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Florida Gardening: Gift your sweetie some green

The St. Lucie News-Tribune logo The St. Lucie News-Tribune 2/10/2021 Carol Cloud Bailey, Special to TCPalm
a green plant in a garden: One of the most carefree houseplants is Aglaonema. It is an exceedingly popular plant and new selections and hybridizations have produced foliage with new, exciting hues such as pink – perfect for Valentine's Day! provide Aglaonema with bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, with regular moisture and they will reward you with lots of beautiful foliage and heady oxygen. [PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CAROL CLOUD BAILEY] © PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CAROL CLOUD BAILEY One of the most carefree houseplants is Aglaonema. It is an exceedingly popular plant and new selections and hybridizations have produced foliage with new, exciting hues such as pink – perfect for Valentine's Day! provide Aglaonema with bright, indirect light, warm temperatures, with regular moisture and they will reward you with lots of beautiful foliage and heady oxygen. [PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY CAROL CLOUD BAILEY]

Houseplants are a hot garden trend for 2021. They have been popular for many years, but the trend got bigger last year with so many of us setting up home offices where we spend so much time. A little green goes a long way as a home office plant to brighten spaces and lift spirits. 

Today we face Valentine's Day during the pandemic. Some folks will isolate alone. Others will instead spend the traditional day of romance and dining out at home. I know many people who do not celebrate the day. However, you and yours spend the day — including family, sweeties, friends, and neighbors — considered a gift of a green plant for the home, it's a trend worth catching. 

The benefits of green plants inside far out weight the work required to maintain the plant. Houseplants provide air cleaning services, oxygen and a calming influence. Maintenance is easy for many types of houseplants; they require just a few steps. 

Most species prefer to dry out between waterings. When water is needed, be sure to apply it to the whole container, water should run out the bottom of the pot. Dust and/or wash the leaves every few months.  

Use warm water, a diluted, mild soap solution, and wash both the top and bottom of the leaves. While washing, look for signs of insects such as mites, mealybugs, and scale. The washing should remove most, but keep an eye out for an exploding population and treat if washing the leaves doesn’t work.  

Fertilize regularly according to the label with a dilute liquid fertilizer, but be sure to run plain, clear water through the soil every so often. 

It is a traditional practice to place houseplants outside for a breath of fresh air and some sun. However, interior plants that are acclimatized to low light levels found in most homes can easily sunburn in Florida's intense light and heat. A quick washing of the leaves and repotting in a shady area is all most houseplants need or can stand here in Florida. 

For the friend or family member with a black thumb and in need of a home office plant, some tough-to-kill houseplant choices include lady palm, snake plant and cast-iron plant. Philodendron and aglaonema are also tough and prefer low- to moderate-light conditions. 

Include children in the houseplant giving, many are still learning from home and a plant in the schoolroom — even if that is the kitchen table — has many benefits. Houseplants are a good pet to teach about green, growing things. 

Give green plants for Valentine's Day and beyond, they are gifts that improve our indoor spaces and remind the receiver you care. 

Carol Cloud Bailey is a landscape counselor and horticulturist. Send questions to carol@yard-doc.com or visit www.yard-doc.com for more information. 

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Florida Gardening: Gift your sweetie some green

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