13 Flowering Houseplants
While most popular houseplants are grown for their foliage, there are quite a few flowering plants that are grown indoors. One of the advantages of a flowering houseplant is that the blooms last for a long time. Freshly cut flowers may be beautiful but they rarely last more than a week. Many indoor flowering houseplants produce blooms that remain fresh and attractive for up to six weeks. Others may produce blooms for the greater part of the year.
A few tips for growing houseplants:
- While flowering houseplants require light, never set a plant directly in front of a south-facing window, especially in the summer. The heat will be too much and may scorch the leaves.
- Never allow plants to touch a window pane.
- Remember that low light does not mean no light. All plants need light for photosynthesis.
- The greatest killer of houseplants is overwatering. When instructed to keep soil moist, that means as wet as a wrung-out sponge. Soggy soil will rot the roots.
- Flowers will reach toward the light. Turn the plant occasionally to keep it looking balanced.
African Violet or Saintpaulia
African violet is a low-growing plant with round, fuzzy leaves that grow in a whirl. This old-fashioned favorite loves humidity but hates wet leaves. Water carefully and set on a tray of damp pebbles. Feed with a fertilizer that has been specially created for African violets.
Flowers bloom in shades of purple, violet, white, or pink. An African violet plant will live for years and flower several times a year. Set in a north or east-facing window and keep soil moist.
Amaryllis or Hippeastrum
Amaryllis are popular Christmas gifts. Large bulbs planted in a loose soil mix shoot thick stems up 2 feet in early winter. Dramatic flowers appear 7–10 weeks after planting. Blooms come in many colors, including scarlet, red, salmon, white, multicolored, and flecked.
Place amaryllis where it can receive bright light in a warm area of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant the bulb up to its neck and water sparingly until shoots emerges, then keep soil moist.
Cut stalks after flowers fade. Water and fertilize to build energy for next year's flower. After the leaves turn yellow, cut them off. Remove the bulb from the soil and store in a cool, dark, dry place until ready to plant the next winter.
Angel Wing Begonia
Angel wing begonia is just one example of the many types of begonias grown indoors. Angel wing could easily be grown just for its beautiful foliage. Leaves are shaped like an angel's wings and are from dark green to maroon with light-colored polka dots.
This cheerful long-lived plant produces flower clusters from pink to bright red for most of the year. Prefers moist soil and bright, filtered light. Must be occasionally pruned back to avoid becoming leggy or top heavy.
The long, arching stems of a mature Christmas cactus feature flat, scalloped segments. Blooms grow from the ends of the outer segments in shades of purple, pink, red, orange, and white. Mature specimens can grow quite large.
Despite it being a cactus, do not allow the soil to totally dry out. Set in indirect light. In order to flower, keep Christmas cactus out of artificial light in early fall.
The brightly colored petals of cyclamen flowers are swept back. Some are aromatic and some have ruffled petals in pink, red, or white.
Traditionally grown as an annual plant (thrown out after blooming), newer hybrids enable people to keep cyclamen for years and in flower for the better part of a year. Cyclamen appreciate bright, filtered light and cool temperatures. Water when the soil begins to dry out.
Dark green, strappy leaves make Clivea a beautiful foliage plant. Side shoots can be broken off for easy propagation. Often moved outdoors in summer, Clivea can not tolerate bright or direct sun. Keep it in a north-facing window while indoors and in shade if you put it outside. Water when soil dries out.
The flower stalk shoots up from the center of the plant producing luminous orange flowers in Spring. Clivea is an easy to maintain long-lived plant.
Moth Orchid or Phalaenopsis
Not long ago, orchids were an exotic and expensive rarity, a flower only seen at special occasions. New large-scale growers have made the moth orchid a popular and affordable flowering houseplant. Delicate flowers bloom along the ends of long, arching stems. (Those stems will need support.)
Blooms last for up to six weeks. Plants kept in bright but not direct sunlight in an orchid medium that are watered thoroughly and allowed to dry out may bloom again. Fertilize with a commercial orchid fertilizer and follow manufacturers' directions.
Paperwhites or Narcissus Papyraceus
Paperwhites are gorgeous reminders of spring that bloom indoors during the winter. Bulbs planted in a loose medium send up bright stalks topped by bright white, aromatic flowers. While most people love the heady scent of paperwhites, there are a few folks who can't stand the smell.
Plant bulbs in a loose medium and set in a cool but brightly lit spot. Odd numbers of bulbs usually look better than an even number. Keep growing medium moist but not soggy. Paperwhites rarely bloom again and are generally thrown away after the flowers fade.
Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum
Peace lily is not a true lily. This plant is very tolerant of low light conditions and often seen in lobbies and offices.
Peace lilies feature large, glossy, deep green leaves up to 14 inches long and 4 inches wide. Beautiful single petal flowers emerge on a tall stem. A central spadix is surrounded by a spathe in white or pink that often fades to green.
Keep soil moist and lightly fertilize once a month. Cut back on water and fertilizer in winter months. Peace lily is mildly toxic but is a great air purifier that removes contaminants from the air.
Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes Hookeriana
Showing up suddenly at a few chain hardware store garden shops, pitcher plants are not an easy care houseplant. Amusing for its exotic looks and the fun fact that it is a carnivorous plant, pitcher plants need the warmth and humidity usually provided in a greenhouse setting. If you want to take a try at growing this exotic at home, toss the occasional ant into its maw and drizzle a bit of water into the flower occasionally.
Pot in a loose, soilless medium or wrap in sphagnum moss. Hang on the wall in a humid area and hope for the best.
Poinsettia or Euphorbia Pulcherrima
Poinsettia, those beautiful plants sold at Christmas time, are often disposable houseplants. Forced plants often perish after blooming. But poinsettia can be tended and coaxed back into color the next year with proper care.
Planting outdoors and providing 15 hours of darkness in fall can recreate the color but not always in time for the holidays. Prune before planting outdoors.
Poinsettia flowers are actually very tiny. The bright red color (or pink or white) is in the bracts or leaves surrounding the bloom. When bringing home for the holidays, place poinsettia in bright, filtered light. Water when soil dries out. Poinsettia prefers cooler nights.
Primrose or Primulaceae
Several types of primrose are available, but Primula vulgaris is the most common. With its rosette of wrinkly leaves and several stems of petty posies, primrose is a popular gift plant when it flowers in late winter and early spring.
Move outdoors after flowers are spent, then allow to go dormant for 1–2 months. Not an easy plant for reblooming, most people give primrose the heave-ho once the flowers fade.
Scarlet Star or Guzmaia Lingulata
Scarlet star is a popular bromeliad with arching, strappy leaves that are a rich brown at the base and bright green above. Leaves overlap to create a central well.
From the center of the plant, a stalk bears tiny flowers surrounded by brightly colored bracts in scarlet or orange.
Keep soil moist and pour a bit of water into the central cup. Set in indirect but bright light. Plant in a heavy pot, as scarlet star may be a bit top heavy.
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© 2013 Dolores Monet