Occasionally I get to a point where the cold has lasted too long and then must quietly remind myself that it is only the beginning of January.
We still have a way to go. When this happens, I sometimes got to the store and think to myself that I just need a bouquet to cheer myself up, but sometimes I also end up bringing home a new houseplant.
Granted, I would pick an outdoor plant over a houseplant any day. I do realize that houseplants have the greenery I am longing for when everything outside just seems to have gone dormant, never to appear again.
Houseplants are pretty simple to grow. The main thing is not to overwater them, which tends to be the leading cause of death for almost all houseplants.
You also want to choose a plant variety that can withstand your light conditions. Even on your sunniest window you are still only going to get 70 percent at the most of light coming in, as opposed to the full 100 percent you would have if your plant was placed in the full sun outdoors.
First let me tell you about some of my favorite plants and help you to get to know them a little better. My all-time favorite is a Boston Fern, Nephrolepis exaltata. These take some true effort to kill off. All they need is moderate lighting and moist soil. When I say moist soil, I really mean damp. Don’t flood out your plant thinking it needs a bog, and don’t let it sit dry for weeks and wonder why the fronds are yellowing and drying up. Most times these are sold as hanging baskets, but you can also purchase them as a potted plant. Be sure to check the mature size on the info tag so that you know what to expect.
Next up are Spider Plants, Chlorophytum comosum. My grandmother always had at least a half dozen of these plants growing at her house. And if anyone ever asked about it, they were sure to go home with a transplant from one of her plants. Super easy to grow, only requiring damp soil and some natural light. These plants are grassy type leaves of a tropical species and have little plantlets that develop on the end of each leaf blade, thus giving you tons of plants that you can share with your friends. The plantlets ready root in moist soil and turn into their very own spider plant as they mature.
Snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata is a cool spiky plant if you are looking for something with a little height. This plant does well in a variety of lighting conditions. The trick to this one is to let the soil surface dry out in between watering. I have kept these alive for years with very little care other than having to replant them years later.
Cast Iron plant, Aspidistra elatior, is just like its name says. It is tough as nails when it comes to the plant world. It grows slow, so no need to worry about having to repot it too soon. It does well in low light and occasionally no light situations. Just don’t put it in a closet and forget about it. In that case you may actually kill it.
Most of these you can find at pretty much any florist in the area. If those still seem too difficult for you, wander to the craft store and pick up a silk plant. Those truly are impossible to kill. Do whatever it takes to brighten up this cold winter and hope that it helps to carry us over even a little bit to the beginning of spring.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at email@example.com.