Houseplant Wiki

You wish to contribute but feel a bit at a loss about how to create a new article? You don't know how to build it, what to include and what kind of style to adopt? Please take the time to read this article. It will give you all what you need to write a quality article.

How to write a good article[]

The premise[]

The first thing to know before even thinking of creating a new article about a plant is that this article's title must be the plant's Latin name. Why? Because it simply is the best way to avoid confusion. Indeed, it is impossible for two different plants to share the same Latin name, but it is very possible that two plants share the same common name. Additionally, many plants have more than one common name, which doesn't simplify the task of figuring out which of the common names to pick for the title. Therefore, the norm to respect when writing an article is to title it with the plant's Latin name.

The creation[]

Now that you are aware of this, you can begin creating. There is two ways to create a new article. The first way is to click a red link in a text; the second way is to create a new link all by yourself.

Clicking a red link in a text is the easiest way to start the process, obviously. Clicking will direct you to an empty page that states that no article exists at the page you have accessed; all you have to do is to write your text in the box that occupies the most part of the screen by following the few little rules of the wiki. These rules are in the next section of this page.

It may however happen that you come to Houseplant Wiki with an urge to write an article about, say, Pilea microphylla. Well, OK, it may not really be an urge, but you sure do wish to write it. Problem is, you see no Pilea microphylla red link anywhere. You obviously don't have to waste five hours of your time to scroll through all of the pages of the wiki to find one, especially since it's possible that actually, no page in the wiki makes any mention of that plant. In this case, you can create your own red link. Simply type "Pilea microphyta" in the search field in the menu at the left of the wiki page, then press enter. The wiki will give you a page saying that there is no page named Pilea microphylla in the Wiki. However, the words Pilea microphylla are in red in the sentence... that's a red link you can click to get to a page just like that described in the previous paragraph.

The writing, part one - the infobox[]

Sweet! We now have a big blank box for us to write in. The first thing to do is to enter the houseplant infobox code (don't be afraid, it's simple). The infobox is a long box displayed at the right part of every article about a plant within this Wiki. Its purpose is to convey the essential information about a plant, so that readers may get all the basic information about the plant without reading a long text if he lacks the time to.

The code for the infobox goes as follows:

{{Houseplant infobox
| Name             = 
| Picture          = 
| Picturesize      = 
| Group            = 
| Division         =
| Order            = 
| Family           = 
| Genus            = 
| Species          = 
| Propagation      =
| Germination time = 
| Adult size       = 
| Lighting         = 
| Watering         = 
| Fertilization    = 
| Soil             = 
| Air moisture     =
<!---Other informations--->
| Toxicity         =

You obviously do not have to re-write all of this text; simply copy it from here and paste it in the box on the page where you want to write your article. Let's look at what's in it and how it works.

Adding these few lines will add a table at the right part of the article you are writing. However, this table will be short and empty if you don't fill the fields in the code above. Let's do it together.

  • First line is the name of the plant. in this case, let's write Pilea microphylla.
  • Second line is to add a nifty picture of the plant in the table. We'll have to upload one; for the moment, unless you already know how to, let's leave it blank. We'll fill it at a later time after we've talked about how to upload a picture to the Wiki.
  • Third line is to size the picture we've decided not to upload yet. The size is in pixels; this too will be discussed later.
  • Lines four to eight refer to the scientific classification of the plant. You may or may not be familiar with this, and you may wonder what it does here. However, this system is extremely helpful once it has been tamed, as it basically let the reader know which plant is parent to which and to what extent. Let's see how.

Fourth line is the Group of the plant. This is the broadest subdivision we'll use within the Wiki. There are several groups in the world, but only three are commonly found as houseplants:

    • Gymnosperms, which include all of the coniferous trees, all of the cycads and a handful of odd plants;
    • Angiosperms, which includes the flowering plants "only" (which is already a lot in itself, as there's 250,000 some such plants);
    • Filicopsida, which includes all of the ferns.

On rare occurrences only will we find plants falling into the groups Lycopodiophyta, which notably includes all club mosses and spike mosses, and Bryophyta, which includes all true mosses, as houseplants. The most common houseplant from these primitive groups may be Selaginella kraussiana.

  • Fifth line is the division. All of the groups above have been split into a few divisions (4 for the Gymnosperms, 8 for the Angiosperms and X for the Bryophyta) to establish further familial ties between plants. A little research may be necessary to find to which division your plant belongs to; Wikipedia is a fine place for this.
  • Sixth line is the Order. They're subsequent ramifications of the the classification system, which allow to group plants more closely related together. Again, you should search what order your plant belongs to.
  • Seventh line is the Family. Same goes as previously.
  • Eighth and ninth lines are the Genus and the species name of the plant. In this exemple, Genus name is Pilea and species name is microphylla but you must write P. before microphylla in the species field). Please note that Genus name always takes a capital letter, that species name never takes a capital letter and that both Genus and species must be written in italics, by convention. The genus and the species of a plant are like its first and last name (but in reverse order). Microphylla is like the forename of the plant; like our own forenames, it can be worn by other unrelated plants (for instance, Peperomia scandens and Philodendron scandens). Pilea is like its surname, that is also worn by other plants related to it (Pilea cadierei, Pilea microphylla, Pilea serpyllacea, etc.), similarly to what happens in our families. But Pilea microphylla is a unique name that cannot designate another plant.
  • Tenth line is the propagation method(s) commonly used with this plant; in other words, it simply says how one can grow a new plant of the species by natural means - sowing seeds, cutting, transplanting offsets, etc.
  • Eleventh line is the time it takes for a seed of the species to germinate.
  • Adult size is the maximum size a plant can reach. Often, indoor plants grow shorter than they do in the wild; that's pertinent informations to add in this field. To join a maximum of people, please include size in meters and in foot.
  • Twelfth line is light requirements. It ranges from intense to low.
  • Thirteenth line is the watering needs. It ranges from "frequent" to "rarely"; if the plant has special needs, it's a must to include them.
  • Fourteenth line is the fertilization needs, i.e. the kind of fertilizer preferred by the plant and the frequence at which the plant should be fertilized.
  • Fifteenth line is the type of soil preferred by the plant.
  • Sixteenth line is the level of atmospheric humidity preferred by the plant.
  • Seventeenth line is the toxicity of the plant. This information is helpful for young parents whose children tend to put everything in their mouths and for pet owners, whose animal may find toxic plants palatable.

The writing, part two - the introduction[]

It's always good to begin a text by an introduction. It doesn't have to be long, and should not be long either; two or three lines is largely enough. What to say in an introduction? Here is the model to adopt:

Pilea microphylla (common name: Artillery plant, Gunpowder plant or Artillery fern) is a plant of the Urticaceae family that originates from South America. The plant is popular for its small leaves, its silhouette and for its "exploding flowers". It was formerly known as Pilea muscosa.

Easy, isn't it? Remember the norm about Latin names: they must always be written in italics, the Genus name beginning by a capital and the species name by a lower case (it will never be stressed enough and may seem excessive, but it is the only correct spelling, just like the only correct spelling of the word "spelling" is "spelling" and not "speling". We strive to write our wiki without grammatical, orthographical or typological mistakes!!).

The writing, part three - the body[]

The rest of the text is what we call its body. It should include the following sections: Characteristics, Care (and its subsections: Fertilization, Light, Multiplication, Pests and diseases, Potting, Washing and Watering), Flowering, List of cultivars, Parent species, External links and References. Depending on the information available or on the plant itself, you may have nothing to say in one particular section. It is correct to leave it blank; someone who has information you lack may come afterward and edit the section. It is also possible to add sections to these.

To create a new section in a page, simply type twice the "=" symbol, the title of the section and then twice again the "=", like this:


In order to create subsections, type three "=" signs instead of two:


You can even go as far as creating subsections within subsections, and even subsections within those subsections by typing four or five "=" signs:

====Subsection of subsection====
=====Subsection of subsection of subsection=====

These create section headers exactly like those that separate this very page you are reading into sections. Now that you have your section created, you can type text to describe the plant you are talking about. All that simple! You may want to create links to other pages within the wiki as you write your text. Anything that is related to horticulture may and should be the object of what we call an internal link. In order to create an internal link, simply add two open square brackets before the word that is the object of an internal link and two closed square brackets after, like this: [[internal link]]

The writing, part four - the categories[]

Now that you're done writing your article and that you feel happy with what you have done, it is time to add categories to the page, so that your article is properly classified. This facilitates the research of similar plants and helps build the plant index. What categories to add? First one is the family of the plant. In the case of our exemple, the category would be Urticaceae. The next categories refer to characteristics of the plant. For instance, arborescent plants (that is, trees and plants who adopt a form similar to that of a tree) would fall into Category:Arborescent plants. Likewise, succulents would fall into Category:Succulent plants. These categories are fairly instinctive; to get a feel of all those available, have a look on the plant index page. The next categories to add refer to the origins of the plant. Plants issue of horticultural manipulations (hybrids, for instance) fall into Category:Hybrids. Cultivars do not go into this category, as they are the produce of selection rather than hybridization; cultivars usually don't have their own article but a section within the plant's article, anyways. All the plants that do not fall into the hybrids category originate from the wild; the categories to assign depend on where the plant comes from. For widely spread plants, general categories such as Category:Plants from South America, Category:Plants from Central America or Category:Plants from Southern Asia are perfect; for plants that are endemic (native) to specific countries, specific categories such as Category:Plants from Brazil or Category:Plants from South Africa for instance are perfect. Please note that plants of the general categories may well also be included into the specific ones; however, a plant that only occurs in one or two countries may not be included into the general ones.

To add a category to a page, simply scroll down the page and click the button that says "Add categories". All you have to do is to type the name of the category and hit enter. Repeat the process as many times as needed. Once it's done, re-read your text to correct the potential typo and spelling mistakes and click the "submit" button. Congratulations! You have posted your first article on the Wiki!

The writing, part five - the redirection[]

Now that you're done writing, there's two more little steps to make before being 100% done with the article. The first one is to create redirection to the article you have just created. Indeed, all the plants have a Latin name, but most also have one or more common names. Many plant enthusiasts will know the common names, but may not know the Latin name; should they be searching for that plant on the Wiki, it's good that they can find it. Therefore, we have to create articles for all of the common name of the plant and have then redirect the reader to this page we've just written about Pilea microphylla. This species has three common names: Artillery plant, Gunpowder plant and Artillery fern.

Let's start by creating a page entitled Artillery plant, following the method we've seen earlier in the turorial. Once at the blank page it creates, write the following code: #REDIRECT[[Pilea microphylla]]

Then click the submit button. Done! You have created your first redirection page. From now on, every time someone will click the link Artillery plant in a text or search Artillery plant in the search box, it will instantly redirect that person to Pilea microphylla. Isn't it great?

Repeat the process for every common name the plant has.

The writing, part six - the plant index[]

The last little step left before being fully done with the article you've created is to add it into the plant index directory. Go to the plant index and click the Alphabetical List of common names. Simply edit the page to add all the common names you just created. Likewise, edit the Alphabetical list of Latin names to add the main article - Pilea microphylla. And voila!! You have fully created your first article!