by Peter Walsh
If your thumb is more brown than green, look to these easy-to-care-for houseplants to green your home decor
Why struggle with houseplants that drop leaves, need constant care or look sickly?
To keep your green home decor looking beautiful, choose houseplants that will thrive in the low-light and low-humidity conditions in most homes. Houseplants not only add a living element to your decor, but they also help clean the air by drawing in carbon dioxide and releasing fresh oxygen.
Try one (or more!) of these nearly foolproof plants that anyone can grow:
No home should be without this versatile, healthful plant. Grow it on the windowsill in the kitchen, in a sun-filled bathroom or on a table near a window in the living room. Aloe likes a cool, sunny location that's not too hot (heat can dry out the leaves).
Give it a roomy pot of about 6 to 8 inches across with excellent drainage, as it hates soggy roots.
Aloe grows best in a standard potting mix for houseplants and needs only occasional watering, so keep it on the dry side. The best part is that this plant gives back. Cut off a leaf and squeeze out the juice to soothe and heal minor cuts, scrapes and burns.
This tidy little plant is often referred to as Cape shamrock or Four-leaf clover plant. In the wild, it's known as wood sorrel.
Oxalis is grown from little tubers that sit just under the surface of the soil in a wide but shallow pot.
Buy an established plant and let it grow to fill the pot for a full, lush look. Give oxalis a sunny to partly-sunny location in your home on a table near a window in the living or dining room. It likes a cooler location as its tender stems and leaves will dry out in hot, direct sun. When and if they do, just pull them off the plant to clean it up.
Water this plant well when the surface is bone dry or when the plant droops. The bonus of oxalis is that it blooms beautifully. Stems rise up from the tubers through the leaves topped with clusters of tiny pink, purple or white trumpet shaped flowers. At night, the leaves fold up and reopen in the light of day. In the summer, put it outside in a semi-shady area on a deck or patio. If the plant stops blooming for a period of time, give it a rest. In the fall, put it in a cool, dark place such as a basement or garage and give it a drink every month or so. In the spring, bring it back into a semi-shady place, and it will be rejuvenated to bloom again.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
You just can't kill this plant. Spider plants seem to thrive on neglect.
Buy an established plant or ask a friend for a "baby" that grows on the end of a long stem from the mother plant.
If you start with a baby plant, fill a small pot with standard houseplant potting soil and anchor the roots into the soil with a hairpin-shaped paper clip or piece of wire. Water it well and let the soil dry slightly. You almost can't over-water this plant, which is the cause of most houseplants' demise. If you forget to water it for a long period of time, it folds its leaves to let you know it's thirsty, then bounces right back after a good drink.
Grow spider plants on a sunny windowsill in any room of the house; it will thrive nearly anywhere there is light. It produces tiny white, fragrant flowers along its stems from time to time. Pull off the dead leaves to keep it neat, and clip off some baby plants to share with friends or make new plants. You can even put the babies in a vase of water where they'll root and grow for years.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Hybrids)
When it comes to cactus, most people think of thorns and pain -- but not with this variety. Christmas cactus's smooth, dark green segmented leaves are fleshy and full of moisture.
Christmas Cactus has the water retention properties of a desert cactus without the spikes.
There are basically three types of this plant, all depending on the bloom time. Christmas cactus is supposed to bloom in late December. Thanksgiving cactus tends to bloom in late November. And Easter cactus might bloom in late March or early April. But you really can't count on these bloom times. The plant might bloom weeks earlier or later than expected, depending on the amount of sun or darkness it gets. Blooms are generally orchid-like with delicate pink, white, red or orange petals on the outermost tips of the leaves.
Christmas cacti like to be pot-bound -- you can leave them in the pot you bought it in for many years. Some say the trick to getting your plant to bloom is to give it long periods of darkness, then bring it out into the light a few weeks before its bloom time. That might work, but generally, if the plant is watered two or three times a month, it should bloom well nearly on schedule. In summer, bring your plant outdoors to a semi-shady location, then back inside before the first frost of the season. Break off pieces of the leaves at the nodules, let them cure for a few days, and pot them up to share with friends.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria Triasciata)
Tough as nails, this leathery, striped plant is nearly indestructible. Snake plants like a sunny to partly-sunny location on a windowsill or table near a good source of light. It quickly fills the pot and demands little attention except for a good drink about twice a month. These plants have a shallow root system and can grow in a wide, deep saucer or shallow pot in standard houseplant potting soil.
Using a sturdy scissor, clip off any dried-up leaves and cut out any that have brown or dead ends, and it will continuously send up new shoots. Snake plants will send up yellowish-white flowers on wiry stems, but it might take many years to see flowers, so grow them for their leaf color instead.
Photos: Corbis Images
Peter Walsh is a NYC-based writer specializing in home and garden-related topics.
- Balance the Energy in Your Home
- Ways to Create Calm in Your Home
- Check Out These Smart Sensors for Your Home
- Devices that Lower Your Energy Bill
- 10-Minute Home Repairs
- Safeguard Your Home Against Burglars
- 5 Top Home Security Systems
- Do I Need a Home Security System?
- 5 Ways to Revamp Your Outdoor Space
- Pruning Tips for Trees and Shrubs
- Urban Gardening
- Plumbing Gadgets of the Future
- Energy-Efficient Roof Options for Your Home
- All Hands on Deck: How to Build a Deck
- How Often You Should Repaint Your Home
- Build Your Own Water Feature
- Spring Composting 101
- Sprucing up Your Lawn
- What are Some Alternatives to Grass?
- Green Technologies for the Home
- Are 'Green' Cleaning Products Effective?
- Window Shopping
- How to Choose the Best Carpet
- Essential Woodworking Tools
- Flooring for Your Garage
- Spring Cleaning Your Garage
- Garage Storage: All Your Stuff and a Car to Boot
- Spring Cleaning Storage Solutions
- Tuning up Power Equipment for Spring
- Say Hello to Spring
- The Perfect Pillow
- Update Your Kitchen Cabinets
- How to Build a Shed in Time for Spring
- Five Ways to Spruce Up Your Home This Season
- Spring Refresh: Tips for Organizing Small Spaces
- Outdoor Motion Lights for Home Safety and Security
- Paving Options for Driveways
- Create Your Dream Bedroom
- A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy
- Conserving Water in the Garden
- Great Fall Gardens: How to Get the Look
- 10 Steps to a Beautiful Fall Garden
- Easy Lawn Repair Tips to Get Your Yard in Shape
- How to Grow a Designer Garden for Less
- Disguise an Ugly Wood Floor With Paint
- How to Style Bookshelves Like a Pro
- Eco-Friendly Appliances: Should You Go Green?
- Window Weather Proofing
- Clever Eco-Friendly Uses for Plastic Bags
- Eco-Friendly Home: DIY Cleaning Products
- Tangerine Tango: How to Decorate With This Vibrant Color
- Window Treatments 101
- Decorating How-To: Layering Rugs
- How to Paint Outdoor Pots
- Go Green Indoors: Five Easy Houseplants to Grow
- Great Ways to Kill Your Houseplants
- Perennial Buying Guide
- Lighten Up: Expert Landscape Lighting Tips
- Spring Garden Preparation 101
- Tips for Air-Conditioner Upkeep
- Ways to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly in 10 Minutes or Less
- Easy Energy Savers for Your Home
- Get-Healthy Kitchen Gadgets
- Spring-inspired Home Accessories
- Affordable Bath Updates
- How to Decorate with Houseplants
- 10 Things Every Man Cave Needs
Article: Copyright © 2016, Studio One.
"Go Green Indoors: Five Easy Houseplants to Grow"