Houseplants, Part Three: Tropical and Other Unique Plants

I hope everyone had a wonderful week! It was the coldest week yet for this winter in Buffalo. Sub-zero wind chills and single digits for a good portion of the week made the temperature in the teens that we experienced the other day feel down right balmy!

Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!
Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!

We had a nasty lake effect band come in the wee hours of Friday morning, dumping 9 inches of snow at my house, and more in some other areas. Work was delayed until noon, so I took advantage of the situation and went snowshoeing in the rare, yet precious powder we get around these parts! There were great examples of winter interest all around me:

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The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!
The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!
Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!
Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!

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I finished up the weekend by cross-country skiing, and sadly, my binding broke on my ski and I wanted to cry. Those were my dad’s skis, and even though the bindings are ancient in technology terms (the skis I am using are close to 30 years old), those have been the only skis I have ever loved and used so much! Hopefully, all I have to do is get new bindings.

While I must say people thought I was crazy because I went out this weekend, the wind was really bad, at times visibility was zero — yea, they were probably right. But when I got back in the house, I was in for good. I thought I better do my weekly watering of my plants. And then I saw this:

My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my amaryllis!
My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my Amaryllis!

This reminded me of the time my beautiful, unique plant called the oxalis was nearly destroyed by my other kitten, Teddy. I was horrified to see it in such awful condition after coming home from work one warm and sunny summer afternoon.

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What is an oxalis?

  • It is part of the clover family, or false shamrocks.  They refer to this particular plant as the “three-leaf purple shamrock.” My daughter calls it the “butterfly plant” because of the petals looking exactly like a butterfly. I was first introduced to this interesting plant by a co-worker. I had asked her what it was, and she said she didn’t know, but it looked like butterflies to her.
  • There are over 900 different species of this plant. You can actually plant this one outside, too!

A couple of months later, I am perusing the Farmer’s Market in downtown Buffalo, and lo and behold, there it was! I asked the fellow working at this particular tent what it was, and he told me. I just had to get it! It was in a lot better condition than it is now, but I am happy to report that I have nursed it back to life. Little by little, just by watering it on a regular basis, it is starting to get bushy again.

This is a great addition to your houseplant collection because not only is it different, but it gives a burst of color to the sea of green that is common among your houseplants. It’s a talking piece, which is something I definitely like. I love looking at the expression on everybody’s faces when they see something and ask, “WHAT is that?”

Just like when I show people this plant:

The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.
The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.

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This a Pitcher Plant. I squeed with joy when I went into my local supermarket (that boasts a great selection of houseplants, I must say) over the summer to find the exact plant I was going to purchase online because I couldn’t find it anywhere!

The Pitcher Plant:

  • Is a carnivorous plant just like the venus fly trap, meaning, they eat flies and other insects.
  • They “trap”insects in the “pitchers”, the leaves which are commonly known as “pitfall traps” filled with liquid.
  • There are several different kinds of pitcher plants.
  • This particular pitcher plant is tropical. They need warmth and need to always have moist soil.  I put my pitcher plant out on my enclosed patio for the summer, and bring it in to my bedroom the cooler months.

I have to admit, this has been much easier to take care of than I thought it would. Just watering it regularly and keeping the soil moist seems to be the trick. That, and because my bedroom is one of the warmer rooms in the house, it may think it’s in its native tropical setting.

*Not all species are tropical. You can find some of these in bogs in North America!

This is a GREAT plant to add to your collection. It is so unique and adds some real jazz to your home decor!

Here are just a couple of good examples of some different plants that add great value to your house. I have a few more that I am going to single out in future posts, but for now, hopefully these will give you some ideas on trying something different to keep the long winter days full of color and excitement!

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