A Pop of Color
Winter is a long season of brown lawns, bare trees, and frost-covered shrubs, which is precisely why it's the perfect time to add a pop of color indoors. While poinsettias are traditional (and lovely), why not think outside the box when it comes to wintertime houseplants and select one that shines during the darkest days of the year?
Amaryllis bulbs produce some of the most spectacular trumpet-shaped flowers. Timing is everything with this plant; bulbs should be planted approximately six weeks before you want flowers. Once the flowering stops, snip the stalk a few inches above the bulb. To encourage rebloom, remove the bulb from the soil in September and keep it in a cool, dark environment for two months before repotting.
Despite their odorous reputation, paperwhites are a perfect pick-me-up, provided you steer clear of 'Ziva', a common (and smelly) variety that can quickly stink up an entire room. Opt for other paperwhites like 'Cheerfulness' and 'Erlicheer', which have a less offensive aroma. Paperwhites don’t require prechilling and can be bought at big-box stores or online from specialty bulb companies.
From December to April, cyclamen, which can bloom for weeks, sends up lightly fragrant flowers above heart-shaped, silver-marbled foliage. After flowering, the plant loses its leaves and dies back for the summer. As a result, many cyclamen are tossed into the trash. Take note, however: The plant is not dead, just dormant. Continue to water it once in a while, and when temperatures cool, active growth will begin again.
Getting this plant to rebloom takes a bit of coaxing in the form of light and temperature control, but it’s so worth it. Long nights of total darkness, 13 hours or more, in temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees, are necessary to trigger flower bud production.
Rosemary probably won't bloom, but the scent alone is enough to bring cheer. The plant is available at big-box stores during the holidays and can often be found in playful topiary shapes. Place it in a sunny kitchen window where it can do double duty as decoration and culinary herb.
Adenium (Desert Rose)
As you would do for other succulents, water desert rose sparingly. Thick stems give rise to flowers in solid colors—some varieties even have striping—that bloom throughout the year. After flowering, it’s common for the plant to shed its leaves until new growth emerges in the summer.
They get a bad rap for being fussy, but orchids are actually pretty simple, provided you offer them bright but indirect light and ample humidity. Water orchids thoroughly and allow them to dry out between waterings. Blooms last for months, so it’s best to choose a plant with buds that haven’t yet opened to get as much longevity out of them as possible.
Locate this diminutive plant in bright, indirect light and enjoy months of continuous flowering in shades of red, white, purple, and everything in between. Set yourself up for gardening success by picking up a specialized African violet pot with a slow-release wicking reservoir in the bottom that prevents damage to the leaves from overhead watering.
Give them bright, indirect light and plenty of humidity and you’ll enjoy a flower frenzy all winter long. Dry air may be the norm at this time of year, but it's a death knell for begonias, so set your plant on a shallow tray of water filled with pebbles to humidify the air around it. As much as they like water, too much of a good thing can be harmful. It's best to water when the plant shows signs of thirst, such as drooping leaves.
Several white flag-like flowers, which are really spathes, grace this beautiful but unpredictable plant. It can be hard to determine when and if a peace lily will flower, but it tends to send up stems in February, provided it receives sufficient bright, indirect light.
One of the more unusual houseplants, flowering maple blooms almost nonstop. Palmate maple-like leaves and pendulous flowers resembling Chinese lanterns make for an interesting display. The variegated leaves of certain varieties up the interest.
Like amaryllis and Christmas cactus, clivia needs a chilling period to trigger the development of clusters of orange or yellow lily-like flowers. With no need for high humidity, clivia is perfectly suited to indoor life and will thrive in a bright north-facing window.
Typically a summer bloomer, jasmine can be found blooming in stores during the winter. To encourage rebloom the following year, give it a time-out in the fall in a room that is completely dark at night. Exposure to street light or indoor lighting will interrupt the cycle. Give it a trim once it blooms as jasmine tends to get leggy.
Bleeding Heart Vine
Not to be confused with bleeding heart plant (Dicentra spectabilis), bleeding heart vine is a beautiful climber that produces long-lasting clusters of pink flowers when placed in a sunny window. Give it a trellis or support to climb, and prune back hard after flowering to keep it under control.
One of the easiest houseplants to grow and widely available, kalanchoe tosses out clusters of flowers in deeply saturated hues. The trick is preventing it from becoming too leggy. Pinch it back after flowering and a rebloom should be close behind.
Compact clusters of daisy-like flowers sit atop large dark green leaves. Flowers can be red, purple, blue, or white, and each flower has a center eye surrounded by a small white ring. Purchase plants with plenty of buds to get the most out of the bloom period.
What many consider a flower is really a spathe that emerges from the plant in hues of red, pink, white, and variegated colors. Within it is the white or yellow flower spike. Anthurium prefers bright light and high humidity, which may be challenging in a heated home. Place the plant on a shallow pebble-and-water-filled tray to increase the humidity.
Not to be confused with hardy azaleas, greenhouse azaleas are meant to be grown indoors and will not survive if planted in the garden. Select plants with plenty of unopened buds to increase the amount of time you can enjoy its blooms, and be sure not to let the plant dry out.
Although traditionally grown as a perennial, today’s gloxinias are bred to produce masses of blooms without regard for the long-term health of the plant, so by the time they’ve finished flowering, the plant simply has nothing left. Consider it an annual and treat it well while in flower by keeping it in bright, indirect light, watering it enough to keep the soil moist, and feeding it with a high-phosphorus liquid plant food every two weeks.
As the name implies, the flowers resemble small goldfish in shades of red, orange, or yellow. Trailing dark green foliage makes the plant an excellent choice for a hanging basket in bright light. As with African violets, avoid getting water on the leaves, which will cause browning and, in some cases, fungal problems.
Liven Up The Indoors
Bring the outside in during these cold months with the perfect winter houseplants.
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