Around the Garden: Hail to Houseplants

Just because your yard is gray and lifeless this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t fill your house with freshness and color. Houseplants are the best antidote to winter.

gardenthumb
Published February 13, 2012 5:15 PM
3 min read

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gardenthumbJust because your yard is gray and lifeless this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t fill your house with freshness and color. Houseplants are the best antidote to winter.

By Chris Cohan

Just because your yard is gray and lifeless this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t fill your house with freshness and color. Houseplants are the best antidote to winter.

They come in just about every shape and size, so you have plenty to choose from. There are multicolored foliage plants like croton, low-light loving podophyllum, and flowering plants like orchids and cyclamen.

Cyclamen is my favorite winter houseplant. They will continue to bloom for a long time while helping cleanse the air you breathe. Their big, bright flowers perk you up and do their best to filter toxins from the air. (It sure would be nice to have someone with those credentials running for president.)

And they can be planted in the semi-shade garden for the summer.

Water your houseplants well, until the soil is moist and water comes out the bottom. Overwatering is only a problem if you water too frequently.

Your finger is the best indicator to determine when a plant needs watering. Stick it in the soil, and if the soil is dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. If you see leaves drooping or flowers fading fast, these are signs of stress. Take immediate watering action.

As the weather gets colder, the heat turns on more often and the humidity in the house drops. Low humidity and hot-blowing air ducts are difficult on plants as well as you. Anything done to increase humidity will be beneficial. Misting the foliage frequently, placing oversized pans with two inches of gravel and one inch of water set below the plant, as well as grouping plants together are all ways to increase humidity.

Insects thrive in a hot, dry environment. So inspect your plants for red spider mite, scale, and mealy bug. One easy trick is to shake them occasionally and see if anything flies about. This can be messy. Take your plants to a sink or bathtub when you plan to water, and shake them.

Then look under the leaves, as that is where many pests are to be found. Pick off all dead flowers and declining leaves.

Treat pests with an organic control immediately as suggested by Glen from Diamond Pest Control. Plants close to a window may form condensation on their leaves and can be prone to disease problems such as mildew or botrytis. Treat as any symptoms develop.

Not only are indoor plants aesthetically pleasing, they also create a healthy environment for you and your family by helping remove toxins that are prevalent in today’s homes.

If you’re feeling those midwinter blues, flowering plants are just the ticket. For a surefire pick-me-up, take a trip to a botanical garden or local nursery, where many flowers are in bloom.

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