Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


My ‘Lady Margaret’ passionflower is blooming up a storm, adding a tropical touch to my front porch. Sadly, the weather forecast is predicting temperatures in the 30s next weekend, reminding me that summer has passed.

Happily, passionflowers are pretty easy to keep growing indoors if you have a big, bright window. In fact, you can overwinter a lot of tender plants, including elephant’s ears, geraniums, tropical hibiscus, coleus, and mandevilla.

The key to success is lots of light. Unobstructed south- or west-facing windows are ideal, and the bigger the better. If you don’t have windows that work, you can also set up a shop light inside to host some of your favorite plants. Believe it or not, most will grow just fine without any natural light at all!

One other key thing to watch for if you move plants inside is drafts. Avoid putting plants near drafty doors or windows, and be sure to keep them away from heat vents. Because most tropicals come from humid areas, grouping plants together or using a humidity tray can help keep them from developing brown leaf edges over the winter.

Yesterday was a long and somewhat frustrating day at the office. Happily, I was treated to something fun when I arrived home: A big, bold, red bloom from my grape-leaf passionflower.

I really love passionflowers and most aren’t hardy outdoors where I live so I have to bring them in the house every winter unless I treat them as annuals and buy new plants each year.

Keeping exotic, tropical plants in the house sounds like it must be hard, but it’s not as bad as you might think. I don’t put any more effort into growing passionflowers, for example, than I do a big old ficus I inherited from a coworker years ago. The tropicals do fine indoors as long as you have a bright enough spot for them — under natural or artificial light, so even if you don’t have a good window for them, you could set up a low-cost shop light in a corner.

If they get enough light, all you need to do is keep them watered — just enough to prevent them from wilting, but not so much that the soil stays moist all the time. If the leaf tips turn brown, the air is probably a little dry, but grouping plants together can help, as can setting a small humidifier nearby. (Get more tips for increasing humidity here.)

Do you grow any houseplants? If so, comment below to share your favorites!

While there’s  still a bit blooming in my garden (for example, ‘Rozanne’ geranium, ‘Luscious Citrus Blend‘ lantana, and ‘Little Mischief’ shrub rose), my attention has pretty much turned to my indoor garden.

I have some of the usual suspects (ficus and moth orchids, for example), but I also grow some less traditional choices, including a white double impatiens (shown here), a few fun plectranthus, and of course my favorite passionflowers.

Why bother with so many houseplants? Besides the fact that I’m a gardening fanatic, I know they also help my health. A number of scientific studies have revealed that simply having plants around can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help improve concentration.

Plants are good for my physical health in other ways, too. NASA experiments have shown that plants are able to remove nasty pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air.

And my indoor plants release moisture into the air as a part of their breathing process — this increases the relative humidity in the rooms where I keep my plants. Spending time in these rooms is like a mini vacation from the desert-dry air coming out of my home’s furnace.

Really when it all comes down to it, though, I’m a plant lover. Do you have houseplants? If so, share your reasons with me by commenting below!

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