Variegated Screw Pine makes a handsome houseplant. It's long-lived, too. Give this tropical plant what it wants and you'll enjoy it for many years.
Here you'll discover how to grow Pandanus veitchii indoors. Find out how much light, water and fertilizer to give it year-round -- plus, when to repot and why its leaf tips turn brown.
Screw Pine is fast-growing and will need plenty of room. Even young plants quickly grow a trunk, with leaves spiraling upward. Those arching, creamy yellow-and-green striped leaves will eventually grow up to 3 ft (90 cm) long. It's a good idea to set your plant where it won't be brushed against -- the spiny edges are sharp.
As plants mature, they'll develop aerial roots. In their native seaside habitat, those stilt roots help to anchor plants from strong winds. Of course, aerial roots are not needed on plants grown indoors -- you can simply tuck them into the pot.
Known by its botanically name Pandanus veitchii, this plant has origins in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. That tells you how to treat it: Give this tropical house plant plenty of sunlight, warmth and humidity and you'll find it easy to grow.
How big does it get? Screw Pine is capable of reaching 40 ft or more in its native environment. However, grown indoors in a container, Screw Pine will reach a height of about 5 ft (1.5 m).
Brown leaf tips are typically caused by dry air. Give this tropical plant high humidity like its native Polynesia and you'll make it feel right at home.
Variegated leaves that turn all green is from lack of sunlight. Move Screw Pine to a brighter location. See "light" tips below.
Repot in spring every year to give it room to grow. Move Pandanus veitchii to a pot 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) larger.
Something bugging your plant? Watch for spider mites that thrive in dry air during the winter months. These sap-sucking pests cause yellow spots on leaves and may cause leaf tips to curl. You'll probably first notice the fine webbing between leaves. Another possible pest are brown scale insects along the leaves. Treat any infestation immediately to prevent them from moving on to your other indoor plants.
Clean leaves regularly. Dust can interfere with photosynthesis, which helps plants to transform light into energy they need to grow. Keep leaves dust-free by wiping them with a damp cloth. Regular cleaning also helps to prevent spider mites.
Light: Bright light with some full sun. Leaves that turn all green are not getting enough light. You can move your plant outdoors for the summer, if you want, but keep it shaded from strong midday sun. Screw Pine thrives under fluorescent light, too, making it an ideal office plant.
Water: Water thoroughly to wet all roots, allowing water to drain through drainage holes. Allow potting medium to dry out slightly before watering again. Water less often in winter, when growth is slower. Remember to always use tepid water when watering your houseplants.
Humidity: Give this tropical native at least 50% relative humidity all year. Homes can become extremely dry in winter; it's a good idea to use a humidity monitor rather than guess. The most efficient way to boost humidity for tropical plants is with a cool-mist room humidifier.
Temperature: Average to warm (65-80°F/18-27°C) year-round. Keep Screw Pine away from cold drafts, including A/C vents.
Soil: Good-quality potting medium with a couple handfuls of horticultural sand mixed in for faster drainage.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Don't feed in winter, when growth is slower.
Propagation: Mature plants will grow offshoots -- called pups -- that can be cut away and potted separately.