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If you’ve been following along my new plant blog journey, you know I like low maintenance plants. I especially like plants that don’t need to root before you can plant their cuttings.
Last week I showed how to prune Jade Plants, also known as Money Trees, and then how you can simply stick the cuttings in dirt (after they’ve scarred over a couple of days). You can even stick Jade leaves in dirt and they’ll grow.
Jades have lots of company when it comes to easy propagation. Many varieties in the Dracaena family are the same way. Dracaena Marginatas, or Dragon Trees, for example, are super easy to propagate.
This Dragon Tree lives at a mortgage company in Albuquerque.
I cut the really wide-reaching one on the left, trimmed the stalk to the height I wanted, then stuck it in the dirt.
I did the same with another big stalk. The result is some good new growth down low to make up for the wild older stalks.
When I was watering the plants at the cereal factory, I pruned a Dracaena Warneckii.
Then planted the cuttings in one of their atriums. I hope they grow strong and tall!
I love that cereal factory. It always smells delicious and everyone who works there is sugary sweet.
Sansevieria, also know as Snake plants or Mother-in-law-tongues (because they’re difficult to kill), are another family of plants that don’t need to root before you can plant the cuttings.
Another favorite of mine is Wandering Jews.
I frequently forget to water mine, so it doesn’t look great. When it gets thirsty, the stems die off and look like this.
If you have a Wandering Jew, just clean off the dead leaves so you have a healthy stem, then put it right back in the pot.
Caring for houseplants doesn’t have to be a burdensome task. Most plants are waaaay easier than you can imagine.
I’d like to give a special shout out to James at James and the Giant Corn for the link even though I’m a newbie. Also to Mr. Subjunctive at Plants are the Strangest People, thanks for your posts, they’re great.
James, I think you’re right, horticulture is an intimidating word to many people. Plus, I’m not a horticulturist (as evidenced by the aforementioned thirsty Wandering Jew). Not crazy about planties (as in foodies) though – how about Plant Lovers?
My friend Travis asks me over about four times a year for maintenance on his enthusiastic plants. He has a couple of towering Euphorbias that needed pruning, his Bird of Paradise was so big it was falling out of its pot, and his yucca has scale (a really gross pest). Lots of work.
Look at his funny Bird of Paradise. I’m guessing it makes sitting on his couch a little on the nerveracking side.
I pushed the stalks back, and added dirt to support the stalks from the front. Then I used a series of stakes to secure the plant. I used green velcro tape from Home Depot to tie the stakes together. Worked pretty well!
Those stakes shooting off to the sides are Travis’s fake flowers. He’s a regular riot.
I didn’t leave that velcro hanging out there, I cut it short. Up next, his Sansevieria, commonly known as Snake plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue (because it’s so hard to kill). I’ll bet you recognize this one:
One reason I love Snake plants, besides their obvious sturdiness, is they make it so easy for you to care for them. See that leaf that’s fallen over out of the pot? I snipped it off like so:
Then I just stuck it in the dirt. It will grow. No messing around with getting roots to form in water. It’s instant gratification.
In the coming weeks, I’ll feature lots more plants (like Jades and Wandering Jews) that share this amazing rootless feature. Imagine – a leaf falls off, and you can just stick it back in the dirt.
Even the most amazing plants are susceptible to bugs. So gross. Spidermites, mealy bugs, scale – all are disgusting, and will eventually kill a plant left unattended. I have a super easy solution, that’s non-toxic as well.
That’s an empty spray bottle and plain ol’ rubbing alcohol from Target. Costs about a buck fifty. I poured half the bottle of alcohol into the spray bottle, added the same amount of water. Then I took Travis’s dish soap (I think he had Palmolive, but it doesn’t matter what brand) and added a few drops to the alcohol/water (50-50) mix.
Then I shook the sprayer. The alcohol will fry pests on plants. The plants don’t seem to mind the alcohol at all. The dish soap helps the alcohol stay on the leaves and also helps clean the plant at the same time! Win-win!
Here’s what gross scale looks like on Travis’s plant:
The alcohol/water/dish soap mix isn’t going to kill scale on the first try. I sprayed the whole plant and its stalks, but Travis will have to keep spraying the poor little guy, at least once a week for the next several weeks. The alcohol makes the apartment stinky for a few minutes, but that’s about it. We’ll check back in on this plant in the coming weeks.
Ok, on to the big project, his Euphorbias. They can get so big, especially if they’re vying for sunlight from skylights and high windows, both features of Travis’s apartment. Here’s the bungled mess his became before I pruned it.
Pruning is always tricky with Euphorbias. For one, they have a sticky white sap that will swell your eyes, irritate your skin and stain your clothes. Wash your hands often! Oh, and of course, let’s not forget the thorns!
I have these great old firefighter gloves someone gave me awhile back. They’re perfect for thorny plants like Euphorbias. You make the cut as close to the base as you can. Again, be careful of the sap!
Tongs work, too.
Pruning is a lot of work, but the plant needs it to be healthy. It’s the human equivalent of a haircut. This plant grew dreads in the few months since I last pruned it!
There are lots of cuttings leftover!
Don’t worry, they won’t go to waste. Lots have already been given away, some will move to the cereal factory, and I just thought of an adorable gift idea for them. Check back this weekend, and I’ll post pictures of the gift project.
The key to the cuttings is to let the cut dry for a couple days, so it scars over the fresh wound. I just leave them on the newspaper (which is my transport system, by the way) and after a couple days, they’re ready to go straight into the dirt. No waiting for roots for this great plant, either. Do you sense a theme here? It’s not that I’m a lazy gardener…
Here’s what the plant looked like after the trim:
You see I could’ve cut it back even more, but this was a good trim. I don’t want to overwhelm the poor guy – I’m sure he’s quite attached to those limbs!
After the pruning, I rotated the plant 180 degrees so the back of him faced the light. That’s so he’ll stand up more straight on his own. Plants don’t like leaning toward the light in just one direction – you have to rotate them!
Now, here’s me happily taking my cuttings home:
Well, you can’t see my face, but I am smiling!