If winter makes you long for extended afternoons in the garden, you may want to brighten the interior of your house with a few houseplants. For those just getting started with house-bound greenery, give these popular tropicals a try, each one of them perfect for growing indoors even when the temperature outside is freezing.
With its long, glossy leaves, the patient corn plant fills out a pot handsomely. It also stands up well in a variety of conditions, tolerating just about the full range of exposures to sunlight. When its stem flowers or breaks, new stems will branch, so that the plant gradually grows in complexity. Old stems can be cut, dried and replanted in moist soil to propagate the plant.
Frequently called wax plants, hoya are twining, climbing evergreen perennials, best suited for hanging baskets or lattices. Their pleasant-smelling flowers bloom as five-pointed stars in colorful, geodesic clusters. These form at the ends of hanging penduncles called “spurs,” each season extending the length of the spur. For best flowering, place your wax plant in a brightly illuminated area, such as an East-facing window.
Though not a true lily, certain varieties of Spathiphyllum are commonly called Peace Lilies. For their contemplative lines and delicate white bract-like flowers, called spathes, it’s easy to see how they earned the name. Their love of shade makes the ideal as houseplants, even in apartments with no major sunny exposure. While they’re known to help filter nearby air of certain contaminants, just be sure to keep curious pets from nibbling at the plants, as Peace Lilies are known to be mildly toxic when eaten.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern
So called because of the hairy, foot-like rhizomes that grow at its base, the rabbit’s foot fern is excellent for growing potted or in hanging baskets. A native of Fiji, the rabbit’s foot thrives in humidity, making it ideal for the Deep South and Pacific Northwest. Like most ferns, it’s a shade lover, so direct sunlight may not suit your plant.
Though entirely unsuited for outdoor life in more temperate climes, dieffenbachia thrives indoors. Partial light is usually all that’s needed to produce the plant’s broad, handsomely variegated leaves. As the plant ages, its leaves will curl and detach, only to be replaced by fresh leaves. As with the peace lily, small children and animals should be kept from eating or over-handling diffienbachia, as its leaves can cause mild irritation.
Need some advice on how to care for your indoor garden? Read more about the benefits of tropical houseplants.