November 16, 2006 at 6:46 a.m.
Probably the most common of all flowering houseplants is African violets. They are easy to grow which is probably the reason they are so popular. They have beautiful flowers with moderate light and there are many different kinds. Use a peaty potting soil mix and water thoroughly whenever the soil surface feels a bit dry. Spill out any excess water that flows through the drain hole. Many insist these plants should be bottom watered because their fuzzy leaves are prone to water spots. If you use this technique, water thoroughly from the top every six to eight weeks to flush out accumulated salts from the soil.
African violets grow best in bright, filtered light, but will bloom in a north window, just not as often. Using fluorescent will help them to bloom continually. The plant grows best in warm conditions with nights no lower than 62 degrees and days up to 80 degrees.
Use a very weak fertilizer solution with every watering, or fertilize at half strength every two to three weeks when the plant is growing actively. An example would be Miracle Grow Liquid African Violet plant food with the number 7-7-7.
The Cape primrose is a relative of the African violet. It has large, velvety blossoms on wiry stems that arch over stiff leaves. It has some different needs than the African violet. It requires brighter light year-round and filtered light in the summer. Also, it blooms best when temperatures are on the cool side (50 degrees F to 65 degrees F), particularly at night.
The Peace lily, sometimes called White Anthurium, is a member of the Araceae family. Chinese evergreen, Philodendron, Arrowhead vine, Dieffenbachia, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and Calla Lilies are also in this family.
Peace Lily does well in low light. It blooms sporadically in a north-facing window or several feet away from brighter exposures. However, it will bloom year-round in an east-facing window or in bright, filtered light. Flowers unfurl pure white, then slowly fade to green over many weeks. To encourage more blooming and keep the plant looking its best, remove flower stalks once the flower begins to look greenish.
Keep the potting soil evenly moist, watering thoroughly whenever the surface feels slightly dry. Spill out excess water that flows through the drain hole. Peace Lily tolerates low humidity and does best in relatively warm conditions with nights no lower than 62 degrees and days up to 80 degrees. Fertilize lightly during periods of active growth, which typically lasts from late winter through early autumn.
Anthurium, or flamingo flower, is closely related to the Peace Lily. It needs similar growing conditions, with one major exception. Anthurium requires more light to bloom well. In recent years, plant breeders have developed new types of Flamingo flowers. But the most popular plants produce large, waxy, heart-shaped flowers that start out dark-pink or red, then turn greenish as they mature.
The wax plant belongs to the milkweed family and is often called a Hoya. A slow growing succulent plant with leathery leaves thrives in bright light with well drained soil. Flower clusters reappear annually on the same short spurs that hang from the woody vines. Don't prune those vines but rather twist them in big hanging loops.
Keep Hoyas cool and make sure it's drier in winter than in spring and summer when it's growing actively. Fertilize only when it's putting on new growth, usually from late winter or spring through summer. If you are lucky, you may see two flushes of bloom each year.