Thursday, 5 June 2008


Peace Lily

Parlour Palm

Two of the easiest house plants to grow are the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) and the Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) . Even the most novice of gardeners are able to grow these plants. Ensure that you start off with a healthy plant. You can find good quality plants at Bunnings or your local garden centres. I don’t normally recommend buying plants from supermarkets as the plants are not looked after as vigorously as it would have been in a proper nursery or hardware centres that have dedicated nurseries in their establishments.

Next, make sure that the plant looks healthy and has lots of new shoots at the side of the main plant (this will ensure that you will have an even growth and that the plant will not grow lanky) and that there are no excess roots at the bottom of the plant. Roots showing at the bottom of the plants denote that the plants have been pot bound for too long. Finally, make sure that the soil in the pot is moist. You don’t want to buy a dehydrated plant.

Once you have chosen your plant, the next stage is to choose a medium to grow your plant in. For novices, always ensure that your medium has drainage holes as you don’t want your plant to be submerged in water constantly and hence suffer from root rot. If you tend to travel a lot and are away from your home for extended periods of time, I’d suggest self watering pots. You can get some really nice designs at your local nurseries, hardware stores or at Big W or Kmart. Ensure that the size of your new container is only a size or two bigger than the original pot. If the pot is too big, the plant will expense most of its energy to build roots, not the foliage. Also if your pot is not in proportion with your plant, it will loose its aesthetics.

The next stage is your potting mix. Don’t skimp on quality here and make sure that you buy soil suitable for container planting. Also, at this stage, don’t forget to purchase your slow release fertiliser, fish emulsion, water retention crystals and watering can (trust me, this comes in handy). If you are using self watering containers, plant your new plant according to the instructions.

If you are using terracotta or plastic containers, start by heavily watering the plant that is to be transferred. Prepare your soil by adding water crystals as per packet instruction. Then fill in the base of the new pot with some soil. Insert the existing plant pot into the new pot, ensuring that the level of the soil surface will be about 1 to 2 cm below the top of the new pot when filled. Pack soil firmly in the gap between the new pot and existing pot. This will create a mould. Gently lift out the existing pot, remove the plant from the pot, and drop it into the hole of the new pot. Gently firm the soil on the top of the plant, adding more if needed (but ensuring that you still have that 1 to 2 cm gap at the top). Put in your slow release fertiliser as per packet instruction. Water thoroughly. You are now the proud owner of a new re potted plant!

During the growing periods (in Australia it would be end spring to mid autumn) to ensure a more luscious and healthy growth, you can give your plants a feed of liquid fertiliser. I personally go for either the fish or seaweed solutions. Use per bottle instructions.

I have attached two photos as an example (see above). I have them sitting on the bathroom sink. I bought these plants last November and they were around 18cms and I paid AUD$3.95 per plant. They are now between 30 and 45cms which would retail around AUD$19.95 each.

Happy gardening!

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