Sunday, October 16, 2011

Aralia Houseplants

Polyscias balfouriana (Aralia Balfour)

Back in the 1970s, I joined the houseplant craze and loaded my house with coleus, Swedish and many other ivy plants, dracena, pathos, creeping charlie, wandering Jew, spider plants, dracena, and even Boston and maidenhair ferns hanging from a shower rod in the bathroom, put there to help provide the necessary humidity in our dry Arizona climate. And, of course, my nicer specimen plants hung in macrame hangers of various sizes and weaves. Some of the smaller plants were housed in owl shaped pots--another fad that was going on at the time. I had about 25 or 30 plants, a meager collection compared to some others in my circle of friends and acquaintances. Plant acquisition in the 1970s was that era's version of keeping up with the Jones'. Some had upwards of 200 plants. Their homes looked liked mini-jungles. Even restaurants and shops had houseplants hanging from the ceilings and in rows of planters. Far out!

Macrame plant hangers weren't cheap back in the day, so I bought a few rolls of jute and some chunky ceramic beads and tried to make my own. I just couldn't get the weaving and knotting down, so my teen aged daughter did it for me and she finished a huge fancy hanger for me in just a few hours. That macrame hanger with its bright orange pot filled with a large trailing pathos became the focal point of our small living room. Groovy.

As with all fads, the houseplant collecting and macrame craze faded, and as my plants died they weren't replaced. Since those days, I've always kept one or two indoor floor plants (usually a dracena palm, money tree and some type of succulent) but in the past few years I've added a few smaller plants, and right now I have 12 total, including these two latest acquisitions.

The first, Aralia Balfour, is my favorite. It is about 24 inches tall and of the two Aralias, it is the easiest to care for and most hardy. Over watering is the biggest threat to this plant, so I'll have to pay special attention until I figure out what it will need in its environment. So, far, it's doing well and even has many new leaves.

Polyscias fruticosa (Ming Aralia)

The Ming Aralia is more fussy. It needs more humidity, so I keep the pot in a shallow dish  with an inch of water to bring up the humidity for it. The water does not touch the pot, so the plant won't get waterlogged and develop root rot. I also spray it with water, usually once a day. Ming Aralias are known for leaf drop, so I'm keeping a close eye on this to make sure it's not excessive. As with the Balfour, it is important not to over water. I'm hoping my two new plant additions last as long as my Money Tree and Dracena marginata, both of which are now 11 years old.


Lythrum said...

I would like some house plants, but I am way too lazy to see to their needs. I do have one bamboo plant that my husband bought for me almost seven years ago. It almost never gets attention and still looks like it did the day we brought it home. :)

Julie said...

I miss the 70' was such a neat time. I love your Ming Aralia! Very pretty!

marianne said...

I loved the 70s. My roommate and I had a Boston fern and a rosary plant hanging over the shower curtain. What a pain when you were in a hurry in the morning. Now my passion is orchids. My new one is Sharry Baby ‘Misaki’. Gorgeous and smells like chocolate. It doesn’t get any better.