Indoor plants can serve many purposes. First, they can clean the air. They are a cheap way of decorating ones home and many are associated with some type of holiday. This later fact can allow the beginning homeowner to get a bigger bang for their buck. They can also reduce the symptoms of depression by bringing a little nature indoors. You can compound the positive impact plants have on the indoor environment when you invest in those that bloom.
But before you jump into the car to go to your local nursery, take a look at some common and not so common flowering indoor plants that you can choose. Keep in mind though, this list is very short and only highlights some of the unique ones.
- Brazilian Fireworks-The Purple Shrimp, Blue Shrimp or Rose Pine Cones are just a few of the names that this plant can go by. This plant loves shady locations and actually will burn if exposed to bright sunlight. When it comes to watering your plant, make sure that the soil is moist but not wet. Also, make sure that the plant has been planted into a pot that has drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. Brazilian Fireworks will benefit from a weekly feeding of a liquid, all-purpose fertilizer. A special requirement of this plant is the fact that the soil will need to be aerated. This can simply be done by raking the soil surface with a small hand rake or fork.
- Crown of Thorns-If you are looking for a plant that will flower year round, then the Crown of Thorns is the answer. When you receive the plant put it in a bright room but away from direct sunlight. Water and fertilize when the soil is dry but cut back on both during the winter months. Once your plant outgrows its current home, transplant it into a larger pot that contains a drainage hole. Fill in the container with an all-purpose potting soil mix. If you received cuttings, you will need to dip them in a rooting hormone and then place in a moistened soil mix of 50 percent peat moss and 50 percent sand. Once in soil, place in a sunny location away from direct sunlight and keep evenly moist. In about six to eight weeks, you can expect the cutting to have rooted. At that time, transplant cuttings into individual containers.
- Gardenia-This plant has a reputation as being hard to grow indoors. While this is true, the gardenia can be grown indoors with a little work and understanding of the nature of the plant. First, this plant in its native country (China and Japan) grows as a shrub. What this means for the indoor plant grower is that the plant can become large if not pruned. This pruning should occur after blooming has ended. This can be between February and March. Also, the plant will need to be planted in potting soil mix that is designed for acid loving plants. Once planted, place your gardenia in a west facing window during the summer and a south facing window during the winter. The room temperature is also important and should be kept at or above 61 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this plant loves it moist, place the planted gardenia on a tray full of pebbles that is filled with water. Also, mist the plant daily while the plant is not blooming. While the plant would love to be misted all the time, misting during its blooming cycle will cause brown spots on the blooms.
- Shrimp plant-The shrimp plant is another easy, blooming plant to grow. It loves bright light but would prefer not to be exposed to midday sun. The soil of this plant should never be allowed to dry out and if it does the leaves will begin to drop. This plant can live outside once one’s area has reached its frost-free date. If you move the plant outside, make sure to prune back the plant to ground level before moving it back inside. Once you see new growth appearing in the spring, transplant into a new pot. If you keep your shrimp plant indoors all season, only transplant every other year. To keep your plant in tiptop shape, fertilizer every week with a liquid, all-purpose fertilizer that has been diluted.
- Gloxinia-This plant is related to another indoor favorite the African Violet. Just like the African Violet, the leaves are covered in little hairs, which is a good indication that this plant can be propagated through leaf cuttings. The gloxinia can be purchased blooming in the floral shop or its tubers can be bought and started at home. While the easiest way to enjoy a gloxinia is to purchase one already blooming, there is a lot of satisfaction in growing your own from a tuber. To do this, select a 4- to 6-inch that has a drainage hole and fill with an artificial soil that is well-draining. Place the tuber on top of the soil and cover completely. Place the pot in a saucer of warm water to irrigate. Just like an African Violet, the gloxinia does not like to get moisture on its leaves. As far as a light requirement, place the gloxinia in a location that receives a lot of indirect sunlight but avoid direct. The intensity of direct sunlight will burn the leaves of this plant. Once the blooming stops, this plant will go into a dormant state. Do not assume that the plant is dying. If the tuber is healthy, you will begin to see new growth come spring. When this happens, begin to apply a well-balance houseplant fertilizer once a week. Continue with this feeding schedule during the growing season.
- Streptocarpus-This plant is easy for novice gardeners since it does well in both natural and artificial light. It also has a rather unique propagation method by which a leaf cutting is taken and then split. The veins of the leaf are removed and the cut area is placed in a rooting hormone. Once rooted, the leaf cutting produces plantlets and each plantlet is its own plant. After the plantlets have formed, remove from the propagation medium and plant in a pot that has been filled with light soil mix that has at least 50 percent perlite. When it comes to planting, repot often as the plant outgrows its home. Putting this off can cause the plant to drop leaves and eventually die. Also, do not crowd this plant. One plant per pot is enough. To keep the plant looking its best, prune often and remove any damaged or spent leaves along with blooms. This will encourage additional growth.
- Oxalis-The oxalis or shamrock is a beautiful plant any time of the year. The leaves come in a vast array of colors that range from green to black and even purple. This plant can be started from seed but more commonly can be found as bulbs. When it comes to planting the bulbs, place a good all-purpose potting soil in a 4-inch container that contains a drainage hole. Plant the bulbs 1 ½ inches down and 3- to 4-inches apart. Water in and place in a sunny location. In a couple of weeks you will see growth and in 6 to 8 weeks the plant will begin to bloom. Once the plant stops flowering, continue to water and care for the foliage. The greenery is building up food in the bulb for next year’s growth. Once the plant begins to dieback, stop watering and move to a shady location. Store in this location until you are ready for a new flushing of the oxalis.
African Violet-While many may think of Grandma when it comes to African Violets, they are a staple to any indoor gardening collection. While this plant does have many of the same growing requirements as those discussed above, there is one particular requirement and that is its sensitivity to the cold. As a matter of fact, it is recommend that you remove your plants from the windowsill at night or place a piece of paper between the window and the leaves. An African violet exposed to even a small amount of cold will turn brown in 24 hours, wilt and die.