New Botanist Podcast

Fortnightly Podcast out every Wednesday at 8:00 GMT

Welcome

The New Botanist aims to help new plant enthusiast to care for their plants. There is such an overwhelming amount of information out there on how to care for houseplants, some of which conflicts. 


For this podcast, we focus on a particular houseplant discussing the pros and cons of keeping, and most crucially how to care for it. We also discuss some mysterious terms such as 'indirect sunlight', various growing techniques and lift the veil some of those widely held factoids.

Listen to the trailer

New Botanist Podcast

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Meet the podcasters

Andrew Galloway

Andrew is a freelance plant expert who lives amongst hundreds of plants and even dreams about them. During his research days, he uncovered how plant roots can strengthen soil contact through releasing complex sugars (polysaccharides). This may not seem interesting at first but if roots can secure their contact with soil, they can keep extracting water during periods of droughts. Through the release of these polysaccharides, plants can entice fungi and can compete with other plants for space. On a larger scale, these molecules are responsible for helping to promote soil structure (as well as roots/fungi), thus preventing soil erosion. Andrew's role in this podcast is to answer Carinne's questions about her hosueplants.

Carinne Piekema

Carinne is an unabashed plant enthusiast and shares her house with over 70 different species.  While much of her free time is spent creating interior design projects - as often as possible involving plants - her real job is in science engagement.  She has worked as a radio producer creating science content at BBC Radio 4 and the World Service and currently heads the public engagement team for a neuroscience centre at the University of Oxford.  Carinne's role on the podcast is to ask Andrew all the questions everybody wants to ask (oh yes, and do the editing!).

Season 1

Spider Plant

S01E01: Spider Plants

The Spider Plant or Chlorophytum coscum is a classic houseplant, which was popularised in the 70s when placed within a macramé hanging planter. The spider plant is widely spread and is native to parts of Africa, Asia and Australia. One of the unique features of this houseplant is the growth of babies (or more accurately clones) that form a cascade of miniature spider plants. This plant grows well in indirect sunlight with moist soil, and is non-toxic to pets. 

[Bonus content: watering regimes]

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Show notes on Spider Plants

Chinese Money Plant

S01E02: Chinese Money Plant

The Chinese Money Plant or Pilea peperomioides  is a unique looking plant that was popularised in Scandinavia before it saw fame in the rest of the world. The Chinese Money Plant has a variety of other names including the UFO and Pancake Plant, all referring to the shape of the leaves. This plant is native to Southern China and it’s a very forgiving houseplant that prefers to grow in partial shade with moist soil. In addition, these plants will produce many babies (or clones) from the bottom of their stems.

[Bonus content: taking cuttings from your houseplants]

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Show notes on Chinese Money Plant

Fern frond opening

S01E03: Ferns

There are over 10,000 species of ferns, which come in a plethora of types, colours, sizes and shapes. From the delicate looking Asparagus Fern to the more tough rugged looking Staghorn. Ferns add a bit of sophistication to any household from their ancient roots, evolving over 360 million years ago. Instead of having leaves these ancient plants have stylish fronds. Ferns generally prefer partial shade with moist soil.  

[Bonus content: monitoring humidity levels]

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Show notes on Ferns

CORRECTION:  In this episode I mentioned a that ferns  have a 'thalamus'  used in their reproduction, I should I said 'prothallus'.

ZZ Plant

S01E04: ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant, full name Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a hardy glossy dark green leaf houseplant that grows well in indirect sunlight. This plant is originally from eastern parts of African, so quite drought tolerant and can easily be propagated my leaf cuttings. The ZZ Plant was first popularised by Dutch growers and has recently become highly fashionable.

[Bonus content: watching out for nutrient deficiencies]

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Show notes on ZZ Plant

Devil's Ivy

S01E05: Devil's Ivy

Devil's Ivy or Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a popular trailing or hanging houseplant, which comes in a plethora of colours from golden to light green, to variegated. Devil's Ivy are very tolerant plants that can grow in low light levels. This houseplant can easily be propagated by leaf cuttings placed in water. Devil's Ivy can be found climbing on trees in the rainforests of South East Asia, and grows well in humid areas.

[Bonus content: thickening out your trailing/climbing houseplants]

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Show notes on Devil's Ivy

Mothers-in-Law's Tongue

S01E06: Mothers-in-Law's Tongue

The Mothers-in-Law's Tongue or Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is a perennial evergreen herb that is native to tropical parts of west Africa. This iconic houseplant is highly tolerant to low levels of light and water. This species of houseplant comes in a huge range of colours and snakes that can even be plaited into secondary shapes. The Mothers-in-Law Tongue plant can also filter out some airborne chemicals within our homes.

[Bonus content: learn about the adjustment period for your new houseplants]

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Show notes on Mothers-in-Law's Tongue

Andrew holding up a Madagascar palm

S01E07: Madagascar Palm

The Madagascar Palm or Pachypodium lamerei is a lesser known houseplant that is a highly unqiue stem succulent from the southern region of Madagascar. The Madagascar Palm grows in bright direct sunlight with regular watering.  In ideal conditions this succleent can grow up to 30 cm per year. This houseplant will add an unusal tone with its glossy blue stem that comes with long thorns arranged in a pineapple-like pattern.

[Bonus content: how to recover a houseplant that has been knocked over]

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Show notes Madagascar Palm

Monstera leaf next to window

S01E08: Swiss Cheese Plant

The Swiss Cheese Plant has been an iconic houseplant ever since the 1950s. This gorgeous evergreen climbing plant has eveloved holes within its leaves to help deal with heavy down pours, where it's naturally from the topical south of Mexico. This houseplant comes in a huge range of types and colours including some rare variegated white ones. In ideal conitions this plant can produce fruit that tastes of a strawberry mixed with mango, pineapple and passion fruit.

[Bonus content: using totem poles for your climbing houseplant]

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Show notes on Swiss Cheese Plant

Trailing Wax Plant

S01E09: Trailing Wax Plant

The Trailing Wax Plant is a stylish trailing succulent is fast growing and disease resistant. The leaves of this plant are needle like, growing up to 5 cm before splitting off into a new leaf. This plant is originally from the Himalayas and prefers bright indirect sunlight with moist soil. This plant in the wild actually grows on other plants as what is called an epiphyte. When flowering these plants produce clusters that are white with distinctive pink and yellow coronas.

[Bonus content: epiphytic plant growth habits]

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Show notes on Trailing Wax Plant

Prayer Plant

S01E10: Prayer Plants

Prayer Plants are formed of several genera of plants, all of which have striking foliage. The leaves of these plants also move, closing during the night and opening during the dawn resulting in their common name. These bold houseplants were first discovered deep within the Amazon jungle. The ornate foliage of Prayer Plants caused its rapid popularity in the 70s, making a comeback fairly recently. These plants are easily to propagated through underground rhizomes.

[Bonus content: root division]

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Show notes on Prayer Plants

Season 2 (COMING Soon 2023)

Listen to season trailer

Peace Lily

S02E01: Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a popular houseplant that is prized for its beautiful foliage and elegant white flowers. It is a member of the Araceae family and is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The Peace Lily is a relatively low-maintenance plant, making it an ideal choice for beginners. It prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. Overwatering should be avoided, as the plant can be susceptible to root rot. The peace lily also benefits from regular misting to maintain its humidity needs. One of the most notable features of the peace lily is its distinctive white flowers, which can bloom throughout the year under the right conditions. The flowers are actually a modified leaf called a spathe, which surrounds a yellowish spike called a spadix. 

[Bonus content: flowering houseplants don’t always continually flower]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Peace Lily

Chinese Evergreen

S02E02: Chinese Evergreen

The Chinese Evergreen, also known as Aglaonema, is a hardy houseplant native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. It is a member of the Araceae family and is known for its ornamental leaves, which come in various shades of green, silver, and white. Chinese Evergreen plants are easy to care for and can adapt to a wide range of growing conditions. They thrive in low to medium light, making them ideal for indoor environments. They also prefer well-draining soil that is kept moist but not waterlogged. One of the most attractive features of Chinese Evergreens is their foliage. The leaves are glossy and can have intricate patterns, making them a popular choice for adding colour and texture to indoor spaces. Some varieties of Chinese Evergreen have leaves with a mix of silver, white, and green, while others have bold green leaves with striking veins. 

[Bonus content: what to do when moving house]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Chinese Evergreen

Parlour Palm

S02E03: Parlour Palm

The Parlour Palm is a popular indoor plant that is prized for its elegant fronds and ability to thrive in low-light conditions. It is native to the rainforests of Central and South America and is one of the most widely cultivated palm species in the world. The parlour palm is a relatively small plant, growing up to 1.2 metres high with a spread of up to 90 cm. It has slender, arching stems that are covered in small, feathery fronds. The fronds are a rich, dark green colour and add a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor space. One of the key advantages of the parlour palm is its ability to thrive in low-light conditions. It is tolerant of shade and can be grown successfully in areas with minimal natural light, making it a popular choice for offices, bedrooms, and other indoor spaces that do not receive direct sunlight. 

[Bonus content: defining what light levels mean; direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, medium sunlight, shade]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Parlour Palm

Jade Plant

S02E04: Jade Plant

The Jade Plant is a very popular and easy-to-care-for succulent that is native to South Africa. It is a member of the Crassulaceae family and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant around the world. The Jade Plant is a slow-growing shrub that can reach up to a metre in height and width. It has thick, fleshy leaves that are a glossy green colour and are shaped like small ovals or coins. In the right conditions, the plant can also produce small, star-shaped flowers that are a pale pink colour. One of the most notable features of the Jade Plant is its ability to store water in its leaves, making it highly drought-tolerant. As a result, it is an ideal choice for those who live in dry climates or who do not want to water their plants frequently.

[Bonus content: the best starter houseplants]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Jade Plant

Weeping fig

S02E05: Figs

Figs are not only delicious fruits that are enjoyed fresh or dried, but they are also a popular choice for houseplants due to their attractive foliage and ease of care. There are several varieties of figs that can be grown indoors, including the Fiddle Fig (Ficus lyrata), Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), and the Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica). Figs are tropical plants that prefer bright, indirect light and consistent moisture. They should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, and care should be taken not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. Figs also benefit from regular misting to maintain their humidity needs. One of the most notable features of figs as houseplants is their attractive foliage. Fiddle-leaf figs have large, violin-shaped leaves that add a dramatic touch to any indoor space, while weeping figs have small, glossy leaves that create a lush, tropical look. Rubber plants have thick, leathery leaves that range in colour from dark green to variegated shades of pink, cream, and yellow. In addition to their looks, figs also have air-purifying properties that can help to improve indoor air quality. 

[Bonus content: irritating white sap]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Figs

String-of-Hearts

S02E06: String-of-Hearts

The String-of-Hearts or chain of hearts is a popular trailing houseplant that is prized for its delicate, heart-shaped leaves and unique growth habit. It is native to South Africa. This plant is a relatively low-maintenance plant that prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil. It is drought-tolerant and should be watered only when the soil is completely dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it is important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. One of the most notable features of string of hearts is its delicate, heart-shaped leaves that grow on slender, trailing stems. The leaves are a rich, green colour with silver or white variegation along the edges, giving the plant a unique, almost ethereal appearance. String of hearts can grow up to several feet in length and is often grown in hanging baskets or as a trailing plant on a trellis.

[Bonus content: choice of plant pot matters]

Not yet available 

Show notes on String-of-Hearts

Philodendrons on shelf

S02E07: Philodendrons

Philodendrons are a popular choice for houseplants due to their attractive foliage, ease of care, and adaptability to a wide range of indoor environments. There are several varieties of philodendrons that can be grown indoors. Philodendrons prefer bright, indirect light and well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. They are relatively low-maintenance plants that do not require frequent fertilisation or pruning. They do benefit from occasional misting to maintain their humidity needs. One of the most notable features of philodendrons as houseplants is their attractive foliage. Heart-leaf Philodendrons have small, heart-shaped leaves that are a rich, dark green colour, while others have large, deeply lobed leaves that create a tropical look. Fiddle-leaf Philodendrons have long, narrow leaves that resemble a fiddle or violin, adding a unique touch to any indoor space. 

[Bonus content: best medium to use to grow your houseplants]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Philodendrons

African Mask Plant

S02E08: Alocasia

Alocasia, also known as the Elephant Ear Plant are tropical houseplants that are prized for their large, striking leaves and unique growth habit. There are several varieties of Alocasia that can be grown indoors, including the Alocasia amazonica, Alocasia zebrina, and Alocasia macrorrhiza. One of the most notable features of these stunning plants are their large striking leaves that grow on slender, upright stems. The leaves are typically a rich, dark green colour with striking white or silver veins, and can grow up to 1.2 metres high. Alocasia plants are often grown as statement pieces or focal points in a room due to their unique appearance. 

[Bonus content: what to look for when buying a houseplant]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Alocasia

Umbrella Plant

S02E09: Umbrella Plant

The Umbrella Plant is a highly popular houseplant that is prized for its attractive foliage and ease of care. It is a member of the Araliaceae family and is native to parts of southeast Asia. Umbrella Plants are typically grown for their lush, glossy foliage, which consists of several small, oval-shaped leaflets that grow on long, thin stems. The leaves are typically a rich, dark green colour, although some cultivars may have variegated or lighter-coloured foliage. One of the most notable features of umbrella plants as houseplants is their adaptability to a wide range of indoor environments. They can tolerate low light conditions, although they will grow more slowly in these conditions, and they can also tolerate warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels.

[Bonus content: growing houseplants in water]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Umbrella Plant

Wandering Jew

S02E10: Wandering Jew

The Wandering Jew is an ionic houseplant that is valued for its striking purple and green leaves and trailing growth habit. It is native to Mexico and Central America and is a member of the spiderwort family. The leaves of the Wandering Jew are typically a rich, deep purple colour on the upper surface and a bright, iridescent green on the undersides, creating a striking contrast. The leaves are elongated and oval-shaped, growing up to 7 cm in length. The houseplant is an easy-to-care-for houseplant that prefers bright, indirect light and well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. It should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, and care should be taken not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. 

[Bonus content: when climbers/trailers look tired, take cuttings and replace the whole houseplant]

Not yet available 

Show notes on Wandering Jew

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