A GROWING CONCERN: Some houseplants to round out your home

THE OTHER WEEK, we talked about sunlight (or lack thereof) and grime on your precious houseplants.

Another great trick is to now “pinch out” the tips of many of your outdoor botanicals because it will produce many new shoots and thicken up your plants.

Even on the smallest of scales, your houseplants will be growing better as you continue to develop a better green thumb.

In turn, your house or office will become healthier and more pleasing.

Let’s continue adding to your repertoire of houseplant knowledge with a list of indoor foliage plants that are ideal for indoor living here on the Peninsula.

This week’s list contains plants that are in the easy range, but it will also have a few for low to moderate skill:

1. Pregnant onion plant (Ornithogalum caudatum).

We’ve all most likely seen and remember this plant.

It’s hard to forget a big green bulb with numerous new bulblets.

The leaves drape in a curled fashion over the container for a very unique look.

2. Peperomia (especially the variegated).

Peperomia is one of my favorite houseplants because it retains its compact habit in poor light conditions.

It has lovely thick, waxy leaves and natural growth characteristics that are perfect in baskets and containers where a drooping effect is desired.

Be careful to not overwater.

3. Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus radicans). This is an exotic plant from southeast Asia that is highly prized by the homeowner because it blooms so easily over extended periods of time.

A hanging vine type, the leaves are thick and waxy, but the long and tubular flower shapes are the real prize.

Make sure to water on schedule and as often as needed.

4. Strawberry plant (Saxifraga stolonifera).

Another charming hanging-type foliage plant, the strawberry plant has nice runners with its little perfectly formed cones on the end.

It is a great plant for children, as it easily propagates into plants that can grow new beautiful plants themselves.

They are great gifts and fruit of the children’s own labor.

Please don’t overwater, and for healthy plants, cut off most of the offshoots in the winter.

5. Velvet plant (Gynura aurantiaca).

Here is a specimen named for what it resembles.

Velvet plant leaves are covered with thousands of rich, velvety red hairs.

Great in pots or hanging containers, it is very pendulous in its nature.

The velvet plant displays itself best in bright light and after it is pinched back. As a bonus, these cuttings root very well in water on the window sill.

Remove the flower immediately; they do not have the best scent.

6. Avocado.

Here is a plant that can be free and is a fantastic science experiment.

Avocados are easy to germinate. After eating the flesh, place the stone (the seed from the center of the fruit) upright with one-third uncovered in nice porous soil.

Keep it moist and warm, but not in too bright a light.

Avocados make nice, large foliage plants, as they easily can reach up to 7 feet if allowed. This plant is simple to grow and keep year after year.

7. Sea grape.

A very decorative plant in which its leaves are quite tough and leathery.

This is a very hardy plant that grows naturally on tropic islands. When moved outside for the summer, you can turn it into a branched shrub or tree.

Make sure to keep it in bright light and warm, moist air in the winter.

This is a very easy, durable plant to grow.

8. Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen).

A nice long-leaved plant whose patchwork leaf colors are why the plant is so popular.

Here is a plant that will grow very well, even in a dark corner.

It needs to be warm, however, and can be easily overwatered to death because dark conditions keep the soil moist.

9. Bamboo.

A vast family of plants that come in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes and growth habits, bamboo should be in everyone’s house.

These plants can grow in water, rocks or soil. They like bright light but not direct sunlight.

It’s perfect to move outdoors in the summer, adding a nice oriental charm to the patio. It is very easy to grow and maintain.

10. Norfolk Island pine.

A very cool plant that is hard to resist running your fingers through once you have experienced its rubbery texture.

Extremely well-suited for rooms too cool for good plant production, it also adds a nice pine scent.

Many people use them as little living Christmas trees. The right choice as a housewarming gift and cost-effective when comparing size and height. A best buy.

11. Yucca canes.

An interesting textured Mexican plant, yucca canes bear slender leaves in clumps atop thick, heavy canes.

Used as a floor plant, they are easy to find in the 4- to 6-foot range.

12. Wandering Jew.

The finish to this week’s list is one of the nicest, fastest-growing colorful hanging foliage plants.

The Wandering Jew performs well in a window, comes in many variegated colors, reproduces simply when clippings are placed in water and is lovely in the summer.

I have seen specimens in people’s homes or offices hanging 4 or 5 feet over the pot. In a tall wicker stand, this becomes a very impressive living decoration.

Be prepared. Next week, we will take it up the last notch with difficult but desirable houseplants.


Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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