As the world outside our windows turns cold and white, it’s always comforting and healthy to add a little ‘green’ to our indoor spaces. When you choose your plants wisely by matching a plant’s needs with its environment, you will instantly grow a green thumb—and a more livable office, kitchen or bathroom. Fresh plants are always beautiful to look at but more importantly, their presence will improve the air quality in your home. Why not make a New Year’s resolution to give these low-maintenance plants a try? Perfect for the winter home and classics for a reason!
Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
The wide-leaved, Bird’s Nest fern adds a tropical touch to any spot. This fern does better in an indoor environment than most smaller-leaved ferns such as Maidenhair or Asparagus ferns because this one doesn’t require as much humidity. It is a very happy plant in a bathroom with only the humidity from a steamy shower.
Light: Ferns thrive in moderate but not direct sunlight. In winter, set it in an east window. In summer, place it near a northern exposure. In a low-light office, it will even thrive under fluorescent lighting.
Fertilizer: In winter, feed this fern once a month with a balanced, houseplant fertilizer. In the stronger, growing months (mid-spring through summer), feed it more often.
Water: Check the soil twice a week and water lightly. They don’t like soggy soils where the roots can rot. To make it easy, mist the plant with room-temperature water when you water it.
African Violet (Saintpaulia)
If grandmother loved this plant, there must be a good reason. The African Violet tempts us with its cheerful flowers in pink, purple, violet and bi-colors and plush, green leaves. This tidy, undemanding plant can live up to 50 years with proper care.
Light: African violets thrive in bright, indirect light but no direct sun. In winter, set it in a bright south or west exposure to keep blooms coming. In summer, place it near an east or north exposure. In a low-light office, the plant will bloom on a desk under only fluorescent lighting.
Fertilizer: Feed violets every two weeks with an African Violet fertilizer that is high in phosphorous. Or, fertilize with every watering with a diluted mixture. (Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package.)
Water: Keep soil lightly moist by watering with lukewarm water. African Violets don’t like soggy soil, so pour off the excess water that pools in the saucer. Water the soil under the leaves to avoid getting the leaves wet.
Flowering tips: To get the plant to re-bloom in winter, move it to a bright south or west window. They might also fail to bloom if they receive less than 8 hours of darkness.
Rosemary topiary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The trailing varieties of this herb lend itself to being trained into a topiary. This popular herb topiary is loved for its flavorful leaves, crisp fragrance and its sculptural quality.
Light: Rosemary loves the sunlight! In winter, make sure it gets the sunniest place indoors.
Fertilizer: Feed it monthly in winter and every two weeks in spring and summer with an all-purpose plant fertilizer.
Water: Rosemary prefers drier conditions. Allow the soil to dry out (not completely) between watering. Add a little sand to a good potting soil to encourage good drainage or use a cactus potting soil.
Tips: Snip the leaves to keep its rounded shape and also to encourage plenty of leaf growth to include in your favorite recipes. Give the plant a cooler temperature rest period near a window in winter to encourage blue flowers in spring. Fertilize with a high-phosphorous plant food in spring.
The best, air-filtering plants
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')
Snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, Philodendron cordatum)
Really simple’ terrariums
Hanging glass globes can become cool, hanging homes for delicate Tillandsia or ‘air plants’. The spider-y leaves of these plants gather their moisture and nutrients from the air and don’t need any soil. They are extremely, low-maintenance plants that prefer bright, filtered light. A bathroom with lots of humidity can be the perfect spot. Mist them every week or dunk them in a bowl of water for 20 minutes every few weeks—depending on the humidity in your home. If the leaf tips start to brown, dunk them more often and allow them to dry a bit before putting them back in the glass globe. ‘Tillies’ are great plants for kids to care for because they thrive on almost nothing!
Make 2015 even sweeter by taking advantage of the Pasquesi Indoor Plant Sale this month. If you have questions about terrariums or general plant care, please ask for help in Indoor Plants.
Enjoy each season more fully with living plants. We wish you happiness and good health in this New Year.