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Vermont Garden Journal: Want to Garden Indoors? Try These Hardy And Unusual Houseplants

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia) requires little light and water and has beautiful, shiny green stems.

Houseplants are back. When I was growing up, houseplants were considered your grandmother's plant. But demographics have put houseplants back on the map. The recent houseplant uptick is being driven by millennials. In 2016 the National Gardening Survey found that five out of six new gardeners are 18-to-34-year-olds. Millennials want to grow plants, but many don't own their own home and live in small apartments. The solution is houseplants.

But houseplants are more than just spider plants and sad, neglected ficus trees. If you're looking for a unique floor or table plant that's hard to kill, try the ZZ plant. There are three reasons to love Zamioculcas zamifolia. It requires little light to grow. It only needs water about once a month in summer and even less in winter. And it has cool, shiny green stems and leaves that give a Jurassic Park plant impression.

Chinese evergreen or Aglaonema is another low maintenance beauty. Like the ZZ plant, it doesn't have special lighting needs and actually does well with artificial light at a work desk. Water only every few weeks when the soil is dry. While most varieties have broad green or green and white leaves, there are some with colorful red, yellow and orange tinted foliage.

Succulents have become everyone's favorite houseplant. But a word of caution before you go plunking down money for an echeveria or barrel cactus. While the allure of interesting succulent leaves and low water needs can be tempting, most of these plants need bright sunlight to thrive. The exception is Hens and Chicks or Sempervivum. These are hardy plants outdoors, and a good place to start when trying succulents indoors. Just be aware that any future houseplant may be toxic to kids and pets, if ingested.

And now for this week's tip: bring dormant amaryllis bulbs out of your basement or garage now. Place them in a sunny, warm room and start watering as they begin to grow. Once growing they should flower in four-to-six weeks.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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