Houseplants – Eleven Beautiful Varieties
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
I love greenery in the house and yard. However, selecting houseplants can be a problem since I have active pets in the household who love to terrorize anything resembling greenery. I can’t imagine our house without plants. They provide cleaner air and lend a tranquil feeling to the rooms.
Here is a list of the houseplants I’ve had experience growing.
There are many varieties of African Violets, and so many different flowers to choose from. Basically, the body of the plant is composed of stiff velvet-like green leaves. The flowers can be single, double, or ruffled. Colors include white, pink, purple and color mixes. African Violets do require some special care to obtain the best results. One important tip: do not water the leaves or else they will discolor. You may need to experiment with lighting conditions. We have an African Violet stand with fluorescent lights that works well. I also have an African Violet sitting in the kitchen window, and it’s happy.
I’m including this plant because of its healing properties. An Aloe plant has stiff rod-like succulent stems. Care is easy, and the plant can stand neglect. When these stems are cut, a gel emerges. Aloe gel is excellent for relieving burns and sunburn. My aloe plant has come in handy. Make sure if you have pets that you keep Aloe plants out of their reach since Aloe plants can be toxic to pets.
Bamboo (aka Lucky Bamboo Plants)
I bought a small bamboo plant and placed it on the bathroom counter. It was lovely, and the care was simple. I selected a ceramic container and filled it partway with small stones (or you can use marbles), then inserted the bamboo plant and filled the container with more stones to a total of a few inches and added water. Keep water in the container (replacing the water at least once a week) for a happy bamboo plant. If your tap water is heavily laced with chlorine or other elements, the bamboo leaves could brown … in this situation you may want to use filtered water (ex: water from a Brita water pitcher). However, my problem was that the cats discovered the “lucky” bamboo … and … chomp. No more bamboo leaves. I love the look and easy care of bamboo; however, it wasn’t a good match for our household.
My bromeliad collection quickly outgrew the space I had for them. Plus the cats started knocking over the plant pots (messy!), so I decided not to keep this type of plant in the house. Bromeliads come in an array of varieties and colors. Essentially the leaves grow upward in a rosette pattern, some of the leaves overlapping to form a water reservoir. Some Bromeliads rely on the water in this “cup” to nourish them, other varieties are root feeders. The Bromeliad plant grows a spiky flower, and usually only does this once. After the flower is gone, the plants can produce offspring called “pups” which can be transplanted into their own containers.
Our family has grown Christmas Cactus for several generations. These plants grow “arms” that are segmented. The best way I can think to describe them are rough-edged rectangles that are connected by narrow joints. These stems can grow quite long and make for an attractive hanging plant. Unlike traditional cacti that grow long spines, these leaves have a few short spines along the edges of their leaves. I love that these plants can stand some neglect. Their succulent type growth stores additional water for their needs. Christmas Cactus come in a variety of colors, too. I have grown them with blooms in pink, red, white, purple, and even orange.
I am including this houseplant because it always cheers me to see these gorgeous flowers blooming during a blustery cold winter. Tall flower stalks grow above variegated green leaves. Cyclamen flowers are often in white, pink and purplish colors. My current plant, which has been growing for years, has a purplish-pink flower. These plants like humidity, and I keep mine under a fluorescent light fixture away from the cats. Cyclamen can be toxic to pets, so be sure to keep these plants in a safe location.
During the years, several people have gifted me with Prayer Plants. These plants grow lovely medium- to large-size oval leaves with colored patterns on them. A unique characteristic of these plants is that they fold their leaves at night, hence the name “Prayer Plant”. I keep my Prayer Plants in low light, and they are thriving.
It’s been awhile since I’ve grown Sensitive Plants, but I fondly remember them. Children will enjoy these plants, too. A fun characteristic of these plants is that when the fern-like stems are touched, the leaves fold up. After awhile, the leaves open up again. These plants enjoy a soil mixed with peat moss and also like humidity. They do not like cool environments.
The Spider Plant is one of my favorite houseplants. If you are looking for a plant that is an excellent air purifier, then the Spider Plant is a good choice. This plant produces long narrow leaves that are usually green with a cream or white stripe. An excellent hanging plant, it enjoys being pot-bound (crowded roots in the plant pot). At times, the Spider Plant will grow long stems, and small “baby” spider plants will grow off of them. These baby plants can be removed and potted to grow more plants. These plants can also stand some neglect. My cats munched two of my Spider Plants to death. I couldn’t understand the fascination until I learned that Spider Plant leaves can give cats a “buzz” … so the kitties were imbibing, and the Spider Plants have been relocated so that they survive all that attention. Yes, the cats are still peeved with me for moving the plants.
I am listing a general category for this type of plant. I have several succulent plants in the house, given to me by friends. I’m not even sure what varieties they are. One of these plants was given to me by a grade-school teacher and has kept multiplying for decades. The plants are easy to divide and repot. Succulents make great container plants. Their green leaves typically grow in an elongated shape, and the plants can tolerate neglect. The succulents I have never produce flowers.
We used to grow a few varieties of Wandering Jew plants. The vine-like growth creates a lush plant that looks beautiful in a hanging basket. The leaves are oval in shape with a pointed tip. The leaves can be solid or variegated in color. They are fairly easy to propagate, too, by placing stem cuttings in water to root. We eventually gave these plants away because some family members and pets were getting skin irritations from the sap in the plant.
Note that I am not a plant professional and this plant listing is based from my own experiences. If you have any questions regarding these plants, please do further research before investing in them.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart