Homes | Greenery

Many plants do well indoors

According to the National Gardening Association, more than one-third of American households grow indoor plants. Most businesses also include plants in their decor. Besides creating a friendly ambience, the greenery is said to have a calming effect. Here are some popular houseplants that are easiest to grow. McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

African violet: These fuzzy favorites were introduced to Europe from Africa in 1893. Hundreds of varieties have been developed with blooms from white to dark purple. A key to repeat blooming: humidity. They grow well in bathrooms and kitchens; otherwise, put them on a humidity tray. Don't splash leaves with cold water; they'll spot.

Bromeliad: Thriving on neglect, bromeliads tolerate a wide range of indoor conditions with minimal care. But never use a metal watering can — metal can be toxic to bromeliads. They bloom only once in their lifetime, but that flower lasts two to three months. After flowering, the plant stops producing leaves but will grow "pups," baby plants that will grow and flower in two to three years.

Ferns: They need medium or bright indirect light. The Boston fern is a good pollution-fighting variety that requires little maintenance.

Ivy: An outdoor plant adapted to the indoors, this vine likes indirect light and evenly spaced watering but doesn't mind drying out occasionally.

Jade plants: Members of the Crassula genus, these low-care succulents like to be left alone. They prefer a sunny window with light four hours a day, but keep the plant at least 3 inches from the glass to avoid scorching leaves. They need little water in fall and winter when dormant; otherwise, let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

Orchids: Moth or butterfly orchids (phalaenopsis) and dendrobiums prefer indirect light, away from heat. Avoid overwatering. Ideally, water every three weeks if the orchid is planted in moss, every other week if planted in bark. Don't let pots stand in water, either; roots can rot.

Palms: Palms grow tall and need space as well as indirect light, good air circulation and a regular weekly watering schedule. Salts can build up in soil; palms prefer distilled or filtered water and occasional misting. The best choices for indoors: kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) or lady palm (Rhapis excelsa).

Philodendron: Native to the jungles of Central and South America, these are among the most durable houseplants. They tolerate low light. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings; yellow leaves indicate too much water.

Pothos: These low-maintenance vines from Malaysian jungles can handle low light; they prefer a north-side window. Water when the soil feels dry.

Sansevieria: With nicknames like mother-in-law's tongue and snake plant, this favorite is almost indestructible and comes in dozens of varieties. It can tolerate low light and go two months without water in winter. Otherwise, water every other week. Treat like a cactus. Watch out for sharp tips!

Spathiphyllum: A great indoor air filter, the popular Peace Lily tells you when it needs watering — it wilts. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. They tolerate low light.

Spider plant: Among the best pollution fighters, Chlorophytum plants need moderate light to thrive. Water when the soil feels dry.

Many plants do well indoors 02/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 3:30am]

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