Plants that will thrive in cool temperatures

Hardy Indoor Plants

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Indoor Plant Help

I have found that by setting my thermostat at a lower temperature I save a great deal of money on my heating bills every year. However, because my house is at 55 degrees during the day while we are away from home and 58 degrees when we are sleeping, I have had a great deal of difficulty getting houseplants to grow. Even golden pothos, which are supposed to be foolproof, do not thrive here. Does anyone have suggestions on plants that will live through these chilly winters and then into the summer when the house may get into the low 80s occasionally?
Helen L.

Hardy Philodendron

Try philodendron. They tend to thrive on neglect and can withstand low light. In fact, they do better away from direct light. Low temperatures will be no problem for them.

Try the Primrose

Have you tried Primrose, which are sometimes sold as Primula? I have kept them indoors, and then transplanted them outside in the spring. My outdoor plants have been known to bloom in January if the ground is clear of snow and the temps are around 50 degrees for a week or so. They will bloom indoors and provide a bit of color. Keep them in a location with very bright, indirect light.

The Greenhouse Effect

I suggest trying to make a small greenhouse with grow lights and plastic. Place a clear plastic bag over the top of the plant and tie it up. When you water the plant, the moisture stays in the plant. By having a grow light (with a heat lamp), the plants don't need to be in front of a cold window to get the light that they need.

Christmas Cactus Success

A Christmas cactus does nicely in all sorts of weather as long as it doesn't freeze or get sunburned.

Several Durable Choices

When I lived in a house with no furnace (only a woodstove and kerosene for heat), sometimes it was below freezing in the mornings when I got up. I found that cactus, spider plants and succulents seemed to do well.
C. Walter

Try These Houseplant Hints

Here are some suggestions for the reader who has trouble with her houseplants in a cold house.

Most house plants are tropical and don't do well in a cold house, but there are plants that handle the low temps pretty well. Here are a few I've been successful with:

  • Aloe Vera
  • English Ivy (very hardy)
  • Jade Plant
  • Christmas Cactus

Don't expect much growth over winter. Plants are mostly dormant. Keep plants out of drafts and don't put them too close to cold windows. Don't give them too much water, as plants need less in winter, and use room temperature water. Keep drapes open during the day, as plants need the light. Stop fertilizing during winter and resume in spring and summer.
Joyce of Boulder, CO

More Helpful Hints

I have found that, depending on the size of the plants, wrapping a towel or blanket around the base of the plant helps to keep it warm and helps to keep the moisture level up. The plants I have that are smaller I hang from the ceiling because heat rises.

Here's another idea. If you have a window in your bathroom, put your smaller plants in your bathroom. Then when you take a shower, close the door. Leave the door closed all day and then open it at night.

During the summer, leave your plants in front of a window for a few hours per day and then move them to a darker, cooler room without windows for the rest of the day. It might help to regulate their temperature.

Related: Houseplants from Garbage

Also, depending on how many plants you have, it might be possible to build a small hot box (terarium) in your house out of spare supplies (wood, hinges, and old framed windows) with a heat lamp and place it in front of the window throughout the year.

Also, if you could find an old fish tank, maybe 20 gallons or more, you could put the plants in there. Place them in front of the window and cover with clear plastic or with the fish tank lid.

It doesn't matter if the fish tank leaks. The tank will not need to hold water if you leave the plants in their original containers with their drainers attached.
Amber J.

Reviewed February 2018

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