In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2013
Regional Report

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Begonias that require low light outdoors may even bloom indoors with bright light.

Greening the Indoors

We're fortunate to be able to rely on our outdoor gardens year-round. But, ever since I purchased my first indoor plant some (good grief!) fifty years ago, following the gift of an African violet, I've been hooked in "streaming" my plant life indoors and outdoors. Playing with which plants thrive where has been the game of my life ever since. First, reading guidebooks and asking friends, then trying various locations and conditions at different times of year, and perhaps finally finding a great place for a plant -- or giving up --- what an adventure it's been!

The real trick to success is to consider all information as just a starting point -- it worked for that person but may or may not work for you or your indoor setting. Then, when a plant isn't thriving, shift it to a perhaps more suitable location and conditions before it succumbs. And, if the magic doesn't work, don't worry about it -- just try again, or move on to another variety of plant. And, years later, you may want to play with that initial type of plant again. The operative word is "play" -- have fun!

Some critical elements:

  • Light: Provide as much as you can, recognizing that some plants can't tolerate mid-to-late afternoon direct sun.
  • Water: Keep potting soil moist but not soggy; because of indoor lack of humidity, some enjoy sitting on pebbles in tray of water.
  • Air temperature: Generally, what's comfortable for most people is comfortable for houseplants -- 70 to 80 degrees, with normal day and nighttime fluctuations.
  • Source: If plants were grown in a greenhouse with high temperatures and humidity, they are less likely to adjust well to a different regime in your home. So, coddle your new plant or don't bother trying.

    Be prepared to be amazed at what plants can put up with or adjust to. Sometimes they'll amaze you!

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