As I look around my home, I realized that I have my own secret garden inside. I never really thought about it like this before, probably because I was always so focused on my outside gardens, but when the leaves of the trees fall and there's not too much to look at outside, I begin to look at my inside garden.
The morning I actually counted how many houseplants I have and realized that I have as many houseplants as I am old. How ironic! Maybe I should only buy one houseplant a year to help me remember my age!
I have always been a lover of houseplants. Something that my mother passed on to me no doubt. They bring such texture to the corner of a room, they are great for cleaning the air and something pretty to look at.
I love to tend to them and watch their growth over time. One tip I've learned is you can definitely 'over care' houseplants which can sometimes lead to their demise. For example, over watering a houseplant during winter can be the kiss of death for some. It makes sense that their thirst would be less in winter, after all, some go into hibernation and others simply stay moister with the lesser hours of daylight. I wish I had known that when I first started caring for these babies. Lesson learned.
I have a wide range of houseplants including, cactus, succulents, heirloom begonias, African violets, pothos, orchids, ferns, diffenbachia, hoyas and palms.
Then there are those plants that really aren't meant to be houseplants, but rather come inside during winter, patiently waiting to go back outside where they are naturally fitted. For example, this Australian Tree Fern. I have two of these spectacular plants. They are a sight to behold as their frowns get huge and yet, even when they are unfurling, they are interesting to look at.
Then, there are these Boston Ferns. This year I bought three of them in a 12" hanging basket where they hung in the front of my house for months. They were so beautiful that I could not think about discarding them come frost, but I also knew I had no room for them in my home. So what did I do? A little experiment I tried hoping that it would work! I brought them into my basement and hung them near my sump pump well, plugged in a 'daylight' bulb and hoped for the best. As you can see, they are doing just fine and patiently waiting for spring.
Another experiment was with this Enseta Banana plant. I had mixed emotions about what to do with this beauty as by the end of summer it was over 5' tall sitting in a very small 14" pot. Again, a plant I knew I couldn't manage in my home, yet, it was too stellar to just let pass. I cut it completely back to a foot of its base and put it with the Boston ferns. Within one week a strange piston like rod was coming up through the center. I had no experience on this occurrence but decided to just let it be. A month went by and here I noticed it was pushing up new leaves. Again, pushing new growth leaving me to believe that it's content until I can move it back outside.
This year I found myself being drawn to succulents. Of course, there are those that you should look at from afar rather than touch as they will pinch! They are my number one low maintenance plant, hardly needing water, but oh so interesting to look at and many will flower as well.
What I find most satisfying about houseplants as there are some that I will put out on my patio during summer. It's like a little vacation for them as they get rained on (which naturally cleans their leaves), they bask in the natural sunlight and they enjoy a more natural environment as most houseplants are a tropical plant by nature. Isn't it funny though that you don't realize how much they've grown outside until you bring them inside. Then suddenly you say, "WOW, look how much you've grown". For example, this begonia and diffenbachia were less than half the sizes they are now. And look, the begonia is still pushing out new growth weekly.
Another tip I learned through the years is finding the perfect spot in my home for houseplants. It can be difficult sometimes to simulate the natural light they need to prosper, but with care and patience, many houseplants will 'put up' with a change in light. While they may not prosper, they will hang in until they can return to their proper light requirement. It's during these times that proper care should be given with regards to watering, following the guidelines of less is sometimes more.
While I am a firm believer in feeding my houseplants, I also hold back during winter as most don't need the extra boost during a dormant time of the year. I feed most of my houseplants starting in spring through summer and start cutting back in fall. Another plant that I have always 'over loved' were my African violets. My theory on them has changed now that I've successfully maintained four of them for two years now. I water only from the bottom and only when the soil begins to pull away from the sides of the pot. Otherwise, I leave them alone sitting on a partially lit window sill. This habit has brought me constant flowers on all of them I'm happy to write.
Even if you think you don't have a 'green thumb', try a houseplant, perhaps start with a cactus or a succulent, something that needs little attention. From there, you can add other easy caring plants such as pothos, ferns or diffenbachia. Air on the side of caution and try not to over tend to your plants and before you know it, your thumb will be green!