5 easy indoor plants will brighten your winter

CorrespondentDecember 14, 2012 

  • Winter care of houseplants • Dilute houseplant fertilizer to half strength and use it every other week. • Check soil of plants once a week. Most benefit from letting soil dry out between watering in winter, but not to the point that the plant wilts. • Mist them regularly. Furnaces dry out indoor air. • Pick off old leaves. Trim off brown tips or margins that show up on leaves that otherwise look good. Rinse leaves occasionally to remove dust.

Need a little green while waiting for gardening season? Selecting a houseplant for a prime spot in your home may be as easy as choosing a pothos or philodendron that you know will prosper whatever happens. That is an easy choice but not strictly the best one. A houseplant should do more than occupy space. It should be lovely. There are plenty to choose from in garden centers. Here are just five.

Arrowhead plant

The common name of this versatile and pretty houseplant describes the general shape of the leaves. It comes in a range of colors and markings, from white and green to pink and red. This is one of the genuine easy-to-care-for houseplants. It takes low-to-moderate indoor light, ordinary room temperatures and moist soil. It will even grow for a while in a vase of water. Some types will twine around a stake, but most have an upright, compact shape that looks good in a pot on a desk or table.

Parlor palm

You see them in all sizes from tiny, 3-inch plants to ones 3 or 4 feet tall that are ready for the front hall. Large or small, this is a valuable, long-lived houseplant. Often called Bella, this palm has been popular since the 19th century – for many good reasons. These include a preference for the moderate light of a room, rapid growth of multiple stems of frond and tolerance of the dry indoor air of winter. The foliage is full, pretty and can reach 2 feet. The parlor palm doesn’t like soggy soil.

Chinese evergreen

Easy and elegant, Chinese evergreen bears soft green leaves with pretty markings of silver or cream. The leaves arch gracefully to form a round shape, maturing at about 2 feet, possibly more. Give this one a prime spot with good light from a window but not direct sun. This pretty green plant looks especially nice grouped with white flowers.

Rieger begonia

This one gets by on its looks alone. Riegers come in a huge range of delectable colors, including scarlet, orange, pink, cream, salmon or yellow. This is the winter-flowering begonia, and most people enjoy them for the bloom season, then discard them. The Rieger prefers a cool, well-lit window You must not overwater it or the roots will rot and the plant will collapse ahead of its time. Wait for the soil to get dry before watering. Its good companions are the potted cyclamen and cinerarias, also sold widely in the winter.

Grape ivy

A great no-nonsense trailing plant for mantels, windowsills or shelves, grape ivy is pretty but not spectacular. Its value is in the ease of growing and the graceful vining effect of its refined, dark green leaves and brown stems. It grows slowly, requires steady watering during the watering season and less during the winter. This is a much better choice for indoors than English ivy.

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