Category Archives: house plants

stephanotis floribunda flowers

House plants and cuttings update.

Some good and some sad news about the cuttings I took back in April.  I will start with the sad – the lovely big Easter cactus was in a very sad state, it did bloom but the leaves were never turgid and just got more flaccid as time went on.  I took the plant out of its pot and it still had roots but the main ‘trunk’ was very damaged so it has gone in the bin.  I had taken a few cuttings and they looked like they were doing ok and had roots but a couple didn’t make it.  I have one cutting left that looks ok and I stuck a few leaves into a pot of compost so we shall see if they survive.  I am upset that I couldn’t keep that large parent plant alive as it was one of Stephanie’s plants (who was terminally ill when she gave me it and has now very sadly died).  Kate’s petrocosmia is not doing well.  I removed it from the pot and could see a material-like pot surrounding the plug plant (from the nursery).  The roots had not been able to penetrate that and had been trying to go over top of it.  It also didn’t have any roots coming from the centre of the base.   I took this material away and tried my best at re-potting it in a way that the remaining roots could reach the soil.  I am not hopeful though.

The good news is that  Stephanie’s palm is doing well, and my attempts to propagate Kate’s echveria have all been successful.  I tried a few different propagation methods:  taking heads off and planting them, taking the middle part of the long stump that was left and laying them sideways on damp compost,  leaving the cut stump ends in the pot to see if they would grow again, and single leaf cuttings.  The stumps are all sprouting, and one of the leaf cuttings is sprouting, a few of them have roots but are not yet sprouting.   The heads are all thriving now and have put down roots.  Some of the leaves look a bit shiny but should soon get their coating of farina on them to give them that soft matt look.  The farina gives the plant protection from the sun and it also repels water to help the plant avoid rotting.

echeveria hybrid cuttings
echeveria hybrid cuttings
middle part of echeveria hybrid stump laid on its side to make cuttings from sprouts
middle part of stump sprouting
echeveria hybrid sprouting from old stump
echeveria hybrid sprouting from old stump
echeveria hybrid sprouting on old stump
echeveria hybrid sprouting on old stump
echeveria hybrid leaf cutting
echeveria hybrid leaf cutting

Also, I  saved another of Kate’s plants recently  that no-one else had wanted, and it is doing well.  I was reluctant at first to take this one on as it is a stephanotis floribunda and it can be tricky to give it the correct situation all year round.  I have been waiting for weeks for it to open it’s buds and now it is creating a glorious scent in the conservatory.  I will have to move it from  the conservatory during the winter as it will be far too cold there so it may come into the dining room over winter.

stephanotis floribunda flowers
stephanotis floribunda flowers

And here are some of my own succulents in flower and about to flower.

a collection of sempervivums in flower
collection of sepervivums

This sempervivum Chocolate kiss doesn’t look like it is going to flower yet though.  It is such a great colour as it is.

deep chocolately/ purple coloured sempervivum 'chocolate kiss'
sempervivum ‘Chocolate kiss’

House plants and cuttings

I never think a house can feel like a home without house plants. The rooms tend to look bare without fresh  living foliage.  They can be incorporated into a room design or just dotted about as you please, as long as they have sufficient light and the room stays at a  temperature that suits the plant.  There is no point trying to grow a fern that requires a moist environment in a hot, dry centrally heated room as it just won’t be happy.  I have plants in every room of the house but I sometimes have to swap them around  rooms as the seasons change depending on their individual likes.  As they grow larger they may need re-potting or even split and re-potted.  This is a great opportunity to make new plants to give away to friends and family or to charities to sell on.  I take lots of cuttings from large plants, split the peace lilies many times to make new plants and pot-on the chicks from the sempervivums to sell at Duddingston Kirk Plant Sale.  I have been given a few plants (that have needed a bit of TLC) recently from friends and I am waiting to see if they come through or not.  Steph gave me an Easter cactus that was very old and had split leaves dead leaves,old woody leaves etc so I gave that a good trim and potted up the cuttings.  I don’t have a before photo but I did take a snap after I had given it a haircut.

Steph’s Easter cactus after it’s trim
Easter cactus in bud
Steph’s Easter cactus in bud

Steph also gave me palm which had been very neglected so I  trimmed off the dead leaves and re-potted it and it is looking much better.

Steph's palm before a trim
Steph’s palm before
Steph's palm after a trim
Steph’s palm after

I have been given a few plants of Kate’s (who passed away recently) and it was quite a difficult decision to make, whether or not to alter anything about them or leave them as they were.  The Echeveria hybrid was looking very leggy and distressed so I cut the heads off it and a few single leaves too.  These were left to dry out until the ends calloused over, then were planted in a free draining compost mix.  I have left the rooted plant stumps in the  hope that it may get new growth from the stumps bottom part.  The leggy bit in the middle I have just placed on compost to see if it will root from the stem (just an experiment).  Hopefully one of these will take and I can keep it going.  She also had a Christmas cactus which was growing mainly in one direction so I trimmed off a  few bits and left them to dry for a few days and potted then up, and hopefully I can get some new plants from it.  Kate’s Petrocosmia had been very over-watered so I re-potted that and it is trying to dry out, I took some damaged leaves off it but I don’t know if it will survive.  I will take a photo if it survives.  I really hope I can keep them all alive for Kate’s memory.

Kate's Echevaria before a trim
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid before
Kate's Echevaria hybrid stumps after being chopped
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid stumps
Kate's Echevaria small head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid small head potted-up
Kate's Echevaria large head potted up
Kate’s Echevaria hybrid large head potted-up
Kate's Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate’s Christmas cactus trimmed
Kate's Petrocosmia begonifolia before
Kate’s Petrocosmia begonifolia before

I am loving me Aeonium Voodoo just now as the colours are just fantastic!  The top of the stem is bright green and these leaves go such a deep, rich, burgundy which contrast beautifully with the lime centre. I don’t know when I should take the head off to replant  – I may leave it another year or so.

Aeonium Voodoo head in summer colours deep burgundy
Aeonium Voodoo head
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo plant
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo under leaves
Aeonium Voodoo stem and leaf joints vivid colours
Aeonium Voodoo stem with leaf joints

And recently purchased are these fabulous living stones: Lithops.  They can be tricky to grow so I am going to have to be very careful with my watering of them.  I have potted them up in a very gritty, free draining compost and have given them one watering so far.  Fingers crossed I can keep them alive.

Lithops different colours

I do have a few air plants that I bought in 2020 but so far they have not flowered for me.  As soon as they I will post a picture.

Just a few of the cuttings that will be on sale at Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plant sale on Saturday.


May Aquilegias

These beautiful aquilegias add a touch of the ‘cottage garden’
style to the garden.  They flower during spring and keep their foliage
for most of the summer and autumn and although they look quite delicate,
they are quite hardy.  They love the shade in the stumpery area and the
raised bed, but are equally at home in the side border too.  One pink
one has grown quite tall – 1m35cm which is as tall as I am (wheelchair
user).  I love the way that, as the flower matures, it raises it’s head until the seed heads point upwards like little jester hats.
I don’t remember all their names and they have
been quite promiscuous so who knows what will come up next year.  I did
have to take quite a few out as they had seeded in the wrong place, but
they have been potted up ready to be sold whenever the Duddingston Kirk
Garden Club starts up again after lockdown.

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Baby pink aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Deep pink aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilagia,
Pink aquilegia
plants, flowers. aquilegia,
Purple aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Purple  aquilegia face on
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Purple and white aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
White aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Ruby aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Pale blue aquilegia
plants, flowers aquilegia,
Pink and white aquilegia
plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Tall pink aquilegia

My tips on cleaning houseplants.

House-plants collect just as much dust and debris as your furniture, shelves and ornaments do.  This dust can not only affect the appearance, making them dull and lifeless, but can also prevent the plants from respiring by clogging up the stoma. (Respiration facilitates gaseous exchange via stoma which are small pores in the leaves).  This dust can also prevent sunlight falling on the leaves which can reduce the photosynthesis by reducing the light levels.
Some plants with large, flattish leaves can be easily sponged with clean tepid water one leaf at a time, but I prefer to stick a few plants together in the bath and give them a tepid shower.  It is best to do this in the morning so they have time to dry off before the cooler night.  Make sure to drain them well – you could even put a rack underneath them while they are in the bath so they don’t get water-logged.  Or you could hold them at an angle while using the shower head  over, and under,  the leaves.  While the plants are draining you can check the decorative pots or saucers for any damage and give them a clean too.  Before replacing your plants back in their decorative pots, check the plant for any signs of pests or disease, and remove any tatty looking foliage or  dead material.  Check if the roots are showing out through the bottom of the pot as this may be a sign that they need re-potting or dividing. Give them a gentle shake to get remaining water droplets off, and be careful of positioning your plants just in case any droplets could fall onto a wooden surface, or worse – an electrical appliance.  Water and electricity don’t mix!
You can buy products that contain wax or oils to polish some leaves to give a high shine.  You would just use a soft cloth or cotton wool to apply, or it may be sprayed if it is an aerosol, but, I would suggest that this could actually clog up the pores that you have just cleaned.  I have  also heard of people using milk or oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) to shine leaves.  In nature, usually only  the young leaves look glossy and they tend to get duller as they age, so in my opinion, if the whole plant looks shiny then it doesn’t look natural.  I would avoid putting any product on the leaves.

house plants,
plants in the bath having a shower
Some plants shouldn’t be showered, such as, some succulents or cacti, or those that have hairy leaves.  I clean them using an old, soft watercolour brush or a clean blusher brush.  These soft brushes can remove the dust easily.  To get some bits of debris from very hairy cacti, I use my tweezers.  The cacti hairs tend to act like nets and collect all sorts of seeds blown in from the garden or discarded fragments of a spider’s feast such as wings and heads.  My conservatory is home to many spiders so I am constantly picking bits out from my cacti.   I have even found slug eggs at the base of a cactus plant during a routine clean and inspection.  If you clean your plants regularly then you prevent any infestation of pests or disease occurring and your plants will stay looking their best.
house plants,
cacti debris can be removed using tweezers