The Indiana Daily Student explored Jordan Hall Greenhouse with gardener John Leichter on a tour of the Third Street building to find plants that not only grow inside those glass walls but can easily be grown at home.
While weaving in and out of the rows full of leaves, flowers and sprinklers, Leichter introduced everything from the typical succulent to the exotic Western Sumatran Corpse Plant. The gardener gave advice for students who want to use their green-thumb at home on how to take care of these low-maintenance plants.
To find more inspiration and enjoy clean refreshing oxygen, the Jordan Hall Greenhouse is open seven days a week and hours can be found online.
Ice Cube Orchids
Have a freezer? Are there ice trays? Leichter said these plants are easy to grow and better for students in dorm rooms. Place three ice cubes in the soil of the orchid once a week to ensure the plants survival. He also said ice cube orchids like humidity, so it’s not a bad idea to place the plant on a ledge during a hot shower.
Breaking off the small branches of the aloe vera plant or medicine plant, as Leichter called it, can help alleviate burns, especially those from the sun. According to Leichter, break off pieces from older branches that will die quicker than new growth, because the pieces broken off from the plant will shrivel and die. Water these plants deeply but infrequently.
All cacti produce flowers. It all depends on the environment and the care given to the plant. Fortunately, cacti are easier to care for than most plants. In the winter, cacti can go weeks without being watered, according to Leichter, because of the season’s relative indoor dryness. When they do need to be watered, make sure the soil is dry and the water is warm.
The base ingredient for tequila, the tequila agave or agave requires sunlight year-round, and Leichter said this plant especially needs a lot of winter light. The agave plant in the Jordan Greenhouse is massive, and according to Leichter, once it blooms it will die and a new stalk will begin to grow. For students, smaller versions of the agave can be found online and in nurseries.
Placing the rosemary plant near the kitchen sink is a great way to remember to water it as well as use its needles to flavor a meal. The only issue with taking care of this herb, according to Leichter, is watching the watering, because too much H20 will kill it.
When IU’s own corpse flower named “Wally” bloomed in July of 2016, Leichter’s father, who is 6 feet tall, was dwarfed by the giant potted plant, which was one of several corpse flowers to bloom across the country at this time. Taking anywhere from nine to 15 years to make the first bloom, this flower can be bought online, Leichter said, but would need a lot of space. Smaller varieties like the konjac or devil’s tongue are also available. The name corpse flower comes from the smell of rotting flesh they produce upon blooming. A long-term project, the corpse flower might be useful to pester unruly neighbors after graduation. Keep this plant watered daily.
String of Pearls
Different from the typical potted succulent, the string of pearls plant can be identified by the clusters of pea-shaped leaves that can creep over the sides of its container. Leichter said succulents like these don’t need a lot of water and generally require light shade, another great plant for the dorm room lifestyle.
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