Houseplants Are Really a Myth

There really are no such things as houseplants. Indoor gardening is simply the art and science of convincing a natural outdoor species that it can happily have its needs met in the indoor space where we have chosen to place it.

Most of the plants that we use for our homes and offices are tropical or sub tropical and that allows them to tolerate the rather constant conditions that we tend to give them. No extended cold period or monsoon season as we would then be quite uncomfortable in those spaces ourselves. Now, of course, our homes and offices where we keep our houseplants do not offer the ideal climate for indoor gardening and I'll have to show you a few things we can do to convince these houseplants that they are happy.

Spathyphllum wilted,  easy houseplant

spathiphyllum, house plant

There is a wide range of activities that can be loosely gathered together under the topic of Indoor Gardening. Occasionally throwing a bit of water on the wilted and begging Spathiphyllum that landed on your windowsill, after you retrieved it from the 50% off bin at the grocery store, can be as loosely called indoor gardening as can be the hours devoted to nurturing a large windowsill greenhouse that supplies the kitchen with a constant rotation of fresh herbs. We'll try to supply you with the tips and techniques that will make both the keeping of a few plants and the fanatical devotion to gardening indoors, an easier and more rewarding experience.

The large Ficus or Fig family, (properly called a Genus rather than a family,) has quite a variety of plants that make great houseplants.

Pothos properly know as Epipremnum aureum is probably the most versatile houseplant.

If you have minimal light and lousy watering habits then Aspidistra may be the plant for you.

Holiday Horticulture

Poinsettia, houseplant, christmas plant

Some of you have received flowering plants as gifts or purchased them to decorate your homes for a holiday season and would like to know how to get the best performance and longest life out of such plants. Just click here and I will attempt to unravel the poinsettia puzzle and related conundrums.

amaryllis bloom The Amaryllis is another wonderful flowering indoor plant. It usually arrives as a large dormant bulb and despite its impressive size it is actually quite easy to grow In fact it's such an easy success that we often refer to it as 'idiot proof.'

Cyclamen is another winter flowering houseplant that often arrives as a gift. Just as often it has a short life span in our house. It should last and rebloom for several years. It's easy enough to do just click here to learn my secrets.

Flavour Favours

Rosemary,  indoor herbs

I love to cook, it's a great way to use the vegetables that overflow my summer garden but in the winter the cook's garden becomes relegated to a few indoor herbs. Picking fresh herbs in January is so much more satisfying than shaking out a few dried specks of store bought flavour. This pot of Rosemary does reasonably well on my window all winter and contributes nicely to my grilled lamb chops.

We Have Seen The Light

Light is the primary requirement in our indoor gardens. Without sufficient light we can just pack up and move all of the plants outdoors. The cold weather outside will just give them a much quicker and more merciful departure than will the slow painful death that results from insufficient light to drive their natural processes. The amount and quality of light that is required for successful indoor gardening varies with the species of plants that we want to grow.

We can supplement the natural light. Fluorescent tubes are the light of choice but there is a confusing array of types and prices.

Water Water Everywhere

If our indoor gardens have sufficient light then our houseplants will require an appropriate supply of water. Just what is appropriate can vary greatly depending on several factors. The type of plant we are trying to grow. The amount of light that is being supplied. The temperature and humidty that prevails in our indoor gardening spaces. Some types of plants such as the various species of Cactus and other succulents will actually survive the winter on very infrequent waterings.

How Much Fertilizer? Again there is no simple answer. So much depends on the type of plant and the season of the year. It's not that complicated just follow these simple guidelines and you should happy houseplants.
Water has another use in indoor gardening. Our houseplants benefit greatly from an occasional washing.

Part Time Houseplants

Should I move my houseplants outdoors during the warmer months? The short answer is No. There are, however, some plants that should spend the winter indoors and the summer outdoors. We call these part time houseplants. These are plants whose primary purpose is to decorate our outdoor living areas and are really just being stored indoors in the winter. Others need to go out to start the flowering cycle or some similar purpose. For those of us who like to continue to Dally in the Dirt during the winter some of our outdoor container plants can be propagated by cuttings in order to grow a new crop for planting next spring's garden.

Spring Flowers in Winter

forced Narcissus bulbs

The more adventurous of us want to continue to Dally in the Dirt even during the winter. One of the most rewarding and simple ways of heeding that call is to force some spring flowering bulbs. Having little Narcissus blooming in the middle of February certainly seems to shorten the winter. Just follow me and I'll show you the easy steps to follow to make this happen in your home.

You can search my entire site for answers to your other gardening mysteries.

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