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Keeping Tropical Plants Alive And Flourishing Indoors

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According to gardening expert Melinda Myers, the key to keeping plants healthy indoors is replicating environmental factors from their natural habitat like sunlight and water.

Over the last year, many people have looked for ways to spruce up the inside of their homes, and house plants have become increasingly popular. But many popular interior plants are used to tropical forests. The Wisconsin climate, even indoors, can make keeping greenery alive difficult.

Lake Effect gardening contributor Melinda Myers says it’s important to understand what conditions a certain plant needs to thrive before purchasing it. When shopping, she says to make sure the plant has a tag detailing proper care techniques and if not, ask the staff if they have any information about the plant.

Two plants she recommends are pothos and philodendron.

“They’re tolerate low light, they really do OK with lower humidity and they like benign neglect — water thoroughly and let them go slightly dry,” she says.

While these are two of the more common house plants, Myers says buyers can find them in variety of colors and appearances.

One popular plant that Myers says growers need to be careful with is the fiddle-leaf fig. “We stick [fiddle-leaf figs] in a dark corner and they may look nice against the white wall, but they start dropping their leaves and pretty soon they die,” she says.

Myers says one way to help create better conditions for indoor plants is by grouping them together on a tray. This helps increase the humidity around the plants and keeps excess water in the tray.

If a plant does end up dying, she says not to get discouraged because it happens to everyone.

“I’ve killed a few and I’ve learned something, you know, it’s either one where I’m going to change my care the next one I buy of that type or I’m not going to buy it again because it’s not a good match for me, my growing conditions or the way I like to manage my plants,” she says.

For more gardening tips, register for an upcoming webinar with Melinda Myers.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.
Jack Hurbanis started as the WUWM Digital Intern in January 2020, transitioning to Assistant Digital Producer in July.