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Want Colorful Leaves Indoors This Winter? Try A Plant With Spathes

A woman wearing a mask browses for poinsettias.
Elodie Reed
Plants like the poinsettia have spathes, or leaves of varying colors. Adding these to your home in the winter can bring color indoors!

Growing houseplants with dark green leaves is a fun winter pastime and you have so many to choose from! If you want to add some more colorful houseplants into a room in your home that gets low to medium light throughout the day, you might try plants with spathes. A spathe is a modified leaf - like the kinds found on a poinsettia plant. Spathes stay colorful for months and tend to bloom in winter and early spring. 

Getting flowering houseplants to bloom can be tough in low-light conditions throughout the winter. Look, instead, for plants with spathes. These last for months and they are easy to care for with low- to medium-light conditions.

These plants, like peace lilies, flamingo flowers, antheriums and calla lilies, are easy to find at your local garden center and will add red, orange, yellow, pink and purple to your home.

I tried growing my amaryllis bulbs in water only. It is actually working and the bulbs are not rotting, as I make sure the water level does not touch the bottom of the bulb. It is fun to try new things and have success! — Elaine, in Essex

Your amaryllis bulb will flower this year but won't flower again if it is only growing in water. However, if you put it into potting soil and grow it like a houseplant in a sunny spot, with water and fertilizing, it will come back! You'll just need a bit of maintenance to make it happen: next September, cut the flower and leaves back to the bulb and put it in a cool, dark place for six weeks. Bring it back out in November, put it in a sunny window and stay on top of watering and fertilizing and then it will, indeed, flower again!

Q: I have two apple trees, a George Webster and an Early Mac. This past year is the first year that I got apples, but only on the Early Mac. What can I do to encourage the other tree to flower and produce apples? Since both trees have grown to 12-plus feet, should I trim the branches this winter? — Bill, in Ticonderoga

The George Webster is an heirloom variety and pruning it this winter is a good idea. That will open up the tree, remove some suckers and might activate it to flower next year. Your Early Mac may also be blooming early and the flower on your other tree is not blooming till later. That means they are not pollinating each other. Instead, look for an apple tree variety that flowers early, like Northern Spy, and then they can pollinate each other.

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All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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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