Colorful House Plants

By Richard Flowers, ACCNP-Green Thumb Nursery-Ventura

The increasing popularity and interest for interior plants has exploded recently. More and more people are homebound and want some company and take up a new hobby. Soon these people become hooked and turn into a passion where they actually collect them and hunt down new, rare, and exciting varieties. House Plants can become a way of life for the better. They provide warmth, calmness, beauty, purity, wellness, and relaxation to the inside and to you as an individual. Just like gardening outside, indoor gardening with interior plants reduce stress, filters the air, adds joy, and provides healing to ones environment. Having House Plants in your home increases humidity so you can breath easier, which in-turn makes you feel better. Plants inside your home both enhances the beauty of your living space and the quality of life. Knowing that you are growing a House Plant successfully adds a since of accomplishment. Having a plant buddy with you inside makes you feel more content, pleasing, and improved mood.

Today, I want to discuss with you what your options are for colorful House Plants that will help liven up your living area, add pizzazz to an interior space, and enhance ones emotional well being. Whether they have beautiful flowers, colored foliage or just plain green leaves but placed inside a colorful pot your options are almost unlimited.

Below are popular and noteworthy House Plants that I suggest will provide beautiful color, texture, and harmony inside your home. You can bring a little slice of the tropics inside your home and have a tropical retreat all to yourself. One of the most critical things to know when deciding where to put interior plants is how much light the intended area gets. A simple way to discover how much light you have in a given are can be determined by: If you have normal vision and you can see something without any other additional illumination then that would be considered moderate light. If you need to add light, then it would be considered a low light area, if you need to take away light it is considered bright light. Bear in mind, these determinations are arbitrary, subjective, and is not exact but just a guide. A general rule of thumb in caring for plants that are flowering and plants that have colorful foliage is that they need more light than their green counterparts. When using a colorful House Plant you may want to consider having multiple plants as this makes more of an impact . You can even mix plain green plants with colorful House Plants to create a more interesting scene. Dressing up a plain green houseplant with a colorful pot can sure go a long way.

Please be advised, the House Plants noted with an * are native to tropical regions of the world and they appreciate a warm and humid environment. Bringing plants inside your home often result in a dry environment where the temperature is not consistently warm throughout the year. It is best to mist them regularly or have a humidifier and maintain a consistent warm temperature between 60- 70 degrees f. to replicate a tropical growing condition. When watering your beloved House Plants, I suggest to fill a water pitcher with regular tap water and let it sit out overnight and let the Chlorine evaporate, making it safe for your beauties. Chlorine is a micro-nutrient and essential to plant growth but however, too much Chlorine can accumulate in leaf tissue, resulting in leaves with a scorched or burned appearance.

House plants that tolerate bright, filtered light but not direct sun:

Bright, filtered light is a lighted area that receives very good light but is filtered by way of a blind, curtain, drape over a window or large tree outside that blocks the full intensity of the sun. Interior plants placed away form a bright window reduces the intensity of the sun and therefore sunburn is greatly reduced or non existent.

*Bromeliad: Bromeliads are one of the easiest of all tropical plants to grow. These tropical epiphytes (air plants) are easily adapted to growing in pots and they are much more tolerant than many of their lush-leaved counterparts. They come in a wide array of colors and textures like red, green, purple, orange, yellow, banded, stripes, spots or other combinations. They are an excellent plant to put on a coffee table. These exotic looking flowers are spectacular, showy, and come in different forms and colors which rise up from the center of the clump of rosetted foliage. The rosette (main part of the plant ) dies after flowering, however during the time they are flowering, more baby rosettes may develop at the foot of the plant. As soon as the old foliage rosette is deteriorated, the young rosettes can be taken off and grown separately to start a whole new plant.

*Orchids: Like that of Bromeliads, Orchids make a stunning display of color. There are so many types and when they flower they can flower for months at a time. The most popular is the Moth Orchid or Phalaenopsis. The elegant and delicate Orchid would do wonderful on a coffee table right next to its friend, the Bromeliad.

African Violets: The most recognized and popular flowering House Plant is the African Violet (Saintpaulia). The various flower colors it comes in is amazing and seems to appear almost any time of the year. There are so many selections in cultivation, it is incredible. Some selections have double flowers, others have a single inflorescence. Colors can range form lavender, pink, white or bicolor. When watering African Violets, it is wise to not get the leaves wet and water with tepid (room temperature water). Water them from underneath by way of a pot placed inside a saucer that holds no more than a couple of inches of water. This water will become absorbed up by the soil and roots.

*Croton: The beautiful and ever colorful foliar botanical wonder screams out loud, color! Croton( Codiaeum) with its outstanding, multicolored, rainbow-like foliage is sure to brighten up your day especially when used along side with Dumb Cane. Some selections have thin / narrow leaves but my favorite posses larger and fuller leaves and is more impressive looking.

*Dumb Cane: The old stand by and the bread and butter of the House Plant world, which is the ever popular Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia). Most selections are green with irregular white modeling or white speckles which is stunning when paired with Croton. Please be advised the sap of Dumb Cane is very poisonous and will burn the mouth and paralyze your vocal cords.

Spider Plant: Spider Plant purifies the indoor air rapidly by removing formaldehyde and is a hanging selection that can be used to add color. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum) is tough and hardy. It is really a no brainer, is easy to grow, and seems to thrive on neglect. This plant tolerates very bright light to lower light levels. The variegated green and white coloration of the leaves drupe down creating a tapestry of hanging stems. Spider Plant is reasonably tolerant to dry air but does enjoy being sprayed occasionally. This plant can also grow outside in a partial shade location and tolerates artificial light indoors too.

*Prayer Plant: Prayer Plant (Maranta) is one of the finest foliage plants around and works swell with other plants around them like Croton and Dumb Cane. Depending on the variety, the leaves of Prayer Plant provide you a mosaic of color and are decorated with purplish / brown blotches on bright green leaves or the foliage may have red vanes on a velvety green modeled background with purple on the the undersides. The name Prayer Plant is so named because every evening the leaves fold heavenward just as they are hands in prayer.

Wax Plant: Wax Plant (Hoya) are vining or hanging type of plants that are an excellent interior plant. Wax Plant provides you fragrant white flowers with reddish/ pink centers A second flower usually follows the first.

*Anthurium: When you first see them, you would think they are fake but rest assured, they are real. The exotic looking and well known Anthurium provide red, pink, salmon or white colored flowers (but technically called bracts which are modified leaves) that arise from the center of the dark green, attractive foliage. The colored brats are also useful for cutting and can last in a vase for up to two or three weeks in water.

* Ficus: The world of Ficus as a house plants is an enormous group of plants. There are beautiful and stunning types that provide outstanding foliage color. Variegated Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica decora Ruby) is one of the finest variegated forms out there. Variegated Benjamin Ficus is another notable Ficus that will provide color. These tall plants need space and are great for adding height where it is needed.

Dracnea: The Dracaenas are another large group of House Plants. They are decorative, almost impossible to kill, and can tolerate low light conditions as well as bright light and artificial light. So many types to choose from. The selections that are variegated or with beautiful colorations like lemon lime, Warnekii or others that do not have solid green leaves provide more visual color interest. Along with the Ficus, these are among the strongest of the House Plants. Dracenea colors range from yellow and green striped, tricolor, variegated, and magenta. Many varieties can be tree like and large, developing a trunk. Song of India and a few others are lower growing types.

Mother- In- Law-Tongue: Mother-In-Law Tongue helps to purify indoor air by removing formaldehyde and Nitrogen Oxide produced by fuel-burning appliances. By far this is my go to plant, because it is undemanding, not fussy, and also tolerates low light conditions as wells bight light. Mother-In-Law-Tounge (Sanseveria) is tough as nails, easy to grow, strong, durable, and tolerates low water. The thick, fleshy foliage of the variegated types are stunning and some types have gold, cream, or yellow bands infused in the foliage which are very attractive. If tall and upright is not your style, you may consider other types that are short and squatty. Mother-In-Law -Tongue is at home as an office plant, on a shelf, table or the floor, and makes an excellent home or contemporary decorator plant as a vertical accent or as a plant that has an interesting structure. Dracenea and Mother- In-Law Tongue grow in about the same conditions and work harmoniously together with one being taller and the other being shorter creating a layered effect.

House plants that tolerate artificial/ low/ filtered /diffused light conditions:

*Chinese Evergreen: Many people that have a low light area and want to brighten it up may want to use the ever popular and old stand by -Chinese Evergreen (variegated form) (Aglaonema). The leaves on Chinese Evergreen are dark green but the white blotches makes it stand out with its soft tones of beautiful and striking colorful but not loud variegated leaves like that of Croton. This is one of the most common plants to set on a coffee table away from a window or use in a dish garden or hydroponics.

*Pothos: I have this plant growing all over my green house, it is super easy to grow, and not fussy. Most people have herd and are familiar with Golden Pothos (Epipremum), the trialing vine that grows easily down the sides of a container or shelf. This is also another go to plant that I recommend when showing people House Plants because it is simple to grow, and no brainer. They adapt well to a variety of different light conditions and are considered to be relatively drought-tolerant. Plus, they make excellent hanging plants draping over a book case or counter

*Peace Lily: Peace Lily is known to help remove mold from your home air. When in flower the Peace Lily (Spathiphylum) produces a simple, graceful, and exquisite modified leaf (like the Anthurium) but bears a white treasure that adds a since of calm and coziness to the area. Peace Lily is at home when placed in the warm and humid bathroom along with Chinese Evergreen.

*Rattle Snake Plant/ Peacock Plant: The Rattle Snake Plant or Peacock Plant (Calathea) is an attractive and easy grow plant for beginners. The signature colorful blotched or striped leaves is the hallmark feature of this plant. It is equipped with patterned foliage with a deep purple under-leaf that beautifully stands out in even the simplest pots. Combining both Chinese Evergreen and Calathea in the same area would look outstanding.

Rex Begonia: The speciality plant grown mostly for its fancy decorative foliage is called Rex Begonia. Their are many selections and forms to choose from which add interest and each selection has its own unique color combinations. The spectacular colors of the Rex Begonia may change the way you think about House Plants because the textures, colors , swirls, frosting, and funky markings the foliage posses is totally worth it. When placed on a table a distance away from a window or placed next to a north window on a shelf or table will help brighten the area. Water Rex Begonias in much of the same way as you do African Violets

*Radiator Plant: Radiator Plant/Variegated Pereromia has very decorative foliage. The leaves are succulent- like, fleshy, and many varieties are often seen. This unique plant is becoming increasingly popular and people are collecting them. The markings on the leaves or leaf stocks is the main virtue of the plant which could be silvery, reddish- brown, olive green, marbled, and / or variegated with yellow or white resembling the markings of a watermelon depending on the variety. Some types are used to hang while other could be used in a dish garden or terrariums. Did I mention they also provide a minute flower on white spikes that could be red , rose- red or white.

You are not just limited to House Plants with flowers or colorful foliage, you can also use a plain green plant and still provide interest and color to your interior surroundings. Our large pottery department has a wonderful array of pots in all different sizes, shapes and colors for you to choose from. It is highly advised to choose a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom so your lovely House Plant will not sit in its own water and become very unhappy.

Our Green House has a wide variety of houseplants for you to choose from that will satisfy your indoor gardening needs. Stop by your favorite Green Thumb Nursery, I’m sure we will have something you just can’t resist. Certain varieties of plants may only be available seasonally, please call ahead to be sure they are available.

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