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Rugged, Resilient Houseplants

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

There are thousands of houseplants out there but relatively few that will put up with the rigors of rooms that are too dark, too dry and too hot, not to mention distracted owners. The five listed here are good bets for such hostile environments.

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Snake plant ( Sansevieria trifasciata varieties)

Light: Direct, bright indirect, moderate or low.

Heat: Above 55 degrees.

Care: In winter, water only when dry. Increase watering slightly the rest of the year. Feed every four to five weeks in spring and summer. Move to a slightly bigger pot with fresh potting soil when crowded, every three to four years.

Peace lily ( Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Light: Bright indirect to moderate.

Heat: Above 65 degrees.

Care: Keep slightly moist. Water more frequently from spring to fall. Feed twice a month at half-strength from spring to early fall, but cut back to once a month in winter.

Corn plant ( Dracaena fragrans)

Light: Bright indirect to moderate.

Heat: Above 65 degrees.

Care: Keep evenly moist from spring to fall but allow to dry out a little between winter waterings. Between spring and fall, feed twice a month at half-strength.

Heartleaf philodendron ( Philodendron scandens)

Light: Moderate to low.

Heat: Above 60 degrees.

Care: Allow soil to dry slightly between watering. Feed monthly from spring to fall, every six weeks in winter. A similar easy vining plant is the pothos or devil's ivy ( Epipremnum aureum).

Chinese evergreen ( Aglaonema commutatum)

Light: Moderate to low.

Heat: Above 65 degrees.

Care: Keep soil slightly moist and away from drafts. Feeding regimen is the same as for philodendron.

Adrian Higgins


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