It’s cold, dark and wet — time to move your gardening indoors

Houseplants will most likely be the focus of many a Northwest gardener this fall and winter.

Reality check! The days are getting shorter, our yards are getting wetter and, while our desire to continue to work with plants may not be diminishing, the joy of working out in the garden is fading.

The obvious solution is to move inside the house or, if you are really lucky, into your personal greenhouse or atrium. All of this naturally brings me to the subject of houseplants, which for the next several months, will most likely be the focus of many a Northwest gardener.

That’s not to say that there is nothing to do in the garden — or that on a nice day we shouldn’t be out in the garden. It’s just a fact that we will be spending more time indoors, and we might as well improve that time by surrounding ourselves with plants that will generate oxygen, filter our air, and generally make us happier.

So, here is a list of favorite houseplants organized by light requirements that you might want to try out this winter season. Happy indoor gardening!

High light

High-light houseplants are plants that need lots of light and should be located near a south- or west-facing window within 1 to 2 feet of the glass. Here are some great examples.

String of Pearls: This is a succulent with pea-like “leaves” that will drape over the sides of a container, so it is perfect for hanging from the ceiling. It can also be incorporated into a small dish garden to create some extra drama. It is easy to propagate and share with friends, and is very tolerant of the low-humidity conditions often found in homes.

Croton: These plants are the personification of the tropics. Large, glossy and extremely colorful foliage of oranges, yellows, reds and greens. Crotons are the perfect choice to liven up a room — just make sure they have plenty of light. In the right conditions, they can grow 3 to 4 feet tall.

Medium light

Medium-light houseplants need (you guessed it!) medium light. This can be either an east-facing window or several more feet into the interior of the house. Here are a few favorites.

Giant baby tears (Pilea depressa): Soft textured and delicate looking, Pilea makes a good trailer or dish garden addition. The glossy foliage has a soothing effect and the plant, in general, is easy to grow.

“Sambac” jasmine: If you enjoy fragrance, this is the one you want to try. Delicate, white flowers bloom for a long time, and the aroma will freshen up any stale-smelling room. If you are still experiencing the flavor of bacon you cooked last Sunday morning, maybe a “Sambac” jasmine is what you need.

Philodendron ‘Swiss Cheese’: This is an old-timer that is making a comeback. It looks like a split-leaf philodendron that has been split and then split once again, which gives it an interesting look. “Swiss Cheese” is a vining plant that can either be allowed to trail over the sides of a pot or trained to grow up a stake, sort of like it would do on a tree in its native environment.

Monstera: This is the good old-fashioned split-leaf philodendron that is just a bullet-proof house plant to grow almost anywhere in the home. Again, it likes to vine so give it a stake to attach itself to, stand back and watch it grow.

Low light

Low-light houseplants are for those darker areas of the house where it is hard to imagine a plant will thrive. Here are three that should perform well.

“Bird Nest” fern: Ferns, as a whole, are happy in low-light situations and “Bird Nest” is no exception. Instead of finely divided fronds, “Bird Nest” ferns have entire fronds that make for an eye-catching look. Remember that ferns enjoy higher humidity, so a little misting now and then is appreciated.

“Staghorn” fern: Growing up in San Diego, I had several varieties of staghorns growing out in my patio but, in the Northwest, we treat these as houseplants and keep them inside during the winter, if not all year long. The fronds look a lot like antlers and will grow either in a hanging pot or on a wall board. In nature, they are epiphytes and grow on trees horizontally. They can be quite a conversation point in a home.

Calathea: These attractive plants have interesting patterns on the leaves and can blend easily with home decor. They stay compact and only reach 12 inches tall, so they fit well on a coffee table.

As we move into winter and you start having gardening withdrawals, try out some of these easy-to-grow houseplants and see if you don’t breathe a little easier, both physically and mentally. Spring will be here sooner than you realize.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

Put the garden to bed

Attend a free class all about how to get your garden ready for winter at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.

Talk to us

More in Life

Isabella Corsaro (Heidi), Kate Jaeger (Gretl), Jonas Winburn (Günter) and Kevin Vortmann (Hansel) star in Village Theatre’s production of “Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter.” (Mark Kitaoka / Village Theatre)
Village Theatre back in 2022 with lineup that includes ‘Raisin’

The four-show season, which begins in February 2022, is intended to reflect perseverance and the road to recovery, Village’s artistic director says.

Filmmaker Daniel A. Cardenas, of Everett, in a hop field in the Yakima Valley in 2014. (Bakerbuilt Works)
Everett filmmaker’s documentary does deep dive into hops

“Hopped Up: How Yakima Valley Changed Craft Beer Forever” won an award at this year’s Ellensburg Film Festival.

One of the Jetty Island ferry captains waits for boarders as the ferry begins operations for the summer on Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2016 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
All aboard: Jetty Island ferry reservations are available

The passenger ferry service from the Port of Everett to a sandy bar runs July 5 through Labor Day.

Taleah Burr (left right), Laurel Harrison, Caitlin Hitchner and Kelsey Jinneman-Fairbanks are four teachers at Challenger Elementary in Everett got Roman numeral '4' tattoos to represent their "Core 4" solidarity the day after their first year teaching in 2014.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Inked: Third-grade teachers tattoo their solidarity IV-ever

Most of their Challenger Elementary students don’t know about the hidden badge of teacher pride.

5 Rights Brewing in Marysville recently built the Second Street Community Pavilion, which will be open year-round and have electricity and heat. (5 Rights Brewing)
Drink This: 5 Rights now has year-round outdoor seating

The new Second Street Community Pavilion is just one way the Marysville brewery continues to expand.

Public Health Essentials! (Snohomish Health District)
Four things we can all do to keep our forward momentum

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Holly Aprecio is Linda Ronstadt in Just One Look’s Linda Ronstadt tribute. The band is set to perform June 19 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Just One Look)
Tickets for sale in Snohomish County and around the region

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

The F Street Project is scheduled to perform June 26 at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish. (YouTube)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Kermet Apio will perform stand-up at the Best of Seattle Comedy Competition in Everett on Aug. 17. (YouTube)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Most Read