The second post in a series about our lovely leafy friends… From our friend, Summer Rayne Oakes, founder of Homestead Brooklyn…
I’m the type of person who will often wear bright colors in the dead of winter — largely because everything is so — well — black and white; the color is a much-needed contrast. “You look like you’re dressed for summer!” strangers will proclaim with a smile. I think to myself: “that’s the point!”
As the daylight wanes, many of our houseplants start to go dormant too — waiting to flaunt their showy inflorescences in the spring and summer months. I know it’s pretty tempting to want to grab some fresh cut flowers from the corner store to brighten up our interior environments, but plants without roots look so sad days later — and you’ll be hardpressed to ever resuscitate them. Luckily, there are some plants that prefer to bloom in the cooler months — and best yet — they have roots, which means they’ll continue to grow. Here are ten of my fresh picks:
Jasmine (Jasminum sp.)*
Jasmine typically blooms in the spring through fall, but it also can bloom in winter, and is often sold in stores during the winter months in bloom. If you want to produce winter blossoms in your home, you will need to give your jasmine a period of rest in the fall. Nights should be dark, as any light — like streetlights or indoor lights — can affect this. Once it blooms, prune it back quite heavily, which in general is a good practice since jasmine has a tendency to grow unwieldy.
Anthurium (Anthurium sp.)
Anthurium is native to Colombia and Ecuador, and is primarily an epiphytic species growing in moist, humid conditions. The inflorescence (a cluster of growth from the same stem) grows on a spike emerging from what some would consider the flower, but it’s really a palette-shaped spathe — often in the hue of red and pink, but you can also find them in white, orange, dark ruby-black and green.
Desert Rose (Adenium sp.)
Desert Roses have bright, showy flowers that are quite spectacular. They can bloom any time, but I’ve found that mine bloom late summer through the winter. Shortly after, the plant can become pretty bare, dropping leaves, until there is new regrowth in the summer months. This past year, I placed my Desert Rose outdoors during the summer and it began sprouting plenty of new leaves. Once the temperature started to drop, I brought it indoors and two beautiful flowers began to emerge.
Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans)*
Lipstick plants in the home often like to be in a partially shady area. Since these were originally epiphytic plants, the best soil would be a mixture of sphagnum and potting soil. The plants prefer a warm, humid environment with some decent light. This mimics more of their native environment, tucked away in some damp forests. To encourage buds, keep them at 65° to 70°F, though in winter, they can definitely be cooler and drier. After they flower, it’s suggested to prune their stems back to a height of 6″ to encourage new growth.
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
The blossoming Kalanchoe is a favorite plant sold in stores around wintertime, featuring blooms of all different hues—red, yellow, pink and orange. They are probably one of the most affordable flowering plants but can quickly look scraggly after they bloom. The key is dead-heading them after their bloom and chances are they’ll bloom again shortly thereafter.
Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
These plants are native to the Mediterranean and typically bloom from December through April. Most people toss away the plant after it blooms because it tends to lose all of its leaves. Don’t do this! The plant is only going dormant. Water it now and again during this period and as soon as cool temperatures start up again in the fall, the plant will begin to revive again with regular watering.
African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)*
African violets are one of the easier flowering plants to grow, particularly because they adjust well to the drier air that is often found indoors. I have mine close to a north-facing window, which it seems to do well in. They like sunnier locations, but a south-facing window would be far too hot for them. These are relatively compact plants, but you can also find some trailing varieties.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)*
My mother had beautiful Christmas cacti in her home, and these reliable bloomers are easy to come by, particularly in the winter months. There is a secret to good bud production, which involves temperature and light control. In the daytime, the plant prefers bright light and night temperatures should fall between 55° and 65° F. You’ll want long nights starting in September — around 13 hours or more of continuous darkness — all before this plant flowers.
Hawaiian Wedding Vine (Marsdenia floribunda)
Floribunda is a popular plant for weddings, as its name suggests. It has long tubular white flowers bearing a fragrance very similar to jasmine. It’s often sold while blooming because indoors, it is hard to get it to bloom year-after-year. Don’t let this plant slip below 59°F. It likes to be kept in a sunny spot, but with no strong afternoon sun.
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
The Poinsettia’s flowers are actually the inconspicuous little yellow buds that are subtended by the red, white or pink bracts. These plants are often tossed after the holidays, but you can continue having the Poinsettia around your house. If you take care of it, it may even turn into a shrub. The key to taking care of this plant is to keep it warm. It hates drafts. And it needs to be in a sunny area, but kept away from too much hot afternoon sun.
* THESE ARE PET-FRIENDLY BLOOMS!
Any other plants that you love seeing their blooms during the winter months? Share them here. And be sure to tune into more fun plant how tos on Plant One On Me, my weekly Q&A on all things plant-related and more inspiration on HomesteadBrooklyn.com and @homesteadbrooklyn.
Lead illustration by Jessie Kanelos Wiener. All photographs courtesy of Homestead Brooklyn.