Houseplants to Brighten a Winter Day

In morning winter silence on a walk by the Missouri River, water that slowed before the Gavins Point Dam lies solid. The mile and a half or so across this lake is a panorama of frozen motion. Occasional booming echoes from some fissure, some crack in eight-inch or so layer as water from upstream presses against it. Ice fishing is more common on nearby spring-fed lakes, but today, it’s just us here by the water. 

If a cold air walk is not your preference, maybe the photo more reflects the dark of winter to you. It’s likely not a coincidence that plants people choose for indoors are introduced from the tropics. 

Adequate Winter Light

Popular houseplants available locally are often hardy, adaptable stock. Care tags are usually available with the plants. Ensuring you have a spot that fits the light requirement for the plant to thrive is essential. Winter light can be challenging for plants that need bright light in this region, and a direct south exposure is recommended.  Luckily, many popular plants require medium light, and most homes have a spot for those plants like the ones here.

Boston fern that may be outdoors in summer adjusts indoors with bright light in winter. If there is inadequate light, hundreds of falling “frondlets” can be a housekeeping no-go. This one also received a rejuvenating re-potting and frond trim in fall.

Many are attracted to colorful crotons. While they adapt to medium light, they thrive and produce the colors in their leaves with bright light.

Moderate Watering and Health Check

Watering so that the excess comes out the bottom of the pot and then not watering again until the top inch of potting soil is no longer moist works here for most houseplants. Many variables influence how often to water. House temperature and heat from the sun, house humidity, size of pots, kind of potting mixture, and individual plant needs influence how often to water the plant. Over time, it’s not unusual that houseplants need watering about weekly or bi-weekly. 

When watering plants is a great time to check for tiny webs of spider mites or aphids under the leaves or fungal spots on lower leaves that need to be removed. A benefit of moderate plant watering is that less moist conditions discourage some pests. 

Turning the plant allows it more consistent light exposure. A quarter clockwise turn of all houseplants when watering is a simple way to ensure balanced growth, such as in this plant.

Care Alternatives

Not everyone who likes plants around them also wants to tend them weekly or bi-weekly. A terrarium that has an opening for some exchange of gases and humidity works well with plants requiring no more than medium light and less frequent watering.

Not everyone wants an indoor plant intended to remain in the house beyond an occasion or season. Amaryllis grown from a purchased bulb is a fine seasonal marker. Its leaves lengthen as anticipation of spring and produce flowers for the celebration.

Popular indoor plants add personality to a room. The January/February issue of Horticulture magazine, available for browsing at the Yankton Community Library, has an article about some common houseplants and their features. The Internet is another common information source for plants we find locally to brighten a winter day.

Thanks for visiting Plant Exchange Blog on a bright winter day. See you next week!

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