Posts

Streptocarpus, Greenhouse

5 Flowering Houseplants to Brighten Up Your Winter

It’s cold outside, and in the middle of winter many of us find ourselves spending more time looking out our windows at a garden fast asleep. This season can be a peaceful time, but if you are longing for a vibrant pop of color to break up the drab browns and grays of the season, consider adding any of these blooming houseplants to your space.

African Violet, Greenhouse

African Violet

With long-lasting flowers that appear year-round, the colorful African violet is an easy-to-grow choice for anyone looking to add some color to their home. Flowers come in white, pink, purple or blue, and some may be bi-color or variegated.

  • Light: Bright, indirect light. Also grows well under a fluorescent light when it has enough exposure.
  • Humidity: Place your plants on a tray of moist pebbles or under your humidifier during the dry winter months.
  • Water: Let them dry out a little between watering. Use temperate water to prevent spotting on the leaves (as we like to say, no one likes a cold shower).

Streptocarpus

A member of the same family as the African violet, Streptocarpus is similar in appearance and has many of the same qualities. With blooms coming in a variety of colors in sprays above the foliage, anyone can add this plant to their home for a pop of color in the winter.

  • Light: Morning or soft afternoon light is best for Streptocarpus
  • Humidity: This plant is well suited to normal house conditions.
  • Water: Let the plant dry a bit between waterings, and water with lukewarm or tepid water.

Bromeliad

These bold, tropical plants develop flower spikes in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors that bloom freely throughout the year. Bromeliads have no stem – instead, their leaves form a tight rosette which collects water for the leaves to absorb. Their roots are used primarily for anchoring to surfaces, since nutrients can be absorbed through the leaves.

  • Light: Most prefer either bright indirect light or several hours of direct sun.
  • Humidity: Place your plant on a tray of moist pebbles or under your humidifier during the dry winter months.
  • Water: The rosette needs to remain full of water. Empty the rosette periodically to prevent the water from becoming stale. Roots should be kept moderately moist as we
Begonia, Greenhouse

Begonia

You can find these showy plants in bloom at just about any time of year. With glossy, round leaves and blooms that can be as large as 2 inches across, this is a great flower to introduce vibrant color into any home during the winter season.

  • Light: Prefer bright, indirect light.
  • Humidity: Plants need good air circulation to prevent diseases.
  • Water: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, when plants are in flower. Allow to dry slightly between waterings.

Orchid

With beautiful blooms that can last for weeks, orchids are a classic favorite among houseplants. Intricate blooms come in a seemingly endless variety of colors, sizes and shapes.

  • Light: Prefer bright, indirect light. If needed, place under a fluorescent grow bulb.
  • Humidity: Orchids need between 50% and 70% humidity. To achieve this, you can either place the plant on a tray of gravel filled partially with water or mist the plants. Just be sure to mist them in the morning so that the leaves are dry by night time.
  • Water: Orchids are very sensitive to overwatering and are often planted in coarse, very well drained bark, moss or potting mix. Water only when the ground media begins to feel slightly dry, and then water thoroughly.

A winter walk through the garden: Berries, bark and blooms

Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant Specialist

I was born a farmer’s daughter. Born to love the soil, the plants and nature that surround us and enhance our lives every day. Over many years of growing—and killing—plants, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of a four-season garden. One that evolves with the passing of time. A small flowering tree in the spring provides shade for its under plantings in the summer, transitions into a beautiful array of color in autumn, and allows its bark to become a show stopper in the winter landscape.

With a dressing of snow, the garden becomes a winter wonderland. The same textures evolve into different patterns and the chill of the air makes the comfort of home and observing from within that much better.

This week I am grateful for my garden. Along an afternoon walk I discovered accents in the dead of winter. All of these elements remind me of the four season beauty surrounding my home.

Berries

Nandina domestica is an evergreen that berries heavily, and does well in both sun and shade. It is a great filler in a border as it hides the stuff you don’t want people to see, the deer will not eat it and the birds do not prefer the berries. Yes, it does seed some, but in 50+ years it hasn’t been a problem for me—it’s a near perfect plant!

Bark

While it is most obvious in winter, exfoliating bark is attractive all year. Crape myrtle is a fantastic tree in all seasons as a focal point or as part of border privacy planting. Birch, cherry, paper bark maple, beech and even the heavy bark of an old oak stand out in the winter landscape.

Blooms

Camellias

Camellias may bloom in the fall or in the winter/spring. Depending on the weather, the bloom time may overlap! They perform best when they are protected from full sun, afternoon especially, and from heavy winds.

Helleborus

Some varieties of helleborus will bloom in January, while others will bloom a bit later, going well into April. Prune away their evergreen and tattered foliage before they begin to bloom. Rake away heavy leaves or mulch as seeds are forming and you may see babies when they drop their seed, for they are quite promiscuous. Helleborus are deer resistant and a good substitute for hosta in the shade garden.

Galanthus

Plant the tiny bulbs of galanthus in fall, under and at the edges of shrubs and trees that lose their leaves. Allow the seed to mature and spread them around as they reproduce quickly. They often bloom through light snow and into February and are deer resistant.