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Vermont Garden Journal: New Houseplants For The Dark Winter Months

The calathea, or prayer plant, is a houseplant that grows well in bright, indirect light conditions.
Chansom Pantip
The calathea, or prayer plant, is a houseplant that grows well in bright, indirect light conditions.

November, with its shorter, cooler days and cloudy weather, is the perfect time to do some gardening; indoor gardening that is. It all starts with your houseplants. Many homeowners shy away from houseplants thinking they don't have enough light for them. However, there are houseplants that don't need much light or water in winter and new varieties with attractive foliage.

Pothos, or devil's ivy, is a common green-trailing houseplant that grows along a curtain rod or cascades down a hanging basket. For a brighter splash of color, try the golden or neon pothos. It has gold-to-chartreuse-colored leaves that brighten up a dreary room.

Chinese evergreen or Aglaonema is another low-light, low-water, green foliage houseplant, and now there are versions with pink and red leaves. The brighter colors pop more if grown in a bright room, but the plant can grow in dark places.

If you're really living in a light-starved room or home, you can't go wrong with Sansevieria or snake plant. This agave-relative, floor plant has long, succulent leaves that come to a point at the top. They literally can grow anywhere and can go weeks without watering. While the traditional variety has dark-green leaves, there are variegated versions with golden edges. The gold color shows up best in bright, indirect light.

Most gardeners know the prayer plant. While it's a nice houseplant to grow in bright, indirect light conditions, there is an even more stunning version of the prayer. The Tricolored Prayer Plant features thick, glossy, oblong-shaped leaves that are white and green on the top and red and pink on the bottom. The leaves face towards the sun and fold up at night showing off their colorful undersides.

Now for this week's tip: grow these shade-tolerant houseplants in a room where they won't receive cold drafts in winter. Water sparingly in winter, sometimes only once a month, depending on the type. Wash the leaves periodically by giving them a shower.

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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