Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Houseplants | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Houseplants

Jan 7, 2021

January is a good time of year to spruce up your houseplant collection. While having a lush, dark green foliage houseplant is soothing, there are some ways to add color to your houseplant jungle without needing lots of light. 

The best way is to grow houseplants with spathes around their flowers. What's a spathe you ask? Good question. Spathes are modified leaves that basically cover, and wrap around, the actual small flowers. Think Jack in the pulpit wildflower which features a distinct spathe. For indoor plants, poinsettias have bracts on steroids from all the breeding that goes into the plant. Bracts, like spathes, are also modified leaves. Like on the poinsettia, spathes can be colorful and last a lot longer than regular houseplant flowers. Some houseplants with large and showy spathes include peace lilies, anthurium and calla lilies.

We grow an assortment of anthuriums or flamingo flowers for this very reason. They grow in a bright room, out of direct sunlight, and need only occasional watering, especially in winter. Their spathes last weeks turning from pink to deep red. There are purple and yellow spathe colored versions as well. Peace lilies mostly feature large, white colored spathes, but they still brighten up a room. Like flamingo flowers, peace lilies like medium, bright, indirect light and do better with under watering than over watering. They also like an occasional shower to clean household dust off their leaves.

Calla lilies are mostly thought of as outdoor summer bulbs, that can be dug and stored indoors in winter. But they also make nice houseplants with their multi-colored spathes and spotted leaves.