Investigate the variety of plant lights available to increase the rays your plants receive, especially in northern regions in winter. New light technology provides full spectrum rays from models small enough to fit on a tabletop.
This corner of the living room is perfect for a set of hanging plants, as they can easily soak up the natural light. Two woven chairs sit in front of the window, too, and create a stylish space for catching up with a friend.
The coffee plant (Coffee arabica) makes an ideal houseplant, not needing high light to grow and flower. Plants start blooming when three years old and usually in late spring and/or summer. Flowers fade to form green cherry-looking fruit that turns red when ripe. Inside are two coffee beans. In summer, place your coffee plant outdoors, gradually exposing it to sun.
Fabulously colorful, ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa) struts its stuff with very little care. Purple leaves unfurl with streaks of cream, hot pink, white or purple shades for a non-stop show. High light combined with high humidity is the secret to a healthy, multicolored plant.
Gardeners in hardiness zones 9 and warmer can plant freesias in the fall. In other zones, freesias should go into the ground in spring; they’ll need to be dug and stored at the end of the growing season so they don’t perish in the cold. If you don't want to dig them back up, simply start over next year with fresh bulbs (technically, they’re corms). Freesias are usually inexpensive. Plant the corms 2” deep in soil that drains easily, and give them a spot that gets sun to light shade.
When the concrete has cured, add about 3” of gravel or other drainage material. Add potting soil to fill the planter, lightly packing it down. Finally, add plants to fill the planter and water as needed.
Variety is the hallmark of the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) family, which has members with broad, round, long or narrow leaves. Snow White (shown) is a small plant that unfurls light green leaves marked with white and pink. Purple waffle plant needs medium to high light to keep the pretty leaf coloring. Because of its small size, it’s a great choice for any room, fitting easily onto an end table, kitchen counter or nightstand.
The easier a plant is to grow, the more different people will enjoy it. Heirloom potted plants tend to tolerate low light and low humidity of indoors, especially those with thick leaves such as Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) which is one of the most durable for low-light apartments and offices. Its stems are very easy to root in water.
Problem: Lower leaves turn yellow and drop. Solution: Several issues can cause foliage to turn yellow and fall off. First, be sure you’re not overwatering or underwatering. To check for signs of overwatering, gently ease the plant out of its pot and look for rotting or blackened roots. Leaf drop can also result from insufficient light, so try moving your plant to a brighter spot. Finally, make sure you’re using the right fertilizer for your plant, and feed as directed on the label. This Zamioculcas, or ZZ plant, seldom has these kinds of problems. It's tough enough to tolerate low light and little water.
As you select plants to serve as focal points in your décor, consider how large the plant grows and also how quickly it achieves that size. Plants like sentry palm and Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) can double their size in a few years, given the right conditions. Chinese money plant, on the other hand, maintains a tidy size, growing slowly to 8 to 12 inches tall. With thick, succulent-like leaves, the plant doesn’t demand much water and thrives in low light. Unusual, round leaves make this plant a conversation piece.
A replica of a wire Victorian plant stand celebrates indoor gardening’s golden age. This plant stand, with its rectangular shape, fits neatly along a window, allowing plants to get maximum light without occupying nearby tables. The wire design allows air flow to plants, which helps maintain leaf health.
Dry winter air causes houseplants to dry out quickly. At the very least, check plants weekly to assess soil moisture. Sticking a finger onto—or even into—soil is an easy way to determine if plants need a drink. With small plants, lifting the pot is another good way to figure out how moist soil is. Dry soil is light; wet soil is heavier. Soil color also changes as moisture evaporates. Wet soil is dark; dry soil is lighter in color.
Use lanterns (with their glass panels removed) and hanging candleholders to show off vining plants, suggests floral designer Angela Darrah. This 'Neon Pothos' Epipremnum aureum thrives in low light conditions and pops against the red accent wall. When hanging plants, weight is a concern, so Darrah suggests using a decorative moss sheet to disguise a plain plastic container.
Place the plant, still in its pot, on top of the foam. For this terrarium, Rose used a cyclamen, shown here (Hypoestes phyllostachya ‘Pink’) and Phyllitis scolopendrium (not shown). Janit Calvo, author of Gardening in Miniature and owner of Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, says mosses, miniature African violets, Needlepoint English Ivy (Hedera helix ‘Needlepoint’) and dwarf or miniature ferns can grow well in open terrariums with bright, indirect light.
Goof-proof and tough as nails, philodendrons unfurl an assortment of leaf colors, shapes and sizes. This group of plants makes an undemanding, true low-maintenance addition to any room. Ideally, give them a spot in medium to bright light, but most also grow in low light conditions. This collection includes (clockwise from bottom left) ‘Graziaele’ with heart shape leaves, large ‘Red Congo,’ Philodendron selloum, ruffle-edged ‘Xanadu,’ classic Philodendron cordatum and chartreuse variegated ‘Brasil.’