Blooming indoor plants
April 15, 2008 1:29 PM   Subscribe

What kind of flowering indoor plants will keep flowering?

I'm interested in trying to grow some hopefully-happy indoor plants, and am looking for something to branch out of the leafy-green indoor plant standard (or at least the standard found at my office). Are there any flowering plants that a normal human can get to flower on a semi-regular basis, indoors?

Also, I'm interested to hear if you have any suggestions for indoor plants that can do well with minimal sunlight (irrespective of flowering ability). I live in Pittsburgh, which means that it can be hard to get high-sunlight conditions for plants.
posted by that girl to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I've had four for several years, and those guys just keep on blooming. Oddly enough, they start in January. They're blooming now, too. Violets don't like a lot of direct sunlight. They're easy to care for and very satisfying, and come in several colors.

Water them from the bottom, not the top, keep 'em a little bit moist, and they're keep doing their thing indefinitely.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:40 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Kalanchoes are nice. Be careful not to overwater in low light conditions. Seconding African violets.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:53 PM on April 15, 2008

3rding African Violets.

I actually have to keep the blinds partially closed on an east window during the summer to keep them blooming. They'll grow like crazy with the blinds open, but won't bloom.

I know someone who keeps them several feet away from a north window in Chicago, and hers bloom like crazy.

Easy to grow. As stated above, keep the leaves dry. Easy to do. I use an old plastic water bottle and pour directly on the soil while holding it over the sink once a week, and sometimes less. Let it drain well, and that's it. I fertilize with a weak amount of miracle grow every few weeks. Don't let the pot stand in water, but that's true of almost every plant.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:00 PM on April 15, 2008

Good luck, and report back if you get anything to grow! I'm in an office in Pittsburgh too, with basically no sunlight. I'm managing to keep an African violet and a jade plant going okay so far for a few months, but part of the jade plant died so I'm now worried about the rest even though it looks okay so far.

I'd heard kalanchoes as well but mine died off. I very possibly overwatered them; I'll try again sometime.
posted by Stacey at 2:08 PM on April 15, 2008

Googling 'low light houseplants' gave this result, from Lowe's:

Spathiphyllum (peace lily) will also bloom in low light. Not really impressive blooms, and in my experience it needs at least moderate light to bloom regularly.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:46 PM on April 15, 2008

Spathiphyllum is a good choice if you only have natural light. If you have any kind of electric lighting, it will upset it's internal rhythm, and stop it from "flowering".

Have a look at the Shrimp Plant. It's flowers are inconspicuous, but the peachy coloured bracts last for months, and they sort of resemble flowers.

For a plant that will tolerate deep shade, underwatering, overwatering, lack of food, etc, try an Aspidistra. There are a lot of different cultivars, many of which are variegated. Milky Way is a fast growing variety, with attractively speckled leaves. They're also known as Cast Iron plants, for good reason.
posted by Solomon at 3:13 PM on April 15, 2008

Agree with the violet recommendation. Also, Crossandra and Porphyrocoma bloom without a lot of light.
posted by violette at 3:54 PM on April 15, 2008

Response by poster: Will regular violets work, or just the African violet variety?
posted by that girl at 5:03 PM on April 15, 2008

Regular violets probably won't work- they need the cool humidity and brighter light outside. Essentially the average house interior is considered equal to deep shade outside, and outdoor violets do best in bright shade or morning sun. African violets are probably your best bet for possible blooming in low light conditions indoors.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2008

I've been getting regular blooms all winter from Abutilons and Streptocarpus, which are both fairly hardy and do all right with low/medium light.
posted by bunji at 12:38 AM on April 16, 2008

How about orchids? You could try Phalaenopsis for example. Their flowers can last for months, then they fall and after some time bloom again. I have many of them in my apartment, and I have had them for years. They do require sunlight though.
posted by annapanna at 12:50 AM on April 16, 2008

Impatiens are usually considered by many to be "bedding plants" but I've always loved them indoors because each time they put out a new set of leaves, there is a flower that comes out first! They are one of my favourite cheerful plants that are really easy to take care of and are almost constantly flowering. To get a better idea, here's a link to some photos of Impatiens plants

They come in a variety of colours and sizes, including several "dwarf" sizes which might be more amenable to an indoor or office plant. They usually like shady or filtered light. They are a bit sensitive to drying out, but you can usually fix that with a good pot with a water reservoir if you are prone to forgetting; besides they can usually tell you they need water because they'll start looking droopy. They are easy to take cuttings off of as well, so you can trim a piece to make your own back-up plant. Just put the cutting in a small glass of water, or a tiny bottle and they'll start rooting in no time. (I make good use of my friend's leftover Starbucks iced coffee bottles for cuttings.)

Hope you might consider them; you can often find them at many gardening centers, as well as some department or renovation stores that have little garden sections, including places like a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc.
posted by Jade Dragon at 11:28 PM on April 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

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