Easiest Houseplants for the Midwest - Part 1
Written by Sandie Parrott
Aloe Vera – (pronounced AL-oh VER-uh)
Begonia coccinae – (pronounced be-GON-yuh kok-SIN-ee-uh) - Angel Wing Begonia or Cane-type Begonia
Chlorophytum comosum (pronounced klor-roh-FY-tum kon-OH-sum) - Spider Plant or Airplane Plant –
I love these variegated plants and they are good for the environment! This houseplant helps to clean the air, especially of the chemical formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is used in paints, coatings, fabrics, building materials and glues to name a few. Hanging baskets best display the hanging runners. The plant only needs a sunny window, medium amount of water and fertilizer now and then. It also tells you when it needs water by drooping or the tips turning brown (trim the tips for a nicer look). It loves a really tight pot and will send out “babies” as a reward. There are a few tiny flowers if it is really happy in the environment. The “babies” can be cut off and potted when they are large enough to have a few roots…or if the “baby” is anchored in a pot it will root…or if the “baby” is placed in water (only the roots) it will add more roots until you decide to pot it. Children will enjoy caring for and learning about propagation from this plant.
Schlumbergera x buckleyi (pronounced shlum-ber-GER-uh cross buck-LEE-eye – Christmas Cactus -
Sold especially around the holidays in full bloom, they are easy to care for, propagate (make more plants) and bloom. Blooms are showy and emerge from the tips of the segmented leaves in pinks, reds, salmon and white. They are also tropical succulents, so need bright (South or West in the Midwest) light (spring and summer) and infrequent watering. Fertilize in spring and summer and use very well drained soil (bromeliad soil is great). To make more plants, snip off a few segments and place the bottom one half in the moist soil. To force it to bloom the plant needs about 12 hours of darkness for an extended period in fall. Place it in a room not used too often, but don’t forget it. The plant also likes to be touching a cool window to stimulate bloom (to simulate their natural environment of warmer temperatures in the daytime and cool evening temperatures). Turn the plant frequently or it may only bloom towards the window!
Dracaena marginata – (pronounce drah-SEE-nah mar-jin-NAY-tuh) – Corn Plant -
Another plant that helps remove formaldehyde from interior air and very easy to grow! Multi-stemmed versions of this plant look like a palm, so very tropical looking for the Midwest. The plant is grown for its variegated tropical looking foliage. In the Midwest it needs fairly bright light and watering after it dries out. Overwatering and no drainage are death to this plant. An occasional dose of general houseplant fertilizer keeps it happy. Keep away from drafts and heat registers. As the plant ages, some lower leaves will drop. Heavy leaf drop is a sign of trouble. Summer the plant outdoors in a semi-shaded to shaded location, Dracaenas cannot take full sun outdoors.
Sandie is a freelance writer and photographer. Her mother started her passion for gardening by "letting" her help her plant and water annuals, paint stepping stones and mow and edge the grass. Some of the "dirt" must have been absorbed. She consider herself to be a plant collector. Her garden had a plan, but it has been overrun by cool and not so cool plants. If they grow and bloom or look nice, they stay. That includes what many people might call weeds! Sandie calls them wildflowers or native plants. Check out her website at www.SandieParrott.com for more info, or visit her profile at www.theMulch.com/my-profile/userprofile/SandieP . She currently writes garden articles and profiles of passionate gardeners for "the Michigan Gardener" and "the Herbarist" along with other non-gardening writing.