Are these gloomy winter days getting you down? One way to brighten up your home is the addition of tropical houseplants. Some of my favorite flowering ones are moth orchids (Phalaenopsis species), amaryllis (Hippeastrum species), cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum), kalanchoes (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana), and African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha). I also like adding interesting foliage plants such as bird’s nest (Asplenium nidus) and rabbit foot ferns (Davallia fejeensis), pothos (Epipremnum aureum), heartleaf philodendrons (Philodendron hederaceum), and snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata). An indoor garden, especially during the winter, helps satisfy my need to be surrounded by plants. My husband claims he’s living in an indoor jungle but secretly enjoys being surrounded by plants.
Not only do houseplants provide an aesthetic touch to your home, but they also help purify the air. If you have pets that like to nibble on plants, do your research before purchasing a plant to ensure that what you’re bringing into your home is not poisonous. The ASPCA Poisonous Plant site is an excellent source for finding a toxic and non-toxic plant list for dogs, cats, and horses.
Every fall, I order several amaryllis bulbs (Hippeastrum species) to pot up for flowering through December, January, and February. Watching the flower stalk(s) emerge for several weeks before blooming provides much enjoyment. After flowering, I can plant the bulbs in my landscape in the spring when the fear of frost has passed. For more information on amaryllis, see HGIC 1551, Amaryllis.
Another favorite that gives me months of flowering is a moth or Phalaenopsis orchid. These orchids are some of the easiest to grow and usually cost the same as a bouquet of fresh flowers. For information on orchid care, see HGIC General Care for Phalaenopsis Orchids.
African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are a favorite of many houseplant aficionados. When cared for properly, these beautiful plants will flower for three to six weeks. The delicate flowers are available in a wide variety of colors and shapes. For more information on African violets, see HGIC 1550, African Violet.
Other flowering plants that provide weeks or months of enjoyment are cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) and kalanchoes (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana). These plants are readily available during the winter months and are great floral gifts for Valentine’s Day. For more information, see HGIC 1564, Cyclamen, and HGIC 1563, Kalanchoe.
Don’t overlook adding foliage plants to your collection. They add texture and color to your indoor displays. They are easy to care for if you provide the right growing conditions and don’t overwater them. When you bring a new plant home to add to your collection, I recommend isolating it from your other plants for a week or two. Observe the new plant to make sure you’re not bringing home any insect or disease issues that could spread to your other plants.
For more information on caring for your houseplants, see HGIC 1459, Indoor Plants-Watering; HGIC 1458, Transplanting & Repotting; HGIC 2251, Houseplant Diseases & Disorders; and HGIC 2252, Common Houseplant Insects & Related Pests.