
Stachys – Lambs Ear
Thymus – Thyme
Ground Covers For a Coastal Environment
Arctostaphylos – Kinnikinnick
Ceanothus Pt. Reyes – Pt. Reyes CA Lilac
Euonymus fortuneii – Euonymus
Fragaria chiloensis – Ornam. Strawberry
Gautheria shallon – Salal
Juniperus – Junipers
Lithospernum – Lithodora
Drought Resistant Plants
Following is a collection of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, and vines that are drought resistant.
Drought Resistant Trees
Drought Resistant Shrubs
Buxus micro jap.
Drought Resistant Perennials
Antennaria rosea* **
Drought Resistant Grasses
Festuca ovina glauca
Drought Resistant Vines
Lonicera japonica “Halliana’
*These plants will not tolerate heavy clay soils which are water-saturated in the winter.
** These plants are marginally hardy for the Northwest. They will freeze out some years.
Attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden is the dream of many, and for good reason. They add a sense of calm and serenity to a world that certainly could use more of it.
And the great news is that, if you understand what you’re doing, attracting hummingbirds and butterflies can easily be done.
Hummingbird gardens must offer not only nectar-filled flowers but also provide a habitat that supports their lifestyle.
These little birds need
Sun and shade
Shrubs and tree branches for perching
Fresh water for drinking and bathing
Materials for nest-making such as spider webs, dryer lint, or bits of leaves
These delicate birds spend lots of energy flying, so it comes as no surprise that they must feed many times each hour (3-5 times). While our flowers are blooming there is nectar for them to sip, but once you have offered them a flower food source, you can also place hummingbird feeders in prominent locations to feed them.
Hummingbird feeders supplement the flower nectar, especially when flowers are few. Hang them from tree branches or a shepherd hook high enough to keep the hummingbird safe from the neighborhood cats.
Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds love tubular shaped flowers (although that shape is not absolutely required). Fragrance is not important to them, but vivid colors of red, purple, pink, orange, and yellow will attract them to your garden. At our Portland garden center, we have a large selection of flowering annuals, perennials & woody plants that will attract hummingbirds into your garden.
Just a few to check out:
Image courtesy of birdwatchinghq.com
Butterfly Plants: Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden
Below you will find a thorough list of butterfly-attracting trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. All will grow well in the Pacific Northwest, and if you’re looking for any help with the following foliage, be sure to visit us at our Portland garden center
Trees that Attract Butterflies
If you are interested in bringing butterflies to your garden, here are a few trees that will do the trick:
Shrubs that Attract Butterflies
When planting shrubs in your garden, consider the following if you want to invite butterflies for a visit:
Perennials for Attracting Butterflies
Going shopping for perennials anytime soon? Keep the following list handy:
Prepare a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. Partially fill the hole with acidic planting mix or compost. The hole should be the same depth as the planter or root ball. Heathers have very shallow root systems, so be sure not to plant too deep. Score or scratch the root ball to loosen up the roots so the plant will establish more easily. On average, heather plants should be spaced 2-3 ft. apart.
Heather Plant Care
Never let your heather plants dry out. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for newer plantings. Water deeply at least once a week. Remove any weeds carefully. Be careful with herbicides as they easily damage your plants as well. Mulching is beneficial in the winter months, but be sure to keep mulch away from the stems and crowns.
Pruning Heather Plants
Pruning should be done after each flowering period or very early in the spring. Be careful not to prune too far down. There must be green leaves under your pruning cut or that section will not grow back. Pruning in the fall or winter will cause the plants to split and create holes.
Fertilization is almost always helpful. A light application of acid-loving, slow release fertilizer in the early spring is ideal. Fertilizers should be granular and not applied to the foliage. It is best to sprinkle fertilizer around the base of the plants about 2 inches from the stems.
Where to Find Heather Plants for Sale
If you’re lucky enough to call the Pacific Northwest your home, we can help you find heather plants for sale at our Portland garden center . We look forward to working with you on your home garden project!