Ahoy-hoy hoya

I didn’t think I would get into hoyas; I can’t really see what the fuss is about. But I love the bushiness and elegant colouring of this particular specimen. It brings such a statement to the room, but in a way that adds a sense of wonder and groundedness–the last one a bit strange, perhaps, from a hanging plant.

I should figure out how to post gifs instead, and how to make gifs, because I need to give this a spin to really show it off. Some leaves and stems have such a pretty pink!

Who’s this?

  • Binomial name: Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson princess’
  • Given name: Harriet, after the nurse who gave me my second COVID-19 vaccine dose
  • Native to: Eastern Asia and Australia
  • Bought: July 14, 2021 at Plant & Curio
  • Original pot (current): 8 inch plastic hanging basket with drainage

Field notes–July 17, 2021

  • Soil: moist
  • Longest strand: 59 cm from soil to tip
  • New growth: two runners; some new leaves forming
  • Signs of pests and care issues: see “Leaf collection”
  • Pruning: removed heavily damaged or suspicious leaves; see “Leaf collection”
  • Propagation: A damaged strand with no leaves was nearly broken off, so I snipped it and stuck it in water even though I don’t expect anything to happen.
  • Other care: wiped down quite a few leaves with water/vinegar/tea tree mix (pre-mixed spray for cleaning home gym mats) to remove residue spots

Leaf collection

Sign of distress (from images left to right, top to bottom)NotesInexpert diagnosis and treatment
Scarred, dry, light brown scratches or webbing on surfaceShows on two leaves (not removed)Sunburn
Tiny white flecks on leavesShows on many leaves (not removed)According to online posts, this is natural variegation
Brown, gunky-looking patchesShows on two leaves (removed)Fungal? Bacterial?
Grey tinge to leavesShows on leaves mostly in the same area; about 6 leaves total (not removed)Normal variegation, according to a reddit comment
Dark black spot; note the developing light green spot on the right as wellOnly on one leaf, probably due to the cut on the leaf (removed)Fungal
Green and white powderShows on three or four leaves; (three leaves removed; one leaf I just wiped off)Mold? Some type of fertilizer or other spray?
Tiny brown spots on underside of leavesShows on two leaves (removed)Bacterial, fungal, or due to watering issue?

Research notes


  • Light:
    • Bright indirect light, may be able to manage some full sun if slowly introduced
    • Direct light at end of winter or early spring promotes flowering
  • Humidity: 40% minimum; 70 to 80% preferred
  • Temperature: 16 to 35 degrees Celsius


  • Preference:
    • In the morning
    • On soil, not leaves
  • Frequency:
    • When top 1 to 2 inches are dry, then drench-and-drain top down several times
    • When folding lower leaves in the “taco test” is easy
    • When lower leaves are wrinkly, they are too underwatered [1, 2]

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: airy and well-draining, such as African violet mix; leca
  • Fertilization:
    • Foliar spray; higher phosphorus value if want it to bloom
    • Diluted balanced liquid fertilizer; every 2 to 4 weeks
    • Needs little potassium, so go for higher nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) when looking at the NPK values
  • Repotting: in spring but not when flowering; snug but not root-bound; don’t loosen the rootball: put top of rootball to top of pot


  • Grow style: fast in ideal conditions, but slower than plants with more chlorophyll (such as Krimson Queen)
  • Maturity: after 3 to 4 years; may then bloom
  • Common problems:
    • Too much sun (signs: leaves are red or black)
    • Lack of water or low humidity (signs: leaves shrivelling)
    • Root rot (signs: plant is limp)
    • Low light (signs: plant is limp or leggy)
    • Too cold (signs: leaf drop)
    • Lack of airflow, especially with high humidity (leads to fungal growth)
  • Pruning:
    • Don’t prune peduncles or flowers
  • Neat stuff:
    • Sends out long, bare runners (peduncles) from which leaves will grow (if leaves don’t grow, add more light)
    • Blooms smell like chocolate (!!?)
    • Roots are rather fine
    • Leaves store water
  • Other care
    • Climbing on trellis may grow faster than hanging
  • Propagation:
    • Spring/summer
    • Snip healthy 10 cm stem (not too woody) with 2 to 3 leaves with sterilized cutting tool. Cut below a node at a 45-degree angle.
      • Remove lower leaves
      • Dip cut end into rooting hormone or cinnamon if placing into soil.
      • Place in soil or water
        • Soil: same as for plant; water and drain; dip cutting in rooting hormone then into soil; keep moist but not wet
        • Water: use filtered water in sterilized jar; replace water regularly; plant in soil when rooted
    • Place in bright filtered light (morning light is nice) with good heat (may use a heat mat)
    • When plant is well-rooted after a couple weeks, replant into fresh soil

Research sources: [1]Bee’s House of Plants, [2]Indoor Home Garden, Plantophiles

Here be Dracaenas

I’m off the edge of my usual houseplant map, exploring new areas, but I’m so glad I found you!

You’re sitting on my relatively new plant shelf in the dining room, a bit further from the light and the humidifier than most of the other plants on the shelf.

I’ve decided to also start a spreadsheet so I can track who wants moisture and fertilization more frequently, and you’re my first entry! I’ve also learned that cultivar names should be enclosed in single quotes or preceded by “cv.” and are never italicized.

  • Binomial name: Dracaena surculosa ‘Florida Beauty’
  • Given name: Päivi
  • Native to: Central-west Africa
  • Bought: June 15, 2021 at Plant & Curio
  • Original pot: 3 inch square pot (was already root bound)
  • Current pot: 4 inch nursery pot, cut shorter
  • Repotting: 1/4 regular potting mix + a little cactus mix, 1/4 perlite, 1/2 coco coir from 3 inch square plastic pot to modified 4 inch square plastic pot
  • Soil moisture: 8.5 (wet)
  • Soil pH: 7.5
  • Light: 9 a.m.: 100 (dark) (honestly though, the area is close enough to the window and probably fine)
  • Longest stem with leaf: 7.5 cm, but the new ones will be longer!
  • New growth: two new stems (started before I bought it); five new leaves unfurled, 1 cm or longer
  • Signs of care issues:
    Leaf damage: probably during transport.
    Longest wound: 1.5 cm


  • Light: bright, indirect with possibility of morning or evening sun (maintains variegation); tolerant of low light (loses variegation, becomes leggy)
  • Humidity: average
  • Temperature: 15 to 24 degrees Celsius, free from drafts


  • Preference: moist; water when top inch or third is dry

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: well-draining, soil-based, plenty of organic material (peaty)
  • Fertilization: biweekly in summer with houseplant feed, but water 24 hours before
  • Repotting: every other year; keep in small pots; will mature in a 5 inch pot


  • Grow style: slow, hardy and tolerant
  • Mature size: 60 to 160 cm, spread of 38 to 100 cm (can take 8 to 12 years)
  • Common problems:
    Root mealy bugs: use pesticide
    Too much light: and too little water (signs: curled, dried, brown leaves)
    Too little light: yellow lower leaves
    : reduce watering if placed in a cool or low-light position (signs: yellow lower leaves, rotten stem, wilting, mouldy soil; brown, mushy roots)
    Underwatering: (signs: yellow leaves; loss of older leaves; stunted growth; wilting)
    Nitrogen deficiency: yellow lower leaves (nitrogen moves in the plant to where it’s needed — that is, from old leaves to new growth)
  • Pruning: prune and trim old stems to encourage new growth at cut sites; prune leggy stems to encourage bushiness
  • Other care: remove discoloured leaves; shower monthly (remove dust, hydrate leaves); wipe with neem oil to remove dust (neem also protects against infestations); becomes dormant in winter
  • Propagation:
    Division of rhizomes when repotting: separate pup 8 cm or more with several mature leaves (good to reduce chances of root-bound); cut stem with two root strands attached to base. Set pup into small pot with drainage and houseplant compost; bright indirect light and room-temperature; moist soil; allow top third of soil to dry out; after one to two months, treat as mature.
    Tip cuttings with three to four leaves: insert in 3 inch pots with moist mixture of peat and sand, enclose in plastic bag; place in room-temperature area in partial shade; do not add water for four to six weeks.
    After rooted: remove plastic bag, water moderately and allow top 1 cm to dry between next watering; apply half-strength fertilizer every two weeks.
    When roots appear on surface: move plant to pot one size larger with standard potting mixture and treat as mature.

Research sources: Plants RescueNorth Carolina Extension Gardener Plant ToolboxukhouseplantsThe Gardening CookNouveauraw

PUA: how to take home a Calathea ornata

I saw her from across the room and locked eyes with those dazzling leaves. No way I wasn’t going to try my luck! I sauntered over and caressed her pot. Soon she was in my hands and I banged her (gently) on the counter. It was that easy.

Calathea ornata. Note: brown dusting is cinnamon powder. I should have taken a glamour shot before!

Hey baby

  • Binomial name: Calathea ornata
  • Given name: Laura Jenna Ellinoora Alexandra Camilla
  • Native to: South America
  • Bought: June 15, 2021 at Plant & Curio
  • Original pot (current): 4 inch, plastic

Field notes — June 19, 2021

  • Soil: Seemed dry. Watered bottom-up, but even after a while, did not seem as though top was getting moist.
  • New growth: 2 new leaves at base. Root has extended out of the nursery pot.
  • Signs of care issues:
    Some wounds on leaves, I think these were there when I bought them.
    Bottom two new leaves aren’t well. One has shriveled, the other is yellowing. Removed shriveled leaf.

Field notes-June 20, 2021

  • Signs of care issues: Wounds on leaves dusted with cinnamon to promote healing and act as a fungicide.

Field notes — June 21, 2021

  • Soil moisture: average 2 [scale: dry to wet : 1 to 10]. Too dry!
    From bottom of pot: barely moist.
  • Water: bottom-up with filtered water; moisture meter registers as “moist”. After 50 minutes, still not “wet” and top is dry. Used rest of water to water top-down; allowed to drain. When watering directly onto meter, it registers only as 7, the boundary between “moist” and “wet” and then flips immediately to 5 as soon as I stop pouring, so perhaps this soil is particularly efficient at draining.
  • Soil pH: 7–8
  • Light: 9 am, just above 0 [scale: dark to light : 0 to 2000]. Dark. Surprising, but it is a west-facing window and today is dim and overcast, so I will check again in the afternoon.
  • Largest leaf: 9.7 cm from base to apex
  • Longest petiole: 6.7 cm
  • Signs of pests: none, but what I assume is soil fertilizer on the surface, light yellowy balls, but looking unlike others I’ve seen before as they seem to have a partial shell. Reminds me of coriander.
  • Signs of care issues:
    Little leaf on the bottom is shriveling; plucked it out. Seems these two lower leaves yellowing and shriveling are signs of underwatering.
    Largest wound (with cinnamon on it): 2 cm long along edge of largest leaf; added picture for tracking.
    Spotted wounds on third-largest leaf: added picture for tracking.
Wound on largest leaf
Spotted wounds on third-largest leaf. Note: dark black spots below wounds are shadows of cinnamon powder on top of leaf, not spider mites or other pests.

Research notes


  • Light: bright, indirect. Direct light will cause fading.
  • Humidity: high
  • Temperature: 18 to 29 degrees Celsius


  • Preference: keep lightly moist, use distilled water
  • Frequency: water when soil starts to dry out (every 1 to 2 weeks in summer; less in winter)

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: retains moisture (coco coir or peat), but is loose enough to let the plant breathe (+perlite; soil with moss or bigger chunks). African violet soil will work.
  • Fertilization: balanced fertilizer, diluted to half strength, once a month during growing season. Overfertilization can burn or cause lankiness.
  • Repotting: in spring, when roots and leaves are quite large; often a year after purchase. Soak after repotting.


  • Grow style: moderate to fairly fast
  • Mature size: 2 feet high; 2 feet wide
  • Neat stuff: air purification; leaves open and close at morning and night.
  • Common problems:
    Spider mites (spray them off with shower head; coat leaves with [dish soap + water in a spray bottle | neem oil], which suffocates the mites, then wipe off; repeat (bi)weekly as needed)
    Too dry (signs: brown, crispy, or yellow leaves; give more humidity and mist)
    Yellowing leaves: normal for the odd leaf, but if widespread could be due to various causes
    Too much direct light (signs: pink stripes turning white)
  • Other care: use fingers or shears to remove brown leaves (this is normal); dust sometimes
  • Propagation: division, when large enough

Research sources: Plant care for BeginnersSmart Garden GuideHouseplant Central