Upon spotting this window, my first thought was: “we should be best friends!” Thanks to having friends in the neighbourhood, I had the opportunity to meet Elspeth and Blake. Elspeth is the caretaker of these plants while Blake is gradually becoming a fan.
Her collection is anchored by four large specimens: (left to right)
– Dracaena sanderiana (lucky bamboo) – but this one has grown wild and free – Ficus elastica (rubber plant) – again, wild and free, basically a tree – Aloe of some kind – Yucca elephantipes – lovely mature specimen
Having floor to ceiling windows that face south in a suburban area means Elspeth’s plants get lots of direct sunlight. If that wasn’t enough, the bay window has two skylights, which let in the scorching sun during the summer, when it is high in the sky. I took a light measurement while the sun was behind some clouds – I got around 800 foot-candles. At this level (and on a clear day), cacti and succulents would be super happy but tropicals would likely get scorched.
Elspeth keeps many smaller containers of succulents using some Ikea plant stands. The multiple levels creates a more interesting grow space, which includes a cozy bed for the cat.
An aloe can only get to this size with maximum sun and corresponding watering (you knew that the amount of water required for a given plant is dependent on light, right?). They all had flower stalks.
This yucca is truly something special. Blake showed me a photo from 2009 where this plant looked barely 4 feet tall and had the typical dark green leaves. The current leaf paleness appears to be the result of years of daily sun. What’s also impressive is the length of the leafy section compared to the trunk – as with most tropical plants of this structure, the “trunk” bears the marks of previously attached leaves. In a lower light situation, more of the lower leaves would have fallen off but when there’s enough light to go around, older leaves stay on longer.
An unfortunate accident caused one of the trunks to be severed but look, the plant is growing so well that two new stems are emerging. This is exactly how growers produce the typical Dracaena marginata (dragon tree) we see in most shops – they are rapidly grown as a single stem then severed so 3 (typically) new stems can emerge.
Let’s not forget the north facing window, which provides excellent light for tropical foliage plants like this spider plant and money tree. When these plants are right up against the north facing window, they can “see” a good portion of the sky but not the sun. This is the so-called “bright indirect light” that’s great for foliage plants.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Elspeth and Blake’s house plants – I certainly did. Maybe I’ll do more these…