Minnesota's winters are cold and harsh on outdoor plants, and waiting until spring to enjoy brightly colored flowers can seem like an eternity. House plants not only add atmosphere to a room, they act as air filters and help circulate oxygen. Common houseplants in Minnesota include the cyclamen, hibiscus, African violets, amaryllis, ficus, ferns and orchids.
The cyclamen plant grows flowers autumn through spring, blooming in red, pink, white or lavender. The foliage on the cyclamen has white spots in unique shapes. This plant becomes dormant in summer months. Water the cyclamen when the soil becomes dry and keep it near sunlight. The soil needs a swift air flow to help prevent diseases. Snip dead leaves and flowers from the plant regularly and apply water-soluble fertilizer every month. The cyclamen prefers cool temperatures of 50 degrees F and below at night and 65 degrees F and below during the day.
The African violet is a year-round flowering plant that produces deep purple flowers. This plant flourishes with benign neglect. The house plant requires full sun in fall and winter, and only partial sun in spring and summer. Water the African violet's soil when it is dry to the touch. This house plant needs warmer temperatures of 70 degrees F during the day and 5 degrees less at night.
The ficus house plant has glossy leaves that have a leather-like feel. Ficus plants grow rapidly in full sunlight, but can also thrive in a bright medium indoor light. Regular pruning is needed to prevent ficus house plants from becoming too large. Saturate the plant with lukewarm water until the tray under the plant's pot is full with water. Ficus plants are sensitive to cool temperatures, so keep them away from windows during the colder months. Fertilize the plant monthly during the warmer months when plant growth is noticeable.
There are several varieties of ferns, such as the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum). These plants grow in medium light and can be placed in windows during the winter months. Ferns need soil that holds moisture in but is organic; water ferns when the soil appears to be drying out. Ferns need excellent air circulation and clean leaves, so be sure to maintain the leaves on a regular basis to keep away pests from infesting the fern plant.
Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) and ladyslippers (Paphiopedilum) are two types of orchids that are common indoor plants in Minnesota. They are easy to care for and grow long-lasting flowers. Moth orchids need well draining soil, while ladyslippers grow best in a normal houseplant mixture. Use lukewarm water when moistening the soil to avoid shocking the plant's roots. Daytime temperatures cannot exceed 90 degrees F for the orchid and nighttime temperatures need to be 15 degrees cooler. The plants require full light to thrive, but should not be in direct sunlight; florescent growing lights are an excellent alternative for this houseplant. Fertilize with a special orchid mix during the spring and summer months.