The winter doldrums have settled in and as we count down the days to spring, why not brighten up your interior spaces with houseplants? Blooming plants cheer up a room with pops of color. Popular as gifts, their big advantage over cut flowers is that they are longer-lasting. And sometimes, given proper care, they can even bloom again.
Easy Blooming Houseplants
Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum)
The striking long-lasting flowers of this houseplant provide the color while the dark green, leathery, arrow-shaped leaves are attractive on their own. Botanically speaking, the flowers consist of a hood-like spathe surrounding a twisted spadix. They come in shades of white, red, pink, and, occasionally, orange. Easy care anthuriums bloom in medium light locations. During active growth periods, keep the soil moist and fertilize with a standard houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer.
Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)
Moth orchid flowers can last for months. These plants will grow well and bloom in a bright window (east, west, or a filtered southern location) or with supplemental lighting. Roots should not sit in water, but never allow them to completely dry out. Water thoroughly and let them dry a bit before watering again. Moth orchids should be fertilized during periods of active growth (late winter-early fall) with a commercial orchid fertilizer. Read more about care of Phalaenopsis orchids on the the Home & Garden Information Center website.
African violets (Saintpaulia)
Perhaps the all-time most popular houseplant, African violets are prized for flowering year-round. Blooms are sometimes ruffled or two-toned and unfurl from a rosette of fleshy leaves. Give them bright but not direct sunlight, normal room temperatures, and well-drained soil. Keep the pot width no more than 1/3 rd that of the plant. Blooming requires fertilizer year-round, diluted to 1/4 strength. Water when the top half of soil is dry. Check out our African violet video for extra tips.
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
Kalanchoes make excellent houseplants. This succulent has fleshy leaves that can tolerate the dry air inside of winter homes. They come in an array of cheery colors and bloom over a long period of time. A sunny window and normal room temperatures are preferred. Getting them to re-bloom can be difficult and plants are often discarded after they finish blooming. Water only when the top half of the potting mixture dries out. Fertilize actively growing plants every two or three weeks and while flowering.
Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
This is not the ‘easiest’ of the blooming houseplants, but the flowers’ appealing colors make this a popular indoor plant. Gerbera daisies need bright, indirect sunlight. Water them when the top half inch of potting media feels dry. The leaves are paper thin and can be damaged easily, so handle them gently and avoid getting water on the foliage. Prune off any damaged leaves and spent blooms to keep plants looking their best. Fertilize with a standard houseplant fertilizer from late winter through the summer.
Several species of primrose are sold as houseplants in late winter and early spring. Their circular flowers come in many colors to fit any décor and taste. Locate them in bright light and, when flowering, keep them in a cool room where temperatures do not get over 60⁰ F. Warmer temperatures shorten the bloom period. The soil should be kept moist but do not let them sit in water. Soil shouldn’t dry out completely as primroses do not recover very well if wilting occurs. They like high humidity indoors. Primrose is considered a short-term houseplant, as it is difficult to get them to bloom again.
Cyclamens are also a seasonal favorite and were featured in a recent blog post.
Tips for Keeping Blooming Plants Happy Indoors
- Blooming plants require maximum light. Locate them near a bright window or provide supplemental fluorescent lighting or grow lights.
- Avoid overwatering. This is the number one reason houseplants fail. It can be tricky to judge just how much water plants need indoors. Slower growth in the winter, room temperature, relative humidity, and the amount of sunlight a plant receives are factors that determine how much water a plant will need. There are a number of techniques for determining if your houseplant needs watering. Simply sticking your finger into the potting mix about an inch down to feel if it is dry is a decent indicator. Another way to judge is by feeling the weight of the container. Practice this by lifting up the container just after a thorough watering to see how heavy it is. Then repeat the lifting process over the course of the next week to see how much lighter the pot becomes after the plant uses the water and the soil dries. Then water again until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Make sure any decorative foil or sleeves are not holding water which will drown the roots.
- Groom your plants as needed to remove spent flowers, dying or yellowing leaves, and leafless stems.
- Do not locate plants near cold windows or drying heat sources.
- Increase humidity by grouping houseplants together or by setting containers atop pebbles moistened with water. But, be careful that the water is not seeping into the drainage hole.
- Houseplants and Seasonal Plants | Home & Garden Information Center
By Debra Ricigliano, Extension Program Assistant and Certified Professional Horticulturist, Home & Garden Information Center
Only the first three are houseplants here. It seems to me that the best houseplants are in regions where no one wants to be out in the garden in winter. We tend to take our houseplants for granted, and also neglect them, because we can work out in the garden all year.