Flowering Houseplants

Houseplants can do so much for a home on a dark winter day. Imagine the dreariness of winter with snow falling. It’s that time of year when the snow isn’t quite so charming anymore. You just want it to be spring or summer again with the sun shining in your garden. You turn on all the lights and turn up the heat but you still feel like you’re trapped in an igloo. If you have ever felt this way you should consider getting a flowering houseplant. What says life, vibrancy, and beauty more than a wonderful flower? Flowers have been the symbols of beauty and life for thousands of years. You might not know it but you can get a houseplant to bloom for almost the entire year. Even when it is terribly cold outside you can count on these flowers to really make a difference in your environment. Listed bellow are some of my favorite flowering houseplants and some information about how to care for them:

1. Poinsettias are some of my friends’ favorites. This is probably because poinsettias come in various colors and are quite striking. These plants are particularly popular around the holidays, but you should know that they are difficult to keep blooming year after year.

2. African violets are another favorite of mine because they come in so many different colors and shapes. These delicate flowers can be brought back several times each year if you are careful with them.

3. Peace lilies are wonderful flowering houseplants with large glossy leaves. The flowers are elegant and white with large blooms. However, you should know that these plants require a fair amount of warmth and humidity.

4. One of my favorites is the orchid, and simply because these delicate flowers come in so many varieties. I have heard someone say that there are thirty thousand species of orchid in the world. It can be difficult to get orchids to bloom more than once, but they often can if you are careful with them and patient.

5. Bromelaids or urn plants have wonderful foliage and tall, colorful spikes of bracts. These are tricky plants but really wonderful because they tend to bloom for a long time once you get them going.

6. Although not everyone’s style, a cactus makes for a great blooming houseplant. Cacti are very resilient, and in the right conditions they can bloom beautifully. They will need lots of sunlight, and you should be careful not to water them too much. However, you should remember that these wonderful plants have terribly prickly spines. If you have young children you might want to avoid these for the time being.

6. Hibiscus are tropical plants so you should make sure that they represent your style before you invest in one. The flowers can be huge and quite showy. They require lots of warmth, humidity and close observation. Only try these plants if you have the time and the patience.

There are many other species of flowering houseplant for you to discover and try in your own home. The list above is simply comprised of some of my favorites. Each home has a different environment and will allow only certain types of flowering houseplants. If you would like to brake into the world of flowering houseplants you need to take stock of your home and look for plants that will thrive there. A good flowering houseplant can last for years and bless your home with constant beauty. These plants can become like a favorite pet or prized possession. Once you start growing them you won’t be able to stop.

Houseplants for Better Sleep

According to the principles of Feng Shui, strategic placement of objects can mean the difference between health and illness. Placing houseplants in the main living areas of a house, for example, can enhance the flow of energy through the entire structure. Similarly, placing houseplants in the bedroom can mean better sleep for the occupants of the house.

There are several reasons why houseplants can promote better sleep.

a) Healthy plants are a source of cleaner air; because plants release oxygen, they can bring the air quality of a room up several notches. Some plants produce more oxygen during the night; these are snake plants and bromeliads, aloe and orchids. Placing these houseplants in the bedroom will enhance night-time sleep.

b)Most plants remove toxins from the air–pollutants that are found in houses– such as formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, ammonia, acetone, ethyl acetate. Houseplants can actually absorb these pollutants through their leaves and convert them to harmless substances. New findings suggest that plants can be a good antidote to the sick building “disease” most often caused by our unsustainable high tech innovations for convenience. A single spider plant in a closed chamber containing formaldehyde can remove 85% of the pollutant within 24 hours. Experts estimate that fifteen houseplants can make a dramatic impact on clean air quality in an average house. Some houseplants seem to be particularly effective in absorbing and removing indoor pollutants. These are, to name a few, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, orchids, golden pothos, Norfolk Island pine, red emerald philodendron, spider plant, schefflera and snake plant.

c)Houseplants also act as purifiers of animal bioeffluents–substances not produced by materials in a building, but by humans and animals. These include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, methane, alcohol and others. Houseplants do a wonderful job of converting these bioeffluents into harmless substances. Peace lilies, parlor palms, chrysanthemums, for example, are wonderful houseplants that purify the air of biological and biochemical toxins. Moreover, the moisture given off by plants suppress the formation of airborne microbes, thus diminishing the “allergenic” potential of the bedroom.

d)The green foliage of most houseplants also “soften” the mood of a room. They can mute away harsh corners, endow a bare window with charm or render a touch of symmetry to oddly furnished walls. In general houseplants give a pleasant, soothing effect to the bedroom, an effect that promotes relaxation and sleep. They also absorb odors and fumes, replenish the air with oxygen and humidity, keeping the temperatures cool and sustainable for better sleep. No wonder the most attractive bedrooms in “Better Homes” magazines are always shown with several charming houseplants strategically placed in various spots. And if you are still unsure about the positive effects of plants on human emotions, take note of this: a study by the Washington State University found that people with plants in their work environment were 12 percent more productive and had lower blood pressure than people who did not have plants. There is much support for the idea that the botanical world is inextricably linked to the human psyche and that houseplants can promote better sleep.

However, the air-cleaning abilities of these houseplants are jeopardized if the plants are sick, unhealthy or unclean. Unhealthy houseplants are perfect invitations for insect infestations which produce mold spores that are highly allergenic. To ensure that your houseplants will give you better sleep, you must keep them cleaned and trimmed, free of insects or mites as these are easy sources of allergies and breathing spasms. As well, choose plants that do not shed pollen.

Copyright 2006 Mary Desaulniers