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Aroid Plants, McDonald Garden Center

Aroid Plants - Part I, Characteristics and Care

Pothos, philodendrons, anthuriums, peace lilies, and zz plants are all members of the Araceae family (aka the Arum family), also known as “aroids.” No other group of plants can compare to the extravagant and exotic foliage exhibited by Araceae. Aroids have become a staple in the houseplant market for the relative ease of care and their ability to tolerate both bright and low light conditions. Here’s what you’ll need to know about these special plants and how to care for them.


Aroids are prized for their diverse, spectacular foliage (monsteras especially) and relative ease of care. They’re well-adapted for life indoors and grow fairly quickly. Aroids have several distinguishing features. The easiest way to identify these plants is by observing the flower. Arum flowers have a spathe, a petal-like structure, which can attract pollinators, and a spadix, which is a spike containing the flowers or Inflorescence. Leaf blades come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. These plants are extremely diverse thanks to their ability to tolerate both low and bright light conditions as well their ability to thrive indoors (or out) with little to no soil. Many of these plants have waxy roots and leaves that block the plants from absorbing too much water, making it possible for them to progagate in water.


Care varies between species, but here are a few general tips for caring for aroids.


Most aroids prefer bright, indirect sunlight (near a sunny window but not right in the sun’s rays), while other varieties can handle low light conditions.


Most aroids like a moderate amount of water. Let the top one-to-two inches of soil dry out before watering again. Leaves will droop, wilt, yellow, or get crispy when thirsty and can develop dark brown, mushy spots when overwatered. Aroids originate from tropical climates and prefer higher humidity, so misting the leaves and/or using humidity trays will help. Use a good, well-draining soil mix and plant in a pot with drainage holes.

TIP #1: Let water sit for at least 24 hours before watering plants. This will allow the chlorine and fluoride normally found in municipal water to dissipate. Misting water should also be dechlorinate prior to misting plants.

FERTILIZING. Fertilize in the spring or summer when the days start getting longer.

Be sure to watch the video "Amazing Aroids" with Garden Guru, Mike Westphal.

The Basics & Beyond, 10 Must-Have Spring Essential

The Basics & Beyond, 10 Must-Have Spring Gardening Essentials

As the frost begins to melt and the days become warmer and longer, spring fever begins to set in. It won’t be long until we’ll be able to go outside and dig in dirt once again! If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to begin thinking about and prepping for your spring garden. Whether you're interested in edible gardening, seed starting, or just love to grow flowers, we’re here to help. We've been growing Hampton Roads gardeners for 75 years and our number one goal has always been one thing -- to make you a success in the garden. Our Green Team experts have put together a list of some of our favorite spring gardening basics to help you do just that, be a success. Whether you are a true green thumb or just getting started, we're here to grow your knowledge. So, dig in and get growing!

SPRING ANNUALS. Annuals provide color from the time of planting into early fall. Inexpensive, easy-to-grow and gorgeous - annuals are great for changing the look of your garden from year-to-year and filling in around bulbs, perennials and trees & shrubs. A few early-blooming annuals that are safe to plant now include petunias, dusty miller, snapdragons, geraniums, million bells, dianthus and verbena.

SEEDS & SEED STARTER ACCESSORIES. Starting plants from seed is one of the most exciting and rewarding gardening activities. Growing seed is not complicated, it just requires a little thought and care. For best results, it is important to use fresh seed and follow the instructions on each seed packet which include specific planting tips, light source requirements and watering specifications.

FRUITS & VEGGIES. More and more homeowners are finding their way back to the basics. Over the past four years harvesting home grown fruits and veggies has risen steadily. This is due to the popularity of organic food, concern for the environment, the cost of fresh produce and a burgeoning appreciation for great-tasting fresh food.

SOILS & AMENDMENTS. Giving your garden the best foundation will make it healthier, more beautiful and less difficult to maintain later on. Before you plant, however, bring in a sample of your existing soil for a free analysis. A McDonald Garden Center expert will test the ph level of your soil and make recommendations on adjusting the level for the specific plants you wish to install. You can also get planting recommendations based on the soil you have. Building healthy soil is an ongoing process. By making healthy soil a focus at the start of making a garden, you will have a head start on creating a sustainable organic garden.

GREENLEAF ALL-PURPOSE PLANT FOOD. A customer favorite! Greenleaf has been a McDonald Garden Center staple for years and now it’s even better! We are proud to introduce our new 3-pound container with an easy-to-use lid and scoop. Greenleaf was developed specifically for plants in Hampton Roads and is a great general all-purpose fertilizer. It releases nutrients slowly and we recommend using it in containers, planting beds, shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals and more. In fact, it’s what we use to fertilize our plants!

UNIQUE POTTERY. There is nothing quite as effective as adding pottery and containers to your decorating scheme, both indoors and out. Not only can you transform drab areas of your home or garden into elegant and charming focal points, but containers can be functional as well as beautiful. Planters make it possible for anyone to experience the joy of gardening and provide the opportunity to cultivate a favorite herb, a fresh tomato and a host of other delightful and colorful plants, flowers, shrubs, and even trees no matter the space available.

HERBS. Add tried & true herbs that grow great in Hampton Roads gardens. With parsley, basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, oregano, chives, lavender, sage and many more... you can have culinary treats for every dish, right in your own backyard. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and can make all the difference between a good dish and an extraordinary dish! Once you begin to use fresh herbs in your favorite recipes, you'll never want to go back to using just dried herbs again. Chefs know that fresh food is always best and fresh herbs are no exception.

TREES & SHRUBS. Trees and shrubs are the backbone of your landscape, and they serve a multitude of other purposes as well. You can use them to create shade, attract birds, or to give your garden privacy from neighbors or a busy street. You can plant them to provide year-round color, fragrant blooms, or a delicious harvest of fruit or berries. And vines do an expert job of framing an entryway, decorating a bare wall or fence, or adorning a trellis with lovely foliage and flowers.

GARDEN STATUARY. Incorporating a special piece of statuary into your landscape is a great way to add architectural interest to your outdoor space. Garden statuary can be an integral part of any garden setting, adding to the aura of your peaceful sanctuary. There are often places that are natural focal points that would be ideal for statuary. A corner, a little alcove, a spot to the side of the front door - there are any number of places.

PERENNIALS. We love perennial plants, those long-lived plants that bring beautiful foliage and flowers year after year. Perennial flowers perform well in many situations: in flower beds, in combination with annuals and bulbs, as compliments to shrubs & trees, and in containers and window boxes. In addition, perennials often increase in size each year, which means they can often be divided and added to other spots in the landscape. Some must-haves are succulents, ornamental grasses, rudbeckia, coreopsis, geum, coneflowers, salvia, daylilies, and foxglove.

Check out the videos links below with Garden Guru, Mike Westphal. Mike is a 17 year veteran of McDonald Garden Center, who specializes in gardening solutions and visual merchandising.

To learn more about annuals click here.
To learn more about growing your own food click here.
To learn more about growing herbs click here.
To learn more about seed starting click here.

To view our online gardening videos click here.
To see our upcoming event schedule click here.

Horticulture Trailblazer & Hampton Roads Hero the Incomparable Asa Sim

Horticulture Trailblazer & Hampton Roads Hero the Incomparable Asa Sims

When it came to understanding how to excel in all things gardening, renowned horticulturist Asa Sims clearly got the memo. In 1908 he arrived in the Tidewater area, a place he would call home for over six decades. Sims aspired to become a painter. Instead, the teenager enrolled in agriculture classes at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now known as Hampton University.)

A position at the university greenhouse would last three decades with Sims rising to the role of General Manager. An additional job he took on in academia, as an Extension educator, allowed Sims to combine his love for plants and community. Driven by an ambition to make people “flower minded and beauty conscious” he traveled through various rural and urban areas in Virginia and North Carolina teaching landscaping, beautification, and floriculture to thousands of plant lovers in the region.

Sims was also the successful owner and operator of ‘Sims Florist,’ a shop located on his 2-acre estate between Phoebus and East Hampton. Known for beautifully decorated arrangements that were featured in commercial and residential spaces, this was not your everyday floral shop! Here Sims housed a nursery where he grew his own plants and cultivated hundreds of flowers. It was a true showcase of his floricultural talents.

Perhaps his most extraordinary contribution came at the height of the Jim Crow era when Sims forever sealed his horticulture legacy as founding father and state adviser to the ‘Negro Garden Club of Virginia.’ Led by Black women, what started as seven garden clubs in 1932, had decades later become a movement! Thousands of clubs sprang up in all states of the Southeast and across the nation from sea to shining sea. Sims was their biggest champion.

An absolute legend of the Hampton Roads community, may we give him all the flowers in Black History month and beyond. Here’s to forever celebrating the legacy of the incomparable Asa Sims!

Thank you again, Abra! To learn more about Abra, and other stories of African Americans in horticulture, follow her on social media conquerthesoil or visit her website click here.

Abra Lee Bio
Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and owner of Conquer the Soil a platform that combines Black garden history and current events to raise awareness of horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University and alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

Celebrating Black History Month, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Celebrating Black History Month, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

To celebrate Black History Month, we are highlighting some of the many contributions of African-Americans to the horticultural industry. Today we share a story especially important to the Hampton Roads community, the story behind the WPA Memorial Garden located in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Content from Norfolk Botanical Garden

The idea for the eventual Norfolk Botanical Garden came from City Manager, Thomas P. Thompson. Because the climate of Norfolk was uniquely suited to azaleas he believed a garden could be created to rival those of Charleston, S.C., which even during the depression drew tourists to their city. On June 30, 1938, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) awarded a grant of $76,278 to begin the project. It began as Azalea Gardens. Since most of the male labor force was at work with other city projects; a group of 200 African American women and 20 African American men received the assignment.

Laboring from dawn until dusk, the workers cleared dense vegetation and carried the equivalent of 150 truckloads of dirt by hand to build a levee for the surrounding lake. For a period of four years, the 220 original workers continued the back-breaking task of clearing trees, pulling roots and removing stumps. They worked in harsh conditions, long hours during all four seasons, regardless of the blistering heat, humidity, rain, finger-numbing cold, snow or frigid temperatures. They battled snakes, mosquitoes, ticks, and poison ivy. In less than a year, a section of the trees, briers, vines and underbrush had been cleared and readied for planting, using only pickaxes, hoes, shovels, and wheelbarrows. By March 1939, the work had progressed so that 4,000 azaleas, 2,000 rhododendrons, several thousand camellias, other shrubs and 100 bushels of daffodils had been planted. The men and women turned overgrown, swampy acres into a garden that stylistically expressed the national trend of landscape architecture during the late 1930’s. Neither the work nor the pay was great, but it was a means of putting food on the table, which would not have been possible otherwise.

To watch and learn more about the WPA Memorial Garden click here.

We'd like to thank Norfolk Botanical Garden for the information, photo and video.

To help maintain the WPA Memorial Garden, please consider donating to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

June of 1870, the Flower Farmers in D.C.

Celebrate Black History Month, The Flower Farmers in D.C.

As we celebrate black history month, we'd like to highlight the achievements of black men and women in horticulture. We'd like to thank Abra Lee with @conquerthesoil for this image and story from June of 1870, which features the Flower Farmers in D.C.

Flower sellers, sometimes called peddlers or vendors, grew flowers on their rural land and brought them into cities like D.C., Richmond, and, to this day, Charleston. The ladies’ appearance marked the arrival of spring in Washington, D.C. long before the famed cherry blossoms. (Speaking of which, a special shout out to Roland Jefferson, African-American horticulturist recognized for saving said cherry blossoms. To learn more click here.

Thank you again, Abra! To learn more about Abra, and other stories of African Americans in horticulture, follow her on social media conquerthesoil.

Abra Lee Bio
Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and owner of Conquer the Soil a platform that combines Black garden history and current events to raise awareness of horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University and alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

Carolina Woman, Annie Vann Reid, has Big 5-Acre Nursery, Greenhouse

Black History Month, Featuring Annie Vann Reid

Black History Month is an annual, monthlong celebration in February to honor and remember the achievements of the African American community and recognize their role in our history. It all began in 1926, when historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson chose February 7 for the first celebration of Negro History Week- an event to encourage scholars to engage in the intensive study of the Black past, a subject that had long been sorely neglected by academia and in U.S. schools.

This date was chosen to coincide with birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Both Lincoln and Douglas helped shape African American history in the United States. Frederick Douglass escaped slavery and became an abolitionist and civil rights leader and President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery in America's.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month. Along with the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK have annual celebrations that commemorate Black history. “In celebrating Black History Month,” Ford said, “we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Today Black History Months is a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping US history.

During the month of February, McDonald Garden Center will be highlighting the achievements of black men and women in horticulture. This week will focus on the accomplishments of Annie Van Reid. We'd like to thank Abra Lee with @conquthesoil for this image and story of Annie Van Reid.

Her journey into floriculture started like so many--humbly. In a small garden she turned her hobby of cultivating flowers such as roses, dahlias, and native species into a thriving business. Reid owned multiple floral shops, a five-acre nursery and commercial greenhouse. At the height of the segregation era in the United States, Reid’s clientele in her home state of South Carolina included: the Mayor, Governor, and folks from cities as far north as Boston. This speaks volumes to her floral artistry which crossed racial color lines- something nearly impossible to achieve at that time. Known as an astute businesswoman, her florist shop combined with her many real estate holdings would be worth over $1 million dollars in today’s money. Mrs. Reid, an inspiration to us all, embodies the spirit of aspiring for greatness when she said, “I began cautiously on a small scale... I found the soil fertile and willing to yield.”

Thank you again, Abra! To learn more about Abra, and other stories of African Americans in horticulture, follow her on social media @conquthesoil or visit her website click here.

Abra Lee Bio
Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and owner of Conquer the Soil a platform that combines Black garden history and current events to raise awareness of horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University and alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals.

Sharpen Your Shears, Time for Winter Pruning

Sharpen Your Shears, Time for Winter Pruning

Most people think that pruning is a job for the summer and fall seasons. While it is best to prune certain types of trees and shrubs during the warmer months, winter is the optimum pruning time for many deciduous trees and shrubs- when plants are still dormant and a few weeks before buds start swelling and sap starts flowing again.


Other than reducing plant size and maintaining the shape or appearance of the tree or shrub, pruning removes dead and diseased growth and thins out interior branching allowing for better air circulation, which helps to reduce the possibility of disease. Winter pruning also provides plants with extra root and energy reserves to ensure quick-healing wounds and support robust spring growth that will help to camouflage pruning cuts. And, in winter, it’s easier to see the plant structure, since there are no leaves to get in the way. When done right, dormant pruning encourages trees to flourish in the spring by priming them for fast, healthy regrowth.

To learn more about the benefits of winter pruning click here.


It is always best to prune in late January – early March, approximately 4-6 weeks before the spring warmth begins but after the severe cold passes. There are exceptions, like removing dead, damaged, or diseased stems throughout the year, or removing suckers in late summer.


Understanding the natural "habit" or shape of trees and shrubs will help you determine how to prune them. Follow these basic pruning tips for success:

  • Upright suckers that appear at the trunk base or along lower branches can twist the tree out of shape, so be sure to trim these away.
  • If a branch is inconveniently low, trim it off now, instead of waiting.
  • Remove branches that grow in too tight of a “V” shape with the trunk, keeping branches that grow at horizontal angles.
  • Trim back stems that compete with the main stem.
  • Shorten limbs that stick out too far and spoil the proportion or symmetry.
  • On an older tree, clear away overgrowth and deadwood, and remove branches that bow inward.
  • Remove unsightly stubs when pruning. Cut close to the source of the branch or trunk without cutting flush to the trunk. The best pruning cut is at a 45-to-60-degree angle.
  • Feed the plant when you prune to help stimulate root growth and healthy top growth.


We suggest the following tools for proper and efficient pruning:

  • Hand Pruning Shears: use on branches up to 3/4-inch diameter.
  • Lopping Shears: use on thicknesses 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches or branches out of reach with hand shears.
  • Crescent Pruning Saw: use for heavier work.
  • Hedge Clippers: use for shaping and shearing shrubs and hedges.
  • Pole Pruners: use to cut out-of-reach branches up to 2-inches in diameter.

TIP: Always clean your tools after use. We suggest using rubbing alcohol to be effective against many diseases.

For a comprehensive list of pruning and gardening tools and accessories click here.

Join Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 • 11AM, as he offers expert advice and tips on the proper techniques and tools for pruning to ensure your skills are as sharp as your shears. Highlights include how to correctly prune crepe myrtles, along with other popular trees, shrubs, and perennials. TO VIEW LIVE FEED, GO TO MCDONALD GARDEN CENTER'S MAIN FACEBOOK PAGE here.

For further information on pruning click here.

You can find many helpful gardening, including pruning publications through Virginia Cooperative Extension at click here.

Filed Under: 
Schefflera Plants
Schefflera Trinette
Schefflera Alpine
Schefflera Arboricola

Easygoing, Fast-Growing Scheffleras

If you’re looking for an easygoing, fast-growing plant, then Scheffleras are an excellent choice. Also known as umbrella plant, schefflera gets its name from the look of its long, oval leaves, which grow in clusters and create a large umbrella-like canopy. These highly adaptive plants feature lush, green or variegated foliage and are available in all shapes and sizes. Scheffleras are frequently used in interior decorating and are often seen adorning homes, lobbies, shopping malls, and waiting rooms. With the right care, these plants can flourish for years.


Lighting - Scheffleras do best in well-lit locations. Bright, indirect sunlight is best. Be careful not to put your plant in full sun, since leaves can burn. If you have less than ideal lighting, some of the solid green leaf varieties tend to acclimate better to medium light situations (variegated varieties require more light than green varieties). If the leaves start to droop, the plant may need additional light.

TIP: Give them a spin every now & then because like all plants, they grow towards the light.

Soil - Choose a light, well-draining, all-purpose potting soil. A good potting soil helps the plant to retain moisture, provide enough air for growing roots to breath (preventing root rot), and supports the plant by providing anchorage for the roots.

WateringScheffleras prefer to be kept on the moist side, but not so wet to promote root rot. They are fairly drought tolerant, so it’s always better to under-water than over-water.

Temperature - Scheffleras prefer the same temperatures that many homes are kept. Nighttime temperatures in the lower 60’s and daytime temperatures in the 70’s are ideal. Avoid placing your plant near a heating or air conditioning vent.

Pruning - Scheffleras are fast growers and respond well to pruning. If you feel that your plant is growing too “leggy”, too tall, or too bushy, prune to acquire and maintain the shape and size that is best suited for your space.

Feeding - Feed once a month with a general all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. You may stop feeding and reduce watering in fall and winter when plant growth slows down.

Pests - Watch for mealybugs, red spider mites, aphids, and scale. Apply insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to control pests.

TIP: Dust-free, well-humidified plants suffer the fewest problems, so frequent misting is recommended.


Scheffleras are available in many varieties, offering lots of versatility in size, shape and foliage color. Here are a few of our favorite:

Schefflera Amate – is a gorgeous variety that features large, glossy leaves and an upright, bushy habit. As a houseplant, Amate can grow to 10-feet tall. This is not a narrow plant, so make sure you have the space for it. Amate holds leaves well, even under low light, interior conditions. When indoors, place in area that receives morning sun, preferably in an east-facing window. When watering, make sure the soil is thoroughly watered and the excess is allowed to drain off. Trim and shape to prevent it from getting too bushy.

Schefflera Alpine - is a hardy variety that tolerates cooler conditions more than most other traditional selections. Alpine has a distinctive, columnar habit, which makes it ideal for growing in narrow spaces. It is an excellent indoor performer that does especially well in low light and well-drained soil. Alpine reaches between 2 to 6-feet tall. Prune to keep it tidy and to the desired height.

Schefflera Trinette – is another variegated variety with a dwarf growth habit that is well suited for indoor growing. Its glossy, oval leaves remain dark green, with showy yellow variegation and tinges of creamy white throughout. Grown indoors, Trinette can reach about 3-feet tall and wide. This variety performs well in both bright or indirect sunlight and prefers well-drained, moist soil. Prune anytime to keep it looking its best.

Schefflera Arboricola Green – is yet another dwarf variety with dark green, hand-shaped leaves and a compact habit. Does best in high light but will usually do just fine in medium light. Water once the topsoil becomes dry. Grown indoors, Arboricola can grow up to 4 to 8-feet tall. Prune and top to keep it to a manageable size.

For information on how to be successful with houseplants click here.

Filed Under: 

Living Room Ready Houseplants

Houseplants have made a big comeback these days, taking over homes, offices, and social media. Cared for correctly, indoor plants can last for many years. But before you bring one home, you’ll need to know the care requirements, so you can give it exactly what it needs. We’ve highlighted a few of our most popular houseplants and tips on how to best care for them.


Phalaenopsis orchid (most common) - also known as moth orchids, are thick-leaved plants with exotic-looking, arching sprays of blooms. Color range includes whites, pinks, lavenders and yellows in both solid colors and mixes of stripes and spots, with blooms lasting as long as three months. These spectacular plants may appear to be fragile and delicate, but they're actually quite durable.

Light - Phalaenopsis are low-light orchids and prefer morning light. Place in an east-facing window or in a shaded southerly or westerly exposed window.

TIP: The color of your orchid leaves can help you determine if the lighting is sufficient. Dark green leaves may indicate there's not enough light and light green leaves may mean too much light.

Watering - Orchids like water (room temperature) trickled down their roots- just like in the rainforest. Orchids grown inside need to be watered about every 7-14 days.

TIP: Orchid roots that need watering will turn white in color. A well saturated root takes on greenish tone.

Pruning- Moth orchids will rebloom on an existing stalk as long as it hasn’t started to brown out (indicative of not enough water). Cut below the lowest bloom that has already fallen off and above the node below it that hasn’t sprouted yet. Other orchids will send up a new spike. Once done, remove the original spike close to the base.


  • Just like other plants, an orchid is ready to be repotted into a larger container once its roots are flowing over the sides of the pot.
  • When repotting, simply remove the orchid from the container, prune out any dead roots (these will be brown and thin, not plump and green) and replace along with your new potting medium.
  • Phalaenopsis orchid can be planted in either moss or bark.


Bromeliads are available in an array of colors and textures. Foliage can be red, green, purple, orange, yellow, stripes, or spotted. Some of our favorite varieties include guzmaniaave (tall spike in the center) and neoregelia (shorter but have more color on their leaves). Bromeliads bloom for approximately three months.

Lighting - Bromeliads prefer low to medium light but not direct sunlight. A south, west, or east-facing window is ideal. Too much light can cause leaves to burn.

Watering - Follow a wet/dry watering cycle, keeping the soil evenly moist. Misters are great for bromeliads and provide much needed humidity.

Pruning - Remove any yellow leaves to keep your plant strong and growing. Bromeliads have a mother plant with a bloom stalk, which forms pups (babies). Once the pups have roots, you can detach and repot them into new containers, or you can leave the pups on the mother plant, allowing them to get full and bushy.

Repotting - Repotted pups will take approximatley 6-9 months to start blooming on their own.


Succulents are one of the most versatile plants on the globe. Because they have shallow roots, they can survive without a great deal of water or care and thrive in drought-like conditions. Succulents come in a variety of pleasing shapes and colors, looking good whether they have blooms or not. Succulents can be used in all sorts of ways; as table arrangements, living sculptures, and as cut flowers. The sky’s the limit when it comes to using succulents.

Lighting - Succulents love bright light in a west or south-facing window. Gray varieties are the exception and tend to not need as much sun.

Watering -Follow a wet/dry cycle (let them completely dry out). Succulents hold water in their leaves and should only be watered once the soil in the container has begun to wick away (pull away) from the sides of the pot. When this happens, it means that the plant has pulled every bit of moisture out of the potting medium and is now ready to be resaturated. Water well and repeat the cycle.

TIP: Different rules apply when watering aloe vera. Only water your aloe once the tips of the leaves are beginning to thin out and become slightly yellow. Any earlier, you run risk of root rot.

Pruning- If your cactus/succulent has become unruly, you can prune it in early spring.

TIP: Take the cuttings from your succulents, plant them in a pot, and wait to see what will grow.


Philodendrons are one of the easiest houseplants you can possibly grow (great for beginners). Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Philodendrons are very low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods. You can train them up a trellis or leave them to grow naturally. The most common variety is the Philodendron Cordatum that produces small, heart-shaped leaves.

Lighting - Philodendrons prefer medium to bright light.

Watering - All varieties prefer to go slightly dry in between waterings. However, it is important not to go too long, since newly emerging leaves need water to develop properly.

TIP: A lot of people want to know if they can propagate philodendron with just a leaf. The answer is no. While a cut leaf will last about one month in water, you’ll need two nodes and an eye on a vine for a successful cutting.

Pruning - As vining types of philodendrons continue to grow, they can become long and leggy. These plants don’t mind being cut back, so feel free to cut off trailing growth; it will encourage new shoots to form at the point where they were cut. Remove any yellow leaves to keep your plant healthy and strong.


Calathea is an easy-care, tropical plant also known as the zebra plant or zebrina plant (calathea zebrina). These trendy houseplants are loved for their large, oval, distinctly patterned, and vibrantly colored leaves. Leaves can be curved, ribbed, round, oval or pointed and exhibit various unique patterns. Leaf colors range from yellow, rose, white, and even olive.

Lighting - Calatheas prefer medium light.

Watering & Humidity - Keep the soil moist but never soggy. Calathea plants don’t like to be heavily watered. If your leaves are beginning to curl, it’s too wet. A humidity tray is the best way to grow calathea. Brown leaf edges may be a sign that the air is too dry. Humidity can be increased by placing your plant on a tray of wet pebbles (be sure the pot is on the pebbles and not in the water).

TIP: We don’t recommend misting your calatheas. Misting can cause damage to the hairy leaves and allow powdery mildew to occur.

Pruning - Prune your calathea plant regularly to keep it looking beautiful. Remove any yellow leaves to keep your plant healthy and strong.

To learn more about easy-care houseplants click here.
To learn more about the best indoor-blooming plants to enjoy in winter click here.

Houseplants 101: Lighting

Along with water, light is the most essential component of growing healthy plants. Some plants can survive with mediocre soil or without fertilizer, but no plant will live for long without light. And because lighting conditions in your home will have a direct effect on the growth and health of your houseplants, when selecting your indoor plants, it's important to consider where that plant will live before you bring it into your home. Too little or too much light can cause plants to look unhealthy, fail to grow and bloom, drop leaves or die altogether. Here are a few lighting tips to help you create a successful growing environment for your indoor plants:


All plants require different amounts of light. Some plants are adaptive and thrive in a myriad of light environments, while others are more temperamental and thrive best in high, direct light. Understanding which windows in your home will give your plant the best light is a key component of being successful.

East-Facing Window (morning sun, gentle, direct sun) - East-facing windows receive direct sun in the early morning when the rays are not as hot. Later in the day, the same windows will receive indirect light, avoiding scorching heat. Plants that need bright, indirect light do well in east-facing windows.

West-Facing Window (afternoon sun, hot and bright) - Western windows will receive more indirect light in the early morning and early afternoon. The afternoon sun is intense and can increase the temperature near the window, so be careful with plants that could burn easily and move them a few feet away from the window.

North-Facing Window (medium to low, indirect light) - North-facing windows receive the least amount of light. These windows don’t receive any direct sunlight and work well for plants with low light requirements like ferns. In summer, light provided by a north-facing window is usually adequate for plants requiring bright, indirect light.

South-Facing Window (full sun all day long) - South-facing windows generally receive the most direct sunlight as long as the window is not shaded by a tree, canopy, or other structure. South-facing windows typically provide the strongest and brightest light inside of your home. South-facing windows provide a good spot for plants that require ‘direct’ sun indoors.


  • Window Sheers - Window sheers are lightweight, sheer curtains that reduce the light intensity that comes through the window.
  • Window Films - Window films block out varying levels of UV rays. Films are especially helpful in shielding sensitive plants from the harsh rays of the summer sun in south-facing windows.
  • Placement - You may need to move your plants a few feet back from the window to avoid the direct rays of sunlight or closer to a window to provide more light.

TIP: We recommend rotating plants often, so all foliage receives enough sunlight.

Keep in mind that seasonal lighting changes will also change the amount of light coming in through your windows. You may need to change the location of your plants due to the season. In the summer, the sun’s rays are more intense and longer in duration. Consequently, light coming in through your windows will be brighter and more intense for a longer period of time. However, in winter, the days are shorter with fewer hours of daylight and less intense light.


Signs of too much light include brown edges or burned patches on leaves. Plant receiving too much light might also drop their leaves.


Symptoms of too little light include yellow discoloration, stunted leaf growth, elongated stems, plants that look as though they are reaching toward the light source (stretching), and/or a pale, dull green color. Plants getting too little light may also drop their leaves, so this can be a tricky symptom, since yellowing and leaf-dropping can also be caused by overwatering.

TIP: Low light conditions are a constant challenge when trying to select the best plant for your home or office. One way to determine lighting conditions in your indoor space is whether or not you can read a book comfortably without a light on in the location where you are going to place the plant. If you struggle to say yes, then be sure to select houseplants that will thrive in these low light conditions.

To learn more about houseplant care click here.
To learn more about the best indoor plants to enjoy during the winter click here.