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C. ONVE, J. SHEHN AN .B-cONL
........ Ag a E n S
Insitue o Fod ad Aricltual ciece
INTRODUCTION .................. -........-.... 3
FOLIAGE PLANTS AND THEIR USE ..---.....--...... 3
CULTURE ..............~... ..----------- 4
Light .............................--- 4
Temperature ...............................-- 5
Humidity ...........- -------------.~. 5
Watering .............- ......-....-...... 6
Containers --...... .........-- -- ------ .-- 6
Soils .........................------- 6
Fertilization ...... --........--..... 7
Cleaning Foliage .......---....--........ 7
Diagnosing Troubles ..-.......-.....-......----- 8
SELECTION OF FOLIAGE PLANTS ------- 8
Plant Key ....... ...-------------------- 8
LIST OF FOLIAGE PLANTS .............--------- 9
ILLUSTRATIONS ...............--------------- 11
Use of commercial names to provide specific information is
not intended as an endorsement of products named, nor as criti-
cism of similar products not named.
USING FLORIDA GROWN FOLIAGE PLANTS'
C. A. Conover, T. J. Sheehan and D. B. McConnell2
Most foliage plants are of tropical origin and have been
collected in tropical areas wherever an interesting species was
found by the "plant collector". Many tropical plants were orig-
inally maintained in collections, but nurserymen became aware
of the public's desire to own such plants, and a new industry
Foliage plants were grown in greenhouses in many areas
of the United States in the early eighteen hundreds, but were
not grown commercially in Florida until about 1925. Sales have
increased yearly, and commercial foliage plant production is
now an important Florida agricultural industry with annual
sales exceeding $20 million. Millions of Florida plants are sold
annually, with sales in many foreign countries as well as the
United States. Florida is ideally suited climatically to foliage
plant production and is the acknowledged "Foliage Capitol of
FOLIAGE PLANTS AND THEIR USE
As the individual in modern society becomes further and
further removed from nature, the demand for living plants in
his surroundings increases. Foliage plants are excellent for
indoor culture, since they are able to survive environmental
conditions unfavorable to many other plants. Decreased use of
plastic plants has increased demand for live foliage plants as
important decorative features in homes, apartments, hotels,
business offices, airports, and other public buildings.
The use of live foliage plants brings individuals closer to
nature, and the large variety of species allows the opportunity
to select plants that will serve as attractive additions to in-
'Any plant grown primarily for its foliage and utilized for interior deco-
ration or landscape purposes. While it may have flowers, these will be
secondary compared to foliage features.
SDr. Conover is Associate Professor (Associate Ornamental Horticultur-
ist) and Center Director, Agricultural Research Center, Apopka. Dr.
Sheehan is Professor (Ornamental Horticulturist) and Dr. McConnell is
Assistant Professor, Department of Ornamental Horticulture, University
of Florida, Gainesville.
Large-leaved specimen plants such as monstera, dieffen-
bachia, some philodendron, and ficus are especially suited to
commercial building interiors, since they provide the size neces-
sary to make them central features. Smaller specimens of the
same plants serve a similar purpose in homes. Plants such as
peperomia, prayer plant, pothos, and others are smaller and
serve best as accessory decorations. They may be used as single
plants or in multiples. The main uses of each foliage plant
pictured in this publication are included in the key.
The importance of adequate light cannot be overemphasized
when growing foliage plants indoors. Without ample light,
photosynthetic processes are inadequate to produce sufficient
food for plant growth. Thus, the plant must utilize stored food,
and deterioration of plant quality occurs until reserves are con-
sumed and death occurs.
Light intensity controls to a considerable degree the rate of
food manufacture; generally with more light, more food is pro-
duced. Many foliage plants, however, are native to tropical
rain forests and are injured when placed in full sun. Desired
light levels are obtained near windows with other than a
northern exposure and may range from 50 to 2000 foot-candles.
Where natural light levels are not adequate for foliage plants,
they should be supplemented with artificial light sources.
Light duration is also important, since the total number of
foot-candles of light received is a product of intensity and dura-
tion. The longer the plant is lighted the more food produced,
and therefore, when plants are grown in low light areas they
should be lighted for longer periods to counteract low light
Light quality refers to the wavelength of light being received
by a plant. Natural sun light contains all visible wavelengths
utilized by plants as well as others and is the best and cheapest
source of light for plants. However, plants may be grown solely
under artificial light if the proper quality is provided.
Research has shown that plants use chiefly two wavelengths
of light, red and blue, to produce normal plant responses. This
3A unit of illuminance on a surface that is one foot from a uniform point
source of light of one candle and equal to one lumen per square foot. It
can be measured with a direct reading light meter, such as General
Electric model 213.
is important when considering artificial lighting, because fluo-
rescent fixtures provide light predominately in the blue wave-
length while incandescent lights provide light primarily in the
Artificial lighting is being utilized more and more to aid in
maintaining and highlighting foliage plants. When artificial
light is used to supplement natural light, incandescent or fluo-
rescent light will give satisfactory results. However, when arti-
ficial light is the sole light source both incandescent and fluo-
rescent light should be provided so plants will receive red and
blue bands necessary for proper growth. The "Gro-Lux" and
other specialty fluorescent lamps have been designed to produce
the light quality necessary for plants and can be used in place
of incandescent and fluorescent combinations.
Supplemental lighting may be applied anytime during the
day or night when convenient, or as a byproduct of normal
interior lighting. For plants to remain in good condition over
long periods of time the total amount of light reaching the
plant should be greater than 200 foot-candles for a duration of
12 hours. These light levels can be obtained through a combi-
nation of natural and artificial lighting, or artificial light may
be used as the sole source if the required intensity and duration
Lower light levels can be used to maintain some plants for
periods of up to 12 months. As an example, most foliage plants
will survive for 12 months under a light level of 50 foot-candles
for 12 to 15 hours each 24 hours. The key describes the require-
ments of the foliage plants listed.
The rate at which most plant processes occur depends on
temperature, but foliage plants can grow indoors within a fairly
wide range. The most desirable temperature range is 70 to 75
during the day and 65 to 70 at night, which is similar to normal
conditions in the home. In general, plants require a lower night
temperature than day temperature, although this does not ap-
pear to be critical for foliage plants.
Foliage plants grow best where the humidity is high. There
is usually low humidity (dry air) in buildings, especially dur-
ing winter months. However, proper care in watering, tem-
perature control, and maintenance of light levels will do much
to overcome adverse effects of low humidities common to most
Foliage plants may be syringed at intervals with water to
increase the humidity, but while this process may be useful in
malls or other large plantings, it is impossible to do inside
offices or the home. Humidity should be maintained at 35 to
45% or higher where possible and plants should be watered
This cultural practice generally causes the most confusion,
but is relatively simple. Foliage plants are adapted to regions
where soil is moist, but not continually saturated with water.
Therefore, never allow soils to become completely dry between
waterings, and when watering, apply enough water to thorough-
ly wet the entire soil ball. One of the best ways to do this in
large plantings is with automatic watering systems.
The type of container used will affect method of watering.
Containers with drainage holes should be placed in a saucer or
other container and sufficient water applied at each watering
until excess water drains out the bottom. This water should
then be discarded, since pots should not be allowed to stand in
water for any length of time. Containers without drainage
should have a layer of coarse gravel placed in the bottom to
allow a space for excess water. A good way to check these con-
tainers for excess water is to lay them on their side in a sink
or to use a dip-stick inside a hollow pipe.
Many types of attractive containers are available including
wood, brass, plastic, ceramic, and clay. Foliage plants, are
shown to best advantage in containers of neutral color-white,
brown, black, gray, copper, or aluminum. Jardinieres and fiber-
glass and ceramic containers should be checked frequently to
prevent overwatering, since there are no provisions for drain-
age. On the other hand, plants grown in clay pots must be
watered more frequently than those in plastic, wood, or metal
because of moisture evaporation through the side of the pot.
Foliage plants can be grown in a great variety of soil mixes,
but are easier to care for if planted in soils containing high
levels of peat moss. Such soils retain water and fertilizer and
provide good aeration if peat moss is mixed with coarse sandy
soils or perlite. The following soil combinations are suggested
for growing foliage plants, or prepackaged soils may be ob-
tained with similar properties.
1. Two parts peat, 1 part perlite, 1 part coarse sand.
2. One part peat, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part coarse sand.
3. Two parts peat, 1 part coarse sand.
When foliage plants are used for interior design purposes,
little fertilization is required, since it is desirable to keep plants
from growing excessively. Frequently, a lot of new growth is
undesirable, since plants may soon out-grow their location or
new growth may be unattractive if grown under less than
optimum light conditions.
Application of fertilizers more than once a month is un-
necessary, and in most cases four applications a year will be
sufficient unless considerable new growth is desired. Many types
of fertilizers are available for specialized indoor use and are
frequently more convenient than types sold for yards or gar-
dens. Follow directions given on containers when using pre-
packaged products sold specifically for "foliage plants." Many
types of specialty fertilizers are available including liquids,
tablets, and powders. Regular garden fertilizers, such as 6-6-6
or 8-8-8, can also be used; 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of either of these
materials is sufficient for a plant in a 5-inch pot when applied
every other month.
When foliage plants are grown indoors, dust and other un-
desirable residues will accumulate on foliage and become un-
sightly, but most foreign matter can be removed by syringing
or wiping foliage with a soft moist cloth. A small amount of
hand soap may be added to the water when stubborn spots are
encountered. Don't fold, crease, or rub leaves too hard, as they
may be damaged.
Many people prefer plants with shiny foliage, a character
that can be obtained by using a commercial "shine" compound.
These are available in aerosol containers or as a liquid which
is wiped on foliage. A cloth moistened with a little milk can
also be used to obtain shiny foliage if rubbed gently over foliage
of smooth leaved plants.
Improper culture may result in foliage plants that are un-
attractive and lack desired characteristics. Some of the more
common troubles and conditions which may cause these symp-
1. Brown leaf tips or burned leaf margins-too much fer-
tilizer or soil allowed to dry excessively.
2. Yellowing and dropping of leaves-air pollution, low light
intensity, chilling, over-watering or poor soil drainage
and aeration, or root decay from soil-borne diseases or
3. Weak growth or light green or yellow foliage-too in-
tense light, lack of fertilizer, root-rot or poor root system.
4. Small leaves and long internodes-too little light.
5. Small leaves and short internodes-lack of fertilizer or
grown too dry.
SELECTION OF FOLIAGE PLANTS
The foliage plants in the following list have been selected
because they survive under climatic conditions found in the
average home, office, or lobby provided adequate care is given.
Light level is the main factor used in determining suitability
of a plant for a particular situation within a room, office, lobby,
or mall. Key letters give minimal light requirements for sur-
vival and situations wherein the various plants may be utilized.
LIGHT A Low 50-100 fc. location usually more than 8 feet from
windows, no direct light dull hallways.
B Medium 100-200 fc. 4 to 8 feet from windows average
well lighted area.
C High over 200 fc. -brightly lighted offices areas within
4 feet of large south, east, or west facing windows.
USE D Small pot specimen good for end tables, desks, or book
E Ground cover for planters
F Accent plant for planters
G Good filler plant for planters
H Small specimen for home or office
I Large specimen for lobbies, airport terminals, etc.
J Small totem pole specimen (18-24")
K Large totem pole specimen (3-6')
LIST OF FOLIAGE PLANTS
Botanical name Common name Use key
1. Aglaonema commutatum
2. Aglaonema roebelinii
3. Aglaonema simplex
4. Aphelandra squarrosa
5. Araucaria excelsa
6. Asparagus plumosa
7. Asparagus sprengeri
8. Aspidistra elatior
9. Begonia sp.
10. Brassaia actinophylla
11. Calathea makoyana
12. Chamaedorea erumpens
13. Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
14. Cissus rhombifolia
15. Codiaeum variegatum
16. Coffea arabica
17. Collinia elegans
18. Cordyline terminalis
19. Crassula argentia
20. Dieffenbachia amoena
21. Dieffenbachia exotica
22. Dizygotheca elegantissima
23. Dracaena deremensis
24. Dracaena deremensis
25. Dracaena fragrans
26. Dracaena godseffiana
27. Dracaena marginata
28. Dracaena sanderiana
29. Episcia cupreata
30. Ficus benjamin
Gold dust plant
Red edge dracaena
Botanical name Common name Use key
31. Ficus elastica 'Decora'
32. Ficus lyrata
33. Hedera helix
34. Hoya carnosa
35. Maranta erythroneura
36. Monstera deliciosa
37. Neoregelia carolinae
38. Nephrolepis exaltata
39. Peperomia obtusifolia
40. Philodendron hastatum
41. Philodendron micans
42. Philodendron oxycardium
43. Philodendron panduraeforme
44. Pilea cadierii
45. Platycerium alcicorne
46. Pteris ensiformis
47. Saintpaulia ionantha
48. Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii'
49. Sansevieria zeylanica
50. Scindapsus aureus
51. Scindapsus pictus
52. Spathiphyllum clevelandii
53. Syngonium podophyllum
54. Syngonium podophyllum
55. Zygocactus truncatus
Pictures of plants numbered 5, 10, 12, 17, 20, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and 32
are courtesy Everett Conklin & Co. Inc., Montvale, N.J.
1 11 1
2. Pewter plant
3. Chinese evergreen
4. Zebra plant
5. Norfolk-island pine
6. Plumosa fern
7. Asparagus fern
8. Cast-iron plant
9. Rex begonia
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11. Peacock plant
12. Bamboo palm
13. Areca palm
14. Grape ivy
17. Parlor palm
18. Ti plant
19. Jade plant
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20. Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia amoena) with 14. Grape ivy
21. Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia exotica)
22. False aralia
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24. Warneckii dracaena
25. Corn plant
26. Gold dust plant
27. Red edge dracaena
30. Weeping fig
31. Rubber plant
32. Fiddle-leaf fig (tall plant, center)
Left front: 10. Schefflera
Left rear: 30. Weeping fig
Right: 24. Warneckii dracaena
33. English ivy
34. Wax plant
35. Nerve plant
36. Cut-leaf philodendron
37. Tricolor bromeliad
38. Boston fern
40. Philodendron--page 44.
41. Velvet-leaf philodendron
42. Heart-leaf philodendron
43. Fiddle-leaf philodendron
44. Aluminum plant
45. Staghorn fern
46. Pteris fern
47. African violet
48. Birdnest sansevieria
49. Snake plant
51. Silver pothos
55. Christmas cactus