Cultural information should only be used as a guide, and should be adapted to suit you. Your physical location; where you grow your plants, how much time you have to devote to their care, and many other factors, will need to be taken into account. Only then can you decide on the cultural methods that best suit you and your plants.
Since Araceae family is a very diverse and wide ranging group of plants, only general culture can be given.
Plant care advice in this section is derived from our personal experience with plants. In spite of the fact that we live, observe, grow and experiment with plants 24/7, it doesn’t mean that our experience and propagation success will apply in your house, greenhouse, the conditions you are able to provide. Everything that is outlined here, is merely an attempt to give you as much advice coming from our personal plant experience, to provide your new plants the best possible start in your homes.
Information on this page is just a tip of an iceberg. Many well educated and much more experienced have written about Aroids and their care. Please refer to our LINKS page for some invaluable resources.
Endless volumes have been written on the subject of plant care. And this is the first and most important thing: educate yourself before purchasing a plant. Do not buy a plant just because it is “pretty”, just because it has nice variegation, or just because someone on social media has one…
Make sure that you are able to provide adequate conditions for your plant. It is very helpful to first learn how exactly the particular species grows in the wild and attempt to duplicate those optimal conditions as much as possible.
There are no difficult plants. It is what the plants require to thrive - the conditions they normally grow in - that are difficult to recreate in a common home environment.
The plants we sell are mostly tropical plants, and most of them belong to the Araceae family. Not surprisingly, Aroids (the colloquial name for the plants from the Araceeae family) are some of the most popular and wide-spread house plants. In the wild, in their natural conditions, aroids have adapted to living in various conditions, including various climates and light conditions. However, bringing a tropical plant home is a completely different story. The fact that a plant is adaptable, doesn’t mean that it will happily take on any conditions that you will throw it in. The fact that plants are resilient, doesn't mean we should just purchase them without giving a second thought to how we are actually going to grow them.
It is also important to learn about the natural variation and ontogeny (morphogenesis) of plants in order to understand that the plant you buy will never look exactly like another specimen of the same species, and quite often it will be very different. Araceae family is full of highly variable plants in almost all genera.
Just because two plants belonging to the same species produce leaves of various colouration, does not mean at all, that they belong to a different species. One of the best examples for how variable aroids can be, is Philodendron verrucosum. Only in our humble collection, we have over 11 different forms of this species, and that is just a start...
Epiphyte - a plant that grows on another plant for its entire life cycle. An epiphyte often possesses aerial roots, uses the host plant only for support, and does not obtain food or water from the host.
Hemiepiphyte - a plant that grows for part of its life on other plants without connection to the ground and for part of its life with a connection to the ground. A primary hemiepiphyte begins life without a connection with the ground but later develops aerial roots that reach the ground. A secondary hemiepiphyte (or 'nomadic vine') grows from the ground onto its support and later loses its connection with the ground.
Vine - a non-woody, climbing plant
Liana - a woody climbing plant
Terrestrial - growing upon the ground, referring to a plant with its root system anchored in the ground.
In their natural conditions only some aroids are terrestrial plants, while most of them are epiphytic or climbing plants.
Because they grow in rain forests, their roots are almost always moist, but rarely submerged in wet substrate. They require and love a lot of water, but they also like to dry in between the frequent showers.
In horticulture aroids are widely marketed as “low-light” plants. However, not even very bright artificial light indoors compares to shade outdoors.
In nature, young plants show a scototropic growth - this means they constantly seek shade. The reason for this, however, is not the plant’s attempt to avoid sunlight, but the opposite - the plant seeks a surface that it can climb onto in order to reach higher levels of the forest where there is more light. To find this surface - a tree, for instance - the plant seeks shade cast by this tree.
These conditions are very difficult to duplicate in our homes, but we can attempt to imitate them as best as possible.
HOME CONDITIONS, OR HOW TO MAKE IT INTO A JUNGLE
There aren’t many tropical plants which will thrive in our home conditions without additional “provisions”. Below is a very simplified guide of what you can do to provide your new plant with the best start and watch it thrive:
LIGHT - we highly recommend grow lights, especially in winter. It is definitely worth investing in a good set of grow lights or aquarium plant lights to be able to experience the growth potential and beauty of aroids. Window sills will work in spring and summer too, but not those with direct sunlight.
HUMIDITY - aroids live mostly in rain forests and that should say it all. High humidity is a must for these plants’ well-being. Some will make it in humidity lower than 60%-50%, of course. But we’re talking optimal conditions here, not just surviving. Also - misting and showering. From our experience these plants absolutely love misting and showering. Absolutely not in order to raise the general air humidity, for which these methods do close to nothing, but simply because these plants absorb nutrients and water not only through their roots, but also through their leaf blades. They are used to very frequent rains in their natural environment and it is very unlikely that those raindrops miss the leaf-blades completely when falling down. It is instead very likely that the whole plant is quite often completely soaked in water from the shower before it is able to dry in the wind again.
If you really don’t like misting your plants, shower them once in a while. It will also help to flush all the mineral residue, dust (which in home environment is composed mostly of human skin, definitely not something these plants deal with in nature...).
Especially in case of Anthurium plants we recommend misting and showering. If you want to avoid the leaves of your Anthurium plant to look like dried kale crisps - mist away!
GROWING MEDIA - this is a massive topic when it comes to growing tropical plants like aroids in home conditions. There are different schools, different traditions, different opinions.
We sell our plants in a wide variety of many media and mixes. We sell plants grown in both organic and inorganic substrates..
Our personal preference are inorganic substrates, but this is mainly because we grow our collection in a passive hydroponic system, where inorganic media react better.
When it’s done right, non-organic substrates and mixes can provide almost full control over plant growth, including nutrient intake (with a carefully worked out fertilizing schedule) and pest control.
In nature all of this is 'self-regulated'. In our homes, with our plant collections, we are very far from the natural environments in which our 'unicorns' thrive. And to be able to provide them with the bet possible conditions, we can either try to imitate the forests in which they grow (which inside of a living room or even a corner-living-room-greenhouse is simply impossible), or we can help them out by controlling the environment they are in and substituting.
They also require a lot of knowledge to use them properly.
Most of the non-organing grow media are inert (chemically inactive and/ or not containing any nutrients).
In general, a good grow medium ensures that plant roots have a place to anchor and retains moisture at the same time. Some types of grow medium, such as potting mixes and soil, come pre-charged with nutrients and amendments in many cases. These would be considered the opposite of an inert medium.
Growing using an inert grow medium is an important consideration for both hydroponic systems and aquaponics systems.
The medium in which you grow aroids has to be not only well draining, but also has to drain quickly. For this, good air circulation is a key. When grow media is too tightly packed and/or kept constantly wet, it can be a disaster for most plants.
That said, If you have a tried-out aroid mix, in which the roots of your plants grow like crazy - stay with it. As mentioned at the beginning, every home environment is different and everyone may have their own ways of growing and propagating plants. Experimenting and checking what works in your environment and the conditions you are able to provide is the most important - to try and provide the plants with the best conditions available to you.
- perlite, lava stones, pumice
-expanded clay agregate
- mineral wool
- polyutherane foam
- expanded polystyrene balls or flakes
- mixes of the above
FERTILIZING - this is another very wide topic and is also very dependent on the medium you grow your plants in. Giving an all-rounded advice here would be quite irresponsible, also because of the multitude of products available on the market. Experimenting, learning and adjusting is the best way to learn your plants.
There are a few things however, which we are confident about advising:
- above all, we cannot recommend foliar feeding highly enough. This is how most aroids receive their nutrients in nature. Foliar feeding is not just misting, but using special foliar fertilizers to mist your plants with.
- check and adjust accordingly the pH levels of your watering/ fertilizing solution
- check and adjust accordingly TDS and EC (Total Dissolved Solids and Electrical conductivity of your watering/ fertilizing solution)
- use a good, proved base root fertilizer, but also consider additives: vitamins, enzymes, root stimulators, etc.
WATERING - how do you know if you should water your plant? The most common advice out there is: when the top two centimeters of medium are dry.
This, in our opinion, is a very dangerous advice to give because of the sheer variety of media and conditions which we grow our plants in. The amount you water, how you water, when and how often you water is also not a-one-fits-all solution. It will be dependent on the medium, on the age and size of the plant, on the size and material of the pot you grow your plant in, etc., etc., etc.
If you grow your favourite Monstera in a clay pot in sphagnum moss, you will have to water it differently than if you grew it in a plastic pot filled with aroid mix containing coconut and lava, for example.
If the humidity in your home/ greenhouse reaches 95%, you will water your plants differently than if it reaches only 50%.
If you have a barely rooted Monstera cutting and a 30-year old plant with a beautifully-developed root system, you will water them differently.
If your Monstera grows in a small pot, watering will be more frequent than that of a large one, and so on...
So, to cut a long story short - you have to observe and learn your plants. They like water, and a lot of it, and they like to be watered/ showered often. They don't like 'wet feet' and to sit in a puddle (unless they are a semi-aquatic or aquatic aroid, of course. They like to get rid of the excess water very quickly and drain well.
The watering schedule is going to be very tightly connected to the medium you use in the first place.
TEMPERATURES - in our experience slightly cooler is better than overheating.
A general 17-27 degrees rule/ advice is again a big generalization and we advise to read about every species separately, and specifically about its geographical range, to find out about what temperatures it prefers.
Many Anthurium plants, for example, against popular belief, prefer cooler conditions and grow better in slightly lower temperatures.
Of course, it is impossible to provide big temperature differences within home environment. But these differences can be very subtle to provide the plant with better conditions for better growth: a slightly cooler room, a glass cabinet, a terrarium, a windowsill in a warm and humid bathroom - these are all different “environments” we are actually able to take into consideration in our homes.
We often get asked about heat mats - we have personally had bad experiences with overheating plants and causing root rot and we do not use heat mats for any plants apart from corm/ tuber plants (i.e. Caladium, Amorphophallus, Alocasia) at the beginning of their growth phase.
As you can see from all of the above (if you got this far), there are simply too many variables to give you one-fits-all advice on all plants. One advice that we always give is: read, learn don’t be afraid to experiment. The knowledge is out there, there are many very experienced, friendly growers to learn from and many more-than-reliable sources of information about your favourite plants. Visit our LINKS section for some of them.
Just remember: it’s just plants, they can be unbelievably rewarding and heaps of fun!