Philodendron

(Golden pothos)

This plant will live through just about anything. Any light level will suit it. The brighter the light the more white coloring the leaves will have. They forgive bad watering habits. They prefer to be dry about a half inch down in the soil before being watered. As with all vines when they get too stringy pinch off the end of the vine and it will branch out and get bushier. In the wild it grows as a ground cover, not a hanging plant.

You can easily root cuttings to make new plants. Just trim a few leaves off the bottom of the cutting. Place it in soil with the leaves above the soil and keep the soil on the moist side until you see new leaves. Then gently taper off to water normally.


( philodendron )

This is another impressive plant that grows in just about any conditions. In the wild it is a ground cover in shady areas beneath trees.

Any light level will work but the more light it gets the faster it will grow. Most people grow this as a hanging plant. Keep the vines trimmed or you will end up with a few long vines and the rest of the plant will do nothing. Cuttings are easily rooted in soil, just remove the bottom leaves and keep the soil slightly moist until you see new leaves.

Water this plant when the top half inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

All philodendron plants contain calcium oxalates which can cause skin irritations, burning sensations in the mouth and more serious stomach pain.

Time to prune the roses

Any time after the last frost is good and the sooner the better. Traditionally Valentine’s Day is considered the day to prune your roses.


{before pruning}

These are young roses. I planted them less than two years ago when we moved down here. They have done very well. I have not pruned them heavy. I wanted to give them a chance to settle in some first.

You need to cut off the dead branches first. Then starting at the bottom remove any branches growing in towards the center. Then the branches that are thin or weak. Then any branches crossing other branches. You should end up with a bowl shape to the plant.


{after pruning}

I also cut the tallest branches back by at least half each year.

If you prune your roses back to about a foot tall you will get fewer but larger roses. If you prune your roses back to about two feet, you’ll get more roses but they won’t be as large.

A good rule of thumb on how far back to cut your roses to cut as low as the first group of 5 leaves. Roses grow out in groups of leaflets. Find the lowest group of 5 and cut to about 6″ above that leaflet.

Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)


I found this Anthurium planted in volcanic rock at Smith and Hawkins last evening. I couldn’t resist it.

I have it sitting in a copper pan of water.

Anthurium plants want filtered bright light. Place Anthuriums on a desk or counter where the house lights are on most of the time or a few feet away from a bright window.

They will not flower if the air is too dry or too cold. If the flowers have too much green or you don’t have flowers in them give the Anthurium more light.

It is a tropical plant and will not tolerate cool temperatures. Keep it between 60’F to 90’F if you can. It will tolerate occasional temperatures into the low 40’s, but only occasionally and only if the plant is healthy to start.

It will do much better growing in soil than it will on the volcanic rock. Soils high in peat moss are best.

Water it often, like most peat loving plants it’s a swamp plant and doesn’t like to go dry.

It is native to Columbia and Ecuador. The ones you find in nurseries are most likely hybrids bred in Hawaii

In perfect conditions it can get to be about 3′ high

Curly aka Corkscrew Rush ( Juncus decipiens)

I’d never seen this plant before. I was wandering through HD looking for good loot in the garden section and there it was. I have it planted in the swale garden.

We are at the southern edge of where it will grow. It is rated for zones 4-8.

It is a bog plant, but will tolerate moist areas, which makes it perfect for Houston.

It wants sun to partial shade but it also listed as a good choice for shady areas on several gardening sites. This one is in light shade. It will grow to 12″ to 15″ tall.

This plant did not survive the summer in Houston. If the droughts don’t get it the heat does. I’ve tried them in several locations, sunny, shady, wet, damp and dry and it just can’t take the heat.

I’m told the best way to grow this in Houston is to put it in a pot, and put the pot about halfway down in a pond.  ( you want the water level about half way up the pot )

Urn Vine ( Dischidia rafflesiana )

Urn Vine aka Dischidia are epiphyte vines which live on trees in Southeast Asia. Many of them have a symbiotic relationship with ants. Some of the leaves form homes for the ants. You can see a large bubble like leaf in the photo. Roots form inside these areas and feed on the ant waste.

They can grow to be 16′ long. They usually grow on some other plant such as a tree.

They prefer bright indirect light, but will grow in low light.

Wrap the roots in sphagnum moss and mount as you might an air plant or orchid. Water them when the moss gets dry to the touch on the top.

Sparkler Grass aka minature Umbrella plant ( Cyperus alternifolius gracilis )

This is a smaller version of the traditional umbrella plant. It is in the papyrus family.

It is a bog plant. I have it in the swale garden. So it wants to be in wet or at the very least damp soil.

It has browned a bit over the winter here. I have not watered much in the cool weather. It could be that or it could be from the cooler weather I am not sure.

It will grow to about a foot and a half tall.

It wants full sun, but this one has light shade and has done well.

Cold is not a problem, we had many cold nights well below freezing last winter and it’s no better or worse than it was any other year.

It has less tendency to seed so it is not as likely to take over your garden as are other plants in this family. Notice there are no seeds at the top center of the umbrellas. The ones that are invasive are the ones with the tiny brown seed clusters onto of the umbrellas.

This plant has done well, stayed put, but filled out and required little from me.  Every spring I cut it to the ground as about half the stalks brown up and die each winter.

If you want an easy water plant consider this one.

Survives extreme heat and drought

Ming Aralias ( Polyscias )

Ming Aralias is a very delicate, oriental looking plant. It can grow to four or five feet or it can be trimmed and kept small like a bonsai.

They want bright light and high humidity. I’ve had them grow just fine in low light and drier conditions, but you ‘ll get faster, healthier growth if you have it near an east or north window.

These can be grown in bogs, so it is OK to sit the pot in a dish of water ( ~1″-2″ deep ) as you would for a bog plant. The problem with sitting a house plant in water is bacteria. If you have your plant in water it is imperative you keep the water fresh. Do not let this plant dry out.

I find they grow slowly at first and pick up speed once they get comfortable in your home. This is a very low maintenance plant.

More Information:
Polyscias – Ming Aralias