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January 9, 2008 > Pat Kite's Garden

Pat Kite's Garden

Low Light House Plants

By Pat Kite

The modern house or apartment doesn't always have a lot of window light. For those who enjoy an indoor garden, or jungle, as the case may be, here are some suggestions for low-light rooms.

Pothos
This common heart-shaped leaf houseplant is often sold for less than $2 in small pots. Well worth the moola, as it will make a lovely hanging basket plant in relatively quick time, or you can train it up and around a pole as a good-natured climber. I have mine in a back bathroom on a shelf, with the long leaf structure draped over a fixed horizontal pole. It is making its way across the room. Mine is medium green with only a few white streaks, but if you give it better light, you'll get green and white leaves. You can start Pothos from cuttings; just stick it in a pretty water glass or small vase. It will, eventually, grow roots, but there's no rush to move it. Fertilize if and when you want. Water to slightly damp stage, and permit slight dryness between each watering. If you get really enthused about Pothos, you can hunt down whitish with green streaks, or green with yellow streaks.

Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue
I actually succeeded in killing one of these, something that is hard to do. My method: over watering. But once I learned my lesson, I now have five varieties on a wire stand lounging underneath my bathroom Pothos. [Note: once my daughters moved out, I could put that bathroom to better use than curling irons, hair dryers, and a tonnage of make-up.] The "snake plant" title refers to the upright spear-like 8-inch leaves. But there are those with 4-inch leaves too. Markings vary from solid green, to speckled, to yellow edged. Mother-in-law's tongue. Well, sturdy is one analysis. They prefer dry soil, and will survive in very little light. Now if you give them lots of light, they may even flower. I accomplished this twice, and the small white flowers smelled like honeysuckle.

Aspidistra, also known as Cast-Iron Plant
Used to be, this was very hard to find at generic garden centers. But now, if you look among assorted greenery, you may find one or two in a 5-gallon pot. Price: about $15 and well worth it if you have a dismal site which calls out for greenery upbeat. My Aspidistra are in an entry hallway and in a kitchen corner. I recently went to buy more, but they disappear from the shelves as fast as they come in. The long leaves, which can reach to 24 inches, are dark green or, more rarely, green striped with white. The Victorians used to grow these hardy plants in their seldom-used parlor. Give them a little more light, and they actually get bushy rather than stay in survival mode. Water once a week, not too much, but enough. On vacation for two weeks? No problem.

Note: The above plants make super gifts for friends who "have everything," but claim they "can't grow anything." Be nice, help them be successful. Best for the garden New Year.

Pat Kite

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