Forgiving “House Plants”

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Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern is a current fav!

So what makes a plant a good “house plant?” My criteria is: 1. The plant does not go dormant (or semi dormant) in winter, so it provides foliage year round. 2. It can survive indoors with winter’s lower light levels. 3. It can tolerate the arid conditions our heated homes provide, and 4. It should be fun to look at.

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Baby Spider Bonnie

One of the easiest,  and most forgiving (if you forget to water), is the Baby Spider Plant, Chlorophytum ‘Bonnie’. This form has smaller spiders with tightly curled variegated foliage. ‘Bonnie’ freely produces arching manilla colored stems with many offsets.

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Humidity loving variegated Boston Fern with the ‘Neon’ Devil’s Ivy.

At a connoisseur plant auction last winter, I bid on and won a beautiful variegated Boston Fern,  Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Tiger’. AlasI quickly learned that this beauty disliked our home’s dry heat as well as my neglectfulness about watering…After watching it go downhill, it was banished to the greenhouse for recovery. It didn’t regain its original lushness until summer finally settled in.

But there are other choice ferns available which are not so persnickety indoors,  for example the  Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern, Phlebodium pseudoaureum (formerly Polypodium areolatum), pictured above.  Phlebodium pseudoaureum has an almost prehistoric thing happening, with it’s wide lobed blue foliage. It spreads by stolons led by fuzzy amber brown “rabbit’s feet”. Grows 12-20″ tall, and is hardy in zones 8b-11.

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Cwebe Asparagus Fern

Not a fern, really, despite its common name, Asparagus Fern  is a member of the lily family. Still, you can say this group of plants offers fernlike foliage, and there are few plants which can match their sturdiness. Asparagus densiflorus ‘Cwebe’ is a form that is vigorous and boasts tawny amber new growth, a perfect color for autumn. The arching stems spill 18″ or so, and plants will expand with age.

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Ming Fern

Ming Fern,  Asparagus macowanii, has a delicate Bamboo like presence. Starburst clusters of medium green fine foliage are borne on sturdy wiry stems.  Ming Fern can get tall if  you have a plant for some time, but it can easily be kept in a smaller pot where you can clip off any far reaching stems if they are not wanted.

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Plumosa Asparagus Fern

And there’s yet another Aspargus fern that is tres forgiving …Asparagus setaceus plumosa. Such  a valiant and durable little fern, it has become a mainstay in the cut floral trade…which means you can have a lovely cut green to add to your arrangements. This fern can get quite tall in its native habitat, but for those of us growing indoors in smaller pots, it usually grows 18-24″.

More plants which are good candidates indoors: Snake Plants, (Sansevieria) the Ivies,  (Hedera) and the aroid trailer Devil’s Ivy, (Epipremnum). These are all attractive, tolerate the low light requirement and are forgiving if you forget to water.

Which indoor plants would you recommend for good looks and ease of care?

 

6 thoughts on “Forgiving “House Plants””

  1. Clivia miniata are another good plant for low light situations or where people are away or forget to water.

  2. Lovely! I have a philodendron selloum ‘Hope’ and a bright lime-colored ficus maclellandii ‘All Variegated’ that have done very well in my home for 4-5 years now. Tolerant of my spotty watering and of decent light from south facing windows. Cheers!

  3. My problem is that most houseplants are toxic to cats. Do you know if any of the ones listed are safe for cats? I think i recall asparagus fern is a bad one!

  4. Love my begonias! They give me great pleasure as several flower in the winter indoors. There is such a huge variety and though most are grown for their leaves, (which are so rewarding themselves) the delicate flowers are such a treat and last for a long while. Since they like drier conditions, they tolerate some neglect. Best of all, they thrive when outdoors (in some shade) all summer!

  5. Penelope,
    Gee, when I checked the plants that are toxic to cats, the only one not on the list is Spider Plant. I’m not sure about the Blue Rabbit’s Foot Fern, but the Asparagus ferns. the Snake Plants, Regular Ivy (Hedera) the Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum) . We have cats, and none of our cats have eaten any of these plants in our home, but all cats are different.

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