En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 09, 2007

From: Mount Vernon, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care of non-native house plant
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please let me know how to keep a dieffenbachia plant healthy and growing. I notice some leaves turn yellow. I water them once a week and keep it on the windowsill with some sunlight. Should I be doing something else? Also, I have a bromeliad. The pretty flowers fell off and no other flower grew back. Is this normal? All I have now are green leaves and no flowers. Does a flower only bloom once?

ANSWER:

Yellowing in leaves on a plant is frequently caused by inadequate nutrition. It is recommended that pot plants get a dose of liquid plant food every two to four weeks, following the directions on the package. Also, lower leaves of a dieffenbachia will fall away naturally, establishing a nice trunk as the plant grows. Hopefully, you already know that the sap of the dieffenbachia is poisonous. Just a small amount can cause the tongue to swell, possibly closing the throat although this is very rare. It would be safer if small children not have access to the plant; even cats can be harmed by chewing the leaves. This website on House Plant Care should give you additional useful ideas on care for your plant.

Next, you're in for a surprise (well, we were surprised) when you read this article on Care of Bromeliads. Turns out bromeliads do NOT bloom again. Apparently, when they get to about 3/4 of their normal size, they are treated to bloom, and placed in retail stores for sale. You buy one, take it home, enjoy its lovely bloom for a while, and then the bloom dies. It will never bloom again. However, it will continue to live and, hopefully, flourish and put out offsets or "pups". When these "pups" get to be about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant, they can be removed and repotted, allowed to grow naturally, and then they, too, will bloom. Once. When the bloom has died, you should cut the bloom stalk down as far as you can. So, you can buy blooming bromeliads, enjoy the bloom until it dies and throw out the plant, or you can start a bromeliad farm.

Both of these plants are non-native tropicals or sub-tropicals. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about the use of plants native to North America in the landscape. But we know that most indoor plants are tropicals because they are better able to tolerate the extreme conditions (for plants) indoors, summer and winter.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Replacing St. Augustine grass from Dallas TX
April 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Pants, we are replacing dying St. Augustine grass in a small, sunny back yard with ground cover. What are your recommendations for a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover? We will till a...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive tungoil tree
July 21, 2006 - I believe I have a tungoil tree growing in my yard. How do I care for it and when would be the best time to move it. It is about 6 foot tall and has about 12 seed (fruit) on it. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Non-native crape myrtle resistance to deer from Annapolis MD
April 06, 2013 - Is Crape Myrtle tree resistant to deers? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Do non-native globe willows have a taproot from Midland TX
April 06, 2012 - Do globe willows have a tap root?
view the full question and answer

Growing non-native daylilies from Albuquerque
May 05, 2013 - Need some tips on planting daylilies in the Northeast heights of Albuquerque. I've amended clay soil with cottonbur mulch/compost mix and added gypsum. Can I do anything else to ensure growing succes...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center