Saturday, February 1, 2014

Houseplants for Colorful Foliage & Winter Blooms

Whether it is cold and snowy outside or a beautiful summer day houseplants are always here to stay.  Adding houseplants to your indoor space supplies interesting foliage and colorful blooms to a room and also adds oxygen and humidity for good health.  In a previous post I introduced several user friendly houseplants that are hardy and low maintenance.  I have come across a few new additions which I would like to share!
Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Lighting:  Low to Moderate (More Light for Red Variegated Varieties)

Water & Soil:  Keep Moderately Moist (Water in Center of Plant)
Once of the newest additions to my home is an exciting new hybrid of Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen). I found it accidentally while searching for a new Croton plant for my indoor space.  I spotted the variegated pinkish-red foliage of this Chinese Evergreen and it really caught my eye.  Never having seen this particular variety before, it appeared to be unusually close in resemblance to the Croton I was looking for.  I excitedly purchased the two plants the nursery had left and brought them home to try out.   The variegation is slightly different on each plant so I combined the two together for even more interest and to my delight the new addition is thriving in my southwestern window.   Keep in mind that Chinese Evergreen normally prefer low light, but with the lighter tinged colorful foliage on this variety, it is doing well in the brighter conditions. I am getting so much enjoyment from this new plant with its beautiful and vibrant foliage and I would highly recommend it for your indoor garden!
Crassula argentea (Jade Plant)


Lighting:  Bright Southern or Western Exposure

Water & Soil:  Moderately Dry Well Drained Soil


Jade Plant has always been a favorite of mine.  I started growing two Jade plants about 
25 years ago which have now been propagated into four. I had the rare surprise of
seeing my two mature Jades bloom for the first time in the past several years.  I can only remember them in bloom about three or four times since I have had them and when they bloom it goes on for months. I think what sparked the beautiful blooms was a combination of both plants being very root bound, the dose of cactus juice I had given them, and the night time temperatures of the windowsill they are located on suddenly dropping, thus signaling the arrival of winter. I have read that Jade requires a dramatic temperature change to encourage blooming but to get them to bloom is a difficult feat. This rarity is truly a joyous surprise that I am glad to be able to share!
Crassula argentea (Jade Plant) in Flower
Here are the blooms of the Jade.  They resemble small clusters or star bursts.
Amaryllis

Lighting:  Bright Light

Water & Soil:   Moderately Moist Rich Humus Soil
Amaryllis is an all time favorite houseplant for the winter months with its large showy blooms available in a variety of colors.  Plant the bulb one quarter to half way exposed in a humus rich soil and keep moderately moist in a sunny window. Blooms will last approximately 4-8 weeks and put on quite a show!  After blooming, Amaryllis bulbs can be allowed to dry out and stored in a cool dry location until being re-planted next season.  Start forcing bulbs 6-8 weeks before desired blooms by planting in a small planter in a peat based soil, watering sparingly until the bulb starts to sprout then weekly afterwards. Enjoy the blooms for the lifetime of the bulb which can be several years.
Schlumbergera bridesii (Christmas Cactus)

Lighting:  Bright Diffused Light

Water & Soil:  Moderately Moist (Requires a Well Drained Soil)

 Christmas Cactus is another all time favorite for winter flowering.  In reality a succulent, there are two varieties for bloom time, one near Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Cactus) and one later near Christmas (Christmas Cactus).   Water infrequently until November then increase the watering to encourage blooms.   After blooming withhold watering once again, allowing to dry out (but not completely), until new growth appears.  As new growth appears in spring apply a weak strength fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
Haworthia Attenuata (Zebra Cactus)
Lighting:  Bright Light (Southern Window)

Water & Soil:  Well Drained, Water Sparingly

Like my Jade Plant this Zebra Cactus is approximately twenty years old and all I do to maintain it is to water weekly.  It is very root bound in a well drained cactus soil and grows over the rim of its planter.  I'll give it a dose of cactus food once or twice at most during the growing season and remove any growth that has become aged and browned, which is infrequent.  It is basically a maintenance free houseplant and a conversation piece!
Dracaena sanderana (Lucky Bamboo)
Lighting:  Bright Diffused to Low Light

Water & Soil:  Weekly (Only Use Distilled Water)

Dracena sanderana, otherwise known as Lucky Bamboo, is really not a bamboo at all but a member of the Lily family, which includes the Easter lily and spider plant. Lucky Bamboo can be grown in either a closed pebble filled planter or in a potting soil with good drainage. The important thing is to water only with distilled water since even a small amount of fluoride from tap water can be phytotoxic, or detrimental to the plant. With proper care Lucky Bamboo can add interest to even the darkest of locations.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Emerald Fronds (ZZ Plant)

Light:  Bright Diffused -Low Light

Soil & Water:  Well-Drained Soil, Water Weekly

Since my last houseplant post my Zamioculcas, commonly known as "ZZ Plant", has grown into a three foot high focal piece.  It thrives in indirect light from a sky light and requires minimal care.  ZZ Plants do not require much fertilization and leaf polish should not be used on its attractive glossy leaves.  To maintain the plant all I do is water weekly to keep the soil from completely drying out and keep the leaves cleaned with a moist cloth.  Some sources will say to allow the plant to become completely dry before watering but I find that weekly watering encourages much more new growth.

 Houseplants add life to the indoors and these selections have proven to be relatively low maintenance and easy to care for in your home.  For indoor blooms and attractive colorful foliage add some of these beautiful houseplants to your space and bring years of enjoyment to your indoor garden!

You may also be interested in this article on indoor container gardening.


As Always...Happy Gardening!


 
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

10 comments:

  1. I never realized that a jade plant flowered, Lee!
    It is really beautiful.
    Most of our houseplants are orchids, and this is the time of year that they bloom.
    So wonderful to have so much color when everything is so gray outside.

    Have a fantastic weekend!

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    1. I didn't know it either until mine flowered for the first time after having them for many years. Orchids are beautiful.. I tried them a couple of times with not a whole lot of success. Your home must be beautiful with all the blooms this time of year!

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  2. Houseplants tremble in their pots when they approach my front door! I envy anyone who can keep them going - especially if they turn out as you've profiled them Lee.

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    Replies
    1. Try the "ZZ" Plant Angie. You may be surprised. It is so low maintenance that you can practically ignore it! I'd bet you would be OK with it. :)

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  3. Hi Lee
    Bravo to you for having such happy, healthy houseplants. I find I have enough work outside and rarely bother to keep houseplants alive. Lazy, I guess. But yours are lovely, especially the blooms on the Jade Plant.

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    1. Hi Astrid. The indoor plants give me pleasure all year round and they aren't much work at all. I just have a watering routine to keep them healthy. I am so used to always having them for some green inside. Thanks for your nice words!

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  4. You took nice shots of your houseplants. I never had Jade Plant bloom - they are pretty in bloom. It is nice it bloomed for you. Do your plants live outdoors in summer? Many of mine do.

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    1. Thank you Donna. I actually keep my houseplants in all year round. They are in a southwestern exposure so they get lots of good light and I don't have to worry too much about insect pests. They do well where they are so I only bring them outside if they need cleaning or spraying and then they come back in. Once the weather warms I will be back outside in the real gardens!

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  5. Oh, that Chinese Evergreen is gorgeous! And you must be so excited to have your jade plant in bloom! I love houseplants, but sadly cannot keep too many with a plant-munching cat and two rambunctious kids in the house. I'm pretty much limited to high shelves and terrariums! Yours are so pretty, though.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for your comment Indie. Having the Jade Plant flower after all this time is exciting! I enjoyed your post on starting seeds outdoors in winter...so interesting and informative!

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Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!

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