Today, January 10, 2020, is Houseplant Appreciation Day. Here are five low-light, low-maintenance houseplants that are easy to find at local garden centers. Houseplants should be appreciated — they have a lot to offer us. Houseplants improve air quality by removing chemicals and carbon dioxide and supplying oxygen. Houseplants provide a positive psychological impact by increasing memory retention and concentration and reducing stress. When you choose the right plant, it can add beauty and color. Try growing these in your home or office.
The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is native to eastern Africa. The unusual botanical name comes from the cycad genus Zamia because the foliage is similar to cycads and culcas, the Arabic name for elephant’s ear plant (Colocasia). The pinnate glossy, dark green leaves are about a foot long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets, about 3 to 6 inches long, spaced in such a manner that they look like a ladder.
The plant can grow to a few feet tall so it is not a desktop plant. However, if you buy several and plant in a row, they make a distinctive “screen.” The roots are actually swollen rhizomes, which means the plant can tolerate very dry conditions. Although ZZ plants are not grown for flowers, they do bloom at the base of the plant with peace lily type flowers.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.) plants vary in color and size. Although it is an upright plant that grows to a foot or two, it is possible to purchase a young one for the desk. There are plants with variegated green and cream leaves or green and silver leaves, and there is a new variety called red aglaonema with red, pink, and green leaves. Chinese evergreen plants are very hardy, tolerant of a wide range of conditions.
Like the name suggests, arrowhead plants (Syngonium spp.) have arrow-shaped leaves. They are often sold as small plants for terrariums. Mature plants are about a foot tall. The leaves usually are white and green but there are gold and green varieties and plants with a blush of pink. As the plant matures, the leaf shape and color changes so that mature leaves can be all green.
Most snake plants (Sansevieria spp.) have foot-long, sword-shaped leaves. The leaf color is usually a mottled green, with yellow, gray or silver margins. There are varieties with more yellow or silver coloring in the leaves. There are varieties that are short, almost stunted looking and there are some with very thin, cylindrical leaves. Snake plants provide a strong vertical interest, making them good floor plants.
Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos
Devil’s ivy or golden pothos (Scindapsus spp.) has heart-shaped leaves with green and yellow or green and white variegation. There are golden varieties as well. In the tropics, this plant grows as a vine so the plant has a natural trailing or cascading effect when grown indoors. It is a good plant to place high up on shelves so the stems can be allowed to cascade down. Cuttings of the stems root very easily, making it a great plant to share with friends or grow in a vase of water.
Oh, I missed Houseplant Appreciation Day two weeks ago! A few years ago, I lived with several houseplants, not by choice so much, but because I brought back so many plants from Southern California that did not want to be out through a winter here.