Houseplants help lift winter blues

When it comes to being a “regular outside gardener,” I am indeed thankful to have learned a trick or two as years have gone by. Not that everything I grow lives or flourishes. But I have managed to maintain a small, modest garden with a variety of plants, some usual, some not so usual plus the latest hint of adventure by trying to grow seasonal vegetables and flowers in raised beds.

However, when the subject is raising houseplants, my thumb, sadly, turns brown! Setting aside the ill luck, another factor I can think of is that the inside of our home does not get enough sunlight in any part to meet the requirement of most indoor plants, thus, sustain healthy growth. So, after many failed attempts, when I came across a plant I had heard about in the past for the ease in growing indoors, it certainly seemed worth trying. And I am glad I did. Not only has the plant survived for almost two years now, a record for me,  but livens any spot I place it on.

Known as ZZ plant, in Latin as Zamioculas zamilfolia, this lovely indoor plant is very carefree and forgiving, hence, thrives on neglect. Also, being a slow grower, it doesn’t like to be overwatered, which is one of the main reasons an otherwise healthy plant doesn’t make it; so, to avoid such an unnecessary loss, water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry, not too dry though, between further watering.     

Like other related family members such as Peace Lily and Arum, ZZ plant grows and multiplies from succulent underground rhizomes; upright stems bear smooth leaves in a lovely hue of green and are so shiny  that one can easily mistake it for some kind of artificial treatment done to give them the gloss.

Potted plants prefer to be kept at locations where they will receive bright to low light, but not direct sunlight, a nice feature for those of us who would like to have houseplants but don’t get enough sunlight inside; the low-light requirement of ZZ plant certainly goes in my favor to meet my wish to have and take care of plants, especially during wintertime to help fix the winter blues.  

In addition to the ZZ plant, another houseplant I always take the liberty of taking for granted is the tried-and-true Sansevieria, also called the snake plant; with their stiff, sword-like leaves, they sure guard the otherwise uncared areas inside our home!

While not as carefree as these above-mentioned plants, but holiday plants always bring cheer and color inside on cold, wintry days; the Bromeliad I got this past holiday season has truly surprised, as well as delighted me by thriving on a table kept near our family room window. As I am preparing this column, it is such a joy to watch the sharp contrast of the scarlet-red flower spike of the Bromeliad to the pure white snow packed in the yard that I can see through the window.

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