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Many of us want to get out and garden as the days warm up, but some of us have limited space. Container gardening, which is growing in a pot instead of growing in the ground, is the ideal solution for those of us who have a small patio or don't have a lot of outdoor or indoor space.

Some gardeners want to enjoy the blooms and colors of spring without all the work. Purchasing a ready-made garden like the Better Together garden by Dummen Orange is an incredible hack to add pops of color to your space without all the mess.

Redfin shares experts' container garden top tips and tricks

Redfin, the home specialists, recently reached out to experts across the country for their best container gardening tips on how to plant perennials, native varieties, fruit trees, and more. When they reached out to me for tips on the ideal potting mix, I was happy to share what I've learned working in the horticulture industry over the years. You can read many of the tips and tricks here.

Designer hack, you'll wish you knew sooner.

White and yellow Calibrachoa red Petunia Blue Salvia
Butterfly Wing Mix by Dummen Orange

If you decide to plant your own outdoor container garden, keep in mind the tip shared by Redfin experts; use similar plants to make plant care easier.

All the garden experts use the same hack when it comes to design! They use the thriller, filler, and spiller design concepts.

Thrillers are the focal point of your container garden. Tall, bold ornamental grasses or salvia are often used to add a vertical visual.

Fillers are placed to fill the space around the thriller plants and the pot. Filler plants are usually bushy or mounding varieties like petunias.

Spiller plants spill over the container and cascade down the pot as your plant continues to grow. Calibrachoa or trailing begonias are ideal for recreating this look.

You don't always have to incorporate all three, but using at least two of these will result in a more polished look.

Can I container garden inside with houseplants?

You can easily create an indoor container garden; it's the style hack many interior designers use to spruce up a home during spring or summer.

Exotic tropical houseplants make a striking statement in container gardens, and you only need one!

Exotic plants are the easiest and most exclusive way to bring nature into our home and build that indoor jungle.

Where is the best location?

Near south or east-facing window is best. Most tropicals thrive in bright indoor lighting near south, southeast, or east-facing windows with 5-6 hours of bright light. You want to avoid north-facing unless you can supplement with bright artificial lighting.

Near your home's entrance is another good location. Placing container plants near the entryway invites positive energy into your space. Plants make excellent home decor and have many benefits, such as air purification.

How to make a statement?

Be bold and make an impact with one large statement piece in the room.

Creating a lush tropical space with Alocasia, Philodendron, or Monstera container gardens is easy.

Alocasias, Philodendrons, and Monsteras (found here) can all grow large in size. Pair it with neutral containers so the room and foliage are the focal points.

Don't be messy!

One of the many benefits of indoor container gardening is the lack of clean-up required.

Container gardening indoors is as easy as placing a nursery potted houseplant into a ceramic, stone, or terracotta pot. You can complete the look by top dressing with moss or rocks.

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

The Alocasia genus encompasses some of the most spectacular and rare foliage within the Aroid family. Its mesmerizing corrugated leaves and mostly dark foliage with deep veneition are sculptural works of art. Some of our shop favorites are the Alocasia cuprea, Alocasia 'Dragon Scale', Alocasia 'Black Velvet,' and Alocasia 'Dragon's Breath.' You can shop for these here.

However, Alocasia doesn't come without drama! So what's the drama? Alocasia can be prone to foliage discoloration, droopy foliage, and sometimes pest pressures. They can also go dormant in the winter, prompting people to throw them out thinking they are dead. This sounds overwhelming, but it's not if you follow my tips and tricks. I've learned over the last decade from killing plenty of Alocasias in my home and commercially, how to get them to thrive. If properly cared for, Alocasias can be very rewarding!

Where do Alocasias originate from?

Alocasias are known to grow covered under tree canopies where they aren't exposed to direct sunlight. They are endemic to tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia.

There are over 100 known species. Some species are compact and enjoyed today as indoor plants, while others are large, regal, and widely used in landscapes across Florida and warmer regions.

Where should I keep my Alocasia and how much light does it need?

Alocasias should be placed in a medium to bright location but out of direct sun. Darker Alocasias like Alocasia cuprea need more shade since the leaves can burn or discolor if placed in direct sunlight.

Make sure to keep them away from drafts and do not place them in front of an AC/heater vent.

I keep my Alocasia 'Dragon's Breath' on our kitchen counter and my Alocasia cuprea in the bathroom where I have windows, and it gets lots of humidity.

Some people put them in domes, cloches, terrariums, near a humidifier, or place them on humidity trays (pebbles submerged in a few inches of water). This isn't necessary but can help your Alocasia thrive if it's drying out too much.

How often should I water?

Alocasias shouldn't be watered based on a schedule but their environment. An alocasia kept near a bright window in a hot room, or a lanai will need to be watered more often than one in a colder room. Water your Alocasia when the top layer of the potting medium has dried. Unlike other Aroids, they prefer to be a kept moist (she's a thirsty one!) However, do not overwater, as they can be prone to root rot. Alternatively, do not let it dry out completely, or it can stress the plant, which could lead to pest pressures and droopy leaves.

Make sure to clean the leaves when you water; the front and back of the leaves!

Yes, they are high-maintenance drama queens! If all of this stresses you out, try a self-watering pot and moisture meter for precision.

Humidity is crucial for Alocasias. They need above average humidity (60%+). Alocasia leaves can wrinkle or dry, and they can be prone to spider mites if the air is too dry.

Should I fertilize?

Yes, Alocasias benefit from fertilization. You can fertilize throughout spring and summer and cut back in the fall as the days get shorter (unless you have greenhouse conditions.)

I recommend new plant parents start with a slow-release fertilizer, and experienced enthusiasts can use a slow-release and houseplant fertilizer. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions and less is more!

Do I need to repot?

Most plants can go months or a year without repotting. However, many Alocasias are grown in a heavier mix and can be repotted after being acclimated at home. Many will come with a nursery mesh plug that can be removed during repotting. Make sure to loosen the soil and use an airy potting medium that allows the water to drain correctly. We have an excellent "soilless potting medium," or you can make your own using Coco Coir, Perlite, Orchid Bark, Horticultural Charcoal, and add Rice Hulls if you have them.

Why are my Alocasia leaves droopy and damaged?

Some Alocasia varieties ship better than others. Alocasia Dragon Scale ships well, for example. Alocasia Silver Dragon can suffer some shipping stress, resulting in droopy leaves upon delivery.

Check the potting medium; if it's very dry, give it a deep soak in its nursery pot. Water all around the pot, not just in one area, and make sure to let all of the water drain out completely—place in a bright spot where it's not exposed to direct sun.

If your plant's leaves begin to droop after being in your care for some time, move it closer to a light source and make sure that water is reaching the roots. Sometimes if the soil becomes too compact, it's not allowing the roots to receive water. You can use a chopstick to aerate the soil or repot.

Make sure to check for pests, specifically spider mites. You can use your phone's magnifier because sometimes they can be invisible to the naked eye. Webbing around the plant's sinus is also a sign of mites. If you have spider mites, you will most likely have further leaf damage, not just droopy leaves.

Why are my Alocasia leaves yellow?

There are many reasons why your leaves are yellowing. One of the most common reasons is watering. It could be too little water, but chances are you are overwatering.

Alocasia leaves also turn yellow if they're rootbound and possibly growing too big for their pot.

Yellowing leaves in ring form could signal bigger issues like a fungal infection that can be treated with a fungicide.

My Alocasia has dropped all of its leaves; is it dead?

No, your Alocasia is not dead unless you have major root damage. Alocasias drop their leaves when stressed or not receiving optimal care.

In the winter, your Alocasia may also drop all of its leaves, even indoors

Both smaller plants shown lost all of their leaves and grew back two new baby leaves a few weeks ago as the days got warmer. New leaf growth will usually come from the stem of another leaf.

Your Alocasia will grow back when exposed to light and warmth. If you are willing to have pots laying around with no leaves and just roots, you will be pleasantly surprised one day when a new baby leaf pops right out!

Not all alocasias go dormant, if you're providing your plant enough light, humidity, and warmth it will continue to grow even if it's artificial (grow lights, humidifier, etc.)

Check out the quick care guide below for more tips.

Alocasia Quick Guide:

Easy-Care Index: Moderate to difficult

Plant Parent Index: Experienced enthusiasts, collectors

Humidity Index: High; 60%+ (average 70%)

Water: Water when the potting medium has dried. Do not keep wet, but do not let dry out completely

Potting Medium: Airy soilless potting medium; coconut coir, bark, perlite

Fertilize: Spring through summer. Slow-release and/or houseplant fertilizer per manufacturer's instructions

Care Hack/Tools: Moisture meter, self-watering pot, humidifier

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

There are two schools of thought when it comes to rare plants. The OG collector that's been collecting for years and put forth a great deal of effort to curate their collection. The other is the newbie collector accustomed to seeing so-called "rare plants" at big box stores. They tend to be more skeptical about rare plant collecting.

Denise (pictured above) from @tropicalseductions has been curating her collection for a few years. She’s a collector and an explorer with a large Instagram following. Denise brings some insight into how she feels about rare plants.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): When did you start collecting plants?

Tropical Seductions (Denise): If we go back to my very first plant purchase, then I would have to say as a child. I loved adding tiny cactuses to my windowsills. My mom usually took on the duty of watering them. It seems I always loved adding green into my life.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): Have you always been into rare plants? How did you discover rare plants?

Tropical Seductions (Denise): When I started to collect plants I was drawn immediately to tropical plants. I started with a Philodendron green congo. At that time in 2018, I wasn’t aware that there is a world of “Rare Plants”. And then I joined the Plant Community on Instagram and never looked back.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): Your content and reels are so much fun and really engaging! Some of your best reels are you clapping back when people comment on the retail price of your plants. Do you get a lot of those types of comments?

Tropical Seductions (Denise): It's definitely manageable. Most of the comments are directed towards the market and people use my videos as an outlet to place their frustration on the incredibly high prices that sometimes seem outrageous. Yes, sometimes it is a personal attack and then I feel entitled to delete the comment or even block the account.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): What are your thoughts on people that say rare plants are just a marketing gimmick to overprice plants?

Tropical Seductions (Denise): Yes, I somewhat agree. There aren’t really many plants truly rare. There are plants that are commercially rare, meaning the demand is higher than the product available. This is obviously not what we mean when using the term “rare”.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): You’ve visited a lot of rare plants shops, nurseries, and greenhouses. What surprised you the most when you visited these places for the first time?

Tropical Seductions (Denise): The sheer amount of plants available surprised me. There isn’t a plant shortage and plants are grown, propagated, and tissue cultured in mass.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys) Having created the first rare plant collection for big box stores, the program was intended to bring rare plants to mass-markets. Once these rare plants become massed produced, indeed, they are no longer rare as Denise mentioned.

However, just because you can find a plant at your local nursery doesn't mean it's not rare. Most local nurseries aren't purchasing in scale. Rare plants tend to be more expensive locally because they may be challenging to grow or take longer to produce. They may also be challenging to source for smaller growers; it is more costly when starter material is purchased in small quantities. Larger growers have access to tissue culture labs making it more affordable and quicker to market. Therefore, larger growers are able to commercialize rare plants in large quantities.

So, what is the definition of rare? Something is rare when it is seldom occurring or found; this could be defined as seldom occurring in your area or uncommon to your part of the world. Rare can also be identified by something unusual in quality or appeal.

Rare plants do exist! There are rare plant conservatories and conservationists all over the world. Fairchild Botanical Garden in Miami has one of the best aroid rare plant conservatories I've visited. I was also invited to attend their Million Orchid Project earlier this year which focuses on rare orchids.

I had a chance to talk with Dr. Carle E. Lewis (pictured above) in charge of The Million Orchid Project. He informed me that they are working to re-introduce rare and endangered orchids into South Florida's urban landscape.

During the last decade, South Florida used to be an orchid paradise, orchids could be found hanging off every tree branch. In the late 1800s, as the Florida East Coast Railroad extended south, orchids were among the first to be exploited, poached, and commercialized.

Dr. Carle E. Lewis, in charge of The Million Orchid Project, informed me that to date, they have been able to reintroduce almost half a million orchids!

I also met and plan to collaborate with Pablo Garcia Brenes (pictured above), a rare plant conservationist from Wild Tropicals in Costa Rica. Pablo and Cristel Miranda (pictured above) Monestel, their breeder, are focused on conserving rare plants endemic to Costa Rica. Thus far, they have identified 280 rare plant species with market potential.

Globalization, commercialization, and the rare plant craze have allowed many of us to enjoy rare plants from across the world. The quest to discover new species is ongoing and insatiable for some. This is why partnering with Wild Tropicals is essential; while they focus on identifying rare plants endemic to Costa Rica, their core value is sustainability and preservation.

I will personally be traveling back to Colombia in November. Colombia is well known as one of the most aroid-rich countries in the world. They have identified over 500 species, making it one of my favorite places to visit to discover rare plants.

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