Last week, I shared a post about the health benefits of houseplants. (http://gutgotyoudown.com/houseplants-more-than-merely-decorative/) Their benefits extend beyond the aesthetic; they help to purify the air inside your home and can counteract the effects of chemical outgassing from furniture. I promised more suggestions of plants to keep inside your home and how to care for them. Here they are!
Although common as houseplants, the Calatheas are a stunning group of plants. With bold leaf markings as well as the bonus of the purple underside, they are a great choice for a shady room. They have lighter shade in summer and are brighter in winter. Keep them out of direct sun, as this will dull the color of the leaves and can be fatal. Keep well watered in summer; Calatheas love high humidity. Mist often and keep the compost moist in the summer. Brown tips show that the humidity is too low.
SPIDER PLANT (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’)
You may remember this from your grandmother’s house; spider plants have been grown for years and are still popular today. Look for a number of varieties — from types with plain green leaves to others that offer foliage marked with cream or white stripes. All make handsome hanging plants that develop plantlets at the ends of arching stems. These babies readily root in water or potting soil to start new plants.
If you can provide high humidity, Anthuriums will reward you with a fantastic display of incredibly bright almost fake-looking flowers. The flowering can go on all year in a variety of reds, pinks and whites. Heart shaped waxy leaves are a feature in their own right, providing the perfect foil for this wonderful flower. A liquid feed every two weeks over the growing season is a must.
EUROPEAN FAN PALM TREE (Chamaerops humilis)
The European Fan Palm (aka Mediterranean Fan Palm) is the only palm native to Europe, and is harder than most palms. Give it the warm, sunny days and cool nights of its native dry mountain habitat, and you’ll find that it’s easy to grow. This shrubby palm will eventually reach about 4 ft (1.2 m) tall indoors. As the plant matures, the trunk develops numerous sharp spines. Fine-textured fronds grow in a rounded fan of 10-20 leaflets that reach up to 24 in/60 cm wide. The leaflets range in color from silvery green to blue-green and naturally split as they mature.
ARROWHEAD VINE (Syngonium podophyllum)
One of the most common houseplants, arrowhead vine features distinctly arrow-shaped leaves (hence the moniker). Unlike a lot of plants, there are many different varieties from which to choose. Most have variegated foliage; depending on variety, the leaves may be green with white markings or bronzy-green with pink tones. Young plants form a mound about a foot high, but stems begin to vine as they mature, so you can grow them upright on a pole or let them trail in a hanging basket.
JAPANESE ARALIA (Fatsia japonica)
Japanese aralia is a member of the Araliaceae family commonly grown outdoors in frost-free climates. Indoors, it can be kept small by regular pruning. Cut it back drastically in spring — by half when necessary — and pinch off growing tips to encourage branching. Long, upright leaf stems hold glossy, lobed leaves with pointed tips. Each leaf has between 7-9 lobes and can reach up to 12 in (30 cm) across. Clusters of creamy-white flowers may appear on mature plants in fall, followed by green fruit that turn black as they ripen. However, it rarely flowers indoors.
CORN PLANT (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)
This beautiful houseplant offers variegated leaves and a single upright stem — so it resembles a decorative corn stalk without the ears. Plant several together in a large container for a fuller appearance. If your corn plant grows too tall, cut back the cane to a foot or two above the soil and new shoots will form below the cut.
IVORY PLANT (Ananas comosus variegates)
A pineapple for the home! Strong variegated spiky (and sharp) foliage, as well as a flower spike followed by a small pineapple, make this one of the best bromeliads to own. Give the plant high humidity and plenty of warmth in the spring to induce flowering and fruiting (this can last for up to 10 months!). Keep the well in the centre of the plant topped up with water. Keep humidity up by misting.
Other species of houseplants to explore include Diffenbachia, Daffodils, Aloe Vera, and others. All these types of home-grown greenery can help purify your indoor air, making your home a healthier environment for you and your family.