Most houseplants originate from tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In many of these areas there are very dense jungles that don't let very much sunlight penetrate the tree canopy and reach the forest floor. These areas are warm, relatively dark, very humid and have a short day length. Luckily this is often the condition inside the average home in locations with high humidity. In cooler or desert climates, it may be less humid indoors.
Heart Leaf Philodendron
The heart leaf philodendron, scientific name Philodendron scandens, is possibly one of the easiest houseplants to keep alive. It is a creeping vine with dark green heart shaped leaves about two to four inches long.
It thrives in warm humid conditions. Optimal temperatures are 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night and and 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It can tolerate much warmer temperatures without any sign of stress. It prefers bright indirect light but can survive quite well in very low light although growth is reduced in size and is slowed. Often normal room light is enough to grow these plants. Pot in a well draining rich soil that retains some moisture. Keep the plant evenly moist but do not let it dry out. Cuttings can be rooted in a glass of water.
The peace lily, scientific name Spathiphyllum wallisii, is a common house plant found in just about every garden store houseplant section or as an accent plant at the florist. It has dark green spade shaped leaves that grow on long stems reaching 18 inches long, although some cultivars are larger. The flowers are spathe shaped with a white or greenish-white leaf-like bract surrounding a yellow to whitish-colored spike-shaped flower.
This plant prefers medium levels of light but can live in lower light levels. flowering is better in brighter light, but may be hindered if the light is too bright. Pot in a well-draining but moisture retaining soil with added organic matter. Keep it evenly moist but not wet. Do not let it dry out. Fertilize monthly while it is actively growing with a weak liquid fertilizer for houseplants. If the flower bracts start to appear more green than white over time then the plant is getting too much fertilizer.
African violets are members of the genus Saintpaulia and thrive in warm, low-light, high-humidity situations. They have fuzzy green leaves in a rosette shape and bloom with various colored flowers clustered at the center. Many miniature-type varieties are under six inches in diameter, making them perfect for shaded windowsills and growing in apartments where space is limited. Larger types can be over 16 inches in diameter.
African violets prefer a rich well-draining soil that retains moisture. Water when the soil is almost dry but keep evenly moist but not wet. Avoid getting any water on the leaves to prevent brown spots. They benefit from watering from the bottom of the pot. To water from the bottom, place the pot in a shallow tray of water and let the soil soak it up until it is moist on top, then remove the plant from the water.