The Indoor Winter Garden

Green plants in the house make the home seem alive and well. It brings a balance to nature and helps me pass the winter months with hope and anticipation to start it all over again. Actually, when the frost hits in the fall, I bring many plants into the conservatory (OK, quarantine to be discussed), I love having greens around for Christmas, but when January hits, I need to see my survivors. January is also the time for seed catalogs, plant lists for spring, and when I usually start herbs in the house, because I need to grow something!

Let’s discuss where you could add more green in your home during the colder months.

Identify the areas in your house where you would like to have plants.

• The kitchen is a good place to start, but usually, there is not extra counter space here, so hanging plants may be the ticket.

• Most bathrooms will also be short on space but long on opportunity. Plants love a humid room and in the winter, the bathroom is often that space.

• Bedrooms tend to be a bit dark. For sake of privacy, most rooms have drawn curtains, so give this room a pass.

• The family room and the dining room are good locations.

• The front entry can be a cold spot when the door opens, so if you have a plant there, make sure it’s a tough character.

OK, now we need actors for the stage.

First… a warning. Most common plants we grow in the house are in some way not good for pets. A good rule is: if you can eat it, so can they. If you have pets, grow herbs. Always check the ASPCA list of lethal plants before bringing them home. You will be surprised at how long the list is. However, that said, most of these plants humans shouldn’t eat either! So be a bit cautious around young children. Many of the plants I am recommending for the average home are not good for pets. I consider it this way. If you don’t own a pet, you need something to take care of, right?

Here are some players that you might consider.

This is not, by any means, a complete list. 

Plants no mess, easy to grow:
• Spath (Peace) Lily. A nice dark green plant with a pretty flower. It’s easy to grow in low light situations. It does not like to be dry or overwatered, so just a regular small amount of water will do.

• Spider Plant, a great hanging plant for any room in the house. It produces tons of oxygen, so it’s a good sleeping room plant. It also removes formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and carbon monoxide from the air.

• Philodendron Ivy, also called Pathos ivy; a great versatile plant that is a vine and can grow in low light. Known for its ability to remove xylene from the air

• Sanservieria, mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant. Great tall, slender grows in any light. Remarkable plant that releases oxygen at night. A good plant for the bedroom

• Schefflera or umbrella plant, medium to high light. Is a broad growing (umbrella like) plant.

• Aloe, a succulent, is well known for treating burns and sunburn but it also removes pollutants from the air in your house. All homes should have one.

• English Ivy: needs more light than pathos ivy or philodendron but is renowned as being the most effective pollutant remover for the house. Very effective at removing formaldehyde from the air.

• Rubber Plant, although not as popular as it once was, it is a very good plant for low light areas of the house and also removing pollutants from the air.

• Dracena many varieties. It can get quite tall. Remarkable as it removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air.

• Other succulents include; Jade plant, hoya and or course any cactus is easy to grow

Plants that flower: Most take a bit of talent, these are the easy ones.

• Bougainvillea is a fun plant to grow in high light applications, but it is messy. It is always dropping flowers, and if it gets crabby at you about light or water, it will drop all its leaves! Don’t worry they almost always grow back

• Kalanchoe is a succulent (like sanservieria). Usually that means the plant has hard, fat leaves. It flowers in less light and prefers a cold space

• African Violet this plant can become habit forming. Grandma had many, many plants and varieties. They prefer less light when nothing else will flower.

• Christmas Cactus: fun and easy to grow and yes, flowers at Christmas

• Boston Fern: For those of you who hate the mess an indoor plant may leave behind, avoid plants such as Boston Fern when you see them on sale at the home improvement store. Although beautiful and not difficult to grow, it sheds like a black lab in July. So be warned, it is a high maintenance plant.