Houseplants, Part Three: Tropical and Other Unique Plants

I hope everyone had a wonderful week! It was the coldest week yet for this winter in Buffalo. Sub-zero wind chills and single digits for a good portion of the week made the temperature in the teens that we experienced the other day feel down right balmy!

Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!

Brrr! Icy cold was everywhere!

We had a nasty lake effect band come in the wee hours of Friday morning, dumping 9 inches of snow at my house, and more in some other areas. Work was delayed until noon, so I took advantage of the situation and went snowshoeing in the rare, yet precious powder we get around these parts! There were great examples of winter interest all around me:


The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!

The way the snow was on this tree reminded me of zebra stripes!

Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!

Grateful for this perfect cold and snowy morning!


I finished up the weekend by cross-country skiing, and sadly, my binding broke on my ski and I wanted to cry. Those were my dad’s skis, and even though the bindings are ancient in technology terms (the skis I am using are close to 30 years old), those have been the only skis I have ever loved and used so much! Hopefully, all I have to do is get new bindings.

While I must say people thought I was crazy because I went out this weekend, the wind was really bad, at times visibility was zero — yea, they were probably right. But when I got back in the house, I was in for good. I thought I better do my weekly watering of my plants. And then I saw this:

My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my amaryllis!

My cat Leo has supernatural leaping abilities, and way too close for comfort to my Amaryllis!

This reminded me of the time my beautiful, unique plant called the oxalis was nearly destroyed by my other kitten, Teddy. I was horrified to see it in such awful condition after coming home from work one warm and sunny summer afternoon.


What is an oxalis?

  • It is part of the clover family, or false shamrocks.  They refer to this particular plant as the “three-leaf purple shamrock.” My daughter calls it the “butterfly plant” because of the petals looking exactly like a butterfly. I was first introduced to this interesting plant by a co-worker. I had asked her what it was, and she said she didn’t know, but it looked like butterflies to her.
  • There are over 900 different species of this plant. You can actually plant this one outside, too!

A couple of months later, I am perusing the Farmer’s Market in downtown Buffalo, and lo and behold, there it was! I asked the fellow working at this particular tent what it was, and he told me. I just had to get it! It was in a lot better condition than it is now, but I am happy to report that I have nursed it back to life. Little by little, just by watering it on a regular basis, it is starting to get bushy again.

This is a great addition to your houseplant collection because not only is it different, but it gives a burst of color to the sea of green that is common among your houseplants. It’s a talking piece, which is something I definitely like. I love looking at the expression on everybody’s faces when they see something and ask, “WHAT is that?”

Just like when I show people this plant:

The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.

The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant.


This a Pitcher Plant. I squeed with joy when I went into my local supermarket (that boasts a great selection of houseplants, I must say) over the summer to find the exact plant I was going to purchase online because I couldn’t find it anywhere!

The Pitcher Plant:

  • Is a carnivorous plant just like the venus fly trap, meaning, they eat flies and other insects.
  • They “trap”insects in the “pitchers”, the leaves which are commonly known as “pitfall traps” filled with liquid.
  • There are several different kinds of pitcher plants.
  • This particular pitcher plant is tropical. They need warmth and need to always have moist soil.  I put my pitcher plant out on my enclosed patio for the summer, and bring it in to my bedroom the cooler months.

I have to admit, this has been much easier to take care of than I thought it would. Just watering it regularly and keeping the soil moist seems to be the trick. That, and because my bedroom is one of the warmer rooms in the house, it may think it’s in its native tropical setting.

*Not all species are tropical. You can find some of these in bogs in North America!

This is a GREAT plant to add to your collection. It is so unique and adds some real jazz to your home decor!

Here are just a couple of good examples of some different plants that add great value to your house. I have a few more that I am going to single out in future posts, but for now, hopefully these will give you some ideas on trying something different to keep the long winter days full of color and excitement!

Houseplants, Part Two: The Common Ones

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful New Year! It’s a new year, and a new perspective on life! I am happy to say that I have already checked a few things off my list that I told myself I was going to do this year. One of those things includes a renewed sense of appreciation for fine art pieces:


My daughter’s picture of a kitty brightens my days in the cubicle…

Anyway, I am posting a day early because I will be going out-of-town to my parents tomorrow to FINALLY celebrate Christmas. With my daughter sick last week, and the weather horrible today, we had to scratch plans until tomorrow. And something tells me my work schedule is going to pick up pretty quickly this first week back, so, again, I am prioritizing.

I have spent more time inside than I have wanted to this past week. The weather has been so awful (bitter cold, wind, snow), I haven’t even entertained the thought of taking my workout outside. So, this has allowed me to prepare for my post this week on common houseplants! In fact, I watered them all today, and already have a couple of more in mind I would like to purchase.

With that being said, here are some common houseplants I have in my home that would be good for you.

1. Snake Plant— the snake plant is the best plant for forgetful people. It’s part of the succulent family and tolerates neglect. Snake plants love to be left alone. I water mine about once every two weeks. It doesn’t need a lot of light or water, and it grows just as well.

The Snake Plant is the non-plant person's best friend! Low maintenance living decor!

The Snake Plant is the non-plant person’s best friend! Low maintenance living decor!

2. Green Dracaena— can be recognized with white stripes on their leaves. They grow upright and need medium to bright light. I water mine once a week, and even a little more during the winter months. I purchased mine at a home improvement store and it done very well for me.


3. Pothos— This is probably the easiest to recognize.  They have this beautiful marbled look on their leaves. I have about three of these. I have purchased all of them from my local grocery store. It’s a vine that is extremely low maintenance. There is no such thing as too little or too much light for this vine, it grows in any lighting condition you give it. I have had one of mine for at least 6 years, and in the early years when watering my plants was not high on my to-do list, my pathos weathered that ugly time and have flourished for me.


4. Philodendron — I also have a few of these, and they have a tendency to get confused with the above pathos. They too, are not fussy about light, and will grow through neglectful times. The philodendron has heart-shaped leaves, and my one also happens to be very long– about four feet. They are the number one most common plants in any indoor gardening setup.



5. Peace Lily — This was the first plant I got when we moved into our house. It’s been in my bedroom ever since. The Peace Lily gets these beautiful white flowers on them about once a year, and they too, are very tolerant of low light and low humidity.


6. Ivy— I believe this is English Ivy, but I have to still research it. This is actually part of the Ivy that grows outside. I took a shoot off two years ago and put it in water in the house. It has grown very well, surprisingly. Because the last time I purchased an Ivy, it died right away. Again, I was younger and didn’t pay much attention to my plants, so this could very well be the reason why it failed for me. Boston Ivies are the more common indoor Ivies, and they are hard to keep going, in my opinion. I still have to figure out how to keep them alive!


Some other plants to consider:

*Corn Plant— they resemble a corn-stalk and are very tolerant as well. I actually have one of these, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph it. They can take a beating and still keep going!

*Jade Plant— I really want a Jade Plant. They look very unique and grow very slowly into a tree. They love bright light!

There are still many other indoor plants that you can choose, but I just wanted to list the ones that are very common and easy to maintain. I also have some other interesting houseplants that I will talk about in a later post. For now, you have a good foundation on the basics of houseplants, the ones that are the easiest to find, and what will be good for you and your home!

Houseplants, Part One: Basic Information

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I can’t believe the year is almost done! Christmas was very nice this year.


I know we had a nice time, despite my little girl getting sick on Christmas day. Santa was very good to her this year.


Now that the holidays are over, and a new year is upon us, most people, gardeners included, end up hunkering down for the rest of the Winter and hiding until they see the tulips come up in Spring.

However, most people fail to think about houseplants– the gardening you focus on when the snow and cold are swirling outside! Houseplants can be fun to collect, and you can get them at a fairly reasonable price– especially the common ones.

So, what is so great about that green plant in the pot in the corner of your living room?

A lot, actually.


  • Are great “living” home decorations. They bring a warm, homey feeling to your interior decor.
  • Most varieties of houseplants are very easy to maintain. Even easier than you outdoor gardens!
  • There are houseplants for every type of person. For example, if you are a person who is tends to forget you have plants around, there are plants that are extremely low maintenance and don’t need to be watered as much as others. If you are very attentive to your houseplants, there are many more high maintenance varieties that you will love as well!
  • Houseplants are healthy for your home. They work as filters for the air in your home. Experts say you should have between 10-20 houseplants in your home to keep the air you breathe clean.
  • They are easy to find. To be honest, most of the houseplants I own came from my local grocery store. And they are always on sale. They can be much cheaper than the chintzy little vase you paid a fortune for that does nothing to improve the look and feel of your home!

Caring for Your Houseplants

Depending on the plants you purchase, you may have to experiment for a while to see what works for them. I know I have had to move plants from one place to another before they started to really take off. Some like more light, others don’t. You can research the plants you would like to get and see what has worked for others. But don’t go crazy. If you are looking on the internet, there is a lot of information that people will throw out, but really and truly, you must listen to your gut and use COMMON SENSE. Take the information you learn and work it into your houseplant care routine. It’s really not as crazy as what people say.

For example:

“Water three times a day, with the first time being warm water, then with slightly cold water and then just regular water.” WHAT?!!

Common Sense says:

Plants can not only get too little water, but too much. They will rot and mold if water that often. Keep it simple– schedule your main watering once a week. If it’s Winter time, they tend to dry out quicker because of the heat being on. Do a soil check and you may have to water more. Just take the time to be watchful at first so you know what works for you and your home.

The next part of this series will discuss and portray common houseplants you will most likely find in your home improvement or grocery store.

So, I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Make it even better by getting a houseplant to not only chase the Winter blues away, but keep your green thumb fresh for the Spring!