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Romantic Robots
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For Ashley and Felix’s 6th anniversary – romantic robots! We now have talking robots (you can’t hear it in the album but the Dalek is threatening to exterminate all humans) and a flashing R2D2 thanks to Rick’s electrical skills. DSC_6888.jpg … Read More

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1. Indian Rubber Plant – “bouncy”

FICUS ELASTICA RUBBER PLANT

A ficus elastica or rubber tree plant, originated in India and Malaysia and was once grown for the rubber produced from its sap; today they are very popular indoor house plants. A rubber tree usually has 5”-12” large, thick, glossy leaves. Once damaged, the leaves cannot be trimmed and should be cut off. These plants can be used as a small plant for the table, a full lush bush on the floor, or a ten- foot specimen tree in a room with tall ceilings. Like a ficus benjamin, a rubber tree doesn’t like to be moved and prefers constant temperatures. There are several varieties you can purchase: burgundy rubber trees have reddish leaves, the tricolor has grayish- green leaves with splashes of pink and cream, and the doescheri has green leaves with splashes of pale yellow or creamy white.

These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. 

LIGHT

Rubber tree plants do best in medium to bright indirect light. The solid green and dark burgundy varieties can adapt to less light, but the stems may be weak and the leaves small.

WATER

These plants are a little difficult to water. Allow the top 25-30% of the soil to dry out before watering. Keep the soil drier when your plant is in lower light or the room temperature is cooler. The leaves turn yellow from under-water and perfectly fine leaves may fall off from over-watering.

FERTILIZER

Rubber tree plants do not need much fertilizer. Feed monthly when the plant is actively growing with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength.

TEMPERATURE

Indoors they do well in warm temperatures between 70°F-80°F (21.1C°-26.7°C) with a night-time temperature around 65°F (18.3C). Keep a Rubber Tree plant away from cold drafts, air conditioners, heaters, and fireplaces.

HUMIDITY

Basic household humidity

PESTS

whitefliesscaleMealy Bugs, and thrip

DISEASES

sooty mold, root rot, and leaf spot. Treat by spraying all parts of your plant with the ” green solution” diluted to 1/2 the usual strength. (Recipe in the Glossary). Large brown spots along leaf edges usually indicate a fungal or bacterial disease. Remove the diseased leaves, replace the soil, and scrub the container with a mild bleach solution. Keep infected plants away from your other plants.

SOIL

Use a well-aerated houseplant soil that retains moisture but still drains quickly.

POT SIZE

Rubber tree plants like to be root-bound in small pots so don’t rush to move them to larger containers. Be sure any pot you use has drip holes in the bottom.

PRUNING

Cutting off the growing tip of a main stem encourages the plant to send out new shoots and become bushier. Rubber Tree plants are relatively pest free, but not dust free. It’s important to clean the broad leaves, both for aesthetics and for the health of the plant. Never use milk or mayonnaise to clean the leaves of your houseplants since both attract bugs and clog the pores in the plant leaves. There are several commercial Plant Cleaners available in the stores.

PROPAGATION

Stem cuttings and air layering.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

Slightly poisonous with a level #1 toxicity.

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2. Golden Pothos – “goldie”

EPIPREMNUM AUREUM

Pothos plants, native to the jungles of Malaysia, are highly adaptable, glossy-leafed plants with heart-shaped leaves. A Golden Pothos has yellow and green leaves, a Marble Queen Pothos has white and green leaves, and a Jade Pothos has solid green leaves. These attractive plants can sit on a table, on the floor, hang in a basket, or grow 5ft tall when attached to a pole. Pothos plants are easy to care for and grow almost anywhere, the perfect houseplant for beginners.

These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. 

LIGHT

There is a pothos plant variety for almost any light situation. Green Jade pothos with their solid green leaves do well in low light. The Golden pothos variety, with yellow and green leaves, likes medium light. Marble Queen pothos, with green and white leaves, grow best in medium to bright indirect light. The lighter the color in the leaves, the more light a plant requires.

WATER

Water well and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. Over-watering is the main reason a pothos plant dies. Bright yellow leaves indicate that the soil has gotten too dry before you watered it. New growth and older leaves turn pale yellow and may get black spots on the leaves when a pothos is over- watered.

FERTILIZER

Fertilize every two weeks in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing and monthly in the fall and winter. Use a well-balanced plant food diluted to ½ the recommended strength.

TEMPERATURE

Pothos plants do well in temperatures between 55° and 80°F (12.8°-26.7°C). If temperatures drop below 45°F (7.2°C), a pothos plant stops growing and the leaves turn black.

HUMIDITY

Basic household humidity

PESTS

Pothos plants are relatively pest resistant. If the soil stays too damp, Fungus Gnats may appear.Mealy Bugs are another pest to look out for.

DISEASES

Over-watering causes plant diseases such as crown, leaf, and root rot. Once pothos plant roots are destroyed, is difficult to save the plant.

SOIL

Use a well-aerated, quick-draining potting soil that dries out quickly.

POT SIZE

Pothos plants like to be root-bound in small pots. Do not re-pot until the roots of the plant have filled the existing container. There must always be drip holes in the bottom of the pot so excess water can escape.

PRUNING

Trim long runners to keep a pothos looking bushy and full. 5”- 6” cuttings can be rooted in water or vermiculite and used to start new plants.

PROPAGATION

Propagate using stem cuttings. You can find out how to propagate using stem cuttings in the Glossary of the website.

CLEAN AIR PLANT

NASA lists pothos plants as ” Clean Air Plants” that help remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde from the air.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

Pothos plants are poisonous plants with a level #2 toxicity.

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3. Goldfish Plant – “fishy”

COLUMNEA NEMATANTHUS

NEMATANTHUS

If you have a high light area that calls for a hanging or table plant that flowers, Goldfish House Plants are a perfect choice. A Goldfish Plant, native to Southern Mexico, Brazil, and Costa Rica comes in over 25 different varieties. Goldfish House Plants have hundreds of small, thick, shiny, dark green leaves and colorful flowers that resemble tiny goldfish. The flowers on a Goldfish Plant may be red, orange, or yellow. I find Goldfish plants are easy to care for, drought resistant, and with proper care bloom on and off all year.

These plants are considered slightly poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. 

LIGHT

A Goldfish Plant requires bright indirect light especially if you want it to develop flowers.

WATER

Allow the top 25%-30% of the soil in a Goldfish Plant to dry out before watering. Green leaves fall off a Goldfish Plant when the plant is too wet or too dry.

FERTILIZER

Fertilize a Goldfish Plant every two weeks in the spring and summer when it is actively growing with a basic plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed a Goldfish Plant monthly in the fall and winter.

TEMPERATURE

Goldfish Plants do well in temperatures between 65-85 degrees. Intense heat burns the leaves of a Goldfish Plant. Try to keep a Goldfish Plants out of drafts and away from heaters.

HUMIDITY

Goldfish Plants prefer high humidity, but adapt well to basic household humidity.

FLOWERING

Keep a Goldfish Plant in a small pot and in a very bright location to encourage it to flower.

PESTS

Goldfish Plants attract the Plant PestAphids and Mealy Bugs. It’s difficult to eliminate these Plant Pests once they have infected a Goldfish Plant because of the numerous small leaves where they love to hide. Spray a Goldfish Plant thoroughly with the green solution to get rid of Plant Pests but try to avoid the flowers.

DISEASES

Goldfish plants have been known to get botrytis, leaf spot, and some plant viruses especially when in a very humid environment.

SOIL

Goldfish Plants like a rich potting soil that holds water but still drains quickly. An African Violet soil works well for a Goldfish Plant also.

POT SIZE

Goldfish Plants are usually found in 6″ and 8″ pots.

PRUNING

Trim a Goldfish Plant aggressively to keep it full and in bloom. Goldfish Plants look better and bloom more if you keep the stems between 12-18 inches (30-45 cm).

PROPAGATION

Propagate a Goldfish Plant using stem cuttings from healthy new growth.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

A Goldfish Plant is a slightly poisonous houseplant with a level #1 toxicity.

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4. Dracaena – “draco”

DRACAENA DEREMENSIS

STRIPED DRACAENAS

The dracaena lemon lime plant, native to Africa, is a very close relative of the dracaena warneki (green and white striped leaves) and the dracaena janet craig (solid green leaves). The dracaena lemon lime has 12”-24” long sword shaped leaves with bright green and yellow stripes. Like other dracaena plants, the leaves are arranged in a rosette and grow off a very thick stem. A dracaena lemon lime is very easy to care for and can easily reach a height of 5ft-7ft. indoors. It also makes a beautiful bush. Because of the bright colors in the leaves, the dracaena lemon lime needs a little more light than other dracaenas. It’s a great plant to brighten up any room in your house.

These plants are considered by the ASPCA to be poisonous to cats and dogs.

LIGHT

Although a Dracaena lemon lime Plant can adapt to low light, it does better in medium to indirect bright light. Too much direct bright light causes the color in the leaves to fade. Too little light and the new leaves are narrower than the older leaves.

WATER

Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. If the soil is too wet or too dry the leaves develop brown tips. Always use non-fluoridated non chlorinated water for any type of dracaena plant. Dracaenas are very sensitive to chemicals in the water.

FERTILIZER

Dracaenas require very little fertilizer. Feed a monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. It’s not necessary to feed dracaenas in the fall or winter.

TEMPERATURE

Provide warm temperatures between 70°-75° degrees if possible.

HUMIDITY

Dracaenas like high humidity but do well in basic household humidity.

FLOWERING

Although a dracaena lemon lime does bloom, it rarely flowers as a potted plant. White flowers may appear in summer if the plant gets bright indirect light but no direct sun.

PESTS

Mealy Bugs and spider mites are the house Plant Pests to look out for. Keeping the leaves clean and dust free helps prevent pest problems.

DISEASES

Fluoride toxicity causes long, tan to dark brown spots in the yellow stripes of dracaena lemon lime leaves. Fusarium Leaf Spot Disease produces reddish/ tan spots with wide, yellow halos on the new leaves.

SOIL

Use a fast-draining well-aerated loose soil. Dracaenas can even be grown in soil mixed with lava rock.

POT SIZE

A Dracaena lemon lime likes to be root-bound in small pots. Re-pot to the next size pot when the roots have filled the existing pot.

PRUNING

Cut brown leaf tips off with a wet scissors. Tall stalks with only a few leaves at the top, can be cut anywhere along the stalk. New growth appears below the cut area.

PROPAGATION

A dracaena lemon lime is propagated by stem cuttings.

CLEAN AIR PLANT

NASA recommends dracaenas as good plants to clean the air of harmful chemicals.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

The ASPCA considers a dracaena lemon lime a poisonous plant to dogs and cats.

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5. Calathea – “zebra”

CALATHEA ORNATA LINEATA

STRIPED CALATHEA

Calathea plants, native to tropical South and Central America, Africa, and the West Indies, are grown primarily for their beautiful, brightly colored, upright, oval leaves. There are over 300 different types of Calathea plants, many being man-made hybrids created by tissue cultures. The various varieties have leaves with a purple undersides and various vibrant colorful patterns on the top side. Indoors, a Calathea is a table plant or short bush that rarely gets bigger than  24” tall and 24”-26” wide. A Calathea, with its exotic foliage, is difficult to care for, but like many other fussy plants, well worth the effort.

LIGHT

A Calathea plant likes bright indirect light; so placing it in front of an east, west, or north window is ideal. Too much direct sun burns the leaves and causes the beautiful leaf colors to fade.

WATER

Calatheas are very sensitive to the water you use. Hard water, soft water, fluoridated water, or water of poor quality causes the leaves to turn brown from leaf burn. The best way to water is to use distilled water, rain water, or allow your tap water to sit out over night before using it. Keep the soil moist but never soggy. Allow the top 2-3” to dry out before watering. Never let a Calathea Plant sit in water.

FERTILIZER

Feed monthly in the spring, summer, and fall with a balanced plant food diluted to ½ the recommended strength. Don’t fertilize if the plant is not growing.

TEMPERATURE

Calatheas like temperatures between 65°-80°F (18.3°-26.7°C), and do not like cold drafts or temperatures below 55°-60°F (12.8°-15.6°C). Hot temperatures cause the leaves to curl.

HUMIDITY

High humidity is a must! A Calathea plant gets brown leaf edges when 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), setting a humidifier close by, or by grouping plants together to create a greenhouse effect.

FLOWERING

The leaves of a Calathea are more beautiful than many of the flowers on other indoor plants. With over 300 varieties of Calathea, some types such as Calathea Crocata, White Ice, and Brazilian have lovely flowers as well as spectacular leaves.

PESTS

spider mitesscaleMealy Bugs and Aphids are house Plant Pests that can be a problem.

DISEASES

The high humidity that a Calathea plant needs also encourages bacterial and fungal diseases which usually manifest themselves as leaf lesions.

SOIL

Use a good light porous indoor potting soil that retains water but still drains quickly. African Violet soil works well.

POT SIZE

A Calathea rarely need repotting.

PRUNING

Cut off brown or crispy Calathea leaves as soon as they appear.

PROPAGATION

Calatheas plants are propagated by plant division but it is a little difficult.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

Calatheas are non- Poisonous Houseplants.

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6. Philodendron – “phil”

PHILODENDRON TATEI

A Philodendron Congo is one of several cultivars of Philodendron that has been developed by growers over the last few years. This is a plant that can adapt to all kinds of conditions as long as you keep it warm. Its care instructions can be used for the following other Philodendron hybrids: Imperial Red, Black Cardinal, Moonlight, Red Emerald, and Autumn. Many Philodendrons are climbers, but not this one. A Congo is a self-header that spreads outward as it grows upward. The glossy dark green thick leaves are spaced very close to each other on a single stem. The stiff, barely visible stem, keeps the Congo upright and elegant looking as it matures.

These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. 

LIGHT

A Philodendron Congo can grow almost anywhere except in the direct sun. In low light the plant often looks stretched out as it tries to reach for the light.

WATER

Always allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering a Philodendron. When watering, cover the entire surface to prevent leaf problems because of dry soil areas.

FERTILIZER

Fertilize monthly only when the plant is actively growing with a balanced food at 1/2 the recommended strength. If the plant is not producing new leaves, it doesn’t need plant food.

TEMPERATURE

Philodendron Congos grow well in normal household temperatures between 70°-85°F (21.1° 29.4°C). Keep these plants away from cold drafts and air conditioners.

HUMIDITY

Higher humidity is a plus, but philodendrons do well in basic household humidity.

PESTS

Aphids and Mealy Bugs

DISEASES

Although high humidity helps a Congo grow well, it also encourages Erwinia Blight.

SOIL

Use a rich quick-draining soil for philodendrons. You may have to add a little sand to your usual soil mix.

POT SIZE

A Philodendron Congo is usually found in 6”, 8”, and 10” containers. They are slow growers and do not need frequent repotting.

PRUNING

A Philodendron Congo rarely needs pruning.

PROPAGATION

Growers use tissue cultures to propagate this Philodendron hybrid. You can use off- shoots or air layering if you want to try to propagate a Congo.

POISONOUS PLANT INFO

A Philodendron Congo is a poisonous houseplant with a #2 Toxicity level.

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This was a really fun theme! So much to work with – we asked which were the little girl’s favorite stories, and wen from there. Tried some new techniques, like the balancing balls that defy gravity. Rick was especially happy with how the blue car turned out.

DSC_6058.jpgThe Kite is cool!

 

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Here are all of our projects so far!