Decorating with houseplants is an easy way to brighten up a drab corner or add a cheerful dash of color to a dull, boring room. Most plants enjoy sunny, well-lit areas, but not every room in your home can offer full-sun exposure to a plant. For rooms with low or filtered light, select hardy, low maintenance plants that prefer shady conditions.
Native to Malaysia and the Philippines, the Chinese evergreen (aglaonema) can grow up to 3 feet high. It has variegated leaves and grows well in warm temperatures but can adapt to a cooler, low-light environment. Water moderately and avoid exposing the leaves to cold water, which will turn them brown. Keep it out of the reach of kids and pets as ingestion will cause throat burn. Prune the Chinese evergreen by removing discolored lower leaves. Trim the stalks periodically to keep the plant looking full and leafy. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them dust free.
Known to be one of the easiest house plants to grow, the snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata) tolerates most conditions found in homes. It grows up to 48 inches tall and has stiff, fleshy upright leaves. Let its soil dry between waterings. The snake plant's leaves will fall over as a result of too much water. The snake plant is known to flower but not in low-lit conditions. Fertilize the snake plant about once a month using a good quality, water-soluble mixture that is nitrate free. All snake plants are mildly toxic, and ingesting larger portions of the plant will cause nausea and vomiting.
One of the more durable house plants, the cast-iron plant (aspidistra elatior) prefers dry soil. It can endure neglect and will survive in dry air, warm or cool conditions, and low light for a long time. Given proper care, the cast-iron plant will grow to about 3 feet tall.This plant will tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees F. Plant cast-iron plants in potting soils similar to those for African Violets. Fertilize plants living in low-light areas every three or four months with a half-strength mixture of house plant fertilizer.
Rubber plants often reach 6 to 10 feet tall and have thick, glossy, leather-like, dark green leaves. The rubber plant (ficus elastica) requires moderate watering and does well in a low-lit room that is warm-to-average in temperature. Don't allow the plant to become too wet or too dry, as the leaves may turn yellow and fall off. The rubber plant produces a sticky white sap that will irritate the skin and may cause stomach upset. Wash your hands after handling its leaves. If you must relocate a rubber tree plant, do it gradually, as sudden changes in it's environment will cause it to lose its leaves.
A native of the American tropics, the peace lily (spathiphyllum wallisii) grows up to 24 inches tall and produces a white leaf-like cupped flower. It's dark green leaves are on long stems. The peace lily prefers bright to moderate lighting but will adapt readily to low-lit areas. Too much light will cause leaves to yellow. This plant prefers a humid environment, moderate watering and requires little fertilization. Keep the leaves clean and shiny by dusting with a damp cloth.
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