When January and February comes everything outside is sleeping so to maintain some living, growing plants until I can get outside, gardening inside becomes necessary.

          There are a number of items to consider about the environment plants might need such as light, temperatures and cold drafts from a nearby outside door. As in the yard, indoor plants have their tolerance for lack of light or too much. Many of them prefer a south window without curtains. Many of the newer houses have huge (10 to 12 feet wide) windows that make an ideal place for sun lovers. However, they do not like a radiator nearby that would dry them out or a door that opens to the outside that could soon hurt a tropical plant.

          My big south window is 12 feet long so the DESERT ROSE blooms off and on all year with its white blooms with red edges. “Adenium obesum” (named after its fat water storage roots) comes from Africa and stores water in its swollen roots during the rainy season. Therefore, watering habits are important!

          Another plant coming from a dry, rocky area of Africa and India is the SNAKE PLANT (Sanseveria cylindricai), also called MOTHER-IN-LAWS TONGUE. It gets up to 5 feet tall and does not need much sun.  I have seen it growing in very little light, and it also does not need much water, and very seldom blooms.  It does like dry, rocky soil. There are various plants in this genus. Some are short, some are tall, some are fat, some are very thin, and some are very tiny. Most of them will have very distinct lengthwise stripes.

          A tough hanging plant you can usually find is the SPIDER PLANT (also called the RIBBON PLANT). If a friend has a tiny one hanging down it can easily be rooted simply by putting the tip in soil! They send runners out madly and at the ends are the new babies.  I have had them in south and east windows. Since they are up high they do not get quite as much hot sun in a south window.  Along with the runners of baby plants are tiny white blooms. Give them plenty of pot and window space and they will take every inch. Some plants have white strips and some white margins.

          For the low light north windows there is CAST IRON PLANT (Aspidistra sp). There is one hard to find with yellow markings on its leaves. Most are white spots or stripes.  The flowers are tiny and quite often hidden by the leaves but it lives up to its name.  In the Orient native land they are pollinated by snails! My plant very seldom blooms.  I like some of their common names such as “Milky Way” or “Irish Mist”.

          Another plant I have had in a North window that I have never seen bloom but that actually grows fairly fast is the BIRDS NEST FERN (Asplenium nidum). Large leaves come up in a circle to form the “nest”. My books say its species is found on every continent except Antarctica. In the       tropics it may grow to 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide.  For me it is about 18 inches by 18 inches with leaves that are 2 to 3 inches wide. I have never seen it bloom, but then nothing blooms very much in a north window.

          My favorite north window plant is the BOSTON FERN (Nephelopsis bostoniensis). This plant needs to be damp and gets heavy so I use a wide plastic pot. It needs some sand in its soil mix so that it drains well. Use a weak fertilizer and then it will send out numerous, arching ferns

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