All houseplants need a rest period of some kind. Here in Nebraska the winter serves as “rest” outside. In some climates they may rest during dry season by dropping their leaves, having stored up moisture. My “Desert Rose” (Adenium obesum) is an example. About December-January it drops all its leaves and I try not to water it during this time. It does this every year with thick waxy stems and fat water storage “lumps” in the lower parts, so it’s an interesting plant year around. Most houseplant books will tell you not to fertilize and not water much during our short winter days. When the days are getting longer in February and March, I watch for signs (new leaves, etc.) that the rest period is ending and the plant needs to be repotted, watered, and fertilized.

          Like wildlife yards have certain requirements, so do indoor gardens.  Every plant is a little different so we need to find those out before putting it in a window.  One very important factor is light. I try to find out where my plants were from to get an idea of what to do.  My North window has indirect bright light and now has a Peace Lily (Spathiphylum, sp.), with its white flowers that turn green as they age. Native to tropical regions of the Americas and southeastern Asia, It needs to be warm (about 55 degrees F.), its soil moist but not wet at all times, and likes it humid.  Several plants of any kind near each other raises humidity.  There are different sizes of Spathiphylum from a dwarf to a larger 2 foot one. They have no stems as the leaves come directly out of the soil. Mine is in bloom nearly year around.

          For many years I have had a Boston Fern (Nephiolepsis) called Fluffy Ruffles in my North window and it did well.  Actually the more plants you have in an area together the better they do as the level of humidity goes up.  The fern grew year around and got so big I would cut it back to the pot but its roots got so tangled it could no longer support that huge top so I had to let it go.  I need to find a little one soon to go through this again.  They must never dry completely or (1) Spider Mites will take over or (2) tips will turn brown. Mine hangs from the ceiling so the fronds can hang down and I did have one on a tall bar stool next to the North window and let the fronds hang down.

          Over in the corner with no direct light lives a huge Snake Plant, also called Mother-In-Laws-Tongue and occasionally Sansevieria (its correct name). There are no stems as leaves over 3 foot long come directly out of the soil.  There are many varieties and cultivars of Sansevieria from short to twisted to spiky. Their home is tropical Africa from the Agave family so this tells you not to water too much. My big one sends out fat root runners and in a year or so every inch of the pot is full.  To divide I roll the pot on its side, as its leaves grows straight up.  This loosens the entire plant which can then be broken into as many pieces as you like. Also small sections of leaves will root if you plant them right side up. There are several short cultivars with the same toughness. One twists its leaves, and one has a sharp, round spike at the top of a round leaf instead of a flat spike.  Another is almost yellow called the Golden Hohnii or Golden Birds Nest. They survive rain in the summer on the east side of the house but need a dry winter.  I water only about once a month from October to March. The bloom is a tall branched stem of dainty white, slightly perfumed fluffs of flowers.  None of the plants like it below 50 degrees F. Conclusion, about the only way you can kill one of these is with water!!!

          Another plant you will see in dark corners in Libraries or restaurants is the Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema sp.). A blooming plant  wouldn’t last long in those spaces but the leaf colors and patterns brighten any spot. It can not stand smoky air or droughts. Find a warm and moist area for them in winter.  The leaves are patterned in white or silver or pure green. The more white the more light the plant can stand.  There are a few with yellow in the leaf.  It likes fertilizer on a regular basis but you may go several years without repotting.

          Another, fast growing plant in the north window is the Birds Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus). After its first growth the leaves comes directly out of soil and may be 2 feet long and wavy on the edges, making a nest at the center. They do not like the edges to be handled when young. They require frequent fertilization for those big leaves. Imagine carrying one very far as they can get 4 foot across.

Copyright 2015