Gardening: Indoor Tropical Plants for Winter

Cyclamen like low light and give a room a lively bit of color during the winter

Cyclamen – indoor plants

Cary, NC – The holiday decorations are officially put away, and now the house looks a little, admit it, drab. Time for some indoor tropical plants.

All that jazzy color and extra garland made the house look very inviting. Don’t despair, hit the garden center and find some low light tropical and citrus plants and your house will have fresh air and a fresh look.

Here’s a few suggestions to chase away the winter doldrums, and they are perennial plants that can even be moved outside as the weather warms up in the spring to brighten up your patio.

Spider Plants, are easy to grow indoors.

Spider Plants, are easy to grow indoors.

Hanging Plants

Ferns and spider plants, ivy, philodendron and other trailers make excellent hanging plants, When the weather warms up, they will make a great transition to an outdoor porch or front door area. Spider plants were all the rage in the 1980’s but there’s a reason they were so popular. They are easy to grow, and even easier to propagate. Just take one of the little sprouts on the end of a stalk when they sprout one, and stick it in some soil and water it, Voila baby spider plant!

In a tabletop display have fun with the pot

Table Top Plants

Plants that are more upright and smaller in scale are perfect to perk up a tabletop or shelf. These include cyclamen, Chinese evergreen, orchids, African violets, snake plants, Peperomia and many cacti.

Look for plants that won’t grow taller than a foot or two if you want your plant to stay in its new location. Excellent spots for table top plants include a kitchen counter, a desk, a side table in an office or living room.

Do a mixed planting in a larger container.  Just check that plants have compatible moisture and light requirements. To create interest pick one plant as the main focal point , maybe its taller and more upright and its combined with lower trailing plants. Or pick a flowering plant and pair it with smaller leafy plants to surround it. Don’t have too many plants that all “do the same thing”. Combine variegated plants with others that are solid. Broad leaf plants with others that have denser smaller leaves. Dark leaves combined with bright lime.

standalone plants like this one, make a statement in a room

standalone plants like Dracaena make a statement in a room

Stand Alone Plants

These larger plants sit on the floor in large pots and can grow to be quite large. They may be bigger versions of some of the plants listed above.

Great stand alone plants include pony tail palms, peace lilies, dracaena and schefflera. I have two ponytail palms that have been in our family since 1991. These plants stand in my sunny kitchen all winter and head outdoors for the summer. They have stayed in the same large pots for the last ten years, but this year it may be time to re-pot.

Many of these larger plants require very little care, simply water sparingly, and make sure the room gets adequate light. If your house is dark, indoor plants will be a challenge, so place as close to a window as possible.

Pick A Pot

Now that you have found a plant you like, make sure you have a pot that makes a statement too. Pick a pot that allows your new plant room to grow, with ample drainage holes at the bottom. You can also set your plants original pot inside a more decorative one, if you will be swapping it out later in the season. The ones pictured above are great for a desk or counter in a kitchen.

For Stand Alone plants that will sit on the floor, be sure to have a saucer underneath to catch water that drains through the soil. You may also want to protect floors and allow for moving the plant by raising the plant on a rolling stand. That way when the weather warms up you can roll this somewhat heavier specimen to its new location.


The Gardening column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company, located on Old Apex Road in Cary.