NEW & UNUSUAL HOUSEPLANTS

So, it's winter, and while in some places (like where I live) it's possible to garden throughout the winter, cold snaps and inclement weather can put a stop to outside gardening pretty quickly. And while houseplants make it possible to garden anytime, anywhere, sometimes you just need to color outside the lines.

NEW & UNUSUAL HOUSEPLANTS

I'm not knocking the old standby favorite houseplants — pothos, ferns, and dieffenbachia are favorites for a reason. But if you're looking for something new and exciting to grow indoors, check out these unique plants.

Tillandsias — Also called “air plants" because they don't need soil to thrive, tillandsias are the perfect modern addition to your houseplant collection. They are adapted to rely on their leaves for nutrients and moisture, so it's recommended to soak them in water twice a week, letting them thoroughly dry out before replacing in your chosen display. Give them bright, indirect light and feed with a bromeliad fertilizer twice a month. Display in open (never closed) terrariums, aeriums, vertical wall units or simply placed on top of a stack of books on a table.

Lithops — Also called “living stones," lithops are native to South Africa and are small succulents that resemble stones or rocks. They often grow just one inch above the soil, making them ideal for collecting or using in shallow dish plantings. They prefer bright, indirect light, soil suitable for cacti, and infrequent watering. During their dormant period, fall to spring, water only enough to keep the soil from becoming bone dry (an eye dropper is perfect). An added bonus are their flowers — they bloom in either yellow or white, in sizes almost a big as the plant itself!

Succulents — It's no wonder people love succulents. With their unusual textures, flower-like forms, and incredible colors, they provide drama that few other plants can match. If you want to grow them indoors, be sure you display them by a bright window. I water mine about twice a month, and never let them sit in water. Use well-drained soil to prevent rotting. If your succulents start to look “leggy" or as though they are reaching over to one side, that's an instant clue that they are not getting enough light. I have some succulents outside on my patio and inside my house, and I regularly swap their locations to make sure they get the amount of light they need.

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