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(Melissa Miranda Interior Design/Houzz)
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Thanks to gloomy weather and dropping temperatures, many of our outdoor gardens will have turned in for the season. If you’re feeling restless, simply look indoors for your solution to the winter blues. Many indoor plants are low-maintenance lovelies that can help revive your thirst for nature. Use these clever gardening tips to get your houseplant collection started and thriving.
Location, location, location. Before you choose your plants, tour your home and examine the best spots to keep them. You can use an indoor plant in nearly every room, but some flourish better in certain settings. Scope out big, unobstructed windows and take note of which direction they’re facing and how much light they get throughout the day. Smaller plants, like succulents and herbs, love basking in full sun on windowsills in the kitchen, living room or bedroom.
Larger plants create dramatic effect when they stand on their own corner of a room, especially in a hallway where they can be the star of the show. Tropical plants, such as figs and palms, work great in the bathroom next to shower doors or above the tub where the extra moisture helps them prosper. Tall, lofty ceilings are also great contenders for showcasing potted plants mid-air.
Pick your poison. Many common houseplants not only make dazzling displays, but they also have surprising health benefits by way of air purification. Pothos is a first-timer’s favorite with its bushy appearance, heart-shaped leaves and easy-to-care-for temperament. They love north-facing windows, along with the florist’s favorite peace lily and the contemporary sword-shaped Mother-in-Law’s tongue.
Tropical plants fare well beside east- or west-facing windows with indirect but moderate light conditions. Fiddleleaf fig and umbrella trees are low-maintenance plants, reaching up to 10 feet high with sculptural effect and high-impact design. Bird-of-paradise and butterfly palms also join this list with their exotic and graceful fronds. For smaller spaces, the timeless Boston fern is a gorgeous alternative.
Finally, smaller and more decorative houseplants such as cacti, succulents and trendy air plants enjoy west-facing windows. Although not all are known to improve air quality like the plants above, succulents are great for those living in small homes as they require very little space. They look best when grouped together as an arrangement. Popular varieties include aloe, agave, Tillandsia and Staghorn fern.
Note: If you have children or pets at home, the plants above can be toxic if ingested.
Winter care tips. The majority of the plants discussed above gained widespread popularity in part to their hard-to-kill nature, which makes them great candidates for anyone with a busy lifestyle. In winter, many will need even less care, but be sure to take a few precautions to ensure a cheery indoor season. Most houseplants, except citrus and bamboo, will turn dormant and require little water and no fertilizer. Allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering. You’ll also want to move them away from any heating units and towards sunny windows so they can make the most of the limited daylight without getting damaged.
Give any broad-leafed beauties a quick rinse to remove any dust, which can interfere with their ability to take in light. If you’re sporting tropical plants, you may want to add a humidifier indoors to replicate their natural environment. Lastly, indoor plants are more susceptible to pests so check them regularly for any signs of trouble. Spider mites are quite common and appear as tiny white specks on leaves, which can be removed easily with your fingers and a quick wipe down with water or diluted horticultural oil.