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Hardcore Houseplants

Posted by Kari Houle - Articles

I always joke that I'm the kind of gardener that will try any plant and if it can survive my level of care then it must be pretty durable. It goes to the old adage of do as I say not as I do, but from my houseplant escapades it's given me pretty good insight into which houseplants are more forgiving then others. One houseplant that I cannot for the life of me grow no matter where I've lived and what I've done is ivy. I love ivy darn it all! Like clockwork it will start out beautiful and eventually succumb to a lovely infestation of spider mites – every single time. The rest of my houseplants will happily continue on without blinking as well as having no spider mite infestations. So, I have come to accept my gardening fate in regards to ivy and smile happily at the other easy to grow houseplants that I don't seem to have a brown thumb towards.

Two of the things that usually make houseplants go belly up is improper watering and lighting. Making sure to take into account the needs of individual plants goes a long way towards achieving houseplant success. As for watering there is no set schedule for watering due to various factors – the size of the plant, indoor humidity levels, time of year, etc. Over time you'll gain confidence and understanding of when different plants need water. When choosing a location for your houseplants you'll need to consider how much light is available and make sure that you chose plants that fit that situation. The University of Illinois Extension website on Houseplants covers lighting more in-depth - http://extension.illinois.edu/houseplants/

Here are some houseplants that I've labeled "Hardcore Houseplants."

  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema sp.) – A low light loving houseplants with nice variegated foliage or can be solid green. These can last for years. Mine has been quite forgiving of my level of care.
  • Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) – This is commonly sold houseplant and easy to find. They prefer low light and it's recommended to give them a dose of fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Make sure to water thoroughly but let dry out a bit between waterings.
  • Pothos (Scindapsus spp.) – One of my favorite houseplants (and it's easy to propagate through cuttings) is the Silver Pothos which has dark green leaves with spots that appear silvery. The traditional green and variegated pothos are also really easy to grow. They prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Allow to dry out a bit between waterings.
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) – Tolerant of low light but bright filtered light is even better. Keep the soil evenly moist and try to avoid letting it wilt as it can lead to yellowing foliage. Besides the lovely dark green foliage, this plant will produce a white flower and can do so multiple times per year.

This summer I've added a few plants to my collection that I've been currently keeping outdoors and plan on bringing them in for the winter. We are going to see how a red flowering madevilla, 2 boston ferns, and a ficus do during the winter months. Time to see if I can up my indoor houseplant game and get all 4 plant to survive to be able to enjoy the outdoor weather next year.



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