6 Finicky Houseplants That Are Worth the Extra Effort
While we’ve all had our problems with houseplants at some point, these six high-maintenance varieties will reward your extra effort with gorgeous foliage.
Crotons are best loved for their thick, shiny, colorful leaves. What’s not so lovable? They tend to be a bit particular about their treatment. To begin with, they are not a fan of sudden changes, like if you move them to a different spot in your home. If you observe discoloration in the leaves after placing your croton in a different spot, just consider it a plant temper tantrum. Don’t worry, it should acclimate in a couple weeks and fill in with some new leaves.
In addition, crotons require consistent watering. If you notice leaves are starting to drop off, odds are the soil got a bit too dry. Increasing the amount of water you give the plant should get it back to normal, but be cautious about not overwatering. Also, be sure you keep your croton in a pot that has a drainage hole, as its roots will drown if they sit in water.
Any indication of a white substance on the top layer of soil means it’s time to start thinking about repotting your plant. That substance is salt build-up from fertilizing and watering over time. Giving your plant fresh soil will resolve the problem.
Some types of tradescantia feature velvety leaves, while others boast variegated ones in green and purple that are especially striking outdoors. As a trailing plant, tradescantia makes a great fit for macrame plant hangers, but regular containers work fine as well. The plant does best when supplied with lots of water, so be sure the soil is moist at all times. A simple way to water it is to place the pot in the sink or bathtub and fill the basin with several inches of water. This way, the plant is able to soak up the water from the bottom rather than you having to pour in water from the top. A good sign that the plant needs water is if you pick up the pot and it feels light.
3. Elephant’s Ear
Known for its unusual, exotic-looking leaves, elephant’s ear is a tropical plant that thrives in wet areas. While it does require a lot of water, it has an easy tell for when it needs more: its stalks immediately droop. Every stalk on the plant holds a leaf and is hollow, like a straw. The stalks are where the water is held. As the stalks run low on water, they droop because of the weight of the leaf on the end. While the plant perks right up after it is watered, it’s still important to keep the soil damp so that it stays healthy and happy.
4. Fiddle-Leaf Fig
A type of ficus, the fiddle-leaf fig is among the most popular indoor trees today. It features oversized, paddle-shaped leaves, and prefers indirect light, so consider placing it near a west- or east-facing window. Water a fiddle-leaf fig once a week, and only then if the soil is completely dry. As a finicky tree, the leaves start yellowing or even turn brown if they get too much water. If this happens, simply reduce watering. If the leaves start to look droopy, however, give the plant some water. Try to keep the humidity levels high around it, as well.
5. Bird’s Nest Fern
If you’re looking to add a fun texture to your space, consider this fern. It features unique leaves — bright green and shiny, with a dainty curled edge. The key to keeping a bird’s nest fern at its best is to maintain lots of moisture in the air. If the plant becomes too dry, its leaves start turning brown along the edges, so be sure to water it every couple days, allowing the excess to drain out the bottom of the container. Also, mist the leaves every day to ensure the proper humidity levels. A watering technique that might be helpful to keep humidity up is to place the pot on a plastic tray or dish covered in a layer of tiny rocks. Add water to the dish, but not high enough to touch the bottom of the pot so the roots don’t get over-hydrated. As the water evaporates, it surrounds the plant with a humid micro-climate. You can also do this with a group of plants to help keep the humidity higher around all of them.
6. Boston Fern
Nothing brings dimension and texture to a room like a large, flourishing Boston fern. The best part about giving one of these beauties a try is that they’re relatively inexpensive so you don’t have much to lose. Once again, the key to success with a Boston fern is consistently keeping the right levels of humidity and moisture. You can do this by locating the plant near a humidifier or making sure you mist it with water daily. Another thing to keep in mind is that too much direct sunlight will actually singe the plant’s fronds. This means a home near a south-facing window is out of the question. Because ferns don’t enjoy changes in their environment, don’t be surprised if your plant has trouble after moving it to a spot with less light. Rest assured, it will adapt to its new home. Simply snip off any yellow or dead leaves and you’ll soon see new growth.