Welcome back to another week of Audra’s Plant Picks where your local plant care specialist gets up close and personal with some new foliage and we discuss who these stunners are, where they came from, and how to keep them happy!
POV: You are already fast friends with Monstera deliciosa and Monstera adansonii but have never heard of their rare cousin Monstera lechleriana. M. lechleriana vines like its relative the adansonii but has more unique fenestration (leaf holes) and thicker, more drought tolerant leaves.
Monstera lechleriana is a tropical evergreen just like its more common cousins, and can be found climbing along the low to mid canopy of
rainforests throughout Central and South America to reach dappled spots of sunshine and as such is best
accustomed to bright- indirect light. It is used to frequent rains with a short drying period in between so water your Monstera lechleriana when 1-3” of topsoil have dried.
when top 1"-3" dry
moisture retaining, well- draining
Aechmea fasciata is another bromeliad and, like the Vriesea ‘Splenriet’ we covered last week, this epiphyte likes its soil to fully dry between waterings. It will drink from its central reservoir so as with the Vriesea, fill reservoir 1/3 full and let dry 2-7 days before refilling.
Aechmea fasciata, from tropical Brazil, can be found higher in the rainforest canopy than the Vriesea varieties and thus appreciates abundant bright indirect light and will even tolerate a few hours of direct light. This higher elevation habitat also explains the stunning silvery striations on the leaves; this is a waxy coating the plant produces in its leaf cuticle (outermost layer) to protect against water loss during hot and/or sunny days.
Aechmea comes from a Greek word meaning ‘sword tip’ and fasciata means ‘bundle’ or ‘banded’ likely referring to the banded leaves and bundled flower. The flower is actually a bundle of pink bracts, or modified leaves, that envelop tiny bluish flowers that emerge. As both pink and blue are colors visible to butterflies, this is a lower cost way for the plant to produce a big bullseye pointing pollinators to its smaller flowers.
Silver vase plant
bright-indirect, partial direct
when reservoir dry
moisture retaining, well draining
Made popular indoors in Victorian parlors, Nephrolepsis exaltata or sword ferns are native to tropical areas throughout northern South America up to Mexico and Florida, West Indies, and Africa and have been commercially cultivated since around the 20th century in Florida.
Horticulturists document that in the 1890s a florist in Pennsylvania sent 200 sword ferns to another florist in Massachusetts, who propagated a mutant he discovered in the shipment. This mutant was not only more flexible to being indoors or outdoors, but also had larger fronds with an elegant arch instead of a stiff upright growth habit, and had a faster rate of growth.
It became known as Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ or Boston fern and replaced wild species as the most popular houseplant choice. This fern thrives in partial or full shade outdoors, and moderate to bright indirect light indoors. It tolerates drier conditions more than any other cultivated fern, but still appreciates its soil staying evenly moist so give it a drink whenever you notice the top layer of soil starting to dry. After summer, bring outdoor Boston ferns inside when temperatures reach below 50F. During the dormant season you can remove older fronds to make room and energy for next year’s growth.
Medium / bright-indirect
moisture retaining, well draining
*Bonus Boston fern tips!*
-Being a propagated mutant, this fern is sterile and not covered in spores as a wild fern would be. Propagate this beauty by removing and planting one of its readily available stolons (see pic!).
-If you struggle with browning leaf tips or being able to water your fern often enough, you can add moist moss above top layer of soil OR surrounding the pot (in a larger pot).