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High Maintenance House Plant

Posted by BronwynH none (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 14:58

I have yet another question:

My husband loves plants and gardening. The problem is he wants to be too hands on. He always wants to DO something and as a result has killed more plants by overcare than most people do by neglect.

That's not to say he can't care for plants. As a child he grew a grapefruit tree from a seed. It lived until very recently when it died after we had been on vacation. We never figured out what went wrong (maybe the house-sitter turned the heat up too high?), but when we came back most of the leaves were brown and dry and it never recovered.

Anyway, I was hoping for some suggestions on high maintenance house plants. Something he would at least have to inspect on a daily basis. It would be even better if something needed to be done daily, or nearly daily.

Our brightest light level is bright indirect light. For bright direct light it would have to enjoy warm dry air as the electric heaters in our apartment are directly below the windows (hence why all of my plants are at least a couple feet from the window). And since we have a large fish tank the air tends to be more humid than dry (even in winter).


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Howdy Bronwyn,

Aww, too much care...over-watering is the #1 plant killer.

Is over-watering what you mean by too much care?

If over-watering is the problem, then his best bet would be growing Water plants.

I can't think of one plant, tropicals/succulents/cacti that needs a daily drink.
Even super thirsty plants will not thrive if soil is muddy.

Some people here use a non-soil medium called Gritty Mix.
Check it out.
I'm certain members who use Gritty Mix will chime in.

Apparently, your husband did something right, raising a citrus from seed. Do you know its age?

If over-watering isn't the issue, can you please explain? Thanks, Toni


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Zebra plant(Aphelandra squarrosa) Good luck!


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

hi. i am kind of the same way. i have found once you acquire enough plants there will be something you can do everyday. on the rare chance you dont want your entire house filled with plants, toni is right about the mixing of soils. i have not used the infamous gritty mix but i have been keeping more and more well draining soils which keeps me actively watering and fussing more often. Maybe a bonsai type situation would be for him? they require much more frequent watering, pruning, repotting etc.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

hopefulauthor - No my husband doesn't overwater things. He likes to try his hand at bonsai (and has several text books). One he killed by trying to prune, shape and repot all within the same week (no adjustment time allowed!). Another I think may have been killed by an overzealous root pruning and putting in an overly small pot too quickly. At least it survived the pruning/shaping process but died soon after the repot. He's also killed a christmas cactus I think simply by touching it too much (lifting branches, inspecting it) -- my mother used to have one and I remember it would drop leaves any time it was touched,even gently, or moved. On the other hand that may have fallen victim to under watering. When I commented that the soil was always bone dry he said something about not wanting to over water. I'm not sure why his orchid died. The ficus was over pruned and I think repotted too frequently. Busy, busy, busy . . .


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Bronwyn, hi & welcome to Gardenweb!

The most important thing I could tell you is that with an appropriate potting mix, you can grow any plants appropriate to the light/temp/humidity you have. I find this extremely helpful, and applicable in any kind of potted plant situation.

I love to water, inspect, trim, propagate, fuss with the plants daily too!

Heart-leaf Philodendron would grow well there, one could give it a little trellis, guiding the direction of the vines often. This one is on a metal thing that was part of a little laundry-sorting cart until it fell apart. The rocks help keep the wind from blowing this out of place. Without guidance often, the vines would just stick out in space, soon dangling/drooping down. When one gets to the top, I loop it over and guide it back down.

Wax Begonias would soon let you know if it's enough light for blooms. If so, you should have an ever-blooming plant that can be pinched, cleaned (of old blooms,) inspected for aphids daily. If found, the aphids can be carefully, gently washed off with water.

Creeping plants like Tradescantias, Callisias are usually grown as dangling plants, but can also be guided/wound around a support, which would require lots of attention and manual input.

This Callisia plant (sharing its' pot with an Easter cactus) would not be going 'up' without my guidance.

Some Sedums, Portulacas, fast-growing succulents might like the hot dry windowsill. The more you pinch off their tops and stick them back in the soil, the more plant mass/roots you have. Some of these also dangle over the sides but most would be unlikely to be able to be coaxed up a support. Like the kinds of plants in this pot. The unorthodox thing I've done to this pot will require maintenance.

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' is a fast-growing plant, if it thinks your spot is the right amount of light. Quite thirsty, pretty flowers, propagates easily from pinched pieces like Coleus.

Coleus.

The more plants one has in a pot, or the bigger they are, the more often they need water. Hope you really did want lots of enabling...!


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Thank you purpleinopp!

I used to have a pothos, but got rid of it after I got married as my husband's cat has a tendency to eat plants and pothos is toxic. I shall check which of the others you suggested are non-toxic and I'm sure my dh will still have a number to choose from.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

BronwynH I put all my toxic plants in a bathroom where my cats never go.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

My few toxic plants are high up. Sadly there is no window in the bathroom so it's not very plant friendly. Plus the cats likes it in there; I think she enjoys the acoustics when she mews.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

You could try cat repellent(actually exists lol) and spray it on your plants, although idk how it would affect your plants. In all honesty I don't think poisonous plants pose much of a problem( except for the deadly poisonous ones like Sago Palm) as longs as they don't eat a lot. Check out Zebra Plant for a non- toxic high maintenance house plant, they're VERY hard for me to keep alive because they demand high humidity(50-60%) like bright indirect light, have a tendency to become leggy, lose leaves, and like to be watered everyday. I hate the constant care but if your husband can't leave his plants alone then this one is perfect.

This post was edited by CactusBoss on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 22:45


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Hi Brownyn,
I think maybe a Meyer's lemon tree would do okay for him. They love being outside in the hot humid summer but bring them indoors when lows get below 40 degrees f. While inside they like humidity, and misting it in the morning is hands on. It sounds like he likes to over prune hich he'll have to stop doing that. I would also like to add the peace lily is a easy plant to grow.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Hi Brownyn,
I think maybe a Meyer's lemon tree would do okay for him. They love being outside in the hot humid summer but bring them indoors when lows get below 40 degrees f. While inside they like humidity, and misting it in the morning is hands on. It sounds like he likes to over prune hich he'll have to stop doing that. I would also like to add the peace lily is a easy plant to grow.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Hi,

The lemon tree actually sounds like a good idea since he did so well with the grapefruit. He's still researching the others suggested.

As to the cat she eats virtually every plant we've ever had. She's a bit of a fiend. So I have to make sure the plants are out of reach. I've even tried to cat repellent (bitter apple), but she actually appeared to enjoy the taste. Anything I've ever sprayed with it she attacks more. I've also tried lemon oil based repellents, rosemary and pepper. She likes them all. Crazy cat.

I'm loving all the ideas. Please, keep them coming.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Afternoon All,

Brownyn,

Sorry about mistaking your comment for over-watering.

If you don't mind me asking, how many plants does your dh/dear husband have?

One solution is adding more. Believe me, after a while, and the older one gets, caring for plants becomes work.

I 'adore' plants. Started out with a couple, then after counting, years later, the number reached 400..'including cuttings,.'

After many many years, I'm now ready to sell..Not all, never all, but enough so I have time to relax without worrying whether plants need watering, fertilizing, misting, bathing, etc, etc.

Oh my, your hubby really did a number on the bonsai. lol.
BTW, if he's still interested in bonsai, 'although books are informative,' have him watch YouTube.
There are videos with people, starting from scratch. Step by step, bonsai care. From basic to professional.
In fact, there are plant videos for shaping, repotting, etc all types of plants.

Although, 'too much loving' will kill a plant, perhaps he can add Plants for the Dark Green Thumb.
Gardenias are fairly difficult, need lots of care..although I do not advise unpotting, trimming roots on a weekly basis. lol. 'Any plant.'

Most of my Citrus came from Fl. I particularly like one nursery called briteleaf.
Only problem, last time I checked, they were low on citrus.
Otherwise, their citrus are staked, standards, good size, great prices for plants and shipping.

Does your dh like taking pics? If so, he can join a photo site...Most are free. Photo Bucket, Flickr.
He can then snap pics of his plants, download to the photo site, then show his plants here on GW.

In the meantime, before snapping pics, he can pretty plants up. :) Without unpotting first, of course.

Explain to him, he's actually harming plants. Did he read posts here on GW?

Regarding cats..some people are against doing this. I LOVE my pets, would never, ever harm them.
I sprinkled Cayenne Pepper around pot edges. The cat will detect the scent before approaching plant, then make a U-turn.

Cat Fancy site lists toxic plants. Toni


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Hi!~ Like toni suggested above, GARDENIA would be my best attempt at something difficult. Doesn't mind a prune every now and then and needs misting at least twice a day along with daily watering. Mine is placed on an east facing slightly bay window and it drinks water like a fish.

Definitely a hands on plant, you really need to put some work into it, but on the positive side you get the most amazing scent!


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Mini african violets might be fun for him. They're tricky because you have to watch their moisture level carefully, but they grow fast so there's plenty of grooming to do to keep them symmetrical. Lots of potential fretting for the good of the plant. They can also take over grooming very well-being cut way back. You can also propagate a million of them very fast. They need to be repotted every 3-4 months too, so add that to the list of maintenance. They have a very long potential life-span, and there's plenty to read online about their care. Also a huge variety, some ulgy aliens, some pretty little-ladies' plants.

Oh, and they're also non-toxic, although they're small enough a cat can really do a number on them, very fast.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Hi!~ Like toni suggested above, GARDENIA would be my best attempt at something difficult. Doesn't mind a prune every now and then and needs misting at least twice a day along with daily watering. Mine is placed on an east facing slightly bay window and it drinks water like a fish.

Definitely a hands on plant, you really need to put some work into it, but on the positive side you get the most amazing scent!


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Bron...Just thought of another idea that'd keep your dh busy..and it involves plants.

Purple, 'GW member..her post is above.'

Purple is very very creative. Check out some of her threads.
She's handy and comes up with novel ideas for her plants.
I'm sure your dh will enjoy her work, and hopefully come up with his own ideas.

Delrey..Yes, Gardenias are a challenge. Keeping one alive, green and flowering means work. Fun, but work.

Are you planning on adding a Gardenia to your collection?

Now, why did I assume you already had a 'denia??? lol.

If you decide to get one, look for a grafted standard. IMO, they're a lot hardier than bushy types.
By hardier, I'm not talking temp..I meant, they're well-established. Graft helps prevent desease.
Only my opinion...Toni


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Thank you all!

Ok, to answer questions. I hope I get them all.

Right now my husband has no plants, hence the post to the forum: find some finicky plants so we get appropriate replacements. He usually only has 1-2 at a time (partly I think because he feels guilty killing them and wants to 'try and see if it works with this one' before getting more). I'm the one with multiple plants (14, plus a cutting I'm trying to root, but that includes the balcony herb and vegetable garden).

He does realize he's making mistakes. In fact every time he kills a plant he gets quite upset and guilty and it usually takes him a while to foray into plant care again. One the plus side he never makes the same mistake twice. The problem is while I'm a researcher he's a trial and error kind of dude. He'll read a book or two and then just go for it.

After his first bonsai (really his 3rd, but the first he tried to create from 'scratch' after buying a bush from the garden centre) he figured out he was going through the steps too quickly. So with his next one he used wired to shape first before pruning or repotting. That one died when he overpruned. And so on.

He has since admitted that he realizes he just wants to be too 'busy' too hands on with the plant. Hence why I'm looking for a finicky plant. It doesn't have to be pruning, or repotting, just something every day. The gardenia sounds perfect actually. And maybe trying another grapefruit from seed. I'm passing all this info to him as you send it. I wouldn't be too surprised if before too long he starts searching through the forums himself.

As to the little-Sheba cat, she's an odd one. She enjoys all things spicy, including cayenne pepper. It attracts her. We just have to keep plants out of reach, or at least as difficult to get to as possible and keep a good eye on her.

And for toxic plants the ASPCA has an extensive database of indoor and outdoor plants and lists whether they are toxic or non-toxic to cats, dogs and/or horses. You can actually do a search selecting for both the animal and the plant and you can use both common and scientific names for the plant. If you can't find a plant on the CFA list, it will be here. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants

Anyway, I hope I've answered everything, but I've got a meeting I need to run off to. Thanks to all!


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

hopefulauthor, what is "Plants for the Dark Green Thumb"?


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Difficult as in DH has some passion in the art of figuring out how to grow a plant only to kill it and then get another ?

OR difficult meaning he doesn't know how to make the next "any plant" unique.
Second part is easy as only DH himself makes "any plant" unique but first he needs to allow it to grow
. First part might not be as easy for you to understand but but just go get him a very alive but still dead looking stick and tell him ...... HE CANT get it to grow.

This is the mind of a man speaking to you via a keyboard trust me he wants it more than I can express


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Toni, thanks, what a nice thing to say!

Bronwyn, if you can tell your hubby to think of growing as from the roots up, instead of from the foliage down, his success with any plant should increase, and the speed at which the plants grow, giving more to mess with, more often. Any plant will die if the roots aren't healthy.

When one can avoid root rot, plants should stay alive. One way to avoid that is to "not overwater" when using soils that hold excess water. That's not something people who like to mess with plants and water them often can do well. The other way is to use a soil that doesn't hold excess moisture, so one can "love on" the plants as much as they want without killing them with kindness. Once one gets over that hurdle, the only limitations are the amount of light, humidity, temp... and of course, the plants you can find to buy that are suitable for the conditions you have.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Try bonsai maybe. There are special bonsai pots, trays, tools, (miniatures in some styles of 'bonseki'),books, even classes, etc. . There are lots of tropical and subtropical species that are easy in the house (Ficus, Jade, etc.). Lots of time needed to putter around, transplant, root prune etc.., and being the pots are so small...it is hardy to overwater bonsai

(If that is not for him, maybe orchids. But orchids are not really that labor-intensive.)

Good luck.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Thu, Jul 25, 13 at 14:53
Bronwyn said:

"After his first bonsai (really his 3rd, but the first he tried to create from 'scratch' after buying a bush from the garden centre) he figured out he was going through the steps too quickly. So with his next one he used wired to shape first before pruning or repotting. That one died when he overpruned. And so on."


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

If he loves bonsai so much, maybe he should try wisteria. It requires a LOT more pruning than most, it probably needs root pruning more often than most as well. So far mine is in pre bonsai stage. After potting it up about 4+ inches, it has already grown roots throughout most of it and has grown around 4'.

I second orchids. In some scenarios, he will need to repot them annually (something he might like?). There is room for trial and error, some orchids more than others (like oncidium sphacelatum). If your curious about them, try the orchid forum for more information. Link will take you there.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW orchid forum


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

My first thought was "more plants!" All the suggestions are really good; I was thinking also of orchids - not only the common ones that are easy to find, but really getting into orchids. Some of them are a major challenge to find and grow (and afford. An orchid hobby can get awfully expensive.)

But I also want to chime in on the "plants toxic to cats" thing. If you look at those lists, almost all houseplants are on them. I think we need to consider a couple of things: those lists were compiled by forcing plant substances into captive animals until they sicken and die.
In real life, while a cat may sink a tooth into a leaf, or tear a plant apart, they rarely actually eat those things that are poisonous to them. Probably, they taste very bad.

I've had cats and plants all my life, and never had a problem. I've asked all my friends, and no one has ever had a cat die from eating a plant. Barf, yes. Die, no.

There are plants that my cats insist on eating -- palms, spider plant, dracaenas -- these are outside on the porch, because when the leaves are half chewed off, they really look ugly.

All my other plants are in the house, many of them on a shelving unit in the sunroom, which they share with the cats. All of them are on the "toxic" list. Sometimes they get holes in the leaves from a cat munching. No big deal. If a cat started to actually eat any of them, I'd move them, but other than that, it's no problem.

All I'm sayin' is, people, let's chill on this toxic plant thing.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Thanks, theficuswrangler. While I try to be as careful as possible, my system for keeping cat and plants separate isn't perfect. The cat has eaten so many 'toxic' plants (mostly before I realized they were toxic), dracaenas, ficus, english ivy, pothos and never become ill. It's mostly that I want to avoid her killing the plants and frankly, cleaning up puke. Also, if I have a choice I'll buy a non-toxic plant over toxic and I have found plenty: spider plants, peperomia, prayer plant, wandering jew, cast iron plant, kentia palm, goldfish plant. With the exception of the last one that's not even including direct light plants, orchids (which I kill), african violets (ditto), or cacti (ditto) . I have to admit I do own a few toxic plants, but mostly they were gift plants which I couldn't bear to let die in those terrible gift baskets or due to sharing a similar common name with another plant I thought were non-toxic. I'm glad my 'mostly cautious' attitude is shared by someone else.

As to the plants my dh is pretty much looking at gardenia and lemon. I'll let everyone know how it goes.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Bronwyn..
Have you ever heard the term, green thumb?
A person w/a green thumb does well with plants.

There are different catagories .

Brown Thumb. People who kill fake plants. lol. j/k. People who cannot keep a plant alive no matter how hard they try. Usually beginners.

Light-Green-Thumbs..Plants do a little better than those cared by gardeners with brown thumbs. People who purchases plants 2-3 times without early demise.

Green Thumb. Plants do great in a green-thumber's care. Gardeners plants are healthy, well-cared for.

Deep or Dark-Green Thumb..Plants are in excellent health, award-winners.

Toni


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

hopeful author,
Oh, I see! I had heard of having a green thumb before, but never the variants.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

i suggest getting him an additional hobby and hide the scissors/clippers. :-)


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

laura1 -- already done!

One of my dh's other interests is fish-keeping. We have a 55 gallon tank, but when he recently went through a depression it became mainly my responsibility. As it is now populated by fish, plants, and other environmental enhancements mainly of my choosing he seems less interested in it. So for his upcoming birthday he has chosen to start a second smaller (10 gallon) tank for a male betta. It's a species he likes and a fairly high maintenance one at that. They get bored easily, so it's advisable to change the layout of the tank when you do the weekly water changes. Like goldfish they can also be trained to do a variety of tricks, and unlike goldfish they like playing with 'toys' such as floating balls. Underwater plants can also require frequent maintenance.

After his last bonsai died he also recognized that the clippers needed to go into my care. They are in my tool kit, but he doesn't know that!

I think he's mainly looking for a plant that requires frequent enough care that a) it is interesting to him and b) he doesn't forget about it as it becomes just another part of the scenery. What I think he really wants/needs is a garden, but we live in an apartment.

Next week we'll be looking at some gardenias at a local garden centre. Maybe two (I don't think we have room for 3, I have too many plants already) will be enough to keep him busy.


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

Frequent care shouldn't be confused with "plant that likes fussy conditions." Just throwin' that out there, which I felt when reading some of the comments. Trying to maintain some kind of strange condition is nowhere near as fun as messing with the actual plant, IMVHO. If anyone's opinion about what's fun regarding plant care isn't the same as mine, that's fine, just wanted to make it clear that these are 2 different things about plants. I can guide a vine, I can't make my house more or less humid or arrange the temp for plants instead of people, the amount of light has a limit. Something that grows very fast *in the conditions you have* will provide the most entertainment and opportunity for guidance, and leave much less possibility for uncontrollable failure.

I mentioned this heart-leaf Philo above, but here's a pic of what one can do with this vine by fussing with it almost daily, to guide the vines where one wants them to go. Looking at this from the side is the best angle for that, I think. It also has a ton of plant mass in a very small space, which is a concern of most people regarding indoor plants (although mine is outside for summer, it will come in for winter.)


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RE: High Maintenance House Plant

For all of you with cat attack problems, I have found that placing orange peels around the areas of your pots will deter them quite well. It would be something to try on your cats. My spider plants appreciated it very much and are outgrowing being lopsided. (I have a quite 'hungry' cat.)


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