Indoor plants are perfect antidote for winter doldrums

Pick a houseplant from Marianne Binetti’s list that will best match your motives and personality.

Marianne Binetti will be speaking every day at 1 p.m. (except for 2 p.m. on Sunday) at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show that runs Jan 25-28. The topic for Thursday and Saturday is “The Art of Gardening – Make like Monet but Keep it Simple.” Friday and Sunday it’s “Hydrangeas, Hellebores and Heucheras: Year ‘Round Color with the Heavenly ‘H’ Plants.” For discount tickets and more info visit www.OTshows.com.

The middle of January is the perfect time to start gardening. Indoor plants are the perfect antidote to spring fever and the winter doldrums and if your New Year’s resolution was to concentrate on better health, then gardening is a step in a healthy direction.

The choice of indoor plants that do well in our climate is vast and growing. Deciding what type of plant to adopt and bring home may be the most challenging part of starting an indoor garden. The list below helps to match your motives and personality with the best houseplant for you.

If you are a beginning gardener….

Dracaena – hard to kill

The variety of foliage shapes and colors is so amazing among this large family of tropical foliage plants that it is hard to believe they are all related. Two of the easiest to grow are dracaena Janet Craig with strap-like, shiny, green leaves or, for dim light, the adaptable dracaena Warneckia is an upright grower with stiff but colorful gray leaves accented with a white stripe.

There is also a dracaena with red foliage called the Red-margined dracaena and a beauty with spotted green and gold foliage named Florida Beauty.

Tip: The best tip is to just start reading the plant tags at a garden center or nursery and if you find a houseplant with “dracaena” in the first name, take it home. This is a plant that can adapt to low light and gray days but it will turn ugly if you forget to water or overwater. The simple rule is to feel the soil. When the top of the soil is dry, water the plant but don’t let the roots sit in their drainage water.

Orchids – hard to resist

If you’ve ever visited the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and been gob-smacked impressed by the amazing orchid display, then you know how many types of orchids can be grown in our climate. Orchids are no longer just for wealthy owners of conservatories. Just like flat screen TVs, orchids have come down in price and are easier than ever to enjoy. You don’t even need to visit a greenhouse or nursery, as perfectly fine potted orchids are being sold at the grocery store that will bloom for months before slipping into dormancy.

Potted orchids make great gifts and décor items to wake up a winter interior. Just be sure you read the growing instructions that should be attached to every plant along with the name of the variety. The easiest to grow orchids for our area are the Phalaenopsis as modern varieties are more tolerant of low humidity. Any orchid with buds can be enjoyed much longer than a cut flower bouquet so consider a potted orchid the next time you want fresh blooms for your home.

Sedums – for trendy and contemporary gardeners

A few years ago sedums and succulents were plants for the desert – now they are being grown indoors and out with mixed results. The agave is a family of succulents that adapts to indoor life if given a very bright window, well-drained soil and very little water. It is the clean lines and compact shapes that have made sedums and succulents so popular for contemporary interiorscapes.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens.” Write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

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