Friday, December 17, 2010

The State of My Houseplants

I am sorry I have been absent for so long; I was just too busy with final papers and exams to take the time to write a post, and then, too, not much seemed to be happening around here horticulturally. Outside everything is bare and frozen - though there has not been any snow yet in these parts - but many of my indoor plants have been doing quite well, so this will be a little update on them. I apologize for the mediocre quality of the pictures; apparently I am incapable of taking good photographs given the lighting conditions in my windows.

Paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus)
First up is a picture of the last bunch of flowers produced by the Paperwhite narcissus bulbs I potted up early in the fall. Now I know that it does not take any skill at all to get these two flower, but they still make me quite happy by adding a bit of spring cheer to this time of year (rhyme not intentional). Instead of throwing them out now that they are done flowering, I will try to cultivate them through until the leaves die back and then plant the bulbs in my family's garden in the spring. Let us hope that it works out.

 Crown-of-Thorns (Euphorbia milii)
The second picture shows my little red-flowered crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii), which has so far brought me nothing but joy as it has been happily growing and flowering profusely for the past two month. My Maranta leuconeura erythroneura has been similarly fantastic, though that was somewhat less of a surprise since I already prior positive experiences with the regular form of the species. Not only has it been growing happily and without any pest or disease issues, but it has also been producing delicate flower spikes with tiny white flowers flushed with purple. They are rather inconspicuous but I find them pretty nonetheless.

Maranta leuconeura erythroneura

My Tradescantia spathacea appears to be doing all right as well, though admittedly all that means is that it is not sick and has grown a bit since I got it about two months ago. I have saw these used a lot as ground covers in India this past summer, and somehow that made me want to give them a try as a houseplant when I saw them at a flower shop here. I have since learned, though, they can be extremely invasive in warm climates and can cause horrible allergic reactions in dogs, so perhaps their cultivation should not be encouraged...

Tradescantia spathacea, syn. Rhoeo spathacea

Perhaps the most exciting development, however, though unfortunately also the least photogenic, is that some of the date pits I planted in late September have germinated into tiny date palm seedlings (Phoenix dactylifera). They were taken from fresh dates bought at Trader Joe's right after I took the GRE when I was craving comfort food, which at the time apparently meant dates.  Extremely delicious they were; the variety, known as 'Medjool' (مجهول) , which means "unknown" in Arabic, is one of the varieties more commonly grown in the US, though apparently it originates in Morocco. I like it better than the Tunisian variety Deglet Noor, which is probably the most commonly sold variety in western countries, because even though the latter keeps its shape better and is prettier  it is not as sweet and flavorful and can be rather dry. In any case, two of my 'Medjool' seeds are sending up their first leaves and even though date palms apparently do not come true from seed and there is little chance that my inevitably potted palm babies will ever grow to fruiting size, I am excited.

 Date palm seedlings (Phoenix dactylifera)

Now I just have to hope that my plants make it through my absence over winter break...


  1. You have quite a variety of pretty plants to look at indoors. I love the foliage of the maranta.. I looked everythere for one of those. I guess I need to go to a florist. Goodluck with finals, etc.

  2. Good to see the photos and that your houseplants are doing well.

    I hope they'll be alright while you're away for your winter break.

  3. im surprised that you have much of the same houseplants despite being in so different a climate!! and thank you i've long been wondering what the purple leaved plant i have is named ..
    The narcissus is beautiful!


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