It’s been a million days since this pandemic started and so far, there’s no end in sight. Ever since it started, I feel like we’ve all gone through phases of different activities – arts & crafts, fancy cooking, sourdough bread, you name it. I think essentially, we’re trying to find ways to pass the time (and not go insane), and that’s really all there is to that. And since we’re at it… why not give our houses some love? We’re spending every single moment in them.
For me, personally, giving my house some love mostly involves plants. Why? Because you can make it really easy and really cheap*, and that’s pretty much what it takes to get me hooked on something. And for those who complain about killing all their plants, don’t worry – this is plant killer proof.
*How is it cheap, you ask? Grab a pair of scissors and walk around your local plaza – you’ll find many a plant from which you can cut a very small piece to get you started.
For the time being, then, let La La Lista guide you through all you need to know when it comes to plant love – from easy to care for species, to some general knowledge about dirt, plagues, best practices, etc., to some great sources of info for whenever you feel like your own two hands and goodwill don’t suffice. So join me, dear reader, as I walk you through a few wonders of green therapy: today, easy indoor plants to have, reproduce & keep alive.
Note: there’s much more to be said about all these plants, and I’ll only tell you about one (the easiest) way of reproducing the plant. But if you’re interested in knowing more… shoot us a message!
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. Succulents are not only beautiful to have, but they’re the very definition of low-maintenance plants. Literally all you need to do is just forget about their existence, and they’ll thrive.
Light: they love lots and lots of light, but no direct sunlight. If at some point you notice that the leaves of your succulent start spreading (so, instead of looking tightly packed, you’re able to easily see the stem and the leaves look separate from each other, as if reaching out in different directions), that means that your succulent wants more light. You can’t reverse that process in the plant once it’s happened, but you can prevent it from continuing to happen by moving it to a sunnier location 🙂
Water: very little water, especially in the winter. Around once every 15 days in winter, tops; around once a week in summer, tops.
Reproduction: carefully tear a leaf of your succulent, making sure the cut is clean (horizontally pull in the opposite direction from the stem). Let it dry for a few days so that there’s no extra humidity when you plant it. After that, place it upright in water until you see roots, and once that happens, plant it. Alternatively, go straight to the soil and plant it on slightly moist dirt (they tend to prefer poor / sandy soil), and watch them thrive.
The second most easy plant to care for. You’ll usually find them in three varieties – dark green, dark green with white/yellow spots, and very light green (pothos lemon). They’re all beautiful and very easily reproduced!
Light: no direct sunlight, and while they won’t thrive in pitch black environments, they do prefer darker environments.
Water: once a week, more or less, once planted. The key with Pothus (and most of the plants) is to check the soil – if it’s still wet, don’t water it, and when you do water it, make sure it’s not drenched.
Reproduction: Cut a portion of an existing pothos (between 10 to 20 cms is fine) and place it in water. The key here is where to cut – make sure there’s two nodes (the place from which the leaf grows) in the portion you cut. One of the nodes (sans leaf, so, remove it) will go in the water, and the other part (with the leaf) will stay above water. In about a week or two you should start seeing tiny white roots. Once they’re there, you can plant it, but you can also leave it in water pretty much indefinitely and avoid having to water it!
3) Sansevieria, Snake Plant or “Lengua de Suegra”
Yes, your mother in law’s tongue, because it’s harsh and rough, which is ridiculous but apparently that’s where we’re at as a society. In any case, and regardless of the spiteful name, the lovely, generous Sansiveria is not only beautiful, but also very easy to care for. Technically a succulent, it is not what one usually imagines when thinking of succulents, and while it has many varieties, the one above (with or without yellow borders) is one of the most common. They prefer narrow pots where they can grow upright, so they won’t even take much space 🙂
Light: no direct sunlight but lots of light! You’ll notice the leaves will start to lose their deep green color if it’s not receiving enough sunlight.
Water: since it’s a variety of succulent, very little water, and make sure the soil is never drenched or the roots will rot.
Reproduction: with clean scissors, cut one of the plant’s leaves as close to the original stem as possible. Place it upright in water (very important you follow the direction of the original plant) until you see roots. Once you have a few roots, place in soil, and voilá! Fun fact: if you do this with a Sansevieria that has yellow borders, your new plant will not have yellow borders and will instead be just green. This is because the green part of any plant is where chlorophyll is stored, and it’s the only part that’s can do the photosynthesis process, and thus, it’s the part of the plant that can reproduce.
4) Syngonium or Arrow Head Vine
This is a very very pretty plant, easily reproduced, and which will look great literally anywhere. The best part is that, just like pothos, you don’t actually need to put it in soil – they thrive in the water! (At some point, though, it is recommended you plant them, but you have many months before reaching that point).
Light: they prefer places with light but not too much of it, but honestly, I’ve seen them thrive in very different light contexts. The only important thing is that they don’t get direct sunlight for many hours in a row.
Water: if you put it in soil, water them whenever you notice the soil is dry (around once a week in winter). In addition, both during summer (because of the heat) and during winter (if you use heaters a lot) it’s recommended that you spray the leaves with water mist. However, and as I said before, this plant will thrive if left in the water, which means no worrying about watering!
Reproduction: with clean scissors, cut a segment of the mother plant, keeping in mind to have a bit of stem with, ideally, two nodes, and extra points if there are already roots growing from it. Note that this plant actually has what are called “aerial roots,” which are roots that grow outside of the earth – this means that cutting a fragment of the stem with roots growing from it shouldn’t be a problem! Get your new plant and put it in water (roots included), and enjoy.
5) Sweet Potatoes
This was a particularly fun discovery during quarantine as I was looking for a nice vine to hang from my balcony. I had left my sweet potatoes outside of the fridge for a couple of days, and noticed one of them had the tiniest sprout, and doing some research, found they’re actually super easy to reproduce!
Light: indirect light, no direct sunlight.
Water: once they’re planted, water every time you notice the soil is dry, without drenching it.
Reproduction: grab a sweet potato from your local verdulería, and preferably look for one with the most “eyes” (eyes = the round, brown circles you see in potatoes in general). Submerge about half of it in water – I used a fairly shallow jar so half of it remained above water, but another alternative is to use four toothpicks to keep only half of it in water. Around one/two weeks in, you’ll start seeing roots, and in maybe two more, you’ll see the very first sprouts. Once you have about three “branches” with three leaves each (I’d say around two/three months after you’ve started), your sweet potato is ready for a nutrient-rich soil!
BUT WAIT: reproducing plants in water is easy and great, but keep in mind that mosquitoes reproduce in water and dengue fever is very real! To avoid helping mosquitoes reproduce, change the water in your plants every few days 🙂
Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll share five other beautiful plants you can easily reproduce at home and part 3 for some general gardening tips that should take care of most of your doubts. And now, get planting!