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Houseplants ... They’re back!

Written by Jackie Albarella
Imagery by Unsplash

For years, people have filled their homes with plants — umbrella plants, African violets, all kinds of plants, big and small. When you went to college you got a small cutting from Aunt Sally’s spider plant to liven up your dorm room. Plants were an integral part of every home’s décor. 
    Well those days are back. With the popularity of going green, having houseplants plays a major role. From apartments to homes of all sizes, people have once again chosen to share their living spaces with plants.
    Plants can be a great addition to any décor. Use them as you would a special lamp, a cherished table setting or as a great accent for any room. Small plants in interesting groups can complete a corner window space, while larger, bold colored plants can be a focal point for a grand room. Houseplants are not just room accents. They provide a cheeriness, and some even help clean the air.
    There are a few things you need to consider before choosing with which plants you want to cohabitate. You will need to consider the type of light in which the plant will exist. Is it near a window that may be drafty in the winter? Is the space near a heating duct that will cause it to dry out too fast? Do you want one that flowers, has variegated leaves or can grow seven feet tall?  Do you need to keep the plants away from animals or children? The same concerns you have when you plant outside also need consideration for an indoor space.
    There are literally thousands of houseplants from which to choose. For first-time growers, succulents are a popular choice. Succulents are often used as party gifts and are practically kill proof. They come in many shapes and shades and can look fantastic when potted with a jade plant.
    The spider plant is an unusual looking plant that has been in fashion for many years. It comes in a number of varieties and works well as a hanging plant. Spider plants produce shoots often called ”little babies” that can be repotted and used somewhere else or shared with a friend.
    The asparagus fern tolerates a lot more abuse than other ferns — thanks to the fact that it’s technically not a fern. It adapts to both bright spots and darker corners and can add a light and airy quality to your plant collection.
    One of the most popular houseplants in the world, the African violet, blooms several times a year. This beauty comes in several colors and variegations and is happy in bright filtered light.
    The first indoor plant I ever received was a peperomia. It was a gift for my college dorm, and this plant is still making me happy many, many years after I left school. Great for home or a desk at work, this species flourishes even under fluorescent lights.
    If you’re guilty of overwatering, peace lilies can survive even when you forget and overwater. This plant has a beautiful upright silhouette and it is said that it filters toxins from the indoor air. 
    No home should be without an aloe. Its spiky leaves certainly look cool, and they’ll really thrive on your desk or bedside table. Aloe loves indirect light, plus a good soak every week or two. The best part of this plant is its healing properties. We have always had an aloe growing in our house. If someone burned their hand on the stove, we would break off a leaf and rub the salve on the burn. It helped immediately.    
    There’s a real timeless elegance to English ivy. You could let the long tendrils hang from a mantel or shelf, but there are also climbing varieties. Plus, it’s easy to start a new plant for yourself or a friend by cutting off a section of the stem.
    If you are looking to add some height or make a statement, try a rubber plant. Rubber trees can measure over 100 feet tall in their native Asia, but regular pruning can keep the ornamental variety the size you need for your home.
    A beautiful plant with a great architectural structure, the orchid, isn’t for everyone, but if you want a showpiece, give one a try. Native to tropical Asian countries, the Phalaenopsis orchid likes low light, and will always be a conversation piece.
    Looking for a tropical accent? Try dieffenbachia. The leaves of this pretty indoor plant can grow up to a foot long and provide a tropical-looking accent to home décor. The whole plant can grow six feet high for a room’s focal point. Or, how about the areca palm? This indoor house palm is a great inspiration if you’re dreaming of tropical climates — or just trying to conjure the look in your home décor. It can grow to about seven feet tall for a dramatic touch in
a room, but a smaller pot will keep it contained if you’d like it to stay smaller.
    One study found that interacting with indoor plants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress. Plants also bring life to a room and connect you to nature. If that’s not enough, they are great at purifying the air in your home by filtering out everyday pollutants.
    So next time you are looking for ideas to spruce up the house, don’t forget to get some plants.  

Jackie Albarella is an artist, writer and gardener and can be seen each Saturday on WGRZ-TV Channel 2, Buffalo on Daybreak Saturday.

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