Deb Babcock: Freshen up home with houseplants

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

Houseplant ideas

Scented houseplants

Angel’s trumpet (Datura candida)

Calamondin orange (Citrofortunella mitis)

Coffee plant (Coffea arabica)

Delta maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum)

Dutch hyacinth

Florist’s cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum clutivars)

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

German or Persian violet (Exacum affine)

Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)

Jasmines (Jasminum officoale and J. polyanthum)

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

Miniature roses (Rosa)

Narcissi

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Pelargoniums or geraniums

Madagascar jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Wax plants (Hoya bella and H. Carnosa)

Colorful houseplants

African violets (Saintpaulia hybrids)

Azaleas (Rhododentron simssi cultivars)

Caladium (C. x hortulanum)

Crotons (Cadiaeum variegatum pictum cultivors)

Cyclamen (C. persicum)

Dracaena margiinata ‘tricolor’

Flame nettle (Coleus blumei)

Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Rex begonia (Begtonia x rex-cultorum)

Wandering Jew (Zebrina pendula ‘quadricolor)

Christmas cheer (Sedum x rubrotinctum)

Mosiac plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii)

Polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Velvet plant (Gynura aurantiaca ‘purple passion’)

— Adding aroma and color to your home through the use of houseplants is a wonderful way to freshen your interior spaces, especially during these grey days of winter.

For aroma, look for a houseplant with white or light-colored flowers. Among the houseplants with scented flowers, the strongest aromas can be found from white jasmine, or Jasminum polyanthum; gardenia, or Gardenia augusta; waxflower, or Stephanotis floribunda; wax plant, or Hoya carnosa; and angel’s trumpet, or Brugmansia. Try placing them near an area with good air flow so their scent will disperse throughout the room.

Most citrus plants, such as the calamondin orange, or Citrofortunella microcarpa, flower year-round and emit a refreshing fragrance. White spider lily, or Huymenocallis caribaea, is a pleasant-smelling potted plant that tends to flower primarily in summer.

Sometimes the oils in the foliage cause aromas. Some release the scent continuously, especially when the air is warm, or just when the leaves are touched or crushed. Thymes, basils and many indoor kitchen herb plants fall into this category.

Geraniums, or Pelargoniums, are a group of plants with a variety of leaf sizes, flowers and fragrances that do very well in our climate. They are vigorous and bloom profusely year-round. Hybrids have been developed with scents of roses, lemon, pine, spicy nutmeg, peppermint and apples. The scent is released when the leaves are touched, making it an ideal plant for an area where people pass by and gently brush the leaves. Unfortunately, the spent flower petals can be messy when they drop.

If you were forward-thinking enough to place some bulbs in cold storage last fall, you can bring color and aroma into your home with hyacinths, daffodils, lily of the valley, freesia and paperwhites.

For colorful but nonaromatic displays, you have a wide range of choices, from bold primary colors to muted pastels. They can give an otherwise lackluster area an instant lift. African violets, or Saintpaulia; azaleas, or Rhododendron; primroses, or Primula; begonias; cyclamen, or Cyclamen persicum; caladiums, or Caladium bicolor; and crotons, or Codiaeum, all come in a variety of leaf shapes, textures and colors that will add interest and complement almost any decor.

Plants with colorful leaves tend to scorch more easily than all-green foliage, so it’s best to place these plants in indirect light, away from your sunny, south- and west-facing windows. Pay attention to the information on plant care provided by your florist, as some plants such as caladiums; Wandering Jew, or Tradescantia; and African violets require continuous moisture. Other plants, though, such as geraniums; prayer plant, or Maranta; and polka-dot plant, or Hypoestes phyllostachya, benefit from allowing the soil to nearly dry out between waterings.

Deb Babcock is a master gardener through the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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