Houseplants!

House plants are always popular but we probably appreciate them more at this time of year than any other.  We are inside more when the days are shorter and the cold outside is less inviting.  We miss the green vegetation and fresh air we get in the other three seasons.  We can bring part of that life of outdoor living into our homes with houseplants.

There are hundreds, even thousands of plants that will work well inside the house but whether they work, just sit there in a holding pattern or whether they grow is largely a factor of light.  Some plants need a lot more light and others can tolerate less light.  Houseplants bring many benefits beyond just decorating or making your home or office look good.  They are amazing air purifiers, cleaning carbon dioxide and many pollutants from the air while providing you lots of fresh oxygen.  Study after study has shown they boost well being, improve the spirit and attitudes of people around them and can even address serious problems like sick building syndrome and other challenges of today’s tighter, more sealed homes and offices.  NASA has done extensive research on the importance of plants in exposed spaces and has determined they can remove up to eighty-seven percent of volatile organic compounds in items like carpet, paints and ink.  NASA has done their research on just a few plants. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), orchids, airplane plants, philodendron ivies and ferns all were effective in removing indoor toxins while looking pretty and adding interest to your home or office.  Houseplants can add color as they add height and texture to your interior spaces.  You can grow and keep houseplants for months, years or even generations, like a special plant passed down from grandma, a parent or a friend.  Houseplants can supply seasonal color for holidays, birthdays, dinner parties or other special occasions.  In the winter most folks spend eighty to ninety percent of their time indoors and live plants help remind us of the beauty and wonders of nature. 

There are many houseplants to choose from and picking the right plant for the location where it will live and can be easily watered is the most important key to houseplant success.  Will the plant get artificial light or window light?  Is the light coming from a north, east, south or west window?  Is it by a whole wall of windows, or just a simple window?  Visit with your nurseryman to select good plants for your light conditions.  With more light available you will have more plant choices and you can select from variegated foliage or plants that have more color.

There are a few plants that do well in darker areas, they will tend to be mostly green foliage so all the plants cells are doing photosynthesis, they will grow little and will need less watering.  A few good low light houseplants include Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen), Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant), Spathphyllum (Peace Lily) and many varieties of Dracaena, philodendron, pothos ives and some varieties of ficus (Rubber plant).  As you move houseplants to better light your choices expand to include Hawaiian Schefflera, crotins, all of the dracaena, ficus, dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), orchids, ferns and even many cactus and succulents. 

Water your houseplants when dry which will vary a lot depending on the light levels, type of plant, type of soil and size of pots.  If you want to encourage new growth you can feed your houseplants every four to six waterings.  Bring some nature inside by exploring the joy of houseplants and the many ways of displaying them in traditional pots, terrariums and mixed planters. 

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