Houseplants to Brighten the Home

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 by Jenny Watts
    • Chrysanthemums give the brightest colors for fall. Choose them in bloom now at your nursery.
    • Cool season vegetables should be planted right away to insure good crops this fall.
    • When lily flowers fade, remove the flowers but don’t cut back the stems until leaves have yellowed in the fall.
    • Dig up and divide bearded iris which are too crowded and did not bloom well last spring. Mix some bone meal into the soil, and plant the rhizomes just beneath the soil surface.
    • Lilac bushes will bloom better next spring if you cut back on the watering now.

The Hardiest of Houseplants

There are houseplants that even the brown thumbed gardeners can enjoy. They require minimal care and are able to put up with irregular watering, low-light conditions and occasional feeding.

Some of the best and easiest houseplants are in the Dracaena family. Dracaena fragrans “Massangeana” (corn plant) and D. deremensis (Janet Craig) adapt well to low light conditions yet remain attractive. Both have wide strap-like leaves. The first with a yellow stripe down the center and the latter, a dark lush green.

Dracaena Warneckii, also called Striped dracaena, is a handsome plant with distinctive white stripes down the center of each leaf. There is also a “Lemon Lime” variety that has dramatic green and yellow stripes on its foliage.

Dracaena marginatas have thin leaves. They make elegant, tall plants for a corner or to add a vertical dimension to a wall or entryway.

The ZZ plant is a new introduction to the houseplant trade. It resembles a Sago palm but is much easier to grow. It handles low light, little water, variable temperatures and neglect and still looks attractive. Large plants can reach 3 feet in height, so give it a little room to spread.

Aglaonema, or Chinese Evergreen, is valued for its lush green leaves that often have silver or cream variegations on them. It is one of the best for low light situations and will tolerate light watering but thrives with lots of water.

Spathiphyllum is one of the few plants that will flower well indoors. It has large dark
green leaves on slender stems and its flower resembles a calla lily. It is known as Peace Lily or White Flag.

Sansevieria or Snake Plant is almost indestructible. It will tolerate low light levels and little watering; during winter it only needs watering every couple of months. It will rot easily if overwatered.

Chamaedorea elegans (Neanthe Bella Palm or Parlor Palm) is a small palm tree, growing slowly to 3 feet tall with slender, cane-like stems. It is often grown as a houseplant, and was particularly popular in the Victorian era. It prefers moderate to high humidity, but will grow in low to average home humidity. It can be grown in low light, but it grows faster with bright, indirect light.

For hanging plants it’s hard to beat trailing philodendrons or pothos. Philodendron cordatum is a tough, long-lived, trailing plant. They can live for 10 years or more in the same 6-inch pot. A new variety called ‘Brasil’ is a very showy plant with its rounded leaves splashed with creams and greens. It requires very little care.

Pothos is similar in appearance to the trailing philodendron. Its leaves have bright yellow streaks on top of an apple green background. A white and green variety is called ‘Marble Queen’. Both will take low light conditions and will grow to 20 feet or more, if you let them. Just keep the soil evenly moist.

There’s a houseplant for almost every condition. Houseplants bring beauty as well as freshening the air in our indoor environments.