Houseplants Anyone Can Grow, Part II with Tovah Martin
Tovah Martin, the delightful “Queen of Green” horticulturalist and award-winning author, is as passionate about houseplants as she is her garden outside. In part II of a special series created for Greenwood Gardens, Tovah introduces us to three easy-to-care-for beauties that will thrive in low-light situations. Featured in her book, The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful Plants that Everyone Can Grow, Tovah charms her readers while providing valuable tips for helping plants thrive.
Are you lacking a sunny window? Brighten up! Even low-light locations can host some truly handsome houseplants. The trio of plants featured is dedicated to all those indoor gardeners who have windows that are deficient in direct sunlight. No more groping in the dark for you! True, you probably won't be able to host flowering plants, but there are plenty of other options. And we're not talking about boring foliage plants. For example, try the bromeliad family. The Quesnelia marmorata crowning my plant stand here is a sterling example of a funky alternative to ho-hum houseplants. All it needs is watering once a week or so—and that's it!
Ferns have a phenomenal range, from easy to challenging. If you prefer to take it easy, try one of the footed ferns like this White Rabbit’s Foot Fern, Humata tyermanni. This novelty has furry rhizomes that creep around, sprouting ferny foliage as they romp. When happy, they often spill over the rim of the container. When totally blissful, the “feet” can even envelope their pot.
To make them feel at home, give footed ferns indirect light and water them every few days. Although sometimes it's difficult to discern when the soil is dry because the rhizomes are covering ground, by watering every 3-4 days, you'll be sure to keep this thirsty fern hydrated.
There's something about growing moss that feels really fulfilling. And literally, you can walk by Selaginella kraussiana 'Aurea' and give it a little pat on the "head" and come away with the same tactile experience as patting a poodle. Plus, spike moss, as it's called, has a certain architectural presence that makes a strong design statement in a room.
Pairing with the right container gives you the look you're looking for. Spike moss works best with someone who tends to water plants generously. If you're a nurturer, this is the plant for you. But keep your moss away from bright light—it can blanch easily.
In her constant, undying pursuit of all things garden-related, Tovah Martin gets her hands dirty both outside and indoors. She is a perennial, heirloom, vegetable and cottage gardener of fanatical proportions, award-winning author, and is accredited with NOFA as an Organic Land Care Professional. This passion for gardening led her to author over a dozen books, including her most recent, Gold Medal award-winning, The Garden in Every Sense and Season (Timber Press, 2018).
Photograph of Tovah by Kindra Clineff. Plant photographs by Tovah Martin.