Now is the perfect time to start gardening — indoor plants are the perfect antidote to spring fever and the winter doldrums and if your New Year’s resolution was to concentrate on better health, then gardening is a step in a healthy direction.
The choice of indoor plants that do well in our climate is vast and growing. Deciding what types of plants to adopt and bring home may be the most challenging part of starting an indoor garden.
The list here helps match your motives and personality with the best houseplant for you.
Dracaena — a houseplant that is hard to kill.
The variety of foliage shapes and colors is so amazing among this large family of tropical foliage plants that it is hard to believe they are all related. Two of the easiest to grow are the Janet Craig dracaena with strap-like, shiny, green leaves; and for dim light, the adaptable Warneckia dracaena, an upright grower with stiff yet colorful gray leaves accented with a white stripe.
Two other beauties are the red-margined dracena with red foliage and the Florida beauty with spotted green and gold foliage.
The best tip is to start reading the plant tags at the garden centers or nurseries. If you find a houseplant with dracaena in the first name, take it home. This is a plant that can adapt to low light and gray days, but it will turn ugly if you forget to water it or if you water it too much.
The simple rule is to feel the soil. When the top of the soil is dry, water the plant, but don’t let the roots sit in their drainage water. You can expect low water use in the winter when the plant is dormant. Perhaps as little as one cup of water every two weeks. The water needs of all houseplants depend on the sunlight, air temperature and size of the container.
Orchids — A houseplant that is hard to resist.
If you have visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and have been gob-smacked impressed by the amazing orchid display, then you know how many types of orchids that can be grown in our climate.
Orchids are no longer just for wealthy owners of conservatories. Just like flat screen TVs, orchids have come down in price and are easier than ever to enjoy. You don’t need to visit a greenhouse or nursery because perfectly fine potted orchids are being sold at the grocery store that will bloom for months before slipping into dormancy. Potted orchids make great gifts and décor items to wake up a winter interior. Be sure to read the growing instructions that should be attached to every plant, along with the name of the variety. Phalaenopsis are the orchids that are the easiest to grow in our area. The modern varieties are more tolerant of low humidity. Any orchid with buds on it can be enjoyed much longer than a cut flower bouquet, so consider a potted orchid the next time you want fresh blooms for your home.
Orchids need regular water, but overwatering is the main reason for their demise. Some growers suggest placing two ice cubes on top of the soil every Sunday. I’ve tried this suggestion and it works. Just don’t feel guilty if your blooming orchid takes a long break from flowering after the first flush of blooms. Keeping a budded orchid in bloom is easy – getting an orchid to bloom again is more difficult. You’ll need to research the variety and find a location with good light.
Sedums — A houseplant for trendy and contemporary gardeners.
A few years ago, sedums and succulents were plants for the desert. Now they are being grown indoors and outdoors with mixed results.
The agave is a family of succulents that adapts to indoor life if given a very bright window, well-drained soil and very little water. It is the clean lines and compact shapes that have made sedums and succulents so popular for contemporary interiorscapes.
Visit a public conservatory (Tacoma has a beauty in Wright Park) or purchase your agave from a greenhouse or nursery where you can talk to local growers about the right amount of sunlight and water for the different types of sedums, which also can be enjoyed outdoors in the summer.