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by Pernell Gerver

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"High-Light House Plants for Sunny or Bright Windows"

House plants on the windowsillOf all the exposures in the home, a sunny unobstructed south window provides the brightest light for indoor plants. The sunlight is strongest in this window and is ideal for many flowering house plants. They bloom best in a south window, especially during winter when the sun is lower in the sky, the days are shorter, and cloudy or stormy weather is common. However, come spring and summer, the sunlight intensity increases substantially and may be too intense for some house plants, so it's a good idea to use a thin curtain or sheer in the window. This will provide bright, indirect sunlight.

In the home, a western window is the exposure of the afternoon-to-early-evening sun. It's also the exposure of the setting sun. Sunlight that streams through a western window is quite bright and strong. After a southern window, a western window is the next-brightest exposure in the home. The bright sunlight of a western window is ideal for growing a range of different house plants, both flowering and foliage plants.

The bright light of a south or west window is the ideal spot for many indoor plants. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Cacti and succulents thrive in a sunny window. There are dozens and dozens of different types of cacti and succulents in different shapes and sizes. The bright sun of a south window provides the sunlight these desert plants need. In less-sunny spots, the stems tend to elongate and growth becomes spindly. Cacti and succulents store water in their fleshy leaves and stems and don't require frequent watering, especially during winter when they are not actively growing so they are rather carefree plants and good choices for those indoor gardeners who tend to forget to water. The hot, dry air found indoors during winter is not a problem for cacti and succulents, either. In fact, they thrive in it, as it resembles their native, desert habitats. Miniature Wax Plant (Hoya bella) is a vining, succulent house plant that is a miniature version of hoya with small, pointed leaves held close together along its stems. Star-shaped, white, waxy flowers bloom along its trailing stems. The flowers are held in clusters of a dozen or more and have a sweet fragrance, similar to cinnamon. Because of its trailing habit, it's a good candidate for a hanging basket.

Miniature wax plant, Hoya bella


Queen's Tears (Billbergia nutans) is a type of bromeliad that is easy to grow in a sunny window. It has stiff, slender, upright leaves that form a tight rosette. The tips of the leaves arch gracefully outward. The leaves are gray green that is tinged with pink when grown in direct sun. It bears clusters of dangling flowers that stand above the foliage. The striking flowers are a combination of pink, green, and blue and have two- to three-inch-long, bright-pink bracts that surround the flowers.

Geranium 'Vancouver Centennial' is a plant that I grow both indoors as a house plant and outdoors during summer as a bedding plant. It has striking foliage with a burgundy marking in the center of its leaves. Clusters of scarlet-orange, star-shaped flowers stand above the foliage and bloom all year long indoors. It grows well in a sunny window and tolerates cool temperatures and dry, indoor air.

Geranium 'Vancouver Centennial'


Chenille plant

Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) is one of my favorite house plants I grow. It's an easy-to-grow plant with some of the most unusual flowers of any plant I've ever seen. As shown in the photo, its flowers are long, red, velvety tassels that hang down from its stems. The flowers can easily reach a foot long or more and flowers bloom on even very young plants. I've had some young chenille plants whose flowers were longer than the plant was tall. In addition to blooming at a young age, chenille plant is also an everblooming house plant, blooming all year long, even in winter and is in full bloom right now. A mature plant is quite an impressive sight with dozens and dozens of eye-catching flowers dangling from its stems.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Saving Damaged Blueberry Bushes"

Q. We bought a piece of property and it had 100 established blueberry plants on it. Some were already producing fruit. Then we hired someone to brush hog the rest of the property and he mistakenly mowed down our bushes. My question is will they come back and how long will it take or should we replace them? If they do come back what should we do to make them healthy again? Thank you.

A. I'm sorry to hear about the damage done to your blueberry bushes. To be honest, I've never had that experience, so I'm not sure what the outcome might be, but I can give you an educated guess as to what the plants might do and I can also give you some tips that might help.

My first idea would be to replace the plants, but if it is at your expense and since you had so many plants that were affected, their replacement cost would be quite high, so I will give you some ideas on what to do with them this upcoming season. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. In the end you might end up having to replace some or all and you'll know whether or not you'll need to do that within a year or two.

Ripe blueberries


Mature blueberry bushes

Mature blueberry bushes

The problem is all plants respond differently. I'm sure any blueberry plants that were ripped out of the ground roots and all would not survive, but if there are some with roots intact and some remaining stems, those would be the ones with the best chance for survival.

From my experience when pruning blueberry bushes any old stems I remove to the ground when thinning do not grow back. If you have any stubs left they might sprout. In all plants growth hormones are concentrated at the top of the plant at the growing tips and the lower down on the stem you go the fewer growth hormones there will be. Some plants respond well when cut back severely and the latent buds down low on the plant will sprout sending out new shoots. I'm hoping this is what might happen with your blueberry bushes.

The best thing you can do at this point to try to salvage them is to give them a lot of T.L.C. this spring through fall. Try to give them ideal growing conditions. This spring do a soil test. Blueberry bushes need acidic conditions and you may need to acidify the soil for them. Start a regular fertilizing program with Electra fertilizers, also. Giving them the proper acidic conditions and regular feeding will encourage new growth. If there is not enough rainfall, supplement by watering especially during dry periods throughout the season. One inch of water per week, whether naturally by rain or provided by you, is ideal. Keep the weeds down around the plants to prevent competition. Some blueberry growers like to use sawdust as a mulch.

If the blueberry bushes do grow back it will take many years for them to get to the size they were before the accident. If you can't wait that long you might want to replace a few of the worst ones with some mature, fruiting-size blueberry bushes. That way you won't be totally without blueberries while you wait to see what happens.

Good luck to you and keep me posted. If there are any blueberry growers out there that might have any suggestions, I'd be happy to pass them along.

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