For most people plants are difficult to grow and keep alive and healthy. This is especially tough inside the house during the winter months. But there are a few plants, both blooming and non-blooming that can be rather simple. Most tropical foliage, African violets, cactus and succulents are easy as they have simple but different needs. For example, cactus and succulents need almost no water through the winter months so as long as you begin with healthy/quality plants and provide some bright light, they should look good all winter long.

Tropical foliage, sometimes known as simply “house plants” have been popular for as long as I have been growing plants-around 50 years. Some can tolerate low light levels (which we have lots of in the winter) however do not be fooled into thinking that any of the house plants really like low light…they really like bright light-all of them. Best foliage plants to grow in winter are cast-iron, Chinese evergreen, the miniature schefflera, spathaphylum (peace lily) and many other assorted tropical foliage plants.

Having blooming plants such as azaleas, cyclamen, reiger begonias and kalanchoe are all great, colorful, fun and easy to grow as they are not really growing while they are in bloom. So just occasionally water them when they are dry and never use fertilizers during the winter months. Discard when blooming is over.

Bringing cactus and/or succulents into the home is probably the easiest of all plants to care for throughout the winter months as a good mix of varieties will give you great color and texture in your mixed pot and requires no watering at all. Also you can use your imagination on exactly what pot you may want to use which could add to the unique style and décor of the room.

Succulents to look for include: sedum (many varieties), trailing portulacaria, echeveria, jade, aloe or any other succulents you can find on display. Look up pictures online for ideas on how to arrange them in your container or just go at it as it’s not “rocket science”. Any combination should work out. You can also incorporate a cactus or two if you like as all of these plants like almost no water. Use a light weight soil with lots of peat moss when planting and yes, you will need to water everything when finished but only the one time. After the first watering you may go 6 to 8 weeks, or longer before watering again. Better to run these plants on the dry side because even if they wilt, they will spring back to full life after just one watering.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer