Once you’ve put away your gardening tools for the season, you may wonder how you’ll survive until next spring without plants around you. Flowering houseplants are the answer! With many colorful, inexpensive options with long bloom times, there’s one (or more) you’ll want to add to your window sill immediately. Buy mature plants, not seeds, unless you have loads of patience and years to wait for blooms. The exception is amaryllis, which will bloom from a bulb in a matter of months. And take note: Many blooming houseplants thrive for years with minimal care, while others shine for a just few months before fading. (Sometimes you can coddle them to rebloom, but, honestly, it’s often more work than it’s worth.) No worries; place those past their prime in your compost pile.
Here are a few of our favorite blooming houseplants to brighten your home all winter long.
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1 Christmas cactus
These old-fashioned favorites are popular with good reason: Christmas cacti are not fussy, and some live for decades! Their exotic-looking blooms come in an array of beautiful shades ranging from pure white to corals, pinks, and reds. Different species bloom at different times of year, including Thanksgiving and Easter. They like bright indirect light. Water when the soil is dry, and don’t let water sit in the saucer.
Pink, lilac, red or white blooms float above heart-shaped leaves, with new blooms appearing for months. Give them bright light, and keep them lightly moist. They also prefer cool temps (60 to 70 degrees), or the leaves tend to yellow and die. It’s tough to get these to rebloom, so enjoy them at their peak and compost.
These stunning flowers come from bulbs sold in the fall. Put them in a bright spot; too little light causes them to flop over. Keep the soil evenly moist. Blooms occur about six weeks later and last for a month or more. You can try to get them to rebloom next year: Save the bulb, leave the foliage intact but cut the faded flower stalk, then move into shade outdoors after the last frost. In late summer, let the bulb go dormant, cut off foliage, and don’t water until November. Then start to water again, and cross your fingers!
4 Phalenopsis Orchid
These delicate-looking orchids are not as fragile as they appear. They’ll bloom for months and can live for years with little care. They prefer bright, indirect light (an east or west-facing window is best). Water once a week until it drains out of the bottom of the pot.
5 African violet
These dainty old-time favorites in shades of purples, pinks, and whites bloom almost continuously. Some of these have been known to live for decades! They like to soak up indirect light on a window ledge facing south, east or west. Keep the soil lightly moist, and don’t let water drip on the fuzzy leaves because it will cause brown spots.
Cheery poinsettias are holiday faves, but they actually bloom for months with the right care. Pick one up almost anywhere during the holidays. Choose a plant that has little yellow flowers, called cyathia, in the center—not one that’s shedding pollen, which means it’s past its prime and won’t last through the season. Cover your plant when bringing it home, especially if it’s in the 20s or colder. Water when dry to the touch, and don’t let it sit in water inside the foil pot cover. They’re finicky about reblooming, so replace next year.
This succulent boasts glossy green leaves and bright red, yellow, pink or orange flower clusters that last for weeks. It does best in bright indirect light and prefers to dry out between waterings. Cut off the flower head after it fizzles, then enjoy the foliage all year long. Occasionally, it will bloom again next year.
Hibiscus is a stunning plant that adapts well to the right indoor environment. Its large flowers last only a few days, but it typically stays in bloom from spring to fall, and it lives for several years (typically, at least). Give it bright light to keep it blooming, and keep the soil evenly moist in summer, somewhat dry in winter.
9 Peace lily
Shiny green leaves and spoon-shaped white flowers make this hardy houseplant a must-have. With the right conditions, these plants last for many years with almost no care. Peace lilies prefer low to moderate light but tend to bloom better with bright filtered light. They like moist, not soggy, soil.
This relative of African violets has beautiful frilly flowers and deep green leaves. Many nurseries, florists or even grocery stores carry these in winter. They prefer bright filtered sunlight and moderately moist soil; they also don’t like to get their leaves wet. Enjoy their long flowering period (about two months), but know that they’re notoriously finicky about reblooming.
This elegant flower, a member of the amaryllis family, has long-lasting orange or yellow flowers with long, strappy glossy leaves. It tolerates most light conditions. Let the plant dry out between waterings. It’s a long-lived plant, but getting it to rebloom can be tricky. Keep it outside in fall, then move to the coolest room in your house before the first frost. Keep it rather dry until midwinter, then gradually increase the water. You should have blooms in February or March.
12 Cape primrose
This evergreen perennial, also known as streptocarpus, has beautiful pink, white, purple or red tubular flowers and velvety foliage. It can last for years. It prefers bright light. Let the soil dry out between waterings, and don’t get the leaves wet to prevent ugly spotting.
13 Flowering maple
Also called abutilon, this plant has red, yellow, pink or peach papery blossoms that appear nearly year-round. The plants typically last a few years before getting leggy and unattractive. It likes bright indirect light, preferably a south or west window. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.
Arricca Elin Sansone Arricca SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and more.
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