These container plants turn a porch into an instant garden

  • Wed Feb 24th, 2010 1:38pm
  • Life

By Martha Stewart

Decorating a porch with houseplants is a simple and effective way to make it a friendly and inviting place to gather, entertain and even take a catnap.

Container plants

Houseplants brighten interiors during the cold months and add leafy green elegance to a porch or patio in summer. Always move plants outside gradually to avoid burning the foliage in the bright sun.

Bird’s-nest fern: This indoor fern will tolerate the dry air of most homes better than other ferns. Its broad leaves are a good counterpoint to the lacy foliage of the rabbit’s-foot fern.

Boston fern: This fern has been a porch plant since the Victorian age. It thrives in heat and humidity but can sulk during winter months, even in the greenhouse.

Crested ligularia: This plant is good for a cool greenhouse or sunporch. It sends up spikes of bright-yellow flowers in late autumn.

Mistletoe cactus: This shaggy cactus prefers bright, indirect light inside and shade outdoors. Although this is a true cactus, it grows in the rain forest, not in the desert. It still prefers soil on the arid side, so let it dry between waterings.

Rabbit’s-foot fern: The “feet” are surface rhizomes covered with furry scales. They absorb moisture and nutrients as roots do.

Rhizomatous begonia: This begonia is the newest addition to the collection. As with all rhizomatous begonias, the surface of the soil needs to dry between waterings. It likes high humidity.

Staghorn fern: This tropical rain forest fern is planted in moss-lined baskets. Spray it gently with a hose every day to keep the humidity up and the growing medium evenly moist. It thrives in bright, indirect light indoors and shade outside.

Tree philodendron: There are newer dwarf cultivars of this big nonclimbing philodendron, but this full-size species is great for filling corners and making a bold statement.

Address questions to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., Ninth floor, New York, NY 10001. Send e-mail to mslletters@marthastewart.com.

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