Hardy houseplants to handle hostile spaces

Monstera deliciosa. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Monstera deliciosa. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Many people struggle to grow house plants, with extremes in temperature and light an issue. Some well-known houseplants such as Chlorophytum (spider plant), Aspidistra (cast iron plant) and Tradescantia are generally tolerant of poor light and cold. Ficus elastica (rubber tree) and Monstera delicicosa (the fruit salad plant) will survive just about anywhere indoors, but grow best where they have good indirect light and fresh air.

If you like flowers with your foliage then Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Clivia or Cyclamen are commonly available and do well in the areas with reasonable light, and are tolerant of cooler overnight temperatures. In addition, a favourite flowering houseplant is Schlumbergera (Christmas and Easter cactus). These plants require a period of cooler temperatures to help them produce a floral display. Saintpaulia (African violets) are happy with low temperatures providing they are in a sunny position, such as a window sill, and will continue to bloom reliably throughout winter.

Most houseplants' growth will slow down over the colder months. To help them survive during this time, water minimally, as you may run the risk of root rot, and move them to where they get more light. Next time you're visiting the Dunedin Botanic Garden and it's a cold day, come warm up with a walk through the Winter Garden and gather inspiration for establishing your own indoor plant oasis.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Briar Alexander.