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Beating winter blues with houseplants
Edited from the Yard and Garden Line News, a publication by the University of Minnesota Extension Service
From eNews, January 8, 2004
When the holidays are over and the last decorations are packed away, even the most inviting rooms can seem a little drab. Why not brighten your favorite room with a new houseplant or two? University of Minnesota gardening expert Deb Brown offers some tips on buying plants during this bone-chilling season.
- Many Minnesota nurseries and garden centers ship in large, fresh supplies of foliage plants this time of year and often run special sales on them in January or February.
- Though it may be tempting, never whisk an unprotected plant quickly from a building to a car or vice versa. Even though you expose it to extreme cold for just a very short time, the plant may suffer irreparable damage. Wrap or double-wrap it before heading outside. Most foliage plants originate in the tropics or sub-tropics and can't tolerate any cold temperatures.
- For bright and warm locations near south- or west-facing windows, consider one of the ficus (fig) trees or plants from the aralia family. These include the bamboo-lookalike, Ficus "Alii;" the weeping fig, Ficus benjamina; the spidery "false aralia" or Dizygotheca elegantissima; and the lacy-leafed Ming aralia or Polyscias fruticosa.
- Some of the best plants for low-light conditions belong to the aroid family, which includes philodendrons, pothos, peace lilies, anthuriums, dieffenbachias, and Chinese evergreens. Of these, only the peace lilies and anthuriums have showy flowers, but the Chinese evergreens often develop bright red berries after their inconspicuous flowers fade. You could also try growing the "Janet Craig" dracaena and the parlor palm Chamaedorea elegans "Bella" or grouping several "Dallas" ferns together.
- If your light conditions are really poor, try growing a cast iron plant such as the Aspidistra elatior or a large potted snake plant like the Sansevieria trifasciata. Though they're not the most beautiful houseplants, they are green and practically indestructible.