I’m not talking about money (although it never hurts to have more cash!) I’m speaking of adding green living plants to your home. Studies have shown growing houseplants can reduce stress and anxiety. There is a feeling of well being knowing you are caring for a living plant. Some plants actually help purify dangerous chemicals released by upholstery and carpets.
Plants need three basic things to thrive, good soil, sunlight, and water. The biggest mistake many people make is either over or under watering plants. Some plants need more water, others less. A good bag of potting soil, a decorate pot, and a small plant is a good way to start. A little fertilizer might be OK in the warmer months, but should be avoided in the winter because of less light. Often growing plants can be a challenge in our homes heated with forced air because it produces a low humidity environment for plants. Some growers provide additional humidity by misting or sitting the pots on stones with water.
Flowering houseplants usually require more sun by a window on the south side. A window facing east is great for many foliage plants. Northern or western exposure can be a bit more challenging, but there are many plants that will grow and do well in less light. If sunlight is a problem, there are many types of grow lights and light stands that will allow you to grow plants in the house. I have a two tiered grow light stand in my bathroom and the foliage plants, and African Violets, Begonias and other plants thrive under the artificial light. For years my mother has used a hydroponic machine that provides a soil-less growing medium and grow light. She likes to grow fresh herbs with her portable garden and it is amazing how much they produce. When I first saw the machine at a nursery it had a cherry tomato plants growing and hanging to the floor and loaded down with juicy red fruits!
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For low light conditions there are several plants that will do well. Philodendrons come in many shapes and sizes and leaf color. Many times you will see Philodendron vines rambling on the top of office cubicles, flourishing under the overhead florescent lights. There are many types of Philodendrons from vines to large leafed plants. A similar plant is the Pothos vine, and is probably one of the easiest houseplants to grow!
Snake Plants, or Mother-in-Law Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) is nearly indestructible. The plants have a wide variety of interesting variegation to its long tongue-like leaves. I am fond of a Sansevieria that resembles spears. I have both small and large varieties of these unusual plants. The larger ‘spears’ grow 3-4 feet tall. They can thrive in low light and only need an occasional drink of water. Occasionally they will bloom with a stalk of extremely sweet, small white flowers. When I was eight years old I bought a Snake plant for three cents at a greenhouse up the street and still have a huge pot of its offspring, over 50 years later!
The Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum plants is another low light plant that likes moisture and will produce a beautiful white bloom-like spath. There are different kinds of Peace Lilies, some small some large and the variegated leaf variety is stunning when not in flower.
An old favorite is the Spider Plant or Airplane Plant. (Chlorophytum comosum.) The plant has long thin narrow leaves and produces an abundance little baby plants that look great draping down from a hanging basket. While the green variety is nice, the variegated leaves with white and green stripes is much nicer. They will often have small white blooms. This plant needs a bit more light to do well, but is easy to grow.
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Dracaena is an easy to grow plant for medium light and comes in many forms. Often the ‘Dragon Tree’ is sold, with long slender, often variegated leaves gracefully hanging from a main stem. Another variety of Dracaena is the ‘Corn Plant.’ Large variegated leaves grow from a thick trunk resembling a corn stalk. In their natural environments these plants grow large and are long-lived. Some varieties produce a red resin or sap that has been referred to as dragon’s blood.
The Chinese Evergreen plant (Aglaonema) loves both low light and lots of water and moisture. It is often grown in bathrooms because it enjoys the steam from hot showers. The plant is grown for its colorful or variegated foliage. I have two that have pink leaves and really brightens up a dark window!
In the last few years cacti and succulents have become immensely popular. These sun loving plants grow with little water and can stand up to some neglect. There are hundreds of types, sizes, and shapes and colors of succulents and cacti. Some are right down bizarre! Some bloom easily. Collecting them can become an addiction.
These are only a small sample of the many kinds of plants that can be grown in your home. I have only scratched the surface. If you are not sure where to start, I’d Google, ‘easy to grow houseplants’ and the next time you are at the store pick up a couple small plants. I promise, growing green living plants will lift your spirits and make winter easier to endure!
Born and raised in Ohio Rick presently lives in an old house in a small central Ohio town, famous for its giant gourds. Rick comes from a family of avid gardeners. Now retired, he had the privilege to work with people with disabilities for over thirty years. His tiny city garden is crammed with an assortment or a collection of plants. During the long cold Ohio winters he continues gardening in the house and in his small backyard greenhouse. He is passionate about plants and writing. In his youth he traveled the world. The diversity of plants around the world is amazing! He especially enjoyed my time teaching in a bush school in Africa and spending a summer with the legendary Masai Tribe on the Serengeti Plain. For years, he has enjoyed the study of the ancient uses for plants and herbs. Many cultures today still believe in the magical qualities of plants. Grow a tomato, a tree, or plant some tulip bulbs, or grow some herbs in your kitchen window. It will make you feel good and you will be making our world a better place!