Indoor Plants

BHG Guest Blogger

Chasing the Winter Blues with Lively Greens!

The following is a guest blog post from Katie McCoy Dubow.

The winter blues affects us all differently, but surrounding yourself with fresh, colorful plants all winter is sure to be the cure for what ails you.

With color, texture, drama and a touch of whimsy, indoor plants instantly liven up any room with their individual personalities and will help you beat the winter blues this year. Whether it’s a terrarium full of succulents or the bold colors of an amaryllis, there is an indoor garden that will fit your style, mood and taste.

Besides what they give back in aesthetics, one of the greatest things indoor plants do is provide much needed humidity in the winter months and freshen the air year round.

Here are four, easy indoor garden styles to brighten up your home this winter:

Craft a mini garden with maximum impact.
Terrariums are a popular garden style because they require little maintenance to flourish, yet have an endlessly elegant look.  The key to success is choosing the right plants. A great variety to start with is Golden Club Moss because it thrives in a low light, high moisture environment. Other great starter plants include water-retaining, light-loving succulents and cacti. They’re virtually indestructible and come in many colors, shapes and varieties.

Learn how to make your own terrarium.

Create inner peace.
Creating this indoor garden will help calm and relax your mind. Every aspect of a Zen garden — its nature, construction and upkeep — is designed for contemplation and reflection. Rocks and sand make up the basic elements, but beyond that it’s up to you. NativeCast’s dish containers work perfectly as a base for your Zen garden because of their size and shape.  Have fun with it and think of it as an ever changing work of art.

Photo credit: NativeCast

Even more Japanese garden inspiration.

Make your room come alive.
Greenery is growing in surprising places. Just look up and around. Now you can get your nature fix inside with your very own living walls or vertical gardens. If you have the time and resources, or want a visually dramatic look for a room, living walls are the ticket.

Garden expert at Costa Farms, Justin Hancock, says that living green walls are a great way to maximize the benefits of houseplants by purifying the air and beautifying spaces. Try hanging one in the kitchen planted with herbs for fresh kitchen flavors all year long.

With more and more companies selling these kits and supplies, it’s easy to re-create these gardens over a weekend.
 

Make your own living wall.

Pop a color that will last all winter.
Growing bulbs indoors in the winter lets you enjoy the colors and fragrance of spring even though it’s still months away.  But now’s the time to get started.

First, choose your bulbs. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus from Longfield Gardens are perfect for indoor gardening because they don’t require any chill time. I like to plant bulbs every week in the winter, so I can have blooming flowers all winter long.  Paperwhites will bloom in four to six weeks, amaryllis in six to eight.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens

Here are my top 12 favorite ways to decorate with amaryllis.

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Katie McCoy Dubow is creative officer at Garden Media, a PR firm specializing in the horticulture industry.

 

 

 

 

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Whitney Curtis

5 Easy Indoor Plants

Since it’s National Indoor Plant Week this week, I thought I’d show you a few easy indoor plants to inspire you to add some greenery to your home. I have a bunch of indoor plants around my house, they really do add depth and life to any room – and they purify the air too! Below are my top five picks for indoor plants, as well as light and water requirements. And here are a few more houseplant suggestions.

 

Maidenhair Fern

Light:  Low light
Watering:  High humidity and consistent moisture (I water mine daily!)
More info on Maidenhair fern here.

national indoor plant week

Philodendron “Orange Prince”

Light:  Low light
Watering:  Moderately moist soil, water once or twice a week

philodendron national indoor plant week

Pachira Aquatica (aka The Money Tree!)

Light:  Bright light, no direct sun
Watering:  Moist soil, high humidity

pachira aquatica money plant national indoor plant week

 

Aphelandra (aka Zebra Plant)

Light:  Bright light, no direct sun
Watering:  High humidity, moist soil (Don’t let the soil dry out!)
More houseplants with fantastic foliage here.

aphelandra national indoor plant week

Bromeliad

Light:  Medium light
Watering:  Moist soil, but tolerant if you forget every now and then. (You can water into the stem where the leaves form a little cup at the base, above the soil. It’s actually a good idea to keep some water in that “cup.”)

bromeliad national indoor plant week

 

 


Denny Schrock

Trends in indoor gardening

The Tropical Plant Industry Expo is the place to go to see what’s hot in indoor gardening. The fact that it’s held in southern Florida in mid-January, is another incentive to attend! Trends that I saw this year include a resurgence in the popularity of terrariums and dish gardens. But these aren’t simply a return to mass-produced fad gardens from the 1970s. Modern mini-landscapes have more style and individuality. Often they’re displayed in unique containers or feature sculptural plants. The emphasis is on tough, easy-care plants such as succulents and bromeliads. Here are some examples that I saw at this year’s Expo.

The ribbed glass on this terrarium adds a unique perspective, resembling a pumpkin. It makes a great centerpiece.

The ceramic base on this terrarium hides the soil and root zone while displaying the foliage clearly.

Put that cupcake holder to use displaying begonias, ferns, peperomias, nerve plants, and miniature palms.

Spikes of maroon Dracaena marginata explode from a bed of heavily patterned peacock plant (Maranta) in this combo.

These earth stars (Cryptanthus), a type of bromeliad, look other-worldly when displayed on a pedestal.

Echeverias, kalanchoe, and peperomia team to create amazing texture and color in this succulent dish garden.


Denny Schrock

Indoor plants of steel

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.


Justin W. Hancock

Watch for Hitchhikers

Mealybug on HibiscusEvery fall I bring into the house a large number of my favorite tropical plants from the summer season. Because I’m fortunate enough to live in a house with very large windows, I get enough light to keep most of my plants going through the cold months.

 

I’ve learned from experience that it’s vital to watch for pests — and treat them before they make it into the house. One of the most troublesome is mealybug. It looks like a little tiny white piece of cotton when young; it’s easy to miss. Mealybugs reproduce like wildfire — and just one hitchhiker can turn into a full-scale epidemic in just a couple of months.

 

Prevent pests from being problematic by:

  • Hosing off plants with a strong stream of water from the garden hose before you bring them in.
  • Carefully examining plants for the actual insects (a magnifying glass helps).
  • Spraying plants with insecticidal soap (available at your local garden center), making sure to get the tops and bottoms of the leaves.
  • Cutting plants back a bit, as many insects prefer to feed on the new growth.

Justin W. Hancock

It’s Orchid Time

PhalaenopsisIn his last post, my boss Doug Jimerson mentioned how he saw pussy willows as a sign of spring coming. Outside my home landscape is still pretty bleak and cold (the wind chill was -21F when I went to work this morning), but inside I’m happy to also be seeing signs of spring.

I became hooked on orchids a couple of years ago, and now a table in my back porch houses a collection of about 30 or so different varieties of easy-to-grow moth orchids (Phalaenopsis). For me, most of these beauties bloom once a year and that’s in early spring. The plants are just starting to send up spikes now, so I know the spring season really must be right around the corner.

When my moth orchids begin showing off their lovely blooms, it’s a cue that I can start fertilizing my other houseplants again after their winter rest. I always start out slow, giving them about 1/4 the recommended dose for a month or so.

If you’re a cold-climate gardener like me, are you seeing signs of spring? If you’re a warm-climate gardener, what’s blooming in your yard now? Share by commenting below!