All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A

by Pernell Gerver

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"Easy-Care Indoor Plants for the Home or Office"


Looking for some really nice indoor plants for the home or office but don't have a green thumb? Don't worry. There's a whole bunch of easy-care indoor plants for even the brownest thumb. Next to fake plants, the following indoor plants are nearly foolproof. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Spider Plant

Spider plant is a very decorative, easy-care house plant. It looks especially nice in a hanging basket. Its thin, strap-like foliage arches out from the center of the plant. Most varieties are variegated, having a green outer edge with a creamy-yellow center. It produces long, pale yellow, trailing stems which bear small white flowers followed by baby spider plants that can be used to start new plants. Spider plant grows best in bright, filtered light from spring to fall, and in direct sunlight during winter. Average room temperature is ideal and it benefits from increased humidity. Let the soil become slightly dry between watering and fertilize with liquid fertilizer every two weeks during summer.


Plantlet atop leaf of piggyback plantPiggyback plant also called mother-of-thousands, is a unique house plant with an unusual growing habit. Each leaf produces plantlets where the leaf meets the stem. It has heart-shaped, fuzzy, light green leaves. New growth comes from the center of the plant, providing a full, bushy appearance. It's a low-growing plant with a spreading habit and can be grown in a hanging basket, where its stems will trail over the edge. It should be grown in an east or north window, but not in direct sunlight. Average-to-cool room temperature is ideal. It doesn't like to dry out, but will recover well if accidentally allowed to become dry. It should be fertilized once every two months while it is actively growing in summer.

Swedish IvySwedish ivy is an easy-to-grow house plant that has been misnamed. It is not Swedish, nor is it an ivy. It is native to Australia and is actually related to coleus. It is called Swedish ivy because it was first grown as a house plant in Sweden. It has crinkly, small, round green leaves on long, trailing stems. It's a rapid grower, quickly forming a handsome specimen. For a bushier plant, pinch the growing tips. It produces small white flowers that are slightly fragrant. It does best in bright, indirect light with average room temperature. The color of its leaves are a telltale sign of over or underwatering. Dark-colored leaves mean too much water; red-colored leaves mean too little water. The soil should be barely moist. Fertilize Swedish ivy every two months.

Peace Lily 'Mauna Loa'Spathiphyllum, also called peace lily, is an elegant, easy-care house plant. It has long, dark green, glossy leaves with pure white, slightly-fragrant flowers that resemble calla lilies. It grows to 18 inches tall and flowers in summer, although some varieties will flower intermittently throughout the year. Spathiphyllum tolerates low light conditions and actually requires shade during summer. In winter, grow it in curtain-filtered light. It thrives in average room temperatures and can tolerate getting quite dry between waterings, although it should be kept moist. Fertilize every two weeks from spring to fall. Withhold fertilizer and reduce water during winter. Provide extra humidity by setting the pot on a tray of moist pebbles.

Prayer PlantPrayer plant is so named because of its unusual plant habit at night - the leaves fold together, resembling hands folded in prayer. The oval leaves of prayer plant have distinct reddish-pink veins on the upper surface with a dark purple underside. It's a low-growing, spreading plant with small, white flowers. It does best in medium light, although it should be moved to bright filtered light during winter. If grown in too much light, the leaves will be faded with brown edges. Normal to warm room temperatures are ideal. Allow the soil to dry moderately between watering, especially during winter, but don't let it dry out completely. Fertilize every two weeks while it's actively growing in summer.

Kalanchoe pumilaCacti and succulents are also easy indoor plants. They tolerate dry air and soil and do well even with neglect. Kalanchoe pumila is a succulent with attractive foliage and flowers. It has thick, silvery-white leaves on trailing stems. It bears clusters of silvery-pink flowers that are carried on thin stems that rise above the foliage. The flowers appear in mid winter and bloom for months.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Cosmos Thrives in Poor Conditions"

Q. I planted cosmos seeds last spring. It was the first year they blossomed very poorly. Usually the flowers are a good size. Is there something I can do to have them bloom better this year? Thank you.

A. Cosmos is a tall annual with feathery foliage. Its large flowers are daisy-like up to four inches across with a bright yellow center. Flower colors include red, pink, white, yellow, orange, purple, and rose as well as bicolored. The flowers are borne on long, slender stems and make good cut flowers. It can be sown directly in the garden where it is to flower or it can be started indoors and transplanted after all danger of frost is past. It's a fast-growing, fu