Care of the Fishtail Palm

Fishtail Palm

Fishtail Palm Care

Someone who grows houseplants knows that some of them may require very specific conditions to grow well. The Fishtail Palm (Caryota Urens) is one of those plants. The reason for its appeal are its leaves that look like the tails of fish. The thick clumps and the quantity of leaves it produces are what make this a very beautiful plant and it can act as a focus point in any indoor space.
The Fishtail Palm has its origins in many places. It’s found to grow in South East Asia as well as in Australia. It is naturally grown in rainforests, and thrives in bright sunlight and moist air.

Varieties

No matter what variety of Fishtail Palm you look at, chances are the plants will be tall. On average at maximum height, a Fishtail Palm will grow from 20-25 feet tall.
The Caryota Maxima is a type of the Fishtail Palm that grows up to a whopping 100 ft. of height, while the Caryota Cumingii will grow to somewhere around 36 feet high. The most commonly found varieties, however, grow up to 20 feet high, which means that not all interior spaces are suitable for keeping this plant. They are not all giants though, Fishtails can commonly be found 3-4Ft tall in 10 inch pots and 6-7ft tall in 14 inch pots that are suitable for the household or office.

Growing the Fishtail Palm

These plants, while beautiful to look at, are not very easy to grow indoors. That is not because they need a lot of care, but because of the conditions they require. Most indoor spaces don’t have bright sunlight pouring inside, nor is the air quality inside them humid. This is the kind of plant that requires just the right space or a professional to maintain it.
Here is the breakdown of all the growing conditions a Fishtail Palm requires:

Light

A Fishtail Palm normally requires bright sunlight, be it direct or indirect, to grow well. However, you can find certain species that can grow in moderate light as well. These indoor species need to be taken out once in a while as well to be exposed to fresh air and direct sunlight though.
Try to keep this plant in a brightly lit spot. Sun rooms work well, as do foyers of large buildings. The strongest and longest lasting Fishtails are those which are given a healthy dose of sunlight every day.

Temperature

This is not a plant for cool areas, as it can’t survive temperatures lower than 7 degrees Celsius. The optimum temperature during the day for the Fishtail Palm is around 21-27 degrees Celsius, and during the night it can go down to 15 degrees.
During the winters, the plant takes a little break before going into full throttle again in the growing season, and does well in 10-15 degrees Celsius. In the North Eastern United States or anywhere else cold – these palms need to be brought inside long before the winter begins.

Water

One of the most important things to remember while growing this plant is to not let its soil get dry. If that happens, the plant will start to shed leaves. A healthy supply of water is important for its growth, especially in warmer climates.
The Fishtail Palm also likes humid environments, being a plant of the rainforests. Most indoor spaces do not have those levels of humidity. The best way is to create a simulation of humidity for the plant by sprinkling its leaves with water or by using a humidifier. A lack in humidity will cause the yellowing of leaves and will hinder the plant’s growth.

Fishtail Palm

Fishtail Palm

Soil

Any standard potting soil works with the Fishtail Palm, granted you add a good amount of drainage material to it. Adding pine bark or perlite to the potting medium will ensure that the palm lives for a longer period of time.

Nutrients

Your palm will need to be fed with an all-purpose and weak liquid fertilizer once every month. Applying a strong fertilizer directly to the plant can cause root burn, which will kill the plant. It is advisable to feed the plant right after you have watered it to dilute the fertilizer.
Do not overfeed the plant if you don’t want the leaves to be withered, or for the plant to die early. If you see leaves been withered, stop fertilizing and remove all affected leaves. Wait two months before continuing with light fertilization. A good time release fertilizer is also an option. That way forgetful people can rest their minds for three months at a time.

Pruning

Pruning a Fishtail Palm has more to do with keeping its height in check rather than ensuring its health as it does not require a lot of it. If you need to prune it to control its height, do so very lightly by cutting off the vertical stalks from the top.

Potential Diseases and Solutions

The most common pests that affect the Fishtail Palm are spider mites. If you spot any webs on your plant, and find some spider mites lurking around, you should hose them off right away with pressured water. Alternatively, you can use an insecticidal spray.
One common disease among the plant is Pseudomonas. This causes wet, brown lesions running parallel to the veins of the leaves. The only way to get rid of this disease is to cut off the affected parts.
Fishtails are often affected by a deficiency in minerals like magnesium and iron. Try adding pinches of the minerals along with fertilizer if you start noticing discolored leaves.

How to Propagate Fishtail Plants

The plant has flowers that contain both male and female parts, which leads to seeds that can be used to propagate. Keep the seeds warm and moist for about 6 to 8 months in a pot, and they will sprout.
Another way to propagate Fishtail Plants is to use the suckers that are found at the mother plant’s base. You can remove them along with a little bit of the root attached and pot them until they grow into healthy plants over a period of several months.

Fishtail Palms are a great way to bring a dead space to life. Some people might be turned off by their height, but if you have enough space to grow one, you definitely should. Just be careful to give it enough light and moisture, and you’ll have a tall and healthy plant that attracts the eye and makes your spaces look alive.

How To Care For A Fern

Boston Fern

Care of Fern Plants

Easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and coming in a huge array of varieties – the Fern is one of the oldest plant family on the face of the earth. Having been part of woodlands and forests for over 300 million years, the ferns have made their rightful place among the most attractive plants that can be grown in a garden or even inside a house.

Varieties of Fern:

There are about 12,000 species of ferns around the world, as estimated by the American Fern Society. These include ferns that can grow in the cold hard weather as well as those that thrive in tropical environments.
If you are looking for a fern to grow in your garden, here are the most common ones to choose from:
• Southern Maidenhair Fern – famous for being able to grow in multiple soil conditions.
• Lady Fern – tolerance for drought, with an upright height of up to 3 feet.
• Autumn Fern – known for its changing colors throughout the year. Its leaves turn coppery pink during the spring, going to a full copper color in the fall after turning green in the summer.
• Male Fern – famous for its interesting vase-like shape and its height of 5 feet.
• Boston Fern – one of the most famous indoor ferns.

Caring for Outdoor Ferns:

One of the best factors of outdoor hardy ferns is that they don’t require a lot of care to grow well. Their survival instinct is very strong, and at times they will forgive you for not noticing that they’re there.
Ferns do require rich soil for growth. Soil that has a lot of organic matter in it is best for garden ferns. You will need to mulch regularly and water the ferns consistently during dry periods. Being tropical plants, ferns also require high levels of humidity. This can be acheived indoors by placing the plant on a saucer filled with a bed of gravel – and keeping the gravel wet, allowing the water to evaporate up into the plant.

Caring for Indoor Ferns

Indoor ferns, like the Boston fern, have a slightly more rigorous care mechanism associated with them. Being indoors, they don’t quite get to enjoy the nature that any plant needs, and need to be cared for a little more than outdoor species. Follow the instructions below and you should have no problem keeping your fern thriving for years to come.

Lighting

Many ferns grow well in indirect light because direct sunlight causes their leaves to turn brown and wither away. Placing indoor ferns in front of a north facing window is a good idea, while you can also place them in front of an east facing window in winters when the sun doesn’t hit them directly in the morning. Many people believe that the fern is a plant of the shade, but this is not true. They are used to living in the canopies of trees, so they see a lot of filtered light. This makes it important to provide bright, yet indirect, light to indoor ferns.

Temperature

An average indoor temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is optimum for healthy fern growth. At night, these temperatures go down 10 degrees. Temperatures higher than 75 degrees make the plants dry and they need to be watered more frequently.

Watering Ferns

Ferns require consistent watering. The soil has to be kept evenly moist, without being too wet. If you water the soil too much, the fern’s fronds will turn yellow and may wilt after a period of time. Diseases such as root rot and fungal attacks follow. Wilt is also caused if you water too little, which makes watering an important part of fern growth. Checking your plant frequently or using a water meter is the best way to judge the moisture level in the soil.

Humidity

Almost none of the famous or commonly known ferns will grow well in dry atmospheres. They are plants of the woodlands and forests, where they have enjoyed high levels of humidity for millions of years. Therefore, it becomes important to ensure a humid environment for ferns to grow indoors.
One way to do this is to place their pots on trays of damp pebbles that create a humid micro-climate around the plants. You will also benefit from misting the ferns regularly. If you can afford it, a humidifier works best for keeping moisture in the air.

Soil

Ferns have delicate roots that have been adapted to grow in the light soil of the forest. Indoor and outdoor ferns both require a rich soil to thrive. Use the right kind of compost so that the roots don’t get waterlogged. Compost consisting of peat or any such fibrous substitute is best for the healthy growth of these plants.
Fertilizer:
Ferns should not be fed directly and in large quantities as their root system can get damaged by such treatment. They require to be fed every two to four weeks with a light liquid fertilizer, a few drops of which have been added to the water the plant is being misted with. Winter time is resting season for the ferns, so don’t feed them at this time.

Fern Disease, Insects and Pests

Ferns are not affected by a lot of diseases, however they are susceptible to the usual pest attacks. Mealy bugs and mites are common attackers. They should be hosed off the plants with water as pesticides can injure the ferns. Even a mild solution of rubbing alcohol and water can prove to be a strong weapon against Mealy Bug or Spider Mite.

Repotting Ferns

After a few years, the fern will need to be repotted. This can be done by placing it in a soil-less mix with a healthy amount of peat moss in it. Remember to repot in the spring season to encourage growth.
The underside of fern leaves produces spores, which can be separated from the leaves and then used to propagate new plants. Simply place the spores in a growth mix and water well. When the fronds start appearing and reach up to three inches in height, pot them in separate containers and treat as adults.

These are the basic requirements that the fern needs. Special requirements may be applicable depending on what species of the plant you are growing. No matter which fern you decide to grow, however, you can be sure that you will receive a lush green, beautiful reward at the end of all the hard work.

Using Live Plants In The Office To Improve Your Work Environment

How Does Having Plants Improve The Work Environment?

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As humans, we are drawn to nature no matter what we do or where we live. Seeing something natural or ‘green’ has an immensely positive effect on our minds and spirits. That is why today we see a number of people incorporating green into their homes and offices, as well as architects and designers impressing upon the idea of green spaces.
Having some part of nature in our artificial environments makes us a little aware of the world around us, while also adding a touch of natural elegance and color to our interiors. While homeowners are using more and more green in their houses, office workers can also see a boost in productivity if they add a little green to their desk.

The Results Are Scientific

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Many researchers have undertaken the question of how plants can improve an office space and come up with nothing but positive results in favor of the plants. A very recent study has shown that adding plants to your desk or in multiple places around the office can boost your productivity by 15% which, when added for all the employees working at an office, can cause a major uplift in the quality of work produced.
This study took into account two types of office spaces; a green one and a ‘lean’ one. The latter was a typical minimalist office space that has become a norm in the modern times. This study aimed to decide which office space was more productive based on the reviews of the employees.
As expected, the space which was filled with plants led to a much better working environment for the employees. It helped them in the following ways:
• The employees said that they felt sharper and could concentrate more on the task at hand. This led to an increase in the overall productivity.
• The people working in the office with the plants said that they were generally more satisfied with their working environment. Plants have been known to uplift dreary and drab internal spaces, and that proved to be true in the office as well.
• The employees of the plant-filled office reported to have a better air quality. Many plants are known to absorb certain pollutants from the air and these can help clean up the air inside an office as well. The introduction of 1 plant per 3 employees can lead to a 50% reduction in CO2. Dust levels are also reduced by 20% in such an office space. Other than removing these, plants also help cleaning man made toxins such as those produced by plastics, paints, and furniture.

Having Plants In The Office To Reduce Stress And Illness

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A study in 2010 concluded that having plants in a working space led to a reduction in stress among the employees. A reduction was seen in multiple mental issues like anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue up to 37%, 58%, 44%, and 38% respectively.
This study showed that plants in an office space work as a drain for many negative psychological effects that an office worker may face. Other than making a space look fresh and colorful, plants have also been noted to reduce blood pressure.
Lesser Sickness and Absence:
Another way in which plants can help increase the productivity of your employees is by reducing minor illnesses by 30%. This also leads to a 50% reduction in the absence of employees from the workplace due to mental or physical stress.
Lower Distractions:
Many people don’t realize this but plants can also help reduce the ambient noise in an office by 5 decibels. The sounds that would otherwise distract you from the task you are given can be buffered by the addition of plants. This leads to a better level of concentration and the employees can get more work done in lesser time.
Higher Levels of Creativity:
Businesses that require the employee to be creative will be happy to know that one study has shown an increase in the employees’ level of creativity in an office with plants. According to a theory, plants help evoke some ancient instincts in our hearts that there is food near us, which helps us relax and be more calm.
An Improved Mental Health:
While plants may not be the cure for major depression, they can most certainly help an office worker feel more engaged with the work. Plants can make employees mentally and emotionally healthier by adding some natural zest to an otherwise boring and grey environment. Employees are seen to be happier on their jobs when plants are placed nearby them, and that makes working much more interesting.

Is Less More?

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The idea of an office space that serves its purpose as an office space and nothing more is being challenged, along with the statement ‘Less is More’. If less was more, then a space filled with plants would not have fared better than the one that was made to be minimal and modern.
The bottom line of this whole debate is that you should go ahead and ask your employer to add some plants to the office. If, for some reason, that is not possible then you should go and get a small plant of your own and put it on your desk. You will see a gradual increase in your own productivity and working at the office all day won’t seem to be a difficult task anymore.

The10 Best Office Plants

Best Office plants

The 10 Best Office Plants

Those who work in an office can appreciate the addition of some fresh interior design elements that can change the somewhat dreary office environment to a welcoming one. Using color in the form of artwork or furniture is fine, but what an office could use more are some fresh green plants that add both beauty and efficiency to the office environment.
There are many indoor plants that can be used in an office environment, and many of these are low maintenance. Plants introduce a little bit of nature into an artificial environment and also energize employees. They have a positive effect on the mental state of the workers as well, and some of these plants even purify the atmosphere and remove harmful toxins from the air.

If you are looking to add some nature to your office space and can’t decide where to start, here is a list of the 10 best office plants to keep in your cubicle:

1. Pothos:

Neon Pothos

Neon Pothos

The reason that makes this such a good office plant is its ability to grow in almost every lighting condition. That is an important factor for office plants because most offices don’t see the use of too much natural light.
Placing a wooden or mesh trellis where you want to grow the plant will help the Pothos climb on it. This helps in merging nature with architecture which can bring the feeling of being outside to your space. If you don’t want it to climb on a wall or a pole, placing it in a hanging basket works just as well. Pothos are also commonly grown in just a simple glass vase of water – showcasing the root system and taking the guesswork out of maintenance.
2. Aglaonema:

Aglaonema Siam

Aglaonema Siam

Aglaonemas are plants that can grow in a variety of environments, which makes it a very good plant for the office. It can grow equally well in bright sunlight as well as in low light. The varieties of colors and leaf patterns are almost endless. Aglaonema are also available in pink and red varieties to give a low light environment a splash of color where most plants wouldn’t grow.
They come in a variety of sizes from a 6in pot suitable for your desk, to a 14in pot best used as a floor plant.
3. Spider Plant:

Spider Plant

Spider Plant

With its narrow, long green leaves and small spiderettes hanging down from the mother plant, the Spider Plant is one of the easiest office plants to grow. This plant can survive a lot of tough conditions and grows in indirect, but bright sunlight. One of the things that make this plant a looker are the babies of the plant, or spiderettes, that dangle from the mother plant. They can also be taken off and grown as separate pup plants. This is a great option if you have a windowed office or are looking for an office plant that you can hang.

4. Snake Plant:

Sansavaria Superba Christi

Sansavaria Superba Christi

What’s not to like about a plant that can go on for weeks of neglect and still look fresh because of its shape? The majority of snake plants have tall leaves that stand vertically up to 3 feet. There are also shorter varieties such as Superba Christi that grown on the shorter side. Also known as Sansavaria, these plants can survive in low light and have very few insect problems. Snake plants are also on NASA’s list of plants that clean harmful chemicals from the air. Throw in the fact that they are extremely drought tolerant and all of that combined makes this one of the forerunners on the office plant list.
5. Cactus and Succulents:

Cactus and Succlents

Cactus and Succulents

Just place them in bright sunlight and your cacti and succulents are good to go! The Cactus family is a collection of succulent plants that have small growths on them to store water. This allows them to withstand a lack of nutrition for quite some time and still be able to get the nutrients they need to live. Bright green, with a number of beautiful varieties, the cactus is a great plant to be grown in the office. Just be sure no one gets stuck with the needle-like growths. Many varieties are available that are office friendly and lack spines and needles. Just make sure that you don’t over-care for these plants – as most people tend to water them too much. Looking for a plant that thrives on neglect? If you have natural sunlight, these are the ones.
6. Rubber Plant:

Ficus Robusta

Rubber Plant – Ficus Robusta

If you prefer a plant that purifies your office of indoor pollutants, the rubber plant could be a good choice. It requires bright and indirect light to grow indoors, so keeping it near a window that has curtains or some other sort of screening is a good idea. You should  be careful of its watering requirements as they vary throughout the year. During its growing season, the Rubber Plant needs to stay moist while in other seasons it will be fine when watered once or twice a month. The Rubber Plant is actually in the Ficus family which makes them a sturdy and hard to kill plant.
7. Dracaena Family:

Janet Craig

Janet Craig

While the Dracaena Family consists of hundreds of different types of plants (many suitable for an office) – our pick is the Janet Craig. The Janet Craig is an attractive plant to look at that also eliminates pollutants from the air. The Dracaena Janet Craig is a great choice to elevate an office space with its strap-like leaves and upright form.
To keep this plant healthy, make sure that its soil is moist but not too soggy.  You can allow it to dry out slightly between waterings. Janet Craigs are not too picky with lighting. A medium to low light or artificial light is suitable for this tough plant.
8. Bromeliad:

Bromeliad

Bromeliad

If you have some extra space in your office where you would like to keep an ornamental and flowering plant, the Bromeliad is a good choice. With its rigid fleshy leaves, it can liven up a dull office space if placed in the right area. Bromeliads are typically slow growers and can be kept in a medium to bright light office. One of the three flowering plants on this list, the Bromeliad’s burst of color can last for months before the flower dies off.

9. Peace Lily:

Peace Lily Spathiphyllum

Peace Lily

If simple green plants are too monotonous for you, consider growing the Peace Lily in your office space. The beautiful and elegant white flowers of this plant are perfect for a serious work environment. The Peace Lily is also known to purify the air and is easy to grow. Known to grow well in both low light and bright light – this beautiful plant will continue to flower sporadically  throughout the year. Peace Lilies prefer moist soil and are not happy campers when allowed to completely dry out.
10. African Violet:

African Violet

African Violet

And finally, if you want a splash of color in your office to make it more cheerful, the African Violet is a great choice. Care for these little guys properly and it will pay off when you see the small blooms pop some color into your office.
The African Violet needs filtered light of medium to high intensity. The thing you need to be most careful about is watering this plant. It requires warm water that has been standing for 48 hours, and shouldn’t be splashed with water. The water should be added to the base only. The African Violet also needs a special African Violet fertilizer with a high phosphorous count for healthy growth.

So there you have it. No matter which one you choose, having an office plant tends to add much more character to an office space while also cleaning the air. Plants also have a positive psychological effect on the mind which adds to the productivity of the workers. Use them to liven up any office area and you’ll soon notice a difference in the quality of that space.

How To Treat Plants For Mealybugs

How To Treat Plants For Mealybug

 

IMG_1129

Mealybug Infestation On A Marginata Leaf

How to Treat Plants for Mealy Bugs

Anyone who keeps indoor plants, or any plants for that matter, must be aware of the threat that pesky insects bring with them to the healthy growth of the plants. Plants require a lot of care if they are to thrive in your garden or inside your room, and that includes dealing with insects such as the Mealy Bug.

A Description of the Mealy Bug:

The Mealy Bug is an insect that can be found in warm climates. They appear as cotton-like clusters on plants and can target the leaves, fruits, or the stems.
Attacking a plant for a Mealy Bug means inserting its stylets, which are long parts of its mouth made for sucking, into the veins of the plant leaves and sucking the sap. The sap of a plant is like blood in a human body. It transports the nutrients from roots to leaves. Sucking the sap out of a plant means that the plant weakens with time and the leaves turn yellow. These effects are more apparent when the plant is attacked by a high number of pests.
Adult pests can range from 1/10 to 1/4 inches in length. They have soft bodies and lack wings. The insects have oval bodies that are covered with a wax that is colored either white or gray. The smaller insects, or nymphs, are called crawlers and they have yellow bodies that are free of wax. These bugs don’t move a lot when they find a suitable plant to feed on.

How to Avoid a Mealy Bug Infestation:

While Mealy Bugs may attack any plant they find in a suitable environment, they are mostly attracted to those that have high nitrogen levels. This is the result of too much fertilization, so be sure not to over-fertilize your plants.
Regularly washing your plants with a leaf shine will also help prevent these infestations.

Controlling an Infestation:

If infected, your plants may soon start to lose color and become weak and warped due to lack of nutrients. To avoid that, you must treat your plants against this infestation. Luckily, there are many ways to do that:
• If your plant has a light infestation, you can use alcohol-coated Q-tips to dab the insects with and get rid of them.
• Using slightly high-pressure water can help in hosing off the insects.
• There are insecticidal soaps available today that are made up of potassium salts. These salts damaged the outer shells of the insects, which causes them to die of dehydration in a few hours.
• The most extreme way to treat a Mealy Bug infestation is to use a natural pesticide that has a short span of existence and which does not linger in the environment after its work is done.
• A more natural way to control this is to use beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewing which are natural predators of the Mealy Bug. You can avoid the use of harsh chemicals or unnatural ways of killing the insects with this method. One important thing to keep note of is to control the ants during such an attack on the Mealy Bugs. Ants have a symbiotic bond with the Mealy Bugs, as they feed on the honeydew that is secreted by the insects and in return they protect them against any attacks.
• In order to keep future infestations at bay, wash the leaves of your plants regularly with a leaf shine.
Homemade and Inexpensive Solutions:
While the solutions mentioned above are all good for treating plants for Mealy Bugs, they may either be expensive for you or unhealthy for the plants in case chemicals are used. To minimize the chances of your plants being affected by such chemicals, you can make soap sprays at home which are a very good solution to the problem as well.
The advantage of soap sprays is that they don’t linger on the plant or cause any effect to it. They work by smothering the outer coating of the insects and the insect die as the result.
The various types of soap sprays that are easy to make at home are:
Basic Soap Spray:
Adding 3 tablespoons of soap to a gallon of water will give you a basic soap spray that you can use to wash the plants. Another way to make it is by adding 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent to a gallon of water.
A Combination of Oil and Soap:
A basic soap spray with 2 tablespoons of cooking oil per gallon will help your mixture stick better to the insects and doesn’t drip off too quickly.
A Combination of Alcohol and Soap:
Half a cup of rubbing alcohol to a quart of liquid soap helps clear away any waxy coating that may be present on the outer shell of the insects. This makes the soap spray penetrate the insects’ shells more easily. You should be careful to rinse off the plant with water after 20 minutes of applying the alcohol soap spray to keep the plant safe from any adverse effects.
Apply all soap sprays evenly on the foliage and the stems and leave them for about two hours before rinsing the plant with water, except for those with alcohol. In case of a concentrated infestation, try using a rag soaked with the soap in the affected area.
Before applying any sort of soap spray, test it out on a small part of the plant and keep an eye on it for some days to be sure that the plant isn’t getting affected by it in any way. The same goes for other methods of controlling a Mealy Bug infestation as well.
You should always try to avoid such a situation in which your plants may get infested by Mealy Bugs in the first place. Keeping your plants clean and washing them regularly will keep such insects away most of the time. In case you do have to face an infestation, try to find a way to control it that doesn’t affect your plant’s health or growth in any way.

 

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