Don’t Be Intimidated

Don’t Be Intimidated
Don’t Be Intimidated

Use these expert tips to grow and keep houseplants healthy

Do you live in a part of the country where the winter days are dreary and dark? Our plant friends can brighten our homes and make them cozy, but flowers would make it even better. Nothing brightens a room like a bouquet of flowers—but cut flowers are fleeting and in the compost pile in a week.

Why not try your hand at growing flowering houseplants and have blossoms in your home every day? My new book Bloom: The Secrets of Growing Flowering Houseplants Year-Round, will help you do that.

Flowering houseplants intimidate people. They think they must have an even greener thumb than needed to grow foliage plants, yet it isn’t true. Anyone can grow a flowering houseplant if they have the right environment.

Home is where the right environment is

Let’s discuss what you need to make the “right environment.” The correct light is the principal factor in growing any plant, but even more so with houseplants that blossom. Most flowering houseplants require higher light levels than typical foliage plants. Supplemental light can be used if your home doesn’t have enough light to support flowering plants. Light is food for your plant, so it must have enough to grow, thrive, and produce flowers.

The right environment also includes the best factors for the health of your plant. Making sure your plant is well watered is an important skill. With experience, you can look at some plants and tell they are dry by the color of the foliage. A well-drained potting mix is essential and will be helpful in ensuring your plants won’t be standing in soggy soil, which is a death sentence. Buy the best potting medium you can. Fertilize your plant with the fertilizer of your choice regularly.

Whether you use a synthetic or organic fertilizer doesn’t matter as long as you provide some sort of nutrients for your plant.

Choosing a container is also important. It can’t be too large or too small for your plant’s size and health. One with a drainage hole is best for any plant, as it is the best way to ensure your plant is getting the water it needs. Water until it runs out of the drainage hole, so you know your plant was thoroughly moistened.

Bloom, baby, bloom

Let’s talk about a few plants that together will make sure you always have blooms in your home all year.

The first is one of my favorite plants, the African violet. Though it is viewed sometimes as a “grandma” plant, my grandma would be amazed at the variety of violets that are available today. With bright light (an east window is best) or electric lights, your violet can be in bloom continuously all year.

Add a phalaenopsis orchid, which could be in bloom for almost a year with the right care. The great thing is, these two plants could easily live on the same windowsill with the same light conditions.

Some plants will bloom in lower light conditions and one of those is the peace lily or spathiphyllum lily. The white flower heads will appear with a modicum of light. These plants are easy to find and grow. They need good light and would prefer to be moist all the time. This plant will let you know when it is dry by dramatically fainting over the edge of the pot. The good thing is it will come back, but the bad news is that it will develop yellowing leaves and brown tips.

Strive to keep it moist and with the right light, it will reward you with its white flowers.

Don’t fear showstoppers

During the holiday season, you will find poinsettias, holiday cacti, and more flowering plants. They are all amazing and I recommend buying one of each.

The plant I want to talk about, though, is the amaryllis or Hippeastrum. It is a bulb and everything your plant needs to grow and flower the first year is in the bulb when you buy it. Plant it in some well-drained potting mix, leaving 1/3 of the bulb showing above the soil line.

Water it well, put it in a bright spot, and wait for the show to begin. The flowers are showstoppers. With the right care, you can bring these bulbs back into bloom every year for the holiday season.

With just a few flowering plants in your home, you can have blooms throughout the year, many of which can add a wonderful scent, as well. Find my Bloom book wherever books are sold, and you can learn more about the wonderful world of flowering houseplants.

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