Houseplants have a year-round mood-boosting effect. Just visit Pioneer West Garden and Pet Center in Centralia on a winter day and undoubtedly their houseplant nursery will bring a smile to anyone’s face.
Houseplants at home are a wonderful way to create a cozy atmosphere, help feel less stressed and some varieties even help filter the air. It is best to consult the experts about the best plants for your situation. Marie Heiner at Pioneer’s nursery is a wealth of information about houseplants.
“I really like to communicate with the customer,” says Marie. “Find out what direction their windows are facing, how often will they be able to tend to their plant, just their general habits as a plant parent.”
Many people bring a plant home without understanding it’s specific needs. All plants need water, light, and nutrients but the amount of water and light can differ greatly amongst houseplants.
Easy Low Light Houseplants
Some of the easiest and most forgiving houseplants are those that do not have a strong need for humidity, can do well with less light and can survive periods without water.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria) also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is an easy to care for plant, unlike your mother-in-law. Snake plants can take direct sunlight or low light and offer a good structural statement.
Hoya is a plant tolerable to low light and there are thousands of known varieties. They are found at all different elevations, even in cloud forests. They are also called the waxflower since they have a more succulent leaf and can go longer without water.
Monstera looks like a high maintenance plant on account of its size and the fenestration of the leaves. Monstera is also called swiss cheese plants. They can stand low light, but they also like to dry out completely before watering.
Other easy to care for plants are Spider Plants, Pothos, Philodendron and Aglaonema.
More Challenging Plants
The Neon Pothos, which is bright green, isn’t stable like a nonhybridized pathos. In low light, it will produce more chlorophyll to photosynthesize losing the bright green. Whereas a non-hybridized pathos can handle low light.
Peperomia, Calathea and African Mask Plant (Alocasia) all appreciate medium light, humidity and well-drained soil. Peperomia likes to go dry before watering so that it doesn’t develop root rot.
Air Plants also appreciate medium light and humidity. Another high humidity plant is the maidenhair fern, though they prefer shady and warm conditions.
“Maidenhair prefers humidity like in a bathroom or in a kitchen,” explains Marie. “Put a pebble tray with stones under it, but you don’t want the water to actually touch the roots because it will become waterlogged. I throw away the fear of overwatering because they like to be moist.”
Sunny Window Plants
Adaptable Sansevieria (Snake Plant) will tolerate more light. Plants with trunks or corking like Dracaena will appreciate a sunny window. Succulents like Jade need direct sunlight, as do cactus. String of Pearls also falls into this category.
“A lot of people say String of Pearls is difficult to care for,” says Marie. “All you have to do is watch for the pearls to start to wrinkle. Then soak it like a cactus. In the desert, they have drought and then torrential rain. So, letting these desert plants dry out and then giving them a good soaking mimics their natural habitat.”
That’s a general rule for potted plants. Water it until water comes out of the bottom of the pot, then water it again. That encourages the roots to grow down to the bottom of the pot. Only watering the top layer of soil causes the roots to remain shallow. It is also important to feed houseplants, as watering over time leaches nutrients from the soil which need to be replenished to allow a plant to function optimally.
For the Love of Houseplants
“My love of houseplants started with my parents,” says Marie. “My dad had a lot of orchids and spider plants and other random plants. I absorbed that knowledge unknowingly and it became very useful to me working here. I was hired for the animals and fish, but this is my true love now. Now that I do the maintaining and ordering of the houseplants, I’ve come to learn that there is a community around houseplants.”
Marie enjoys watching environmental scientist and YouTuber, Summer Rayne Oakes. “She really wants to bring nature back into homes,” explains Marie. “People don’t realize when they live in the city, or in a barren home without plants, they are missing something as a human. We need to connect with nature. I’ve learned a lot from watching her videos. Inspired by her videos, we have hosted a plant swap here at Pioneer. The community and the beauty of nature coming back into people’s lives is what matters most to me.”
Another way to bring plants into your home is to start seeds indoors this spring. You can grow sprouts for salads too. Pioneer West Garden and Pet Center have everything you need for all these projects. To attend upcoming workshops visit their events page on Facebook.
Marie knows that the positive effects of houseplants works for her. “I believe finding a new leaf on your plant releases endorphins in your brain,” says Marie. “It’s been shown that people who have plants in their office spaces are more productive than people who don’t.”
Pioneer West Garden & Pet Center
710 N. Tower Ave.