Liven Up Your Home

Liven Up Your Home

Even for those who enjoy gardening, most of life is spent indoors. So why not bring a little bit of the outside in? Whether or not you have a green thumb, “interior landscaping” is a simple way to add to your decor, and the benefits of having plants in your home go far beyond the aesthetic.

With hundreds of varieties of plants available at your local nursery, you’re sure to find something that complements your style and space. Choose from tall-growing plants like palms to compact tabletop plants like peace lilies; add touches of color throughout the house with blooming plants. Bright blooms like African violets and mums stand out; ivy and philodendron create graceful, trailing accents of green.  Plants soften the hard lines of walls and furniture and fill voids in corners and around rooms.

There are several factors to consider when choosing houseplants, including your knowledge, experience, the time you have to take care of the plants and the lighting in your home. If you’re looking for something low-maintenance, good choices include ferns, corn plants, bamboo plants and orchids, which are surprisingly easy to care for and will add a splash of color to your home.

If you have a little more experience and time, try lily plants, croton and ficus trees. Feel free to mix and match varieties to create a unique look, but resist the temptation to go overboard. Make the most of your plants as attractive accents by putting them in decorative pots or planters.

Planting herbs indoors provides a touch of green that is also practical. Plant herb seeds in a container or indoor window box, and with the right amounts of light and water, you’ll have fragrant, flavorful herbs growing right there in your kitchen.

In addition to brightening your home, plants may be good for your health. They actually help clean the air in a home. NASA research has found that indoor plants can significantly reduce toxic chemical levels inside houses and buildings with poor ventilation. Through photosynthesis, plants absorb pollutants and expel oxygen back into the air. Research also shows that having plants around can create a more relaxed atmosphere and improve your mood.

Maximize the effectiveness of your natural air fresheners by keeping your houseplants healthy. Now start gardening—right there inside your home!

Photo courtesy of Marston and Langinger

Not sure where to place your houseplants? Here are three popular areas for indoor flora:

1. Corners are a common area for tall plants.

2. Fireplace mantels can be embellished with a flowering plant in a decorative vase to add a splash of color to
the room.

3. Table centerpieces are often small- or medium-sized house plants in a basket or decorative container.

 Liven Up Your Home   Chinese Evergreen
Aglaonema Modestum

Serving as a workhorse for the professional plantscaper for the past 30 years or more, the Chinese Evergreen plant has few pest problems and will tolerate relatively low light levels. Keep the soil moist, but be sure to not let the evergreen stand in water. Also, keep this plant in a warm climate, as it is very sensitive to cold temperatures.
 Liven Up Your Home   Marginata
Dracaena Marginata

Probably the most versatile of all the Dracaenas, the Marginata is often confused with a palm. A big advantage to placing this plant in your home is its small footprint: an upright, 6-foot Marginata only uses a few feet of floor space. Best in bright, indirect light, the Marginata can also handle lower light levels. Water when the soil is dry to the touch, and be sure to drain off any excess water. Marginatas are most comfortable at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
 Liven Up Your Home   Peace Lily
Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”

One of the most popular indoor-grown houseplants worldwide is the Peace Lily. Considered “thirsty plants,” Peace Lilies let you know quickly when they need watering by noticeably drooping. Drooping and browning of the leaf tips will occur if this plant is not properly cared for or in an environment that is not conducive to its growth.
 Liven Up Your Home   Bamboo Palm
Chamaedorea Seifritzii
When you bring the Bamboo Palm home, be sure to remove the fertilizer left by the grower from the top of the soil, as this plant is sensitive to soluble salts. Leach the soil thoroughly with water, and allow the plant to completely drain. Keep the Bamboo Plant uniformly moist (but not wet) — water only when the soil has dried about one-third or halfway down. Also, regularly clean the leaves with a soapy solution to eliminate pest attacks. Keep in bright, indirect light.
 Liven Up Your Home   Mass Cane/Corn Plant
Dracaena Massangeana
The Dracaena family of plants is one of the most common indoor species. The Dracaena Massangeana has bright yellow stripes down the middle of its leaves. To care for this plant, soak the soil weekly, place in bright, indirect light (it can tolerate low light, as well, but will grow very slowly) and fertilize once or twice a month during spring and summer with a water soluble fertilizer.
 Liven Up Your Home   Mother-In-Law’s Tongue
Sansevieria Laurentii
Also known as the “snake plant,” this veteran to the U.S. foliage trade has been around since the 1920s. This plant is very versatile in both size and growing conditions — from 14 inches to 42 inches in height, the Mother-In-Law’s Tongue can adapt its growth based on its container and environment. The one climatic condition this plant will not tolerate is temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods.
 Liven Up Your Home   English Ivy
Hedera Helix
Varieties of the English Ivy plant exhibit some of the oddest-shaped foliage known, combining its green color with white, cream, yellow and/or pink. This plant likes 4 or more hours a day of direct sunlight, but will also grow well in bright indirect light. Keep the soil barely moist.

 Liven Up Your Home   Gerbera Daisy
Gerbera Jamesonii
Available in a variety of colors — red, pink, yellow, salmon, orange and white, to name a few — this cheery addition to your home is available year-round and will continue to flower for extended periods of time, if cared for properly. Place in areas with full sunlight exposure, and water frequently and thoroughly so the soil is moist to the touch, but not puddling on top.

Keys to Care

• Keep houseplants uniformly moist at all times. Don’t let them become dry between waterings. Inconsistent watering can cause leaves to yellow.

• Most houseplants prefer temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.

• Heat can make humidity levels low, so mist leaves regularly. Keep plants away from drafty areas, as well.

Keys to Care

Natural Air Purifiers
Forget the expensive, noisy air purification units—buy a houseplant! The following indoor plants are the eight of the most effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from air, reducing indoor air pollution in your home. The recommended amount of plants is one 6-inch plant per 100 square feet of interior space.

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