By Melinda Myers
If you live in Montana you know about how short our growing season is.
But you can brighten your indoor décor with plants that bloom.
Whether growing traditional favorites, flowering tropical plants, or annuals moved inside for winter; their colorful flowers are sure to elicit smiles and months of enjoyment. Just provide the right growing conditions and sufficient light and you will be enjoying months of indoor color.
You may have enjoyed an initial burst of color from traditional favorites like African violets and orchids but struggled to get them to flower again. Maximize your enjoyment and their colorful floral display by providing supplemental lighting. Plants with colorful flowers benefit from brighter or longer periods of light, especially in winter, than what streams through your windows. Grow lights, which provide bright, full-spectrum illumination, are an ideal solution.
You can find many types of grow lights, including simple hanging lamps, DIY fixtures, and metal stands. These are often relegated to the rec room or basement but might be less welcome in your living room. Consider furniture-style light stands like the Bamboo LED Grow Light Gardens (gardeners.com) that will complement your living spaces. They’re outfitted with special high-output bulbs, tucked out of sight and more than twice as bright as most standard LEDs. This allows you to grow most flowers and even some fruits without the need to raise and lower the lights to accommodate different plant heights.
Expand your indoor flowering plant collection with a few tropicals. Here are just four of my favorites.
Give flowering maple (Abutilon) bright light and cooler winter temperatures to enjoy their beauty all year long. The solid green or variegated maple-shaped leaves inspired their common name. Plants may be compact and upright or vining, while the flowers may resemble those of hibiscus or dangling lanterns. Select varieties known for year-round flowering.
Create a focal point with the unique blooms of chenille plant (Acalypha). The long, fuzzy, cascading flowers resemble chenille yarn. Perfect as a hanging basket, set upon a plant stand or pruned into tree form. This plant needs high humidity and plenty of light to maintain its health and year-round beauty indoors.
Enjoy the coppery bronze flowers of the shrimp plant (Justica brandegeana). This long blooming Mexican native performs best in bright light and high humidity. Use it as a hanging basket, prune into a small tree or set it upon a plant stand where the cascading shrimp-like flowers can be enjoyed.
Brighten your fall and winter décor with lipstick vine (Aeschynanthus). The vivid red flowers emerge from dark maroon structures, resembling a tube of lipstick. The glossy green foliage adds needed greenery indoors throughout the year. The more light these plants receive, the better the floral display.
As always, check the plant tags for specific care instructions.
You can boost your indoor floral display by placing annuals you’re overwintering, such as geraniums and mandevilla, under lights to encourage blooming. Give these plants bright light, water thoroughly as needed, and enjoy the extra color. Prune if necessary, to keep the plants full and compact.
Incorporating flowers into your living space will boost your mood and reduce stress while livening your indoor décor.
About the author: Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardeners Supply for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.
(Photo courtesy of Gardener Supply Company)