En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Care of non-native house plant

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

Landscaping a new yard in El Paso, TX
July 01, 2010 - I am starting my back yard, we want to plant some sod grass and shade trees. We were doing some research and came across the Paulownia and the Royal Empress tree. I like them since they grow very fast...
view the full question and answer

Problems with yellow lantana in Smoaks SC
June 05, 2010 - My yellow lantanas are about five years old - big and beautiful, but beginning last year, the blooms are small and part of the tiny petals are brown or black. Can you tell me what I can do about this ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Centaurium spicatum, family gentianceae
January 21, 2008 - I need to know every single detail about centaurium spicatum family gentianceae.
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on non-native Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
July 03, 2006 - I purchased a chinese hibiscus hiros small tree and after 1 month the leaves keep turning yellow. What's wrong? It's in a large pot and never outside below 60 degrees. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Encouraging bloom on non-native Batwing Erythrina
July 18, 2007 - Hi! I have a Batwing Erythrina in the ground next to my driveway in full sun in Houston. It's nine years old and is about twenty feet tall, but it does not bloom. What can I do? Thanks for your s...
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