Living the Lush Life

Written by: Ann-Marie Sedor | Photos by: Melanie McCabe

Houseplants are often relegated to wallflower status as simple flushes of greenery that fill empty corners of our indoor living areas. But with summer here, they can be the star of the show. As tropicals, houseplants thrive in warm weather—perfect for adding a vibrant, lush atmosphere to outside spaces. And since many houseplants are known to clean harmful toxins from indoor air, why not treat them to a dose of fresh outdoor air?

These beauties don’t need fancy flowers to distract from their gorgeous foliage. In fact, their greenery is a perfect complement to the colorful flowering annuals on your deck or patio. Variegated colors, glossy foliage and fun leaf shapes make these houseplants year-round keepers.

Now is the best time to put these plants outdoors where they can enjoy the hot, humid days of summer. Most of them like to be out of direct light that could burn their leaves, and other than regular watering and a dose of fertilizer every month, they are fuss-free. When the overnight temperatures dip to about 50 degrees, check over the plants for insects and move them back indoors under similar light conditions through the winter months.

When temperatures rise again the spring and the threat of frost passes (mid- to late-April in our area), they can be moved back outdoors with a 7 to 10 day acclimation period. Simply put them out during the day and bring them inside overnight during the week-long period so that temperature and humidity changes don’t cause any problems.


Philodendron ‘Xanadu’

• Compact variety that grows in the shape of a mushroom cap with densely packed foliage
• Lovely deeply serrated leaves have a unique, appealing look
• Grows in filtered light to moderate shade
• Soil should be moist but not soggy; allow the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out between waterings
• Watch for aphids and mealybugs when outside; spray as necessary with an insecticide
• Does not need pruning

Schefflera (Regular and Variegated)



• A native of Taiwan
• Dainty but colorful leaves with increased variegation occurring in higher levels of light
• Grows in most types of light conditions except direct sun
• Keep soil evenly moist but well-drained, though very forgiving if it gets too dry for a short time
• Can be pruned to shape

Dracaena ‘Lemon Lime’


• Attractive, showy hybrid with light green and bright lime variegation highlighted by thin, white markings separating the colors
• Grows under bright, indirect light to low light, but variegation will be more pronounced with higher light
•  Soil should be moist but not soggy; allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between waterings
• Watch for aphids and mealybugs when outside; spray as necessary with an insecticide
• Does not need pruning

Sansevieria (Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)


• Admired for its succulent-like stiff and fleshy stems that reach up to 18 inches
• Takes bright light to part shade; produces small, very fragrant, cream-colored flowers in full sun
• Drench with water but let dry out well before watering again
• Likes to be on the dry side; good plant for xeriscaping (drought-tolerant landscapes)
• A rapid grower that may need to be repotted annually

Comments are closed.