Whether you are just getting started, or you’re an experienced plant person, there’s a new treasure out there just waiting to bring joy and horticultural happiness to your life. Benjamin Snyder, Greenhouse Manager for the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs at Temple University Ambler, shared a few suggestions with us.
For beginners or those who want low-maintenance ease, the Sansevieria genus is the ticket. “This is a great starter plant,” says Snyder. “It thrives on neglect. Don’t pamper it too much – it will die from over-watering.” While this plant does prefer a sunny windowsill, it tolerates shade and can go for two or three weeks without water. Consider Sansevieria grandis. These confidence-building plants are easy to find online at Glasshouse Works, and are popping up more frequently in some of the big box stores.
For a plant lover with a very green thumb, Snyder recommends the Alocasia genus which is part of the vast Araceae family. “This genus of plants is not recommended for beginners. With 80 species, he suggests spending time researching them. One of his favorites is Alocasia zebrina, a medium-sized plant with elephant-ear like leaves and petioles with the stripes like a zebra.
If you’re up to the challenge, try keeping Alocasia lauterbachiana ‘Purple Sword.’ This gorgeous plant will grow three to four feet in height, but beware, it doesn’t like cold temperatures. “If the temperature drops below 65 degrees it will go dormant and many not come back,” says Snyder. If you have a climate-controlled area, its purple, upwardly pointing leaves are spectacular.
Snyder recommends placing your Alocasia on a tray of gravel with shallow layer of water in the bottom. Make sure the bottom of the pot itself is above the water to prevent the plant from rotting. “This will create a micro-climate of higher humidity around the plant. Even better, place the whole tray on top of a radiator.”