Late fall is a somewhat sad season for gardeners, at least in northern regions. Although you may still be enjoying the last produce from your vegetable patch, your flowerbeds are probably beginning to show signs of age. Now is 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.
1. African violet
African violets come in a range of colors, from this deep purple to white. (Photo: Joanna Poe/flickr)
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.
The bulbs of the amaryllis make it easy to have year-around blooms. (Photo: A Yee/flickr)
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.
Begonias look great in a hanging planter. (Photo: coloredby/flickr)
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.
4. Christmas cactus
Don't let its droopy appearance fool you. This Christmas cactus is just fine! (Photo: Peter BARABAS/flickr)
This is an unusual type of cactus, because unlike its cousins in the desert, it prefers cooler temperatures. Christmas cactus usually flowers just once a year (around Dec. 25, 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.
Geraniums bring a burst of color any time of year. (Photo: Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ/flickr)
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.
Despite being a popular outdoor choice, impatiens only need a little extra care to grow indoors. (Photo: mjtmail (tiggy)/flickr)
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.
Orchids need humid air and warm temperatures to thrive. (Photo: Sarah Joy/flickr)
Aristocratic orchids have a well-deserved reputation for being fussy but their elegant blooms and lovely hues make them worth the trouble. 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.
This story was originally written by Laura Firszt for Networx and was republished with permission here.