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Moving Your Tropicals Inside for the Winter the Shock-Free Way

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

Earlier in the year, we wrote about how to give your houseplants a dreamy summer vacation by moving them outside for the summer. If you sent your houseplants out for the season, there’s a good chance they’ve put on lots of lush new growth by now, and they loved their summer break. But as the warmer months wind down, you need to start thinking about bringing them back indoors for the winter. 

Like acclimating them to the outside in the spring, you must carefully acclimate your tropical houseplants back to living indoors for the winter. This will take some time, so get started sooner than later.

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

Why Your Plants Need a Transition Period from Outside In

When you think about it, it makes sense to take time moving your plants out in the spring. Protecting them from sunburn and letting them slowly adapt to the different light levels and exposure to the elements is key.

It might seem silly to do this when moving them back in because you’re taking them from a harsher environment to a more protected environment. But it can still be a stressful transition for plants. There’s a difference in light levels from outdoors, a difference in humidity levels, and a difference in air movement. There’s also possibly a significant change in temperatures from what your plants are used to outside.

Some additional risks may come into play as well, like pests, that you need to consider when bringing plants back inside after a nice summer out on the deck.


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How to Transition Your Tropical Plants Back Inside for Winter

Bringing your houseplants back inside doesn’t take quite as long as the move outside in the spring, but you still need to take your time with it. With a bit of extra care, you can safely bring your tropical plants back inside for the winter, and keep all of your houseplants happy and healthy.

1. Acclimate your plants gradually. Once outside temperatures at night are getting close to 50°F in Des Moines, you’ll want to start the acclimation process. Start bringing your plants inside at night, and then putting them back out in the morning. Gradually reducing the length of time they stay outside. It should take 6-10 days to transition back to living full time indoors. If you have a garage and a garden cart, this process can be a lot easier.

2. Check for pests and quarantine your plants. Plants can pick up any number of pests, like slugs, aphids, mites, scale, or even mealybugs when they’re outside for the summer. This is where a garage comes in handy again. Bringing them into the garage at night gives you a chance to inspect the foliage of every plant and its pot (slugs like to hide underneath), for any bugs and tackle any infestations. If you find pests, make sure you quarantine all the plants you’re bringing inside. Pick a room in your house and move all your indoor plants out of it. Then keep all of the plants you’re bringing inside in that room for an additional two weeks after the transition period is finished. This should be enough time to deal with any pest infestations.

Ted Lare Iowa how to care for indoor plants

3. Inspect, prune, and repot if needed. If your tropicals grew like crazy outside during the summer, they might need some pruning or a new pot if they’ve become root-bound. Trim off any dead, damaged, or diseased bits with a clean pair of shears or snips. If your plant has gotten way too big for the house, you can safely prune back up to ⅓ of the total volume of the foliage. If you want to keep it from getting too big, you can also prune back up to ⅓ of the roots. Only go up one pot size if you’re giving your plants a new pot.

4. Adjust your watering schedule. With less exposure to sunshine and wind, your plants probably won’t dry out as fast indoors, so make sure you change how often you are watering. Most plants are heading into a bit of a dormancy period at this time of year as well, so they’ll be using less water and nutrients. If you’ve been fertilizing your houseplants, indoors and out, it’s best you stop around this time of the year. Use a moisture meter or check if the soil feels moist with your finger before watering. 

Last but not least, be prepared for some leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Even with a smooth transition, moving back inside is still a significant change for your plants, so they may drop a few leaves or look unhappy for a while. Don’t worry, in a few weeks; they’ll be fully adjusted and happy to be cozy inside a warm house for the winter!

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6 Fall-Friendly Foliage Plants for Your House

Fall foliage houseplants at Ted Lare

Fall colors are so beautiful, but they don’t have to be limited to just the outdoors. You can add fall color to your home decor with houseplants that have colorful foliage. Houseplants that fall into the autumn color palette allow you to enjoy the ambiance and cozy feelings in the fall for as long as you want, even once fall is over in Iowa.

Here are 6 plants that feature fall colors, from red to gold to orange to black. 

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen is the perfect fall plant, with its variegated leaves. While some varieties have different shades of green, our favorite one features yellow veins on green leaves, with a bright orange-red central stem, and burnt orange on the undersides of leaves. 

This plant is super easy and tough. They’ll do best if their soil is allowed to dry between watering. They’re also surprisingly tolerant of low-light, making the Chinese Evergreen perfect for rooms with only north-facing or very small windows.

Chinese Evergreen Ficus Quercifolia fall foliage at Ted Lare

Ficus Quercifolia

Ficus Quercifolia is a unique variety of fig. This tiny fig has leaves that look like little oak leaves in a deep green. It’s commonly referred to as a creeping fig or string of frogs, but it tends to form more of a mound than long vines. 

The petite size and slow-growing habit of Quercifolia are popular for terrariums and containers. It likes plenty of bright but indirect light and consistent moisture. It needs to be kept fairly damp to stay happy, and it will thrive in a humid environment.

Variegated Camouflage Japanese Aralia

Variegated Camouflage Japanese Aralia gives you another option for those gorgeous oak-shaped leaves, but on a larger scale. The leaves of this aralia are an exquisite blend of pale yellow, lime green, and deep green. 

The deeply lobed leaves can grow to approximately 12” across, and the plant itself can get to 8-10’ tall. This is a shade loving plant, so keep it back from windows that get any direct sun. It likes consistently moist soil, so don’t let it dry out.

Aralia Philodendron fall foliage houseplants Ted Lare

Philodendron Bloody Mary

Philodendron Bloody Mary has very dark maroon leaves that are quite long and narrow. The leaves on young plants may be fairly small, but as the plant gets older, the leaves will get much bigger.  

A classic philodendron, Bloody Mary is easy to care for, likes to dry out between waterings, and prefers indirect light. This is a great choice for a hanging planter.

Raven ZZ

Raven ZZ plant adds a drama, dimension, and contrast to your plant collection. Raven ZZ’s leaves start out a bright chartreuse green and fade to dark black as they mature. This ZZ will anchor your plant collection, and highlight the color contrasts within your urban jungle.

A typical ZZ, Ravens essentially thrive on neglect and are tolerant of pretty much any light conditions. Don’t miss this popular houseplant, they’re a hot commodity and sell out nearly as soon as we get them in.

Raven ZZ Croton fall foliage houseplants Ted Lare


Crotons hit the full spectrum of fall colors, with their variegations of rich green, bright red, deep orange, and golden yellow. The large shiny leaves are one of the most colorful non-blooming houseplants you can get.

Crotons are another easy keeper that thrives in higher light conditions and prefers its soil to dry out a bit between waterings. 

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Bring those rich autumn colors into your home decor with any of these beautifully colored houseplants. Stop by the garden center today to choose your favorites. 


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The Most Beautiful Foliage Plants for the Home

Foliage plants for the home Ted Lare

There aren’t very many houseplants that produce flowers on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean your collection of houseplants is limited to a forest of monotone green tear-drop shaped leaves. There is a wide variety of houseplants out there with beautiful foliage, featuring unique coloring, exciting shapes, peculiar textures, and a vast range of sizes. 

Don’t let your house jungle be boring—add depth and dimension with some of these stunning houseplants.

Dracaena, Nerve Plant, and Calathea for the home from Ted Lare

Florida Beauty Dracaena leaves are dark green with white dots, like a paint splatter across them. The leaves of this dracaena are less spikey than other dracaenas. Prefers bright indirect light.

Nerve Plant is a smaller evergreen ground cover type plant that features high contrast veins on each dark green leaf, either in bright red, bright white, or pink. It loves humidity and needs indirect light. Nerve plants do well in terrariums. 

White Fusion Calathea has large leaves that are elegantly variegated with dark green, white, and light green. This Calathea makes a dramatic and sophisticated statement. Prefers bright indirect light.

Sansevieria Zeylanica is a sword-leaf snake plant with gorgeous white striations on dark green leaves. Snake plants are amazingly low light tolerant, and add an element of structure to a room.

Australian Tree Fern features classic lush fern-like fronds, but it’s not a groundcover fern. This fern can grow up to 15 feet tall, and the fronds can be up to 10 feet long. In classic fern style, they like lots of moisture, so don’t let them dry out. 

Peperomia, ZZ Plant, Philodendron for the home from Ted Lare

Peperomia Ginny has large waxy leaves. Each leaf of this pretty pep has a different pattern of creamy white and bright green, accented with pink edges. Peperomia prefers bright filtered light.

ZZ Raven adds a touch of shadow and dramatic contrast to your houseplant jungle. The leaves emerge a bright chartreuse green, and then mature to darkest purple, almost black. ZZ plants are happy in low-light or bright light and prefer dry soil.

Birkin Philodendron is refined and elegant, featuring perfect white pinstripes on its large and lush green leaves. This slow grower will hang out in your favorite pot for a long time. It prefers indirect light and dry soil.

Pitcher Plants feature lush green leaves, and then they also have more sinister leaves that have adapted into long narrow pitchers. Pitcher plants are carnivorous, so they’ll eat any bugs that fall into their pitchers. The tube pitchers do need to have water in them to avoid drying out.

Begonias, African Mask, and Chinese Evergreen plants for the home from Ted Lare

Strawberry Begonias are a unique Begonia that has a trailing habit, similar to spider plants. Their leaves are dark green featuring pale green veins and bright red stems and have a rounded shape with scalloped edges. Begonia’s like to be evenly moist and prefer indirect light.

African Mask has arrowhead-shaped leaves that can get quite large. The leaves are shiny and very dark green, with contrasting white veins. African mask is more of a medium-high maintenance houseplant. We wrote a whole blog about caring for African Masks, in case you fall in love with their exotic style.

Chinese Evergreen has large leaves that feature attractive striations. We have two different types of Chinese evergreen: green and white, and green and orangey-yellow. They are an excellent low-light and easy-care option. 

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False Aralia has quite a bit of personality, with its dark green-almost black leaves. The narrow leaves have sawtooth edges and are quite long, giving it a bit of a gothic style. False Aralia is easy to care for, and tolerant of low or bright light.

Triostar Stromanthe adds color and elegance to your houseplant collection. Its beautiful leaves are patterned with green and white on top and gorgeous, deep pink on the undersides and stems. Sometimes the pink shows up in the white sections on top as well. They like medium-bright light and evenly moist soil.

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African Mask: Where It’s From, What It Wants, How To Help It Thrive

african mask leaves Ted Lare

African Mask is a houseplant that is quickly gaining popularity. Its striking leaves are exotic and lush. It’s a step-up in the houseplant game because it’s a bit more challenging to care for than many other popular houseplants

If an African Mask plant charmed you into taking it home, and now it’s not looking too happy, we’ve got your back. If you can create its ideal environment, you can turn things around and live happily together!

Family History

African Mask is a member of the Alocasia plant family, originating in tropical and subtropical regions from Asia to Eastern Australia. African Mask has a lot of cousins, with over 79 unique native species. Alocasia are very popular as a houseplant and are cultivated all over the world.  

African Mask grows from rhizomatous or tuberous roots. While the plants bloom in the wild, the flowers are fairly inconspicuous. It’s pretty uncommon for them to bloom as a houseplant. They’re prized for their gorgeous patterned foliage; their name comes from their beautiful, bold markings. 


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The African Mask Dating Profile

If African Mask had a dating profile, it would be highly curated with photos of its lush leaves taken from flattering angles in perfectly diffused light. It would write stories reminiscing about its tropical homeland and enjoy cooking complex and fancy meals with the perfect balance of nutrients. It would also be very diligent about staying hydrated!

African Mask might also claim to be laid back and easygoing—but everyone thinks that about themselves! While they’re not necessarily difficult, easy might be stretching the truth a little bit.

So, You Swiped Right for An African Mask Houseplant…

…And you moved it in right away. But now that you’ve had it home for a few weeks, it’s starting to show more of its true colors—and it’s a little more needy and complex than you expected. 

Don’t give up on it just yet!

African Mask plants may seem dramatic and difficult, but they just need the right match. If you can set them up with their preferred environment, they’ll reward you handsomely, sometimes producing a new leaf every week during the growing season. At the most basic level, they want warmth, humidity, and bright indirect light. Here’s a few more details so you can pick the best spot for your new favorite houseplant.

African Mask plants Ted Lare


The first thing you need to know is that African Mask plants want lots of bright light, but they do not want to sit in any direct sun. An idea spot would be in a room with a large south or west-facing window, but not too close to the window. A sheer curtain will allow you to keep it closer to a window while still protecting its delicate leaves from burning. 



African Mask plants come from tropical and subtropical regions, so they’ll do best where it’s warm. While they’ll be okay at average household temperatures, they’re more likely to thrive around 70-80 degrees.



Think about those rainforests in tropical regions; they’re usually pretty humid! The average humidity levels in most of Iowa are close to, but a little under, what the Alocasia would be used to in the wild. They can probably survive without extra humidity in the summer, but they’ll enjoy all the moisture they can get, and they’ll definitely need it in the winter. A pebble tray or a nearby humidifier will keep them satisfied during the dry winter months. 


african mask plants Ted Lare


Water & Food

African Masks like their soil to be consistently moist, but they do not like to sit in water. It’s best to water your Alocasia from the bottom in the morning and let it soak up what it needs. Make sure to empty its drip tray after an hour or two.

Fertilizer is your friend during the growing season. Give it a balanced feed every two weeks from spring until the end of summer. 

In winter, Alocasia will do best with a rest period. During these months, cut back on watering but don’t let it dry out completely. 



African Mask likes rich, but loose soil so the roots can breathe easily. If your African Mask is growing quite a bit every year, you may need to repot it every spring. When repotting, make sure to go up only one pot size at a time. 

Red Flags for African Mask

African Masks are poisonous, so make sure to keep them out of reach of children and pets. 

They can also be susceptible to most common houseplant pests, so keep an eye out for them, and treat with insecticidal soap. 

Overwatering can lead to fungal issues, so if you notice brown, black, or yellow spots on the leaves, cut them off. If you need to treat a fungal infection, quarantine the African Mask away from other plants.


close up on African mask leaf Ted Lare

Is it Love at First Leaf?

If you’re head-over-heels for this stunning tropical plant, and you’re up for a bit of a challenge, meet your Mask at our garden center! Our staff can introduce you to the specimens we carry in-store, and set you up with the supplies you’ll need to live happily ever after. 

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7 Fabulous Philodendrons for Your Home

Philodendron Brasil in hanging macrame Ted Lare

Philodendrons are a classic houseplant that has been popular for ages. Many people start their houseplant collection with a Philodendron cutting from a friend. They’re an excellent first plant because they’re resilient, forgiving, and can tolerate surprisingly low light. But Philodendrons are not just for beginners.

Philodendrons add lush tropical greenery to a collection and have an air of stoicism and reliable stability to them. They’re also an excellent air cleaning plant! There’s a good chance your Philodendron might even outlive you; they’re pretty long-lasting. It’ll be quite the confidence boost to be able to say you still have the very first houseplant that started your collection over 30 or 40 years ago. You could even pass it on as a family heirloom.

There are two different types of Philodendrons, vining, and non-climbing or upright Philodendrons. Vining Philo’s need something to climb, like a trellis, or lattice, or the wall of your house if it’s growing close enough. Non-climbing Philo’s can get quite bushy, even wider than tall, over time, so make sure to give them plenty of space.

Philodendrons are often confused for Pothos, and while they do appear to look fairly similar, they actually belong to separate plant families. 

Here are a few of our favorite Philodendrons. 

Philodendron Birkin 

Birkin might be one of the most beautiful Philodendrons available. One of the top trending Philo’s of the year! It’s a more compact non-climbing Philo, and it features chic green and white pin-striped leaves. This unique beauty grows fairly slow, so you can keep it in a beautiful pot for a long time before it will need to be transplanted.  

Philodendron Birkin and Philodendron Green Ted Lare


Philodendron Green 

Philo Green is a classic traditional vining type with rich green heart-shaped leaves. Green is the perfect Philo for anywhere, really. It has an understated elegance and minimalist appeal that’s the ideal plant element for almost any space. 

Philodendron Brasil 

Brasil is a fast-growing vining variety, with beautiful heart-shaped variegated leaves, featuring shades from rich dark green to vibrant lime green, and everything in between. Philo Brasil is perfect for the top of a bookcase or in a hanging planter where the vines can trail down over the edges. 

Philodendron Brasil and Philodendron Lemon Ted Lare


Philodendron Lemon 

Philo Lemon’s leaves are so vibrantly colored that they’re almost neon! Lemon is a vining variety with leaves in shades of bright yellow to chartreuse green. Lemon starts out as a fairly upright plant when it’s young, but its stems will drape and trail or climb as it gets older. 

Philodendron Bloody Mary, Philodendron Moonlight, and Philodendron Burle Marx Ted Lare

Philodendron Bloody Mary 

Bloody Mary is a particularly gorgeous and unique variety of Philo. It is an upright variety, though it will spill over the edges of its pot. Bloody Mary features dark maroon-red stems. New leaves emerge a rich burgundy color, and transition to dark green with a distinct red hue as they mature. The undersides of the leaves stay a dramatic dark red. 

Moonlight Philodendron 

Moonlight is an upright Philodendron with very large leaves that start out bright yellow and transition to beautiful lime green as they mature. This beautiful bush-type Philo is perfect for adding a new and vibrant shade of large green leaves to your houseplant jungle.  

Philodendron Burle Marx 

Philo Burle Marx has unique leaves that are a prominent spade shape. The leaves are quite long, growing up to 18”, and are a beautiful deep green. Burle Marx is an upright variety, though it may spill over the edges of a pot like Bloody Mary. 

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Philodendron Care

Philodendrons are one of the easiest and most tolerant houseplants to care for. 

  • Light: bright, medium, low, or even artificial light, as long as they are protected from direct sun, they’ll be happy. 
  • Water: only water Philo’s when the first inch of soil feels dry. 
  • Humidity: they do like humidity, so running a humidifier near them during the winter is a good idea.
  • Fertilizer: you don’t need to fertilize Philo’s, but if you want to, you can give them a basic all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season. 
  • Soil: they prefer a loose and light potting soil with lots of organic matter, but they’ll grow in almost anything. 
  • Repotting: fast-growing Philos will probably need a new pot once per year, but slower growing varieties may not need to be transplanted for up to 2 years. 


If you’re thinking you need to start your houseplant collection with a tough and beautiful Philo, or if you just want to add one to your growing houseplant collection, visit the garden center. We regularly get new stock in, so you never know when we might have an exciting new variety.

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Picture Perfect Peperomias: 3 Adorable & Easy Varieties

Ruby Cascade Peperomia Ted Lare

Peperomias are quickly stealing the houseplant spotlight. They’re beautiful, easy to take care of, and there are over 1,000 varieties in the world! These succulent-type plants have thick fleshy leaves that make them drought-tolerant, so they’ll be just fine if you forget to water them for a little while. 

With so many different types of peperomia available, you could have a whole collection, and each plant could have a completely unique look and growing habit. There is so much variation amongst different peperomia that some of them don’t even look like they belong to the same family.

While there are many peperomia to choose from, we’ve got a few favorites. Here are 3 plants that we think you might want to add to your houseplant collection. 

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Ruby Cascade

Peperomia Ruby Cascade is a beautiful trailing type of peperomia. It features leaves that are a rich dark green on top and a gorgeous ruby red on the bottom. The stems are also dark red. 

Ruby cascade is one of the smaller types of peperomia; the leaves only get to about half an inch across. While the leaves are small, the vines are very vigorous, and with the right light, they can grow several feet long. 

This peperomia is perfect for a hanging pot or sitting on a high shelf near a north, west, or east-facing window. It does need bright light, but it doesn’t like direct sunlight on its leaves. This peperomia is a fairly fast grower, and it’s tough. You don’t need to water it very often; you can let the soil dry out before watering. If the soil feels damp, wait, and check again in a few days or a week.


Variegated Peperomia Ted Lare

Variegated Peperomia

Officially, the name of this plant is Peperomia obtusifolia Variegata. Commonly, it’s often called Variegated Peperomia, or Variegated Baby Rubber Plant. It features large amazing leaves with a thick, waxy feel. The variegation on each leaf is unique, featuring a different pattern and combination of shades of green, from dark green to a lovely creamy pale green. 

Variegated peperomia features larger leaves than Ruby Cascade, with leaves getting as big as 3 inches long and wide, in an oval shape. This peperomia grows a bit more slowly than other types, but will eventually develop itself into a bushy plant. 

This is a low-light dream plant. It does not like direct sunlight, and will happily thrive in a room with a window or under artificial light. 

Also drought tolerant, this peperomia does not need water very frequently. Check the soil first, and make sure it’s dry before giving it more water. 


Pilea Peperomiodes Ted Lare

Pilea Peperomioides

This last one is technically not part of the peperomia plant family, but it has similar appearances and care requirements as peperomia, and it’s also super popular. The Peperomioides part of the name means that it resembles peperomias. Also known as Chinese money plant, coin plant, pancake plant, friendship plant, UFO plant, and simply: pilea, it is a unique and easy care plant. 

Pilea features large, perfectly round leaves on long slender stems in a rich, vibrant green shade. These plants do like a bit more bright light, but they also don’t like direct sunlight. They’re quite drought-tolerant but will probably need slightly more frequent watering than peperomias because their leaves and stems are a bit thinner. Check the soil, and if it feels dry to the touch on top, give it a watering. 

Pilea Peperomiodes close up Ted Lare

Pilea’s are often called friendship plants because they put up new plant pups around the base on the regular. If your plant does this, you can either leave the pups to grow, creating a fuller-looking bushy pot of plants, or you can remove them. 

To remove pilea pups, wait until they are at least an inch or two tall, then carefully remove the plant and all the soil out of the pot. With a clean, sharp knife, cut down between the pup and mother plant to separate them, making sure the pup has a chunk of root with it. Then repot them both and let them get back to growing. 

If you’d like to add either of these peperomias or a pilea to your houseplant collection, stop by the garden center for a visit. We’ve got a wide selection of gorgeous houseplants available. 


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Monstera adansonii: 2020’s Top Trending Houseplant

monstera adansonii ted lare

Monstera adansonii has quickly become the top trending houseplant for 2020. Everyone wants one, and they can be tricky to find. If you’re thinking “hang on, wasn’t Monstera the top trending plant of 2019 as well?” You’d be correct, but that was a different type of Monstera!

Last year, Monstera deliciosa was everybody’s favorite. While they’re both commonly called Swiss Cheese Plant, they’re a little bit different. Monstera deliciosa gets up to 8 feet tall indoors, with leaves up to 2 feet long, while Monstera adansonii is much smaller yet still features the bold perforated leaves.

Monstera adansonii still allows you to have the bold, beautiful foliage of Monstera, even in a tiny apartment. Adansonii is great for hanging baskets or a trellis. While it may be shorter, with smaller leaves, this Monstera can still take up space with vines that can reach up to 20 feet long!


Swiss cheese plant in hanging basket and close up of monstera adansonii leaves ted lare

How To Care for Monstera Adansonii

Most Monsteras that are sold as houseplants have pretty similar care requirements: lots of bright light, lots of humidity, and they like to have their soil to dry out a bit between waterings. This is mostly true for adansonii, although it prefers indirect sunlight. Keep your adansonii near a window, but don’t let it get too much sun on its leaves. You can even send it outside for summer vacation, if you want, just keep it somewhere with a bit of shade.

If the air in your home is dry, the best thing you can do for your Monstera is run a humidifier close by. A pebble tray can help as well, but a humidifier is the most effective option. If misting is your only option, do it, but you’ll need to mist the air around your Monstera many times a day. 

There are plenty of choices for potting your Monstera, but a terra cotta pot with a drainage hole is one of the best options. Terra cotta’s porous material helps to wick moisture away from the roots. Monstera’s don’t like to have soggy bottoms. 

Like most plants, you can’t really water your Monstera on an exact schedule. How frequently it needs to be watered varies depending on the season, how much light it gets, how humid and warm your home is, and how rootbound the plant is. 

The best way to know if your Monstera needs water is to stick your finger in the soil, up to your second knuckle. If it feels just barely damp, it’s time to water. Adansonii doesn’t like to dry out quite as much as other varieties. Be sure to check the soil at least once a week. 


monstera adansonii climbing on a pole ted lare

Supporting Monstera Adansonii

Monstera Adansonii loves to climb. It is beautiful in a hanging basket, and that might be the best way to keep it from crawling all over your walls. If you prefer to see it climbing, you can give it some support. 

You can support a Monstera adansonii with a trellis or lattice, plant stakes, or even a moss pole. Moss poles are great because you can regularly saturate them with water, which helps raise the humidity level for your plant. A trellis can work wonders as well because it makes it easy to train the vines where you want to create a beautiful display of those dramatic leaves. 

You can also let adansonii’s free spirit go wherever it wants. They have strong roots along the vine that cling to nearly anything, even a bare wall. The only problem with this method is that those little roots are really strong, and there’s a good chance they’ll pull little specks of paint off your walls if you ever decide to move it. 


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If you’ve been wishing you had space for a Monstera, here’s your chance! Stop by the garden center or shop online to add a Monstera adansonii to your houseplant collection.

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5 Best Low-Light Tolerant Houseplants For North Windows

houseplants ted lare

Having houseplants in our homes has a multitude of benefits. They can help boost our mood, improve concentration, and inspire creativity. They add life and personality to our homes and give us a connection to nature. When choosing houseplants for your home, it’s important to consider how much light each room in your home gets.  

All houseplants need light, but some are better suited to low-light locations than others. How do you know what is considered low-light? Well, in our homes, the only areas that can be regarded as bright light are right next to a large south-facing window. Just a few feet back from the window, in the middle of a room, we’re already at medium-light. And the opposite wall is the beginning of low-light.  

But don’t let that discourage you from keeping plants in rooms with North, East, or West facing windows. While all plants need light, some houseplants can thrive surprisingly well in very low-light locations, like near north-facing windows. Some plants can also thrive quite well under artificial light, as long as the lights are on for a solid 14-16 hours per day.  

Here are some of the best low-light tolerant houseplants to add to your home in Des Moines. These options are tolerant of very low-light, so you can include these even in rooms with only north-facing windows, or that have artificial light on all day. 


zz plant, calathea, and nerve plant ted lare

ZZ Plant 

ZZ Plant a popular low-light houseplant because it is one of the most resilient plants. It can even survive in a location with only artificial light. While it can survive in these conditions, it will be happier in an area with a window. Somewhere near a window is perfect for a ZZ Plant, though it does not like direct sunlight. ZZ Plant is super easy to care for as well, only requiring watering once every 3-4 weeks.   


Calatheas, also known as Prayer Plants, add gorgeous color and unique leaf patterns to your houseplant collection. Prayer plants are also different in that they move quite a bit, folding up their leaves every evening, like hands folding in prayer. With many different species available, you’ve got tons of options. Calathea are pretty low-maintenance, they like their soil to dry out a bit between watering, and will do best near a north- or east-facing window, or far enough back from a south- or west-facing window so they don’t get direct sun on their leaves.


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Nerve Plant 

Nerve Plant, or Fittonia, is another easy-care low-light plant, with a little more visual interest. Fittonia features small leaves with veins in either bright white or bright red. Their high-contrast leaves are beautiful to look at. Nerve plant is fairly low growing and will live happily near any window. They’ll flourish particularly well in a high-humidity environment. 

Snake Plant 

Snake plants, in all their beautiful variations, are another popular option. They’re a beautiful structural plant that also prefer indirect light. From the short wide leaves of birds nest snake plant to the taller tubular leaves of Sansevieria cylyndrica, or the gracefully arching leaves of Sansevieria gracilis, or the beautiful Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii.’ Snake plants are another easy-care succulent type, only requiring water every few weeks.  


snake plant and spider plant ted lare

Spider Plant 

Spider plants are also a resilient houseplant that can survive quite low-light situations and still happily grow. Spider plants will do better in a higher-humidity location. They come in a few different varieties, with plain green leaves, or variegated white and green. There are also different leaf styles, from the long and straight to the gorgeous curly varieties.   

If you’re looking for some houseplants to add to your home, stop by the garden center and have a look through our wide selection. 

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How to Grow Brilliant Begonias Indoors: Care 101

begonia leaves-ted-lare

Begonias are as gorgeous as they are versatile. With flowers and foliage that work just as well in hanging baskets, porch pots, or garden beds, they’re a workhorse of the gardening world! Most of us think of their luscious tropical-looking flowers when we imagine Begonias in our minds. However, the kinds that people keep indoors as houseplants are not quite the same as those with the showy flowers that thrive outside. 

Begonias fall into three main types, with many sub-categories, and over 1,000 species worldwide. They are primarily classified based on their root system, either tuberous, fibrous, or rhizomatous. Fibrous and rhizomatous Begonias are usually the easiest to grow indoors. They have showy leaves, but less significant flowers. Tuberous Begonias are the ones with the big showy blossoms that do best outside. 

If you’re eager to enjoy fibrous or rhizomatous Begonia as a houseplant, it’s always best to review the care needs of the specific variety you have your eye on. In general, however, you can follow these rules of thumb for taking care of these colorful, elegant, low-maintenance plants indoors!

Best Location For Begonias in Your Home

All Begonias need bright, indirect light. This means the indoor varieties prefer a spot near a large window with a sheer curtain to protect them from any direct sunlight. Direct sun can burn their leaves. However, the light levels in our homes are drastically reduced compared to outside, so they also won’t do well in a dark corner.

During the winter, you may need to provide extra light from a lamp with a full spectrum bulb for about 14 hours per day.

Begonias like consistent temperatures between 60-70°, so keep them away from drafty doors and windows.


Humidity & Water for Begonias

Begonias are native to places where the humidity is high, so they do not push water to the edges of their leaves as well as other plants would. This characteristic makes them ideal for terrariums. The drier prairie air here in Iowa can be a challenge for humidity-loving plants, especially during colder months. Make sure to provide a pebble tray under the pot or a nearby humidifier when the air is dry.

The best way to know when to water your Begonia is to check the soil with your finger every few days. Begonias like evenly moist soil, but they prefer to dry out just a bit between waterings. Stick your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle—if it’s dry, water it. When watering your Begonia, opt for distilled water or rainwater if possible, as the plant can be sensitive to the dissolved salts in tap water. This sensitivity can cause some browning of the leaves, which is typically not fatal to the plant, but can detract from your Begonia’s appearance.

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Make sure your Begonias have ample drainage so that their roots are never sitting in standing water. Soggy roots will cause them to drop leaves and can make them susceptible to root rot, pests, and other diseases. If there is still water in the catch tray 30 minutes after watering, dump it out. 

Provide fertilizer according to package directions when your plant is actively growing, which is typically during the summer months.


When to Re-pot Your Begonia

Begonias prefer to be root-bound, so don’t put them in a big pot! If the soil stays damp for several days after watering, you may need to re-pot down a pot size. When you bring a new Begonia home, only put it into a larger pot if it is already root-bound in its nursery pot. If it’s not yet root-bound, put it in a pot the same size as the nursery pot. 

Whichever variety you choose, Begonias are excellent houseplants with an incredible ability to bounce back from the brink of death. We’ve been shocked many times by how tough and adaptable these delicate-looking plants truly are! With a little bit of care and a good location, your Begonia will thrive for many years.

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How to Give Your Houseplants a Summer Vacation

We love to feel those soft summer breezes, the warm sunshine, and that refreshing, cool air after a summer rainstorm. Houseplants enjoy those same things just as much as we do! Most of our houseplants would do well with a little outdoor summer vacation in Des Moines every year. There’s nothing like being outdoors to give houseplants a little boost during their growing season and help them load up on good healthy energy for the rest of the year. 

But, it’s not quite as simple as carting them out to the yard and setting them down for the season. You’ll need to transition your houseplants outdoors for the summer, and then back indoors at the end of the season. The transition process for sending them outside is called hardening off, and it’s critical for your houseplants, especially for tropical varieties. 

Why Harden Off Houseplants?

You might think your plants near a south-facing window get plenty of sunshine, so they should be fine to go out into the sun. But that’s not true. Our windows, especially in newer homes, block quite a lot of the strength of the sun getting through to our plants. Taking them directly outside is going to be shocking, and will cause your houseplants significant stress. 

Before you send your houseplants outdoors for the summer, do some research to find out what sort of environment they prefer in the wild, and try to find a location in your yard that replicates that. Then, check if any of them need repotting. Many of them will put on a growth spurt once they get outside, so they’re showing signs of being rootbound, give them a little bit more room by going up one container size. 

We do not recommend moving moth orchids or African violets outside as they may be a bit too tender for the weather fluctuations in Des Moines. 


Hardening Off For Houseplants

Hardening off your houseplants is the process of slowly transitioning them to full exposure outdoors. Don’t start this process until we’re a minimum of two weeks past the last frost. Hardening off is a gradual process that can take 10-14 days. 

Start by finding a spot that is shady and protected from the wind. Place your houseplants in that space for 30 minutes to an hour the first day, then bring them back inside. The next day, add a little bit more time, and every day you can leave them out a little bit longer. Shade or low-light plants should stay in a shady location for the summer. Sun-loving plants should be eased into full sun locations the same way you slowly transitioned them outside. Start with half an hour to an hour of sun exposure on the second day, then gradually increase time in the sun as you increase the time outside. 

It might seem like a fun idea to pop houseplants here and there throughout the garden as accents for different areas. But, keep in mind your houseplants will need more regular watering through the summer than other plants. Watering will be easiest if you can keep groups of your houseplants close together. You’ll want to make sure you check the soil in pots every day. Houseplants that have been in the same container for a long time are probably a bit rootbound and will drink up water fast. On really hot days, you may need to water twice.


Tips for Transitioning Your Houseplants Back Indoors

You’ll want to start transitioning your plants back to indoor life sometime in early to mid-September. If you’ve got really delicate tropicals, start early in the month. Transitioning them back indoors shouldn’t take as long as hardening off, but its still a good idea to do it over a few days. There are also a few other essential things to keep an eye out for. 

  1. Check every plant thoroughly for pests. While they’re outside for the summer, houseplants can pick up common outdoor pests like aphids, gnats, or slugs. If possible, quarantine the plants you’re bringing in, away from plants that stayed inside, for two weeks, to make sure no one is infested with pests. Before you bring them inside, check the bottoms of the containers for slugs.
  2. Transition to lower light locations gradually. The light levels in the house are drastically lower than outside, so it’s a shock for plants to move immediately. Over 4-5 days, slowly move your plants back to a shady and sheltered location, like the spot where you started your hardening off process. 
  3. Watch your watering. With no wind and less direct sun, your houseplants won’t use up water as quickly, so make sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly. It’s still a good idea to check the soil moisture level daily for the first week that they’re back indoors. 

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If you need any tips or advice, or tools or materials for transitioning your houseplants outside for the summer, give us a call at the garden center. We’ve got all the supplies you might need, from soil to pots to plant stands.