Friday, May 12, 2017

Plant saga

I mentioned in my bathroom reno post recently, it wasn't so easy to find a plant that could actually "live" in the bathroom. Turns out, plants have different tolerance levels of light, shade and humidity. I already knew that, but didn't realise how critical it was to an artificial environment, such as bathrooms.

I figured, I couldn't go wrong with a fern, as they love warm, moist conditions. But at the time, I wanted to use what I had - rather than go out and buy something new!

First choice

Enter my "baby panda" bamboo. I had successfully grown this in a pot, in both full sun and indirect light, on my outside verandah. My mother loved it - anyone who saw it, loved it! So I divided it up and gave one to my mother, to enjoy. I had two smaller plants from that same division.

Given it lived in a range of light conditions on my verandah, I thought it was flexible enough for my bathroom. But within a month, my bamboo turned into this...

Poor choice

All the leaves dropped off! I've had this happen to a larger bamboo, when I transplanted it from the garden, and into a pot. In the first year, it dropped all the leaves that were conditioned to direct sunlight. It eventually grew new leaves, better suited to the conditions under the verandah.

So I knew I hadn't actually killed my bamboo, it just didn't like the new, lower light levels. The leaves that grew to live on the verandah, weren't suitable here. So outside my bamboo went, for rejuvenation.

Second choice

So then I was forced to consider buying a fern, from a reputable nursery. This was a maidenhair fern, which my mother would keep in a pot, indoors, so knew it should fair better than the bamboo did.

However, the Adiantum spp, from which maidenhair ferns originate, have over 200 varieties. And, each one is grown, in slightly different conditions, depending on the nursery.

When I looked at the above fern, it had harder leaves than the soft ones my mother would grow inside. Something told me, perhaps this wasn't the right fern, but I purchased it anyway. It turned out, even though it was grown under shade-cloth in the nursery, it still wouldn't thrive in the light levels I had in the bathroom. I took it back outside, before it defoliated, to the extent of the bamboo.

Third choice

So my lovely little shelf, was abandoned for many weeks. I didn't make it a high priority to find a better specimen, as I had too many important tasks on my list. But on a trip to Bunnings Hardware, looking to replace spent shovels, I found a fern, which I knew would fair better.

For starters, it was kept under a roof eave - a dark little corner, with no indirect light from shade cloth. The size of the specimen told me, it had been grown in similar conditions to my bathroom. Which is why it had those big, soft leaves I was use to seeing on maidenhair ferns.

Best choice so far

It's a Lady Moxam variety, which is a hybrid of the maidenhair fern. So a new cultivar. It has survived the longest of the other two in the bathroom, and is even putting on new growth.

My only concern will be winter. It likes temps no less than 12 degree Celsius (53F) and the heater only runs in the bathroom, when someone is showering. So we will see how it fairs through the cool of winter and heat of summer.

I suspect I'm going to have a range of plants which visit my bathroom shelf. I may be able to get my baby bamboo, back in, if I acclimatise it's leaves to lower light levels - as it's more cold tolerant.

So just like I move my pot plants around the outside verandah, at different times of the season, I will have to do the same with my indoors plants. As well as having a place outside for them to go, when its not the right time of year in the house for them. Is it worth it? Well, for a plant-nut like me, it is.

Do you have tricks of the trade, to do with keeping indoors plants, happy? A favourite plant for the indoors, perhaps?


  1. Chris have you considered a Spathophylum, Madonna Lily. The have been the best choice so far. I have several and rotate them through the bathroom every couple of months. At the moment I have an orchid on the window sill but the leaves have started to yellow off so it will be having a turn on the veranda. I only have to look at a Maiden Hair Fern and it starts to shrivel up. I can grow just about anything but not these delicate little things. Hope this fern works in your bathroom.

    1. I had considered a Spath, as my mum said it was the most successful of all her indoor plants. Only it tends to have dark coloured leafs. I wanted lighter foliage. Although, I will seriously consider one, if I don't have any luck with my preferred choices.

  2. I have 5 large peace lilies growing in an area under my front verandah and I noticed recently that two "babies" have popped up so I'm going to need to do something with them - pot them up and maybe try one inside. I think they are pretty hardy though the 5 larger ones suffered some sunburn on their outer leaves at height of summer this year (not previous years). I've read that indoor plants are great for improving air quality and they look lovely. I hope your fern grows well. Meg:)

    1. I've heard Spath's (peace lilies) are good indoors. They can tolerate a lot of shade, but it seems they cannot tolerate the heat. Glad you got to propagate a few off the parent. I'm sure they'll do well inside.

  3. I haven't got any indoor plants at the moment but I am considering growing some herbs on the kitchen windowsill. They will receive good morning sun there.

    1. Oh, lovely! Edible plants indoors. I hope they do well for you. :)

  4. I'm amazed at what happened to the bamboo! I've been through the gamut of indoor plants and have long since given up the idea. Mother Nature intended plants to be grown in the fresh air and sunlight and after years of trying I've had to defer to her. Remembering to water, otherwise tend and turn daily to the light just wasn't for me. I agree the only way is to have an ample supply of candidates, rotating regularly from indoors to outdoors. Even then, that might be too much change for some. I wish you luck, though and sorry I can't recommend anything. I've killed them all :-(

    1. Yeah, the bamboo surprised me too. I agree plants do better in the ground too. I'm considering putting some potted ones in the ground, simply because they've outgrown their pots, and I've been neglecting them a little too much. I think smaller specimens, initially do better in pots, but at some point they have to get put back in the garden.

      Although I still like to dabble at seeing what I can get to live in a pot. Indoors, is a new challenge for me though. ;)

  5. I have to confess that I'm terrible with house plants. I finally figured out that each one has it's own sweet spot, but it's a challenge in a house like ours that gets a lot of shade. I love the idea of plants in the bathroom though, and am glad you find a candidate that seems to fit the bill.

  6. Definitely, low light levels are a challenge with house plants, and you have to consider their temperature variations too. Not an easy ask. I suspect those plant businesses, which hired plants out to office buildings, and look after them, etc - must have to rotate them periodically. There are just too many variations, inside an office building, which plants don't like.


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