Gardening: Houseplants – a remedy for winter blues | Community

Winter has truly descended on us, and our gardens are but lovely memories.

But there is a way to “green up” your home while you wait for spring. Houseplants can brighten the indoors during gray days, and when spring comes, they can also add instant beauty to your yard and patio. Here are some ideas to try until warmer weather returns.

If you are a first-time houseplant grower, there are no better plants for beginners than the heart-leaf philodendron and the satin pothos. Both of these are resilient plants and fairly tolerant of low light conditions.

They tell you when they are thirsty by wilting dramatically, and as soon as you water them, they almost immediately perk up. They are readily available in your local garden center in the houseplant section, even in the winter, and they are relatively inexpensive.

Better yet, they respond well as cuttings, and many of us have gardener friends who have these plants in their homes, and who would gladly share a few cuttings to get you started.

Cacti make good houseplants, as they are some of the most resilient plants in the world. They survive the harshest conditions and look incredible as they grow. Cacti are a group of plants that are not only easy to grow, but offer a variety of shapes, color and form.

Although they make excellent houseplants, many hardy varieties may be grown outside. A really interesting plant is the Dancing Bones cactus; it has a woody base and a really unpredictable growth habit, which makes it interesting to view as it grows.

Another low-maintenance cactus that can be grown as a houseplant is the Crown of Thorns. This cactus does well in even the poorest soil, provided it is well-drained and does not remain moist.

It prefers a location in full sun, but will tolerate some shade for a portion of the day. The plant is named for large, sharp spines about 1 inch long that cover the stems. Sparsely arranged, narrow green leaves appear on newer stems, but fall from older ones, so that leaves are only found on the youngest parts of the plant.

The plant blooms from spring into late summer, producing tiny, true flowers held in two bright red, fused bracts. I have had the Crown of Thorns as a houseplant for over 10 years, and it is tough but beautiful. It is about 2 feet tall, and will probably grow another foot to maturity.

Snake plant is another great houseplant, a succulent that grows almost anywhere. Snake plant tolerates neglect, but responds nicely to good care.

Its leathery, sword-shaped leaves grow edged with yellow or white. The snake plant is great for beginners, but experienced houseplant growers also love it for its dramatic upright form. When grown in bright light, it sends up a tall stalk of greenish, fragrant flowers. The dwarf rosette varieties make a nice desktop or tabletop plants. The snake plant ranges from 6 to 48 inches high and 6 to 36 inches wide, and needs low to bright light.

Plant containers for your indoor plants offer another colorful way of adding beauty to your home in winter. They are available in many colors, styles and materials, and now houseplants will do well in a variety of containers.

Mexican terra cotta is a good container for plants like cacti that prefers drier conditions, and you can find this style with brightly painted designs. You can also display your cuttings in clear vases while they are root; add colored glass buttons or beads in the bottom to create a stunning display. Finally, displaying your plants at varied heights using plant stands, books or shelves will create a visual impact in your home.

Growing houseplants couldn’t be easier, and they are sure to get you through the gray days until spring returns.

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