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Warm up your space with houseplants

By on September 5, 2008

photo by sleepyneko

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The days grow shorter, the air is crisp, and home is where I want to be to relax. With the temperatures beginning to drop, I embellish my home with comfortable items that make each room feel cozy, such as books, handmade afghans, oversize chenille pillows, oil lamps and natural materials, such as pine cones, gourds, dried flowers, Indian corn and apples. I enjoy creating table centerpieces by hollowing out small pumpkins and inserting either pillar candles or fresh flowers, and my front porch isn’t complete without mum plants and a wreath.

I didn’t always have the extra money to add as much warmth to my decor, but I discovered that houseplants could offer the natural and earthy feel I wanted during the colder seasons for less money. If you’re thinking you don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of houseplants that are perfectly suited for a bit of neglect or, at the very least, are easy to care for, so don’t go for plastic or silk. It’s not the same.

I decided this year to enhance my seasonal decorating by purchasing houseplants and decorative containers. It’s been years since I’ve cared for plants, and life has become a bit fuller since then, so I am starting back slowly with easy-to-care-for varieties. I bought various sizes, textures and colors, ranging from four-inch pot size up to a 12-inch pot size, along with some hanging plants, too.
It’s unbelievable how soothing the rooms feel. I shopped smart and purchased plants that are propagated easily, so I’ll have plenty of new plants to care for, give as gifts or trade with family and friends. The best part is that, unlike the decorating items I store away and take out each season, houseplants can stay displayed throughout the year, be moved to different areas of my home, and be decorated for each season or holiday.

The following are some of the beginner houseplants I bought. If you have pets or children, please note that some plants are toxic. If you believe a pet or child has eaten parts of a houseplant, please contact your local poison-control center.

SPIDER PLANTS: These are resilient and forgiving. They can handle being pot-bound, and they display trailing plantlets that can be rooted easily to create new plants. They don’t like to be overwatered but can tolerate drying out a bit between watering. They like bright light but don’t need direct light, so finding a suitable location isn’t difficult.

POTHOS: They prefer bright, indirect light, but I’ve grown them in low light, too. The leaf color can change a bit, but it will still be a happy, thriving plant. I wait for the soil to feel dry to the touch before I water. I keep the vines trimmed up so they don’t look bare and the plant looks fuller. They root very easily in water, and you’ll have plants to share in no time.

RUBBER TREES: Although they don’t like temperature changes such as being near a draft or heat source, these are hardy and easy-to-care-for plants. They don’t mind being root-bound and can handle medium light. Your container should have drainage holes so you can water thoroughly, but don’t let it set in water. I wash the leaves because they tend to gather dust. If leaves drop, it’s almost always because of draft or low light. They grow quite large, so be sure to have enough space.

CHINESE EVERGREENS: They can handle low light, but moderate light is best. Avoid direct sun. This plant can also dry out between waterings, but you don’t want it to be so bone-dry that it’s separating from the sides of its container. You want to keep it moist but not soggy. You can propagate it from cuttings.


  1. Michelle

    9/13/2008 at 7:42 am

    I love the fall for decorating too, Sara. I agree about the mums too. I think we’re going to get some tomorrow or next weekend. Last year I had one small mum plant on each of the stairs to my porch. I love the look.

    I like your list of houseplants too. I’ve loved spider plants since I was a child, and my mother had them in almost every room. My favorite houseplant, however, is the pothos. They’re so easy to care for, and I love their green color and leaf shape.

    I am not familiar with Chinese evergreens, so I’m off to use Google. 🙂


  2. Sara Noel

    9/19/2008 at 1:22 am

    I’ve got two Chinese Evergreens. One is a floor plant 12″ pot size and the other is a tabletop 6″ pot size. The larger one needs to be re potted already (after only a year). I think you’d enjoy this plant. It’s very easy to care for.

    Love love love houseplants. It’s a jungle over here.

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