by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Lisa and I live in a 25-year-old house that began to feel old and outdated; so each year, we remodel, update, and customize a room to our individual style that genuinely makes the house feel like our home. Currently, we are deep into a family room remodel that will serve as our media center and game room. We’re certain that our revisions will make “hanging out” more comfortable and more fun.
Multi-generational antiques are featured in the new room. Ashley Furniture was a great help with the sofas, tables, and chairs, and an Audio/Video consultant is advising us on the latest 4K TV options. But we know that the room won’t come alive until we bring in the right indoor trees.
Indoor trees serve the same function in a room as a piece of furniture; they anchor and set the mood of the entire space. When choosing an indoor tree, consider its light needs, how much water it requires, and its ultimate size. The trees listed are the most popular due to their low maintenance needs, compact size, and arresting visual appeal.
Dwarf Umbrella Tree, aka Schefflera, is an excellent choice for homes with limited direct sunlight or north-facing windows. This tree demands little care, although it requires constant moisture. But it must never be left standing in a tray of stale water.
Fiddle Leaf Fig hails from the jungle, so a bright bathroom is an ideal spot for this tree. However, a living room location will work, provided the tree is protected from drafts. Outdoor summer vacations on a covered deck or patio will do wonders for a fiddle leaf fig and many other indoor trees. Just remember to bring it/them back indoors by Halloween.
Jade Tree probably is the lowest care indoor tree on this list. The sculptural look of the succulent leaves and trunk carry enough of the feng shui vibe of this plant to keep it at the top of the list for beginner indoor gardeners: Just water it every few weeks and keep it in a sunny window!
Money Tree has a spindly trunk that lends itself to braiding, and that’s how many of these trees are sold. The braids will grow with the tree over time, hardening and becoming woody as they mature. This tree does not like excessive watering and will rot if left in standing water. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, and keep it in a bright room.
Norfolk Island Pine is best known as a specimen Christmas pine in December, but these long-lived indoor trees look great any time of year. Although a slow-growing tree, it eventually will reach any height ceiling, and there isn’t a dwarf variety on the market. Bright light and moderate watering will keep this pine very happy.
Rubber Tree produces large, glossy leaves in a dark green hue that looks stunning against pale interior paints. Like most tropical trees, it also likes moderate temperatures and good air circulation without drafts. An optional step for this pamper-loving plant is a monthly leaf wiping session with a damp cloth dipped in ‘Leaf Shine’; it’s how we keep our houseplants looking so right here at Watters Garden Center. Fertilize your rubber tree every two weeks during periods of active growth to achieve maximum leaf size.
Weeping Fig, or the Ficus Tree, is beloved for its vibrant green
color and natural-care ways. For those that feel weeping fig is just too
familiar, try Ficus ‘Starlight,’ which has variegated leaves. A well-lit room goes a long way towards
preventing the most common complaint about a weeping fig, which is leaf drop. A
room with a large picture window, skylight, or south-facing window is a
must-have. Plant a weeping fig directly
in Watters Potting Soil to increase drainage, then only water when the soil
surface is dry. This is where a good
moisture meter is a handy gardening tool.
Yucca, or Dracaena, offers a remarkable living accent in contemporary homes. It has a solid trunk with leathery strap-like leaves emerging from the top. Often this tree is planted in staggering heights three-to-a-pot, resulting in a very handsome presentation. Yucca trees like as much sun as they can get. If they outgrow their allotted space, don’t be afraid to cut the plant in half. Yuccas like to be pruned.
Candelabra Tree, or Euphorbia cactus, is what I have in my writing office. When creativity is needed, this plant brings out the best in me. It looks much like a saguaro, but without any thorns. This cactus is ribbed in smooth green flesh and requires little to no care. It needs water once a month, maybe once every two months for a large specimen. Candelabras become giant cactus-like trees with classic southwest arms that elbow off the main trunk. They are painfully slow growers, so don’t wait for this one to grow, buy the larger specimen when you have the chance. This will make this tree the most expensive of the choices on this listing, but it’s perfect for busy commercial offices, large homes with owners that love to travel, or those that just love the look and style of the Southwest.
Until next issue, I’ll be here at Watters Garden Center helping local gardeners pick the perfect trees for their homes.