Houseplants to the RescueIf the thought of approaching winter has you down about your garden, let houseplants come to the rescue! Tovah Martin, author of The Unexpected Houseplant, offers some great advice on how to make your windowsills shine all the way through spring.
Many think of the end of summer as the loss of the growing season. Instead, you can think of it as the perfect time to swing right into houseplant mode. Because now is the time to gather all your botanicals together and bring them indoors. What? You say that dumb canes don’t do a thing for you on an aesthetic level? Well, you can do a lot better than Dieffenbachia on your windowsills.
Left: When you can't easily get outdoors, trees such as Cupressus arizonica 'Blue Ice' and Juniperus squamata 'Chinese Silver' make great houseplants. Right: Juniperus produmbens 'Nana' is easily hosted as a houseplant if you give it a deep container. Photos by: Kindra Clineff.
Why not expand your vistas in the houseplant realm? Many perennials make easy-care houseplants that bring the garden into your life for an intimate relationship. Take Euphorbia amygdaloides for example. There’s no reason why you can’t adopt a wood spurge and watch it burst into a constellation of little green flowers on a sunny windowsill. Although those blossoms are almost lost outside, they mean the world in winter when all is "blah" on the far side of the windowpanes. Or try a Tricyrtis. Toad lilies blossom in autumn, but the foliage provides a show inside, as well as a fond memory of the growing season. Give toad lilies plenty of root room and you’ll be duly impressed. How about Heuchera? It’s one of several low-light plants that perform beautifully on the windowsill. Not only does the outrageous foliage compete favorably with begonias (and Heuchera are much easier to host as houseplants) but you might even see flower plumes before spring officially arrives outside. Ditto for Tiarella (foam flower). As roommates, they’re easy. Hellebores were once my own little secret for winter-blooming excitement. Now word has spread and nurseries are selling hellebores for holiday gift giving. Why not host a conifer in your home? Junipers make really easy houseplants as long as you give them a deep container so the roots never dry out. Adopting a cypress is just as easy-and rewarding. And evergreens lend an outdoorsy ambiance to your living room. But these are just the tip of the iceberg for winter follies.
Left: Perennials such as Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Efanthia’ do their stunts in winter indoors. Right: Make your own hedge on the inside of the panes by combining Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Lemon Yellow’ with selaginella. Photos by: Kindra Clineff.
Whatever you do, don’t wait for the winter blahs to set in. Raid your local nurseries now when they’re diminishing inventory, and nab the blowout prices. Want more ideas for stretching the concept of houseplants way beyond what you saw inside in the past? Make your windowsills shine. The Unexpected Houseplant (Timber Press, 2012) by Tovah Martin with photography by Kindra Clineff expands your vistas indoors.
Left: Potted hellebores give you a spring preview. Right: Tiarella ‘Sky Rocket’ is much easier to host than a begonia, and equally beautiful. Photos by: Kindra Clineff.