Houseplants clean the air and are fun to grow
Houseplants keep me sane in the winter. Most houseplants are bulletproof and will happily grow all winter on the windowsill. There are some things you can do now to keep them looking their best.
Look carefully at the leaves. If there is yellow or brown foliage, remove it. Any part of a plant that’s looking worse for wear should be cut off and put in the compost. (You do compost, don’t you?) Look at the plants closely. If there are discolored leaves, maybe a purple tint, that’s a clue they are not getting what they need, so hit them with some organic fertilizer. There are a couple of ways to do that. One is to use a liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or something seaweed based.
If the tips of the leaves are turning brown, there might be a salt buildup from chemical fertilizers. Be sure your pot has good drainage to flush those salts out.
The leaves of houseplants are more important than the flowers — they need to be kept clean so they can stay healthy. My house is old and often dusty, so I let the houseplants dry out and then place them all in the bathtub and run the shower over them once or twice a year. This is also a great way to flush out the soil. With plants that have big sturdy leaves, I wipe them down as they go back near the window.
When nurseries started offering houseplants, the reason they chose certain varieties was due to their indestructible nature. They knew people would forget to water them.
The only thing that can kill houseplants is too much water and fertilizer. Keep most of them on the dry side, but not completely without water.
I’ve got a few cool flowering plants that will enjoy the winter on the windowsill and then can go out in the garden at the end of May. Begonias, bellflower and coleus are things many gardeners have outside in the shade, that’s why these three work so well inside.
African violets will provide flowers for months at a time. One trick for them is to water them from below. Put a dish underneath as the leaves don’t like getting wet.
It’s great to have something to take care of inside during the winter, and neglect is actually a good thing. As the days get longer, the birds begin to sing, the air smell different, and it won’t be long until the crocus poke through the soil. When that happens there’s nothing left to stop us.
There's lots of research showing houseplants clean the air of toxins. Here’s a list of plants grown inside that will clean our indoor air:
• English Ivy (Hedera helix)
• Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
• Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
• Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
• Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
• Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
• Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata‘Laurentii’)
• Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
• Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)
• Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
• Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
• Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’)
• Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
• Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
• Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
• Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
• Pot Mum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
• Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
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