At our Edmonton greenhouse, we’re frequently asked – which house plants do best in our bold Alberta climate?
Today, we’ll dive into the 5 best house plants for Alberta, and learn a bit about each of these plants.
Of course, there are a few different motivations people have for growing indoor plants.
Why Grow Indoor House Plants?
So, why indoor house plants?
1. Indoor House Plants Create Beautiful Spaces
The main drive with growing indoor house plants is to make living and work spaces more comfortable and beautiful – plants add softness, texture, and colour. There is something about the colour green that connects us to the garden.
2. Indoor House Plants Improve Air Quality
Yet another reason for having indoor plants is to filter the air. However, there is controversy out on the web about whether plants grown indoors effectively clean the air.
Many articles say yes, and you will have the best life ever beyond your belief if you grow houseplants but much of this opinion hinges a Clean Air Study done by NASA in 1989.
There are many articles that say nay, the effect of houseplants at clearing your air has been overstated.
3. Indoor House Plants Can Improve Your Mood
We are saying that no matter who is right or wrong, growing indoor plants is good for us on the basis that the colour green is a nice break from drab winter snow, that flowering plants delight us and lift our mood, and there is just something about plants that warms our souls.
About Indoor House Plants
Still wondering which house plants do best indoors in Alberta?
We’re about to dive into our top 5 list, but first – a few important notes about indoor plants:
1. House Plants Are Pretty Easy To Care For
Indoor plants, by virtue of the fact that they are living indoors, are growing in a very stable environment. They don’t have to contend with unpredictable weather like wind, rain, and burning sun. Growing indoors keeps their metabolic needs very steady and constant. This makes caring for them fairly simple.
2. Don’t Overwater Your House Plants
Remember to check their hydration before watering so you don’t over water. Being inside generally reduces water and fertilizer needs.
3. Don’t Forget To Dust Your House Plants
remember to dust off indoor plant. Dust will diminish the amount of sunlight getting to them and their ability to grow. If they are transportable, give them a shower every couple of months. They’ll love it.
The 5 Top House Plants To Grow Indoors
Without further ado, here are our top picks for the best house plants to grow indoors in the mostly-snowy, often-chilly and beautiful province of Alberta:
House Plant #1 – Spider Plants
About Spider Plants
The scientific name for Spider Plants is Chlorophytum Comosum. This “almost indestructible plant” is a member of the lily family and they hail from West & South Africa.
Spider Plants have long grass-like leaves that can be solid green or striped. They produce pretty little white flowers that develop into new baby plants, called ‘offsets’ in the horticultural world. These baby plants look like baby spiders.
Spider Plants have many names – they are often known as the ‘airplane plant’ because some people think the infant plants look like airplane propellers. Other names include St. Bernard’s Lily, Spider Ivy, and Ribbon plant. The Ribbon Plant name came from the Victorian Era because the variegation was thought to look like ribbons, which we heartily agree. Their variegations come with white and gold strains. The most common type is plain green.
Spider Plant Care
Place Spider Plants in indirect sunlight – they may scald if the light exposure is too bright, they tolerate artificial light well, which makes them so well adapted for growing indoors.
Keep them in well drained soil.
Water every week or two, being careful to check the soil before watering so they don’t get too wet. They hate to have their feet (or roots) wet and soggy. Spiders Plants tolerate a significant amount of drought, but don’t abuse this characteristic because it slows down their growth. They tend to pale in colour and the leaves look slightly folded when they are really dry.
Fertilize them every couple of months with 20-20-20, being careful to not over fertilize because the root tubers store nutrients.
The offsets, or baby plants, can be rooted and kept as new plants or they can be cut off and shared with friends or colleagues.
Keep them in an average ambient temperature of 15-20º C.
Spider Plant Challenges
Spider Plants can get burning (browning) at their leaf tips from fluoride in city water. Fluoride tends to collect in the soil and can become too concentrated for the plant. Spider Plants will also get tip browning if they get too dry or humidity is too low (sounds just like us!). Keeping them evenly moist helps greatly with this. Just clip off those browned tips when you notice them.
When Spider Plants get root bound, repot them into a bigger container or split them.
They can also get root rot if they don’t have good drainage, hence their dislike for wet feet. Double check that the drainage holes are patent.
House Plant #2 – Peace Lilies
About Peace Lilies
Peace Lilies are another common indoor plant. You will know them by their long lasting spoon shaped white flowers that mimic anthuriums and they have dark green oblong shaped leaves.
They come from the tropical regions of the Americas and Southeast Asia.
Their scientific name is Spathiphyllum and they come from the Araceae family.
Peace Lily Care
Keep Peace Lilies in indirect sun, low light, or shady areas because that mimics the conditions that they thrive under in the tropics below the forest canopy – avoid bright direct sunlight because they may burn.
You will notice that the white flowers eventually turn green. This is a normal sequence for Peace Lilies, keep the flowers on the plant and enjoy the texture this flower adds to your container.
Peace Lilies will benefit from regular dusting because the leaves are large and they will collect dust.
Use good quality potting soil that drains well.
They are slightly drought tolerant – keep evenly moist, make sure there is good drainage, let the soil dry between watering times.
Fertilize every 4 months, life indoors is not a hard life, so their metabolic needs are not high. This will keep their leaves a deep green colour.
Peace Lilies grow best in temperatures above 17ºC.
Peace Lily Challenges
Check them regularly for mites, scale, mealy bugs – these will hang out on the underside of the leaves and on the stems. These problems occur when they get stressed like over dry and over exposed to sunlight
House Plant #3 – Snake Plants (Mother-in-Law Tongue)
About Snake Plants
This plant is native to tropical West Africa and the Congo and is from the Asperagaceae family. Other plants in this family are Agaves like the Century Plant, Asparagus, and Lily of the Valley.
Mother in Law Tongue is another plant known by multiple names such as Viper’s Bowstring and Snake Plant. Its scientific name is Sansevieria triasciata.
Snake plants almost appear succulent in nature that looks like green and variegated swords growing from the soil. The common indoor varieties grow 18-24” tall.
Snake Plant Care
This is another plant that grows under the tropical canopy in its native home; they like some sun but also do well in low light & shady conditions.
Because of their fleshy leaves, they can go for very long periods between watering. It is drought tolerant like a cactus.
Make sure the soil is light and well draining – it would be good to use a succulent mix because it will drain well. A succulent mix is lighter mix than regular potting soil and can be easily found in garden centers.
Be careful to not water in the middle of the rosette (the area where all the leaves come from the soil) because the water could cause the center to rot.
Mother in Law Tongue has very little need for fertilizer because they store nutrients in their leaves – it could be fertilized yearly (once a year) with a balanced fertilizer dissolved in water and that would be sufficient.
A good temperature range for this plant is 15-20 C.
Snake Plant Challenges
There are few problems for this plant other than rotting from too much water.
House Plant #4 – Areca Palms
About Areca Palms
Areca Palms are grown in tropical areas, and originate in Madagascar.
Other names for this plant are Butterfly Palm, Yellow Palm, Golden Cane Palm, and Golden Feather Palm.
These palms can grow large and give a room gentle texture by adding an element of whimsy with their green feathery arching branches.
They are used more broadly in industry to make disposable plates & cutlery.
Areca Palms Care
This plant can tolerate low light conditions because in nature they grow under the canopy of the rain forest. This makes them well adapted to growing indoors.
Keep them evenly moist in a pot with a good quality potting soil and drainage holes. Allowing them to dry out is not recommended even though they can tolerate it – drying them out can cause them to become susceptible to disease.
Areca Palms grow best at 20º C.
Areca Palms Challenges
Areca palms can get burned leaf tips (which is called ‘tip dieback’) & spotting due to fluoride in our water supplies. Keeping them even moist helps with this, and you can cut the brown tips off for aesthetics.
Mealy bugs & 2 spotted spider mites are attracted to Areca Palms, but they likely came with the palm from its source. These red spider infestations can exacerbate when they get dried out repeatedly.
Check them regularly for bugs – they tend to hang out on the stems and on the underside of their leaves.
House Plant #5 – Succulents
Succulents have gained immense popularity over the past few years because they are so easy to care for.
Common types are Euphorbias, Sedums, Echuvarias, Kalanchoe, Crassulas, and Cacti.
They vary in shapes and colours and they spark our creativity when planted together.
The combinations and container ideas available on the internet are endless from using glass mason jars and tear drop planters to wooden or clay boxes.
Keep succulents in bright light but avoid direct sunlight, especially when they’re inside glass containers because the glass will magnify the sun and possibly scorch them.
Succulents are very drought tolerant and they are susceptible to root rot. Use a succulent soil mix because it is a little lighter and drains better than a regular soil mix. Water sparingly at the base of each plant using a watering can or direct spray from a spray bottle at the roots, as opposed to a broad spray that covers the entire plant which can cause them to rot at the center.
Succulent containers grow best at room temperatures of 15-20 C.
Succulents have no real pests or diseases.
Shrivelled, dull green leaves mean it’s time to water.
Black leaves mean they are getting too much water, they may need to be replaced.
So there you have it, some of the toughest indoor plants on the planet for us Albertans and Canadians.
This is a good place to start if you are a beginner at indoor plants. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have – we love to talk gardening whether it’s indoor or outdoor