Five Easy-Care Plants
Garden tip from Lynn Wyndham Morris IIDA, Allied Member ASID, Director of Communication, ASID
A Touch of Tradition Home & Garden Shoppe
7313 Carroll Road, Suite D
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Lynn Morris is the principal designer for A Touch of Tradition Home & Garden Shoppe (TOT-HOME), a full-service interior and landscape design studio. The shop carries products for the DIY homeowner as well as furnishings, lighting, fabrics, window coverings and accessories for the interior and the garden. If you hurry, you won’t miss out on the Touch Up special, underway through June 30.
Plants are an easy way to dress up your porches, patios and interiors. They provide fullness, color, shape and texture, and are a living, breathing entity that also improves your indoor air quality. A bonus is that based on the planter you select, you also add architectural and textural elements to your landscape or indoor spaces. From sleek zinc planters to casual wood barrels, the plant and its planter can span styles from modern to traditional. Here are my five top easy-care plants to dress up your home or patio.
- Succulents: These low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants are great with every house style from minimalist to country casual. For outdoor spaces, they’re ideal for full-sun planters. You can create lovely hanging baskets for porches and patios with the variety of species available locally, and enjoy them year round. In my house, I have assorted bowls of different succulent varieties placed on the dining table and master-bath vanity.
- Orchids: Elegant and architectural indoors or out, orchids are not as difficult to care for as many think. Cymbidiums are perfect outdoors in filtered sunlight. Mine flank the walkway and have lived in their pots for more than five years. The right potting mix and low watering are key to re-blooming. Phalenopsis is an indoor favorite and readily available at most garden centers; they can be the only accessory you need to dress up a living or dining room. The blooms can last up to two months but do require bright, indirect light to thrive. Be sure that you don’t over water since orchids, like most plants, don’t like their “feet” wet all the time.
- Philodendrons: These are the most popular plants for easy-care and low-light conditions. On covered patios and porches, you can hang almost any variety (devil’s ivy is one common type). They grow easily and full rather quickly. For indoors, they’re perfect for the tops of cabinets and tall furniture, since they drape down nicely with a minimum of fuss and watering. Hanging in a bathroom they look neat and require less water since they thrive on moisture in the air.
- Ficus and Dracaena. When you have a large yard, a ficus in a corner is a great way to add shade and height as they often grow to 20 feet. When planted in pots, their growth is limited, which makes them ideal for small-scale projects. My client has an enormous porch, and the ficus dotted in pots throughout makes the space warm and inviting. Indoors, ficus with a braided stem can be a work of art. Dracaena is wonderful indoors or out in San Diego. They’re great as corner plants to fill voids but they remain open so the space isn’t crowded. They make wonderful indoor plants because they are easier to care for than palms. There are several varieties and all have low water requirements.
- Chinese Evergreen. Another plant that does well indoors or out in San Diego is the ‘Silver Queen’ Chinese evergreen. They are fantastic air purifiers as noted by a NASA study. They’re water-wise plants and quite heat tolerant, but don’t like direct sun; bright indirect light is best. I use them outdoors to fill shady side yards, in planter boxes on patios, and in the base of planters with tall, narrow plants. Indoors they’re ideal for corners, tabletops and tucked next to furniture for softness. Healthy Chinese evergreen plants produce flowers.