After Labor Day is a somewhat sad season for gardeners, at least those in northern regions. Although you are still awash in tomatoes, zucchinis, and other produce from your vegetable patch, your flowerbeds are probably beginning to show the signs of age. Now's the time to keep your love of bright blossoms satisfied by getting your hands on some houseplants that will flower even in the depths of winter. Here are a few of our favorites.
African Violet --The iconic flowering houseplant, African violets are super easy to raise, making them great "pets" for children or other beginning indoor gardeners. Just make sure to water sparingly from below (set them in a saucer or tray full of water). Supply them with humid conditions and bright, though indirect, light and they'll do fine. Choose from pretty shades of purple, pink, or white.
Amaryllis -- For those of us who crave color, the amaryllis is perfect. It can be counted on to bring forth brilliant-hued flowers from the end of December (just when we need them most!) until the beginning of summer. Here is the secret: when one set of blooms eventually fades, dig up the amaryllis bulb. Store it in a cool dry place for a minimum of six weeks. At the end of this time, replace it in its soil and wait for another show of blossoms.
Begonia -- Beautiful begonias are easy to care for and reward you with lovely colorful blossoms. Try them in an indoor hanging planter. They will thrive with the help of fluorescent lights, to give them the 14 hours daily light that they need. Avoid overwatering -- the ideal is to dry out the soil slightly before watering again. Take potted begonias outdoors in the summertime, if you like. They will look as charming on the front porch as they do on your coffee table.
Christmas Cactus -- This is a rather unusual type of cactus, because unlike its cousins in the desert, it actually prefers cooler temperatures. Christmas cactus usually flowers just once a year (around December 25th, natch) but when it does, its brilliant red blossoms are a sight to behold. Make sure that it is in darkness for at least 12 hours out of every 24 if you want to catch a glorious horticultural display.
Geranium -- Always popular among gardeners, good-natured geraniums require surprisingly low maintenance in exchange for their cheerful presence. Available in a rainbow of shades ranging from palest pink to lavender and even orange, geraniums have a penchant for full sunlight; a south- or west-facing windowsill is the perfect spot. Let dry in between waterings and watch out the web-like structures that signal the presence of spider mites.
Impatiens -- Usually thought of as outdoor plants, hardy impatiens can also be grown successfully inside the home. In fact, they are a very pretty yet practical choice as a houseplant, since you can simply root cuttings from your garden. No impatiens on hand? Buy ready-potted plants. Whichever you select, give them a boost with artificial light to coax them into bloom.
Orchid -- Aristocratic orchids have a well-deserved reputation for being fussy but their elegant blooms and lovely hues make them oh! so worth it. They enjoy diffused light. Despite their need for relatively humid air, orchids do best when their soil is allowed to dry out between waterings. Warm temperatures are best for these tropical beauties.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.