How to Care for Flowering Houseplants
Lisa Eldred Steinkopf has been hooked on flowering houseplants ever since her grandmother introduced her to growing African violets on her windowsills. "Cut flowers are great but they're fleeting," she says. "Instead, flowering houseplants last longer and will flower again if you give them the right care."
Today, the "The Houseplant Guru" grows dozens of them as well as moth orchids, hoyas, geraniums and cacti. Here, she offers tips to make blooms last longer and encourage repeat blooms.
How to Make Blooms Last Longer
When shopping for a flowering plant, check its tag to make sure you can offer the right growing conditions in your home. If you have a sunny south-facing window, look for sun-loving plants like flowering cacti. If your place is short on bright light, turn to plants that demand less light like a peace lily.
To keep blooms from fading fast and prevent buds from dropping, Lisa says to take care to not let flowering houseplants dry out and to avoid temperature extremes, including the car ride home from your plant retailer.
How to Care for Houseplants After Flowering
Once houseplants are finished blooming, trim spent blooms and move plants to a location where they will thrive.
"As a general rule, most flowering houseplants will need more light than foliage plants," Lisa says. She says you can enjoy the blooms temporarily on a kitchen counter for a week or as a centerpiece for a dinner party, then move them to a window that matches the light needs on the plant tag.
Related: Top 10 Flowering Houseplants
How to Get Houseplants to Rebloom
For reblooms, the first step is to grow a healthy plant by understanding its light, water and humidity needs. Lisa details 50-plus houseplants and their specific growing needs in her book. "Patience is key," she says. "They won't bloom all the time but when they do it's so rewarding." She shares the story of how her night-blooming cereus flowered five times this summer after she waited years for a single bloom. On the other hand, her African violets demand less patience and deliver a steady supply of blooms year-round.
What to Do If Your Houseplants Haven't Rebloomed
Houseplants have a cyclical flowering nature. "If your houseplants haven't rebloomed within a year, something has to change," Lisa says. Start by addressing the plant's light needs, either moving it to a brighter window or beneath a grow light. "Plants need energy to bloom, and their only energy source is the sun, so make sure they have the right light, or they won't bloom."
Fertilizer also can be helpful because it acts like a vitamin for your plants. Additionally, research your plant's specific needs to trigger reblooming. Some require a dormant period, while others demand a change in the length of daylight exposure. Some houseplants must achieve full maturity before flowering.
Favorite Flowering Houseplants for Beginners
If you're new to flowering houseplants, Lisa recommends easy rebloomers like cape primrose, lipstick plants and jewel orchids. Once you've mastered those varieties, try poinsettias and holiday cacti that require 14-hour nights for a couple months, or clivia and cyclamen that require cold dormant periods.
For those looking for a succession of blooms year-round, try growing a collection of flowering houseplants like a moth orchid, an African violet, a crown of thorns and a hoya.
Lisa recently published her fourth plant book, Bloom: The Secrets of Growing Flowering Houseplants.