Many of our favorite houseplants come from tropical regions of the world and therefore need warm temperatures to thrive. This doesn't always jibe with efforts to reduce winter heating costs, such as keeping the thermostat in the low 60s. Since our plants can't simply put on another sweater, we need to choose houseplants that don't mind cool temperatures. Here are a few options:
Jade plant (Crassula ovata, shown): This is a succulent, meaning that it stores water in its leaves and stems. It will take cool winter temperatures and it also can be watered less at that time. Such treatment in winter is likely to result in the jade plant flowering. Many other succulents and cacti also tolerate a coldish winter if they are kept dry.
Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior): This plant with large, deep green leaves has earned its common name because it's nearly indestructible. In addition to cool temperatures it will also take low light. More houseplants for low light.
Meyer lemon: This shrubby plant is the easiest of the citrus to grow indoors. It likes warm summers but is happy with winters between 50˚ and 60˚F. More about growing Meyer lemon.
Clivia: This tough houseplants blooms best after a winter rest period where it's given cool temperatures and little water. It also does best when it's kept root bound rather than transplanted into larger pots as it grows. Easy! More about growing clivia.
Norfolk Island pine: Cool winter temperatures don't both this pine-tree-like plant. Just make sure to keep the air around it humid. More about growing Norfolk Island pines.
Sago palm: This unique-looking houseplant takes cool winter temperatures and grows very slowly. It can also withstand some drought, making it a low-maintenance choice.
Image: "Starr 030702-0049 Crassula ovata" by Forest & Kim Starr - Plants of Hawaii, Image 030702-0049 from http://www.hear.org/starr/plants/images/image/?q=030702-0049. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
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