are some areas of the home that you wouldn't think would be very
hospitable for growing plants. Unheated porches, breezeways, cool
rooms, and cold windowsills are usually considered too cold for
growing most plants, but these cold areas of the home just might be
the ideal environment for growing a good number of indoor plants that
actually do better in cooler temperatures. What's more, many of the
cool-growing plants offer brilliant bloom or fabulous fragrance smack
dab in the middle of winter at a time when it's needed most.
The otherwise unused cold areas could be home to
many desirable house plants matched to those growing conditions. The
first step is to monitor the low temperature in the area overnight
and during very cold weather. Set a min./max. thermometer where the
plants will be. It's best to place the plants in the
sunniest-possible location for good growth, but more importantly the
area should not get down to freezing. Ideally, the average minimum
temperature should be around 45 degrees. Depending on the particular
location, that may be possible without any supplemental heat. The
following house plants thrive in cool temperatures. Click on a plant
name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.
Camellia is a shrubby
house plant that also puts on a colorful show of wintertime flowers.
Depending on variety, large single, semidouble, or fully double
flowers are borne at the tips of the branches in white, pink, or red.
The single-flowered varieties have a striking bright yellow cluster
of stamens in the center of the flower. Flower size can be up to five
inches across. Removing all but one bud in a flower cluster produces
even larger flowers. Try not move camellia once it has formed flower
buds or it may drop them. Prune camellia just after flowering to
maintain its shape and size. Grow it in bright, indirect sunlight and
always keep the soil moist. Any sudden change in soil moisture may
also cause it to drop its buds. Fertilize once in early spring, again
in late spring, and then once more in midsummer. Camellia
'Fragrant Pink' has bright-pink, semi-double flowers that
have a sweet fragrance. The flowers resemble an azalea flower. It
blooms from early to mid winter.
very fragrant house plant for cool locations is winter
jasmine. This vining house plant produces clusters of
pure-white, star-shaped flowers with an exquisite fragrance. It
throws its scent far and wide, easily perfuming a room. It flowers
for several weeks in midwinter, usually in time for Valentine's Day.
Grow it in a hanging pot where its long, vining stems can be trained
around the hanger, or in a large pot with a tall trellis. It will
quickly climb to the top. To keep its overall height in check and to
encourage future flowering, cut it back right after it flowers. Winter
jasmine needs at least four hours of direct sunlight each
day. Keep the soil moist and fertilize with Electra
Plant Food and Electra
Bloom Food, alternating between the two every three weeks.
is a fragrant-flowered house plant that does well in cool locations.
It flowers throughout the year with large clusters of small white or
purple flowers. The flowers have a fragrance that is a combination of
vanilla, cherry pie, and baby powder. The cultivars 'Fragrant
Delight' and 'Alba'
are the most intensely fragrant.
is a white variety with a strong baby-powder aroma. 'Fragrant
Delight' has dark purple flower clusters that combine the
scents of vanilla and cherry pie. Heliotrope thrives with at least
four hours of direct sunlight a day. A cool, south-facing windowsill
would be ideal. Keep the soil moist. In fall, heliotrope can be cut
back to keep its height in check and to encourage branching and more
flowers. Heliotrope can also be trained into a standard with one main
stem several feet tall. A standard heliotrope brings the fragrance
right up to nose level.
olive, also called sweet olive, as its common name implies,
is a fragrant, shrubby house plant. If left untrimmed, it can grow
into an attractive indoor shrub four to five feet tall. In warmer
climates, like Florida and other states in the Deep South, fragrant
olive is grown outdoors as a foundation shrub in the home
landscape. The flowers of fragrant olive
are small and inconspicuous, but their fragrance can easily perfume a
large room with their apricot-like aroma. The tiny, greenish-white
flowers are borne in small clusters along the stems. The leaves of fragrant
olive are dark green and leathery and resemble rhododendron
foliage. Fragrant olive does
well in bright sunlight with moist soil.
(Plumbago auriculata), also called cape
leadwort, has long, thin stems up to four feet long. Placed
on the corner of a windowsill in a cool room, the stems can be
trained around the window frame. Plumbago
flowers from spring to fall. Its flowers are produced in large
clusters of 20 or more. Each individual flower has a long, thin,
tubular throat which fans out into a five-petaled star. The flowers
are up to an inch across and are pale blue or white, depending on
variety. Plumbago needs full sun
and cool winter temperatures. While it is actively growing in spring
and summer, keep the soil moist. During its winter rest period, water
only enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. Since plumbago
flowers only on new growth, prune it back in early spring. Cut back
two thirds of the main stem. New shoots that emerge will produce the