Houseplants are wonderful additions to a gardener's life. When winter takes hold and the gardens peacefully rest, the doldrums are not far behind. So use plants---including the tropical variety---to decorate your home and stave off cabin fever.
Miniature bulrush (Scirpus cernuus) is a humidity-loving, fine-foliaged plant suitable for various-sized indoor containers. It prefers rich soils that remain moist, yet are well drained and get plenty of sunlight. Its wispy needle-like leaves can grow to 6 inches in length. They have a tendency to fall over gracefully instead of growing vertically. Its inflorescences give the illusion of a fiber optic light, and can be used as a filler in terrariums or a standalone centerpiece plant. General-purpose fertilizers geared toward foliage plants are suitable for feeding miniature bulrush. Pests to look out for are aphids, whiteflies and spider mites.
The kris plant (Alocasia sanderiana) has large, deep green leaves accented with striking white veins. Preferring a bright spot, this plant does well in bright, indirect light. Providing well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter will prevent root rot and provide additional food for growth. Feed once a year with a slow-release fertilizer or every two weeks with a water-soluble one. Avoid cold and acidic water. Spider mites and scale can attack this plant.
African violet (Saintpaulia) is one of the most common and accessible houseplants found at nurseries. Their blossoms come in a vast array of shades and are often used to add color to kitchen windowsills. African violets prefer bright, indirect light and soils that are quick to drain. They detest having wet foliage so are normally watered from the bottom. A tray filled with small pebbles and topped off with water is usually provided for additional humidity. The pot should never touch the water, as this will lead to root rot. Special African violet fertilizer should be used as per manufacturer's recommendations. Aphids, whiteflies and spider mites attack African violets.
The urn plant (Aechmea fasciata) is part of the family bromeliad. It prefers soils that are acidic and well drained. Providing bright, indirect light keeps A. fasciata at its best. The leaves are stiff and come together to form an urn-like structure. This area holds water and in the wild provides habitat for frogs and insects. Its blossoms are pastel in tone. Keeping the "urns" filled with water and misting daily is recommended for the health of the plant. Adding a water-soluble fertilizer once a month to the misting bottle is a good way of fertilizing. Pests noted are scale insects.