Evergreen houseplants add a touch of nature indoors. NASA studies have demonstrated that utilizing plants indoors contributes to alleviating the sick building syndrome created by tight, energy-efficient homes. There are suitable easy-care plants for every light situation, from low to direct sunshine. Plants need affectionate care, but take much less time than a pet. Fill your home or office with these inexpensive, oxygen-giving beauties.
According to the Random House Dictionary, an evergreen plant keeps its green foliage throughout the year and sheds its leaves only after new leaves have formed. The majority of common houseplants fit this category.
Lighting for Evergreen Plants
Each plant requires a particular amount of light to thrive. The University of Illinois Extension Service classifies light requirements in layman's terms of low, medium and high light. Select plants for the home or office by studying the light available before grasping for the most attractive foliage. Low light comes through north-facing windows, at a distance of 3 to 10 feet away from east/west-facing windows, and 15 to 20 feet from south-facing windows. Medium high light can come from the north, a few feet away from east/west windows, and 3 to 10 feet from south-facing windows. Bright or high light comes directly in from the east/west window and a few feet from the south-facing ones. Direct sunlight will stream in from the south. Light conditions change with the seasons.
Plants for Low Light
Choose among these commonly found houseplants requiring low lighting: Chinese evergreen, parlor palm, Boston fern, heart leaf philodendron and sansevieria, also known as the snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue. These are slow-growing and very easy to maintain.
Plants for Medium Light
Medium light plants include anthurium, coralberry, asparagus fern, bird's nest fern, begonia, dieffenbachia, spider plant, grape ivy, Ti plant, sago palm, dumb cane, dracaena, rubber plant, fiddle leaf fig, prayer plant, peperomia, staghorn fern, pleomele, umbrella tree, Hawaiian schefflera, pothos, nephthytis, piggyback plant and the inch plant. Many of these plants require a moist environment. Certain varieties of schefflera will grow to the size of a small tree.
Plants for High Light
Bright-light seekers include the zebra plant, Norfolk Island pine, pony tail palm, jade plant, false aralia, crown of thorns, ficus, purple passion plant, English ivy, baby tears, peace lily and the wax plant. Though the description is for high or bright light, few plants will tolerate direct sunlight for any length of time. The Norfolk Island pine is a superb small, slow-growing evergreen tree. It can be used as a Christmas tree in small spaces. Ficus are attractive, small trees, but attract pests and require very moist air.
Evergreen indoor plants require little care. Water well once or twice a week, keeping soil modestly moist. Inexperienced indoor gardeners tend to over-water, thereby drowning the roots and killing the plant consequentially. Let the water drain through, then remove excess water from the dish below after 15 minutes. Fertilize with a commercial houseplant food at least once a year. Cut off dead and dying leaves and give the pot a one-quarter turn every few months to maintain symmetry. If leaf tips start to turn brown, be alert to a regular watering schedule and mist the plant with water daily. Many houseplants come from tropical climates and thrive on moist air.
Evergreen indoor plants are sold online, at florists, local nurseries, home improvement stores, farmers' markets and large general merchandise stores. Look for a healthy, unblemished plant tagged with its light, water and food needs. It is also important to note how large the plant will grow. The majority of plants listed above are slow-growing and will stay small enough to keep indoors for years to come. Friends also share plant offspring.