PLSC 210 Horticulture Science
Plants-of-the-Week Descriptions

Plant Picture
Plant Descriptions

Common Name:     False Aralia
Scientific Name:     Dizygotheca elegantissima  
Family:                   Araliaceae

   Native to New Caledonia and Polynesia; often mistaken as the marijuana (Cannabis sativa) plant for its similar palmately compound leaves with slender and toothed leaflets; used as single- or multi-stem specimen plants often elegant; low humidity and saline root medium may cause leaf drops; propagated by seed, air-layering, or stem cuttings; susceptible to mealybug and spider mites.

 Common Name:   Weeping Fig (Indian Laurel)
  Scientific Name:   Ficul benjamina
  Family:                    Moraceae 

  Native toIndia and south east Asia, this tropical tree grows up to 15 to 20 feet tall.  Well adapted to containerized culture, this plant is one of the most popular indoor trees.  It requires bright to indirect ligh conditions and warm temperature.  Plants grown outdoors or greenhouse must be acclimitized before brought into indoors to prevent leaf drops by low light conditions.  Water stress also causes defoliation.  Plants are easily propagated by cuttings.  The variegated plant on the left is F. benjamina variegata.

Common Name:  African Violet
Scientific Name:   Saintpaulia ionantha
Family:                Gesneriaceae

  One of the most common flowering indoor plants.  Requires medium to hight light conditions. Keep the growing medium moist but not wet. Avoid irrigating with cold water, since it will form ring spots on the foliage.

Common Name:   Giant Bird-of-Paradise
Scientific Name:   Strelitzia nicolai
Family:                Strelitziaceae

 Also called Bird-of-Paradise Tree; can be as tall as 18 feet; durable and tolerant to low light conditions; rarely blooms indoors; susceptible to mealybug.


Common Name: Umbrella Tree
Scientific Name: Brassaia actinophylla
Family:       Araliaceae

 Native to New Guinea; also called Schefflera; requires medium to high light conditions; avoid dry hot conditions; relatively easy to grow; plants may become as tall as 15 feet.


Common Name:  Dragon Tree of Madagascar
Scientific NameDracaena marginata
Family:               Agavaceae

 Native to Madagascar; prefers high light; tends to drop lower leaves and become spindly under low light conditions; has attractive stem and bark color; shows leaf tip burns when water contains a high level of fluoride.

Common Name:   Norfolk Island Pine
Scientific Name:   Araucaria heterophylla
Family:                Araucariaceae

   Native to Norfolk Island; an attractive specimen tree with symmetrical branches; can be as tall as 10-12 feet indoors (200 feet  in native habitat); relatively easy to grow with high-medium light intensity; needles drop when water-stressed; susceptible to spider mites. 

Common Name:    Peace Lily or White Flag
Scientific Name:    Spathiphyllum clevelandii
Family                Araceae

  Note Native to tropical South America; very tolerant to low-light conditions; flowers indoors showing the white-colored "spath," typical of the Arum family; easy to maintain but avoid heavy watering.


Common Name:    
Giant Dumbcane

Scientific Name:     Dieffenbachia amoena
Family:                      Araceae 

 Native to tropical America, this plant is one of the many dieffenbachia species that are used widely as durable, coarse textured indoor plants.  The name "dumbcame" came from the fact that one can be painfully and temporarilly speechless by chewing the leaves, which contain calcium oxalate crystals.  Keep root medium between waterings.  Propagated by cuttings, air-layering, or placing stem sections (canes) horizontally on the growing medium for rooting.   

 Common Name:    Snake Plant, or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
 Scientific Name:   
Sansevieria trifasciata
 Family:                     Agavaceae

  Native to Southern Africa, Sansevieria plants are among the most durable plants, well adapted to indoor conditions.  Grown as a rosette of long, upright strap-like leaves with short, thick rhyzomes; tolerates low light, lack of moisture, and hot or cold air; produce fragrant flowers; propagated by leaf cuttings. The variegated form (S. trifasciata laurentii, right) is a periclinal chimera and needs to be propagated by division.

Common Name:   Chrysanthemum
Scientific Name:    Dendranthema grandiflorum
Family:                     Asteraceae
  Native to China, chrysanthemums have been cultivated over 1500 years in Asia.  This herbaceous perennial is grown as cut-flower, potted flowring plant, or garden plant for autumn.  Chrysanthemums are typically short-day plants that initiate flower buds when days are shorter than 12 hours of photoperiod.   Plants are propagated by stem cuttings and it takes 7 to 12 weeks from the onset of short-day condition to blooming, depending on cultivar.

 Common Name:   Shrimp Plant
  Scientific Name:   Justicia brandegeana
  Family:                Acanthaceae

  Native to Mexico; also called Shrimp Bush; also known as Beloperone guttata in earlier publications; high light needed for flowering; easy to take care of; one of a few plants that bloom year round.

 Common Name:   Chinese Evergreen
 Scientific Name:    Aglaonema commutatum
 Family:                 Araceae

  Native to Philippine Islands; prefers high temperature; highly tolerant to low light intensity; slow growing; relatively easy to grow; many different cultivars exist; exhibited here is A. commutatum maculatum (Silver Chinese Evergreen).


 Common Name:   Peacock Plant
  Scientific Name:  Calathea makoyana
  Family:                Marantaceae

  Native to Brazil, South America; grows well in soils high in organic matter; prefers bright indirect light; attractive leaf pigmentation is enhanced by bright lights; very sensitive to fluoride which caused leaf margin burns; avoid using salty water for irrigation and cut down fertilizer during winter.

  Common Name:   
China Doll

  Scientific Name:    Radermachera sinica 
  Family:                     Bignoniaceae

  Native to South East Asia; small tree (up to 10 feet), fast-growing under high light conditions; tolerates low light; prone to leaf drops when exposed to ethylene gas; highly susceptible to mealybug; easy to grow; used for the fine-textured foliage in interiorscaping.

 Common Name:   Rainbow Bush
  Scientific Name:  Portulacaria efra variegata 
  Family:                   Portulacaceae 

 This herbaceous plant grows like a tree.  Naturally shaped like a bonsai plant, Rainbow Bush can be easily pruned to any desired form.  It requires high light intensity to stay in a compactly branching form.  Some pruning is required to keep the plant like a bosai tree.  Propagated easily by cuttings.


 Common Name:   Variegated Balfour Aralia
  Scientific Name:   Polyscias balfouriana 
  Family:                    Araliaceae

  Native to India to Polynesia, Balfour Aralia grows 5-6 feet tall; plant requires warm temperature; prefers evenly moist soil and moderate humidity conditions; leaf drop may occur on moving the plant to darker and drier places.

Common Name:  
Janet Craig Dracaena

Scientific Name:   Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig'
Family:                    Agavaceae 

  Native to Upper Guinea, Janet Craig Dracaena is one of the many dracaena species which have become the mainstays in the foliage plant industry.  Growing to a height of 10 feet and 4 feet wide indoors, this plant can be spindly when grown under low light.  Leaf tip burs occur when water high in fluoride is used.  Propagated by cuttings, air-layering, or stem sections.  Plant polish can be used on this plant. 


Common Name
Kentia Palm or Century Palm

Scientific Name:  Howea forsterana
Family:                Arecaceae

  Native to Australia; grows to 60 feet height in native habitat; used as landscape plant in southern California and Florida; suited as  container plant or specimen for indoors; slow-growing and durable; tolerant to low lights; seed propagated; prefers  well drained medium; does well when pot-bound; spider mite problem under low humidity; leaf tip burns with poor quality water. 


Common Name:   ZZ Plant
  Scientific Name:  Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  Family:                Araceae

Native to Africa, zz plant or aroid palm resembles a cycad and has very dark green, shiny foliage. Plant produces 2'-3' long pointed spears line with alternating shiny dark leaves. Plant grows from an underground tuber. Has tolerated subfreezing temperatures down to 24 degree F outdoors and returned the following spring. Plants grow well in containers under most indoor conditions and tolerate low humidity, low light, and need little water and little fertilizer. 



Common Name:    Croton
 Scientific Name: Codiaeun variegatum
Family: Euphorbiaceae

  Native to Indonesia, croton is one of the most colorful indoor plants. The green leaves are usually splotched with yellow, pink, red and orange colors. High light intensity increases bright leaf pigmentation, while low light diminishes the intensity of variegation. Plants tolerate high temperature and high light levels. Leaves will drop when growing medium is completely dry. Plants are susceptible to mealybug. Plants are propagated by cuttings. Stem pruning is needed to keep the plant in a bushy form.