Tuesday, December 15, 2009

List: Plants With a "Fountainy" Habit

You know what I mean. Lots of long and thin, or at least long and strappy, leaves, all going upward and then out and down in a graceful curve. I've never been able to figure out whether I have a particular attraction to this particular habit, or whether there are only a limited number of ways to build a plant and this is one of them so inevitably I would end up with lots of plants that look like this. I lean toward the latter, but it seems significant that a lot of my most favorite plants (Yucca guatemalensis, Pandanus veitchii, Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime,' etc.) fall into this category.

Also relevant here is that certain entire genera (Dracaena, except for D. surculosa) and families (Bromeliaceae), are basically all like this, so it's potentially a long list. I tried to pick a set of ten diverse plants.

Asplenium antiquum. (Japanese bird's-nest fern)

Beaucarnea recurvata, variegated. (ponytail palm)

Chlorophytum comosum. (spider plant, airplane plant, mala madre)

Clivia miniata 'Aztec Gold,' without flower.

Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime.'

Dracaena reflexa 'Riki.'

Neoregelia NOID. May be 'Purple Star.'

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger.' (black mondo grass)

Pandanus veitchii, variegated. (screw pine)

Yucca guatemalensis, plain green. (spineless yucca)

I pretty well covered my favorites in the introduction: Yucca guatemalensis, Pandanus veitchii, Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime.' In truth, though, I'm also very fond of most of the others, and it would probably be easier to talk about the three I don't like, and why.

Asplenium antiquum doesn't do well for me; it doesn't cope well with missed waterings, and humidity may also be an issue. Typically, when I buy an Asplenium, I have about six good months and then it falls into an irreversible decline.

Beaucarnea recurvata is pretty easy to take care of, and it does fairly well for me, but I don't especially like it. Part of this is because it steadily dropped leaves for a long time after I first got it, and stopped only after I gave it more soil and covered its base up a little more (which may or may not have been the reason it stopped). Also it's slightly annoying because the length of the leaves make it inconvenient to move around. I'm warming up to it, though, at least a little.

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger' is also pretty easy, but I'm not a huge fan. It's also very slow-growing indoors, or at least it's been slow for me so far. Not sure if this is natural, or a cultural issue.

Not pictured:
Aechmea 'Del Mar'
Aechmea fasciata (silver vase plant)
Agapanthus spp.
Many Agave spp. (attenuata, geminiflora), at least in a way
Quite a few Aloe spp., particularly those with long leaves (maculata, greatheadii)
Ananas comosus (pineapple)
Callisia fragrans, sort of
Cryptanthus cvv. (some cvv., anyway)
Cymbidium cvv. (plus a fair number of other orchids)
Dracaena deremensis cvv. ('Art,' 'Janet Craig,' 'Janet Craig Compacta,' 'Limelight,' 'Warneckei,' etc.)
Dracaena fragrans cvv. ('Massangeana,' 'Sol') (corn plant)
Dracaena marginata cvv. ('Bicolor,' 'Colorama,' 'Magenta,' 'Tarzan') (Madagascar dragon tree)
Dracaena sanderiana cvv. (lucky bamboo, ribbon dracaena)
Furcraea foetida and F. f. cv. 'Medio-Picta' (false agave)
Guzmania cvv.
Hippeastrum cvv. (amaryllis)
Other Neoregelia cvv. (incl. 'Ardie,' 'Fireball,' 'Gazpacho,' 'Medium Rare,' 'Nuance,' 'Perfection,' 'Victoria,' 'Yang')
Sansevieria trifasciata cvv., sometimes, at least to a first approximation (snake plant, mother-in-law tongue)
Tillandsia cyanea (pink quill)
Other Tillandsia spp. (air plant)
Vriesea imperialis (aka Alcantarea imperialis, giant bromeliad)
Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi
Vriesea splendens (flaming sword)

I know I have to be missing hundreds of plants here, so throw 'em out there as they occur to you. If you want to.


our friend Ben said...

Gasp. Didn't you just *have* to go and mention a Clivia I didn't know about! Oh, no...

Good to Grow said...

That Riki is gorgeous!

mr_subjunctive said...

our friend Ben:

Sorry. I didn't mean to.

Good to Grow:

They make pretty good houseplants, too, though I've learned that if you want to keep the yellow variegation, you have to give them fairly strong light, stronger than is usually necessary for Dracaenas.

Anonymous said...

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger' is equally slow outside here in Z 6, but I suspect that strong light helps speed growth.


Joseph said...

I've never heard of using ophiopogon as a house plant... it performs quite nicely for me outside, where I have it in a fair amount of sun.

mr_subjunctive said...


I've seen references to Ophiopogon as a houseplant in a couple old houseplant books. It's not incredibly satisfying, but it's also never really given me any trouble, either. Same for Liriope spicata 'Cassidy,' though the latter used to grow quite well for us year-round in the greenhouse.

Paul said...

Jas, all the Cymbidiums have that "fountainy" habit and some have flower spikes that also cascade.