The middle of January 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 type of plant to adopt and bring home might be the most challenging part of starting an indoor garden.
The list below will help match your motives and personality with the best houseplant for you.
If you are a beginning gardener, consider:
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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 Dracaena Janet Craig, with strap-like, shiny, green leaves, and for dim light the adaptable Dracaena Warneckia, an upright grower with stiff but colorful gray leaves accented with a white stripe.
There is also a dracaena with red foliage called the red-margined dracaena” and a beauty with spotted green and gold foliage named Florida Beauty.
Tip: Read the plant tags at a garden center or nursery, and if you find a houseplant with “dracaena” in the first name, take it home.
This plant can adapt to low light and gray days but it will turn ugly if you forget to water or overwater. 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 but water needs of all houseplants depend on the sunlight, air temp and size of the container.
Orchids – A houseplant that is hard to resist
If you’ve ever visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and been gobsmacked by the amazing orchid display, then you know how many types of orchids can be grown in our climate.
Orchids are no longer just for wealthy owners of conservatories. Just like flat screen TV’s, orchids have come down in price and are easier than ever to enjoy.
You don’t even need to visit a greenhouse or nursery, as perfectly fine potted orchids sold at the grocery store will bloom for months before slipping into dormancy.
Potted orchids make great gifts and décor items to wake up a winter interior. Just be sure you read the growing instructions that should be attached to every plant along with the name of the variety.
The easiest to grow orchids for our area are the Phalaenopsis, as modern varieties are more tolerant of low humidity.
Any orchid with buds 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.
Tip: 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 out 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. Their clean lines and compact shapes have made sedums and succulents so popular for contemporary interiorscapes.
Tip: Visit a public conservatory (Tacoma has a beauty in Wright Park) or buy 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.
Sedums can also be enjoyed outdoors in the summer.
Marianne Binetti at Home and Garden Show
Marianne Binetti will speak at 1 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show, which will run from Jan 25-Jan. 28 at the Tacoma Dome.
Thursday and Saturday: “The Art of Gardening – Make Like Monet But Keep It Simple.”
Friday and Sunday: “Hydrangeas, Hellebores and Heucheras: Year-Round Color With the Heavenly “H” Plants.”
For discount tickets and more information, visit www.OTshows.com