Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

Chinese evergreen

Who knew that January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day? I certainly didn’t until I came across it in an obscure reference. But it makes sense to celebrate the beauty and health benefits that plants bring to indoor living and working spaces during the depths of winter. (Okay, not so much THIS winter when we’ve been enjoying springlike temperatures for weeks on end here in Iowa.)

If you’ve shied away from houseplants because you’re afraid of killing them, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery with Plants of Steel. This is a term coined by Costa Farms, one of the largest suppliers of houseplants in the world. Among their Plants of Steel, they list four foolproof plants: Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), snake plant (Sansevieria), and Zeezee plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). I don’t know how they could have missed cast-iron plant (Aspidistra) and the ubiquitous pothos (Epipremnum), often mistakenly called “philodendron”, so I’ve added them to my short list pictured below.

Check out the bhg.com website for more easy-to-grow houseplants.

Most forms of Chinese evergreen have variegated silver and green foliage.

'Valentine' aglaonema is one of the colorful new Thai forms of this easy-care houseplant.

This ponytail palm is more than 30 years old, surviving more than ten moves, a testament to its toughness.

Snake plant is so easy that even my mother could grow it! It's one of the few houseplants that she managed to keep alive.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a mouthful to say, so simplify it by calling it zeezee plant. It needs little water because it has thick, succulent leaves.

As it's name suggests, cast-iron plant is a tough-as-nails houseplant.

Silver Queen pothos has lovely marbled cream and green foliage on a vining plant.

Valentine aglaonema

Pink Thai aglaonemas aren’t entirely new. But they certainly haven’t hit mainstream just yet. That may be about to change, if what I saw at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo last month is any indication. At least half a dozen vendors featured these glorious beauties in their booths. They definitely made me lust after them!

These showy cousins of the more common Chinese evergreen make sturdy, dependable houseplants, but are  slower growing, and require a bit more light to maintain their colorful foliage. Slower growth and relative rarity means they are more expensive, if you’re lucky enough to find them.

Some are almost gaudy, like the hot pink ‘Valentine’ pictured at left. (I think that it would make a great Valentine’s Day gift, don’t you?) If you prefer a more subtle effect, perhaps one of the other varieties pictured below would be a better choice.

Look for these colorful foliage plants to make a splash soon in garden centers!

Etta Rose aglaonema

Siam Aurora aglaonema

Aun Ya Manee aglaonema

Sparkling Sarah aglaonema

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