We’re heading for a whopping high temperature of 36 degrees today and, although winter has barely begun, there will come a time in the next month or two that cabin fever may begin to set in. When the outdoors is at its bleakest, it’s time to remind yourself that it’s only temporary and the best way to do that is by bringing some lively color to the indoors.
Sure, your basic holiday foil-wrapped poinsettia will add a pop of color, but consider bringing home something a bit unexpected to cheer up the interior of your home and welcome your winter guests.
Why we love it: The peace lily practically grows in the dark. Since the shortest winter day in Minnesota (December 21) is about 8 hours long, and there is often little sunlight during that time, choosing a plant that tolerates low light levels is an important factor.
Not only does this glossy-leaved beauty tolerate low light, it actually blooms better in dusky corners. Use a well-drained potting soil and keep the peace lily slightly damp at all times. Learn more about peace lilies and how to care for them indoors at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, online.
Note: The peace lily (Spathiphyllum group) isn’t a true lily.
Bonus: Peace lilies help clean indoor air of benzene, formaldehyde and other common indoor pollutants, according to the NASA Clean Air Study.
Buy it: You can order it online at Kim’s Florist in North Oaks (warning: it’s quite pricey!) or, get a more reasonable price at Jackson & Perkins. If you prefer to shop in person, head to Home Depot in Blaine (4550 Pheasant Ridge Dr).
Why we love it: Kalanchoe’s brightly-colored flower clusters and scallop-edged leaves are sure to chase away the winter blues. They bloom indoors during winter in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink and white on upright, compact plants. Grow the Kalanchoe in a cactus potting mix, give it plenty of light (a south-facing window is ideal in the winter) and use grow lights if it appears to be thinning. Find additional details on how to care for this plant online at the New York Botanical Garden's website.
Note: Parts of the Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) are poisonous to pets and children. If your child has ingested the plant, call the Minnesota Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. If your pet ingests the plant, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
Bonus: Kalanchoes are low-maintenance plants, ideal for the busy indoor gardener.
Buy it: Buy Kalanchoe at the merchants listed for the peace lily or at White Bear Floral Shop (651-484-3391). You might also try your favorite grocery store – Cub Foods may carry them in the winter.
Why we love it: Our friends at The Telegraph nail it when they describe the cyclamen’s “intense, stained-glass coloured” blooms. The florists’ varieties (Cyclamen persicum) are smaller, with more petite blooms than the garden-grown and are much more attractive indoors with their rich red, rosy pink, white and magenta flowers.
Your cyclamen will thrive in bright, indirect light with indoor temperatures around 61 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s blooming, keep the soil consistently moist and fertilize it every two weeks. The Cyclamen Society’s website has lots of tips on how to care for your plant, so visit cyclamen.org.
Note: Cyclamen (especially the corm) is toxic to dogs and cats.
Bonus: Cyclamen blooms can last for up to two months!
Buy it: It’s available from White Bear Floral Shop, but quite pricey. For the best price, try Cub Foods. Bachman’s and Lunds & Byerlys locations around the Twin Cities also sell these gorgeous flowering plants.
Kalanchoe:Forest & Kim Starr CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons