For Plantitos and Plantitas: What are the Plants You Can Take Care of in Your Condo Unit?
Indoor gardening recently sparked a new hobby from the Philippines. Becoming a trend in the country, nurturing indoor plants is now a pastime that most people have been going on about. This phenomenon can be seen throughout the internet as popular social media platforms and markets are being crowded with people selling, buying, and showcasing their own collection of shrubs and ferns.
People who share this newfound habit of appreciating indoor gardening refer to themselves as the plantitos and plantitas of the Philippines and they are far from stopping their interest in this hobby. Their passion for gardening has them constantly scouring the market for rare species of plants.
In this article, we will introduce you to the world of indoor planting and everything basic that you need to know about plants that are compatible with living in condos and real estate. If you have interests in becoming a plantito or plantita yourself and are living in a condo in Manila, then here are suggestions on what plants and flowers are possible for gardening.
Besides being massively famously known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, Aloe Vera is recognized as a succulent plant which means it requires very low maintenance, can grow in the same container for years, and is usually visually pleasing. Additionally, this plant also serves as a vacuum cleaner for toxins released by chemical-based cleaners and paint.
Aloe plants do not like wet and cold environments. Instead, they prefer a warm and dry environment. You can water only when you see that the soil in the pot is dry. This plant also likes being under the sun for around 6 hours, they do not strive under full shade and will die most especially when exposed too long under direct sunlight.
The only setback there is when owning an Aloe plant is having dogs around the condo, if you are even allowed to have dogs inside your property. A Philippine condo typically allows the entrance of pets but be sure to ask for more information as it always depends on the management. The gel inside the plant is nothing to worry about, but other components of the plant are what make it toxic for your canine friends.
The Spider plant acquired its unique name due to the unusual shape of its leaves that dangle like spiders on a web and its color having white stripes that go down the center of the leaves. Don’t worry if you start to notice brown coloring on the tips of the leaves, these are common with spider plants and are mostly due to contaminated water, usually from fluoride, low humidity, overfertilization, or dry soil conditions. Just trim the damaged leaves by using scissors and water them every week using rainwater or distilled water if you’re unsure if your tap water contains fluoride.
Place your spider plants under warm sunlight, preferably not directly under the sun. It is suggested that these plants may need some repotting periodically due to the roots overgrowing, do this every couple of years. Other than these, the spider plant is a very undemanding ornament, easy to take care of, and provides a refreshing look in your collection.
Spider plants are easy to propagate with it being able to produce little"babies", also called spiderettes, that you can use for whatever purpose you find it useful for. You can get one spider plant from essentially anywhere in the Philippines and use its shoots to increase your plant collection or if you’re feeling generous, give them away to other plantitos and plantitas who can use it for their own gardening. Spider plants are cheap in the market because of its abundance in the country, but some vendors sell better quality and healthy specimens for higher prices.
Be warned though, your main spider plant may suffer inevitable consequences if its spiderettes are left attached for too long. To ensure that your plant remains healthy, re-pot the little ones or trim them if you find nothing else to use them for.
This lovely plant also provides service as a strong air purifier which absorbs benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries which are common chemicals that pollute your condo. Spider plants are also completely safe if you have pets.
Tulsi, also known as the Holy Basil, can help in purifying the air and improve air quality around your condo. To grow this plant, buy seeds from your local gardening store or purchase a starter plant available in online markets and afterwards place it in a 4-inch container and has good drainage holes. Also classified as a succulent plant, Tulsi strives even with little attention given to it, just make sure to water it every other day, once a day if temperatures are hot, but avoid drowning it.
Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen
Aglaonema Chinese Evergreen or simply the Chinese Evergreen is an indoor plant that is able to withstand excess amounts of water, aside from having a spectrum of colors that can range from green, to pink, to white, to red. Its two-toned leaves give it a very noticeable feature even when placed in dark corners around the condominium. A Chinese Evergreen's leaves can range from those having reddish highlights to unique varieties with silver-like leaves.
This plant prefers warm and moist temperatures, someplace around your property where moderate temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius exist are recommended areas to grow the Chinese Evergreen. If dark patches start to appear on the leaves, or if they begin to curl and have brown edges, then the plant must be suffering from low temperatures, it’s best to move it somewhere warmer.
The slow-growing Chinese evergreen can live for 10 years or more and can grow up to three feet high and also three feet in width.
Jade plants, also commonly called rubber plants, retain water in their round, shiny, rubbery leaves which allows them to sometimes survive more up to a month without any attention whatsoever. They can grow up to five feet tall indoors. Jade plants are as independent as they can be. In fact, a jade plant can live for up to a hundred years and is pretty hard to die off, just make sure to let the soil dry up before watering it again to avoid overwatering.
Jade plants are also part of the succulent family and they add humidity into the air, especially during dry, cold months which makes them extremely beneficial to your other indoor plants as well.
Be cautious though, this survivor of a plant is extremely toxic to your pets, especially on dogs, causing gastric distress, decreased heart rate, and depression among other symptoms
Peperomia is a houseplant that comes in different varieties depending on the characteristics of the leaves, they all share a common attribute having interesting slender rat tail-shaped flowers. These plants are capable of holding water in their stems and leaves, essentially being drought tolerant plants. Before watering, make sure that the soil is completely dry to avoid overwatering.
Peperomia is known for its fascinating leaves, which vary in shape (heart-shaped to narrow), texture (waxy to waffle-like), and color (green, reddish, pink or silvery gray). This plant stays small enough to be suitable for placement on a desk but can grow up to 6 - 12 inches high. They require a minimum amount of sunlight and are easy to grow.
Pothos, also “the devil's ivy” or “the cubicle plant”, is widely famous for being brown thumb-friendly and black thumb-friendly due to its ability to survive nearly pitch-black conditions in addition to underwatering and overwatering. For those of you who don’t know what a black/brown thumb is; it is the inability or the lack of skill to make plants grow and flourish.
Aside from being able to terminate air pollutants like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene like most other plants in this list, they also come in different colors, making them visually appealing in their environment.
Pothos can thrive in low lighting conditions and are very easy to grow and propagate into new plants and if those attributes have already amazed you, its trailing vines can grow to over 10 feet long, even indoors where dry air makes its living conditions less ideal.
Unfortunately, we have yet to discover the other side of the coin. Pothos is also a toxic plant, most especially to animals. If a person, for some reason, accidentally ingested this plant, it can cause irritation, swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Effects become much worse to pets, symptoms include oral irritation, intense burning of the mouth, tongue, and lips, choking, swelling, having difficulty in breathing, excessive drooling, vomiting, and even renal failure or death. However, if kept away from animals and people and placed properly, this plant can bring life to your condo.
Refrain from being fooled by its name but the Christmas Cactus is more a succulent plant than a cactus that is ready to take your plant collection to new heights. Similar to its other succulent friends, this plant requires little to no maintenance and is independently capable of growing. Its appearance offers grace and color that no other cacti can give, with long segmented stems and flowers that come in different colors (lilac, deep rose, salmon, red-orange or white).
Christmas Cacti usually bloom mid to late December, thus their name. After its blooming season ends, prune it by cutting several sections of the plant to encourage the Christmas Cactus to branch and make it blossom than it previously did. These plants can grow up to 12 inches high and over 18 inches wide.
The Dracaena typically does not require direct sunlight and can grow for up to 12 feet in height, so make sure it is placed on the floor to provide space, where they make striking specimens or work well in foliage groupings to allow them enough space to grow. Another hardy plant (means being able to withstand or survive unfavorable growing conditions), they can adapt to varying amounts of sunlight except absorbing direct sunlight.
Dracaena (and especially the Dracaena Lisa variety) are excellent for those who are new to indoor gardening. These plants display long, straplike leaves and can vary from colors white, cream, and red. Younger Dracaena are usually placed on top of tables, but larger ones need more floor space. Maintain your Dracaena at less than six feet by pruning off the top of the plant and within weeks a pair of new shoots will grow below the pruned section.
Keep the soil moist just enough to make sure that the Dracaena thrives better. Yellow leaves in the plant are a sign of drowning due to overwatering or poor drainage. Additionally, Dracaena also helps filter the air by removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.
English Ivy, also called the European Ivy, California Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, and Sweetheart Ivy.
The English Ivy is a common ivy that is also a low-maintenance plant and a magnificent air-purifying woody vine. This plant serves multiple purposes in different aspects of people’s lives in addition to some drawbacks. People with conditions similar to asthma and other breathing problems could benefit greatly from this plant’s surprisingly medicinal properties, especially at night, possibly improving sleep quality when placed near the person suffering from conditions mentioned earlier. English Ivy also helps in reducing airborne mold by up to 94% and airborne fecal-matter particles, as well as decontaminating the air of formaldehyde, a chemical typically found in most household cleaning products.
English Ivies have the ability to attract pests if they are not given enough sunlight so make sure to place it in a part of your property where sunlight is abundant. Be careful not to drown the plant from overwatering and let its soil dry for some time before watering it again. The plants you see that scale down buildings for up to 98 feet (about 30 meters) high that look like vines are some of what the English Ivy can do. Some Philippine condominiums and real estate allow the growth of this plant outdoors.
The downside of having the English Ivy is potentially harming yourself and your pets. It is mildly toxic when ingested, children may vomit and have diarrhea, it can cause allergic reactions to skin when touched. It is also toxic to dogs, cats, and horses and may cause them to vomit, have abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea among other symptoms.