Colorful Houseplants

@ColoSpgs 2008oct16 LAH 014

Looking for a last minute gift for a gardening friend? How about a houseplant? At this time of year, when the world outside is dormant, I depend on my houseplants to feed my need for color. And while I appreciate healthy, green leaves, we certainly don’t have to stop there.

Apparently, I’m not the only one craving tones beyond brown and gray. In fact, word has it that some stores are selling succulents sprayed with a rainbow palette of brightly colored latex paints, in an effort to make them more appealing to buyers. More likely, this will make them more dead—plants can’t survive covered with paint. (To be fair, I was unable to find these for sale online.)

Then there are the “Desert Gem” cacti, “available in jewel-tone shades of topaz pink, emerald green, amethyst purple, fire-opal orange, and sapphire blue….” Funny thing however—as the plants grow, the grower admits that the new spines won’t be colorful. I’m guessing they dyed the spines some way to get these unnatural hues. At least they’re honest about it.

Happily, you don’t need to resort to extreme measures to get some colorful houseplants. Just check out these beauties, easily grown in most homes.

I wrote about crotons just last month, but here’s a reminder—when it comes to colorful foliage, nothing beats a croton. Or does it? Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’ rivals any croton with its astonishing foliage.

Succulents are popular for good reason—they survive low humidity and intermittent watering better than most plants. But they don’t have to be covered with paint to come in a variety of hues. While more subtle than the latex-covered ones, these are lovely and will last a lot longer.

Bromeliads bloom in an incredible array of neon colors. Who needs paint? While the blooms won’t last forever, they do last a long time. When the flower fades, the plant will too, but you can pot up the new offshoots around its base and start all over again.

Ti Plants (Cordyline fruticosa) always remind me of Hawaii, perhaps because they’re a popular plant sold all over the islands. Shrubby Whitevein (Sanchezia speciosa) may not be as colorful as some plants, but the creamy veins against a dark green background are certainly dramatic.

And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget poinsettias. Their colorful bracts will last for weeks, and you can get them to “bloom” again by controlling the hours of light they get next fall. This is the only time of year you can easily find them for sale, so pick out a couple of plants while you can—one for that plant-loving friend, and one for you!


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