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Rodd Moesel: Focus on 2020 garden planning, enjoy house plants

While you're planning for your 2020 outdoor garden, select and enjoy some new house plants. [Metro Creative Connection]
While you're planning for your 2020 outdoor garden, select and enjoy some new house plants. [Metro Creative Connection]

The new year is well under way, but it still is several weeks early to start planting our cool-season vegetables.

This is a time of year, we focus on planning for our 2020 outdoor gardens and enjoying or adding to our indoor or houseplant gardens.

Over the past couple of decades, there has been a great expansion of the choices we have for indoor gardening. Part of that growth has been made possible by plant exploration to find new plants that work indoors and part has been driven by breeding and tissue culture efforts that have introduced many new varieties of foliage plants.

Historically, our grandparents had ficus or rubber plants, Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen, dumb cane or dieffenbachia, a few cactus and succulents or several kinds of ivylike green philodendron, variegated pothos and strains of English ivy from which to choose. Our palette of house plants and your personal choices for indoor plants have expanded dramatically.

You still have ficus or rubber plants, but you have choices in green, burgundy or variegated foliage, as well as many varieties of weeping fig, strap leaf fig and even fiddle-leaf fig, depending on the size space and light you have available. Modern homes and offices tend to have a lot more windows and skylights and get a lot more natural light, which also expands our choices in house plants as more light means we can succeed with more plant choices indoors.

We still have Aglaonema as one of the plants that is most tolerant of low light, but instead of just the green simplex and the green and white variegated silver queen, there are now many choices with many patterns of leaf variegation including tones of white, silver, cream and even pink. Remember that the lower the light, the slower your house plants will grow and the less water they will need.

Fewer kinds of house plant will tolerate the lower light in rooms without windows or even by windows when there is a large roof overhang that restricts light. As you locate house plants closer to windows, glass sliding doors or glass entry doors, the bigger selection you will have of house plants that will do well in those conditions.

Dracaena has evolved from two or three choices that looked like corn plants and led to their common name to dozens of varieties in all tones of green from dark green to lime green, variegated varieties with tone of white, silver, yellow, red, pink and burgundy with green. There are dwarf dracaena varieties that only grow to 8 or 12 inches tall and cane varieties that grow large enough to make a big impression in bank lobbies or mall atriums.

Cactus and succulents have been a “hot” house plant the past couple of years, and there are thousands of different varieties from which to choose. They are popular for their fun looks and because they take so little care and watering. Cacti have sharp spines while succulents are spineless and won’t “stick" you. Most cactus and succulents need better light to hold up well for extended time periods.

Cactus gardens, fairy or miniature gardens, dish gardens, terrariums also known as gardens in a bottle, or bonsai are fun and add to your indoor gardening experience.

Have fun planning for spring, but select and try out a few new house plants while you are spending more time inside.

Rodd Moesel serves as president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame. Email garden and landscape questions to rmoesel@americanplant.com.

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