Indoor plants offer much more than just beauty to a home. They also add a warmth to a room that is inviting and comforting, along with improving the air quality inside a house, making indoor plants an environmentally sound idea. When choosing an indoor plant, take into consideration more than just the aesthetic qualities of a plant and look at what growing conditions are necessary for optimal health and growth, so the plant will thrive for years to come.
The corn plant (Dracaena fragrans massangeana) is so named because of its resemblance to a corn stalk but without the ears of corn. The variegated leaves have either yellow or light green stripes down the center and come off a single stalk. Corn plants need medium to bright sunlight each day, so placing them in front of a south-facing window works best. Water about every two weeks, allowing the surface of the soil to dry completely before watering and avoid over-watering, which can make the leaves turn yellow. The plant reaches from 3 to 10 feet tall and the height can be controlled by cutting the top of the stalk back. Since the plant is poisonous, keep out of reach of children or pets.
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) can be placed in a hanging basket or set on a high shelf or bookcase where the flowing stems can hang down. Being a very hardy plant and virtually pest- and disease-free, the spider plant is often found in homes because of the ease of care. The foliage has cream or white stripes and small tendril-like stems form on the ends of the main stems. Place the spider plant in a sunny location with a temperature of 60 to 75 degrees F and water once or twice a week to keep the soil moist, but never soaking.
One of the top indoor plants commonly found in homes is the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina). This plant grows fairly quickly reaching heights up to 10 feet and is grown for its foliage of small, waxy green leaves. The weeping fig can be a temperamental plant, though, and will drop leaves if moved too much, given too much sunlight or not enough water. Do not place directly in front of a sunny window, or use a blind on the window to provide filtered light. Water consistently to moisten the soil, letting the top 1 to 2 inches dry out before watering again. Keep out of drafts and mist a couple times weekly to provide the right amount of humidity.
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa") is characterized by the dark green, glossy leaves and summer-blooming large white flowers. This is one plant that does not like direct sunlight and needs to be kept up to eight feet away from a sunny window, making it the perfect plant for low-lit areas. It needs to be watered well a couple times a week and let the soil dry out completely in between waterings. Provide warm, high-humidity conditions by keeping the temperature around 65 to 75 degrees F and misting two to three times weekly.
Another common indoor plant is the philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium) with heart-shaped, bright green leaves that hang from trailing stems. This plant is perfect for setting on a high shelf, mantel or bookcase where the trailing stems can hang down. This very hardy, adaptable plant can grow in low to bright light and temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees F. Give consistent watering, once or twice a week, allowing the soil to dry out in between. Keep out of reach of children and pets because the leaves can be poisonous if eaten.