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Mother-In-Law’s Tongue: The Perfect Houseplant

If there were an award for the best houseplant for beginners, the humble snake plant or “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue” would win it.

You can pretty much ignore this plant for a month, and it will be fine. They have a beautiful and striking appearance in your home, and even remove toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from your home.

Without further ado, let’s get into exactly how to care for, troubleshoot, and propagate the wonderful snake plant.

Snake Plant Care

​Mother-in-Law’s Tongue has thick, vertical sword shaped leaves. The leaves are dark green and are accented with lighter green bars extending horizontally along the blade like leaves. Some varieties have a yellowish colored border along the leaves.

Because the snake plant has succulent leaves, it falls into the category of “set it and forget it” houseplants. It doesn’t need much care, water, or light, but you still have to give it a little bit of love if you want it to thrive.


Give your snake plant bright, indirect light if you want it to do well. While it can survive in low-light conditions, it will grow slower and have less color. A good spot is about 3’-6’ away from a window that gets a lot of light.


Because snake plants have succulent leaves, they don’t need a lot of water. Keep the soil slightly moist and never over water. If you water too often your snake plant will become mushy and start to rot quickly.


The best type of soil for snake plants is Espoma Cactus Potting Mix or a regular potting mix with a bit of sand added for additional ​drainage.


To give your snake plant a good chance at thriving, fertilize once monthly during spring and summer. Use a quality houseplant fertilizer. Water-soluble would work best. Stop in and see our selection. We carry all brands. Use your favorite.

During the winter months, forgo fertilizing completely as the plant grows slowly.


You don’t need to re-pot your snake ​often, as it likes to be root-bound. However, if it becomes top heavy and starts to tip over, re-pot it into a pot that is only a couple of inches larger than the current pot.


Sometimes the tips of leaves will turn brown or entire leaves will die. If this happens, all you need to do is cut the leaf off right at the soil surface to remove it completely. There’s no point in cutting only part of the leaf, as it will not grow back from the cut point.

The striking snake plant has become one of the most popular houseplants recently for its ease of care and more importantly for its ability to absorb toxins out of the air in your house. Get one today for an easier and healthier lifestyle!





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The Snake Plant – (an air purifying plant)

The snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata laurentii) is in the succulent family and is a great choice as a houseplant. Not only does it add color and vibrancy it purifies the air. The snake plant gets its name because the long thin leaves look similar to the scales of a snake. Another common name is “Mother In Law’s Tongue” because of its sharp points at the end of each leaf.

If you are looking for a houseplant and are plant challenged, the Snake Plant is the one for you. It is a low maintenance non-fussy plant. In addition to being a low maintenance plant is also acts as an air purifier for your home. NASA research has proven that snake plants clean the air of toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.
The snake plant has sword shaped waxy leaves and grows tall and thick making it a great addition to any décor.

snake plant

Snake plants thrive in most conditions in your house including indirect sunlight allowing you to grow it in almost any room in your home.  It requires sparse watering, in fact it likes to dry out in between watering.  When the soil is very dry, water the plant. Use a water meter to measure the moisture towards the bottom of the pot. Even though it may look dry on the surface, the soil could still be moist down below. Remember, overwatering is the number one killer of the Snake Plant.  Insect and diseases are also uncommon with the snake plant as well. Apply a houseplant fertilizer like Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food or Schultz All purpose Liquid Plant Food every 2 weeks to insure a healthy plant.

A great way to have a happy lifestyle is to keep a snake plant in your house and to have a great relationship with your mother-in-law. The last thing you need is unhealthy air in your house or the sharp tongue of your mother-in-law. We have a beautiful selection here at The Dees’ and as always, we welcome your questions to help with your problems (plant problems that is). Stop by and see Bob in our Greenhouse – He can help with both.

Joe Dee

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House Plants That Purify the Air

Projects like installing new carpet and painting walls can release chemicals that pollute indoor air. Luckily, some houseplants moonlight as efficient purifiers. For the best results, put as many plants as you can care for in the rooms you use most, says environmental scientist Dr. Bill Wolverton. That means you’ll want at least two plants (in 10- to 12-inch pots) per 100 square feet of space; if you’re in the middle of major renovations, aim for more plants. One tip: Be sure not to overwater, as too much soil moisture can lead to mold growth.

English Ivy:

This hearty, climbing vine thrives in small spaces. It also fares well in rooms with few windows or little sunlight.

How it Helps: Its dense foliage excels at absorbing formaldehyde—the most prevalent indoor pollutant, says Wolverton—which shows up in wood floorboard resins and synthetic carpet dyes.

Peace Lily:

Among the few air purifiers that flower, the peace lily adapts well to low light but requires weekly watering and is poisonous to pets.

Peace Lilly rids the air of the VOC benzene, a carcinogen found in paints, furniture wax, and polishes. It also sucks up acetone, which is emitted by electronics, adhesives, and certain cleaners.

Lady Palm:

An easy-to-grow, tree-like species, the lady palm may take a while to start shooting upward. But once it does, its fan-like patterned leaves will add charm to any spot.

Lady Palm targets ammonia, an enemy of the respiratory system and a major ingredient in cleaners, textiles, and dyes.

Boston Fern:

Boston fern features feather-like leaves and curved fronds that are well suited to indoor hanging baskets. It’s considered one of the most efficient air purifiers, but it can prove a bit difficult to maintain because of its need for constant moisture and humidity.

This fern works especially well in removing formaldehyde, which is found in some glues, as well as pressed wood products, including cabinetry, plywood paneling, and furniture.

Snake Plant:

Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this sharp-leafed plant thrives in low light. At night it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen (a reversal of the process most plants undergo). Pot a couple and put them in your bedroom for a slight oxygen boost while you sleep.

A Snake Plant, In addition to helping lower carbon dioxide, the snake plant rids air of formaldehyde and benzene.

Golden Pothos:

 This fast-growing vine has a reputation for flexibility. You can pot it with something to support it, plant it in a hanging basket, or train it to climb a trellis. Dark green leaves with golden streaks and marbling make it an eye-catching addition to a home or office.

Golden Pothos tackles formaldehyde, but golden pothos also targets carbon monoxide and benzene. Consider placing one in your mudroom or entryway, where car exhaust fumes heavy in formaldehyde are most likely to sneak indoors from the garage.

Wax Begonia:

Place in an area with abundant sunlight and this semiwoody succulent will produce pretty clusters of flat white, pink, or red flowers during the summer.

The Wax Begonia plant is a heavy hitter in filtering out benzene and chemicals produced by toluene, a liquid found in some waxes and adhesives, according to a University of Georgia study conducted last year.

Red Edge Dracaena:

While this slow-growing shrub can get quite tall (up to 15 feet), it’s relatively compact and will make the most out of whatever floor space you can offer it. For best results, keep one in a room with high ceilings and moderate sunlight, and water occasionally. Its red-trimmed leaves will deliver a dose of unexpected color.

This plant takes care of gases released by xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which can be introduced by lacquers, varnishes, and sealers.

Spider Plant:

A good option for beginning gardeners, the spider plant reproduces quickly, growing long, grassy leaves as well as hanging stems, which eventually sprout plantlets—hence its arachnid-inspired name.

Place a spider plant on a pedestal or in a hanging basket close to a sunlit window and you’ll benefit from fewer airborne formaldehyde and benzene molecules.

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Bringing Your Houseplants Back Inside for the Fall

As we close in on the first frost, it is time for you to bring your houseplants back inside from their summer vacation on your deck or patio. The best time to do this is now, in early October. The first thing you need to do is prepare the area where your plants will be kept for the winter. Clean all windows to let the best possible sunlight into the room and set up plant lights if necessary. Your plants will most likely be taking a 50 percent reduction in light, so make the transition as easy as possible. Don’t be alarmed if leaves drop after a few days. This is common and eventually the plants will come back to normal as they adjust to the lower light.  Houseplants do not like dips in temperature below 40-50 degrees, so you want to make sure you keep an eye on nighttime temperatures.

Being out in natural sunlight and temperatures, your houseplants probably thrived over the summer and grew. If they have gotten leggy and overgrown, prune them back. If you need to transplant them, now is the time to do so. Always make sure your planter is in proportion to the size of the plant, and try not to go more then 2-4 inches bigger in pot size as you upgrade. Always use fresh potting soil when you repot, not the soil from your gardens, as it can contain insects that you don’t want to bring into your home.

Before you bring them in, we suggest a thorough inspection of the plants to check for insects like aphids, mealy bugs, whitefly and spider mites. Sometimes you can’t always see what is lurking about on the plants so we recommend spraying them with Bonide Insecticidal Soap. This will destroy anything that may be attacking the leaves. As a preventive measure, apply Bonide Systemic Houseplant Granules to the soil. This will be taken up by the roots and into the leaves and get anything you may have missed when you sprayed as well as kill what may hatch from eggs left behind by the adults. If possible pull your plant out of the pot gently without destroying the root pack. Inspect the soil and see if you have any insects crawling around. If so, do a soil drench with Bonide Eight insecticide.

Many people ask us if they can bring their flowering annuals inside for the winter. The answer is yes. If you don’t want to deal with bringing what is probably a very large plant inside, we suggest you take cuttings of the flowers and root them inside. Plants such as impatiens, coleus, begonias, and geraniums will root very easy from cuttings taken from the original plant. Use a sharp knife or razor to make your cutting, not scissors as this can pinch the stem. Make the original cutting around 8 inches long. Cut the top and bottom portions of the cutting using diagonal cuts so you end up with a 6 inch piece with 4-6 leaves. Place the cutting in a jar of water to root. You can also use potting soil to root your cuttings. If you decide to do this, use Bonide Bontone Rooting Powder. This helps speed the rooting process.

It is very important not to overwater your houseplants as you bring them back inside. Over the summer, you probably got used to watering them every day. This is not the case inside the house as temperature and humidity are much different. Always check the soil for moisture first before you drench them. DO NOT go on a watering schedule such as once a week. This is the kiss of death for a houseplant. Do the “pencil test” on your plants before every watering. Stick a pencil down 4-6 inches into the soil. If it comes up moist and wet, then you know it isn’t time to water. If you can’t gauge using the pencil, we sell very inexpensive water meters that will give you a much more accurate reading of moisture in the soil. Overwatering is the #1 killer of houseplants. Make sure you get this part of the job right. We also suggest fertilizing every 4th time that you water. This will keep the nutrients at the proper levels in the soil for the plant to use and stay green and healthy.

In the dark days of winter, there is no reason you should not have a tropical paradise inside your home. With proper care and technique, you can keep your plants healthy and thriving throughout the year. If a problem starts, don’t wait to ask us. Bring your plant into the garden center or email us a picture. We can usually solve most problems and get you on the correct path.

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The croton, known mostly as a popular houseplant with spectacular multi colored foliage, has been making its way outdoors. Crotons make a great addition to an outdoor planter combination or as beautiful foliage in your garden beds.

The croton is a tropical plant that likes hot humid conditions so it can easily make the transition from the house to your outdoor patio or garden. It can get as tall as 3-4 foot high outside. The croton should be planted in a very bright location but out of hot direct sunlight. Filtered sunlight gives you the best possible color in the leaves.

If you are looking for a low maintenance container plant then the croton is a great option. It gives you very bright multi colored foliage that requires no deadheading. It works well by itself in a planter or as an accent in a combination of different flowering annuals. When planting in your flower beds it is best to group a few of croton plants together in a mass.

Light Conditions: Plant your croton in a filtered sunlight location for optimum leaf color. Too much direct sunlight tends to fade the color out of the leaves.

Soil Conditions: Plant your croton in rich well drained soil.

Watering Needs: The croton originally comes from a warm humid tropical climate so it will thrive in warm humid conditions with consistently moist soil. Do not let the soil dry out.

Fertilizer: Feed your croton once a week during the growing season for optimum growth.

Potential Pests: The croton is almost pest free but can occasionally get mealy bug, scale, or mites. You can easily control these with insecticidal soap.

Pruning: Cut off any dead leaves as necessary. If the croton becomes too tall take off the taller branches in 3-6 inch pieces.

Container gardening is as popular as ever and people ask me all the time for something different. The croton is what I suggest. Even though it is usually considered a houseplant, I am going to call Croton the “Almost a Flower of the Week” because the great colors of this plant make it just as nice as many of the flowering annuals you put in your garden or planters.