Gerbera daisies, Boston fern, and baby tears

Photo: Sang An

Whether it's orchids, daisies, naughty scarlet cyclamen, or merely a plot of green succulents, the best pick-me-up is an indoor garden. Happy flowering!

Potted Perfection

You can defy winter with cut flowers, but they quickly droop and fade. A more lasting way to keep a room in bloom is to look inward. "Anybody can grow plants in pots and make a garden in the house," says Maggy Geiger, owner of the Window Box, a New York flower and landscaping shop. Gerbera daisies (shown here with Boston fern and baby tears) come in bright-as-paint colors; their frilly leaves and perky posture counterpoint the graceful, bowing fronds of the fern and the stately container.

Care and feeding: These plants like cool, moderately sunny conditions. The fern and baby tears need higher humidity, Geiger says, so spray and water periodically.

Cement urn, Takashimaya
Succulents in a rectangular cement planter

Photo: Sang An

2. It's a Jungle in Here!
The juicy, water-retaining plants known as succulents, viewed from above, create a tapestry of marvelously sinuous shapes and sexy textures. The rectangular cement planter sets off their mysterious, subtle greens, some tinged with purple or silver. A few popular varieties: Echeveria, from Mexico and points south, can look like a green or bluish rose; variegated sedum can also be rosette-shaped but is larger and more spiky; crassula, from South Africa, is compact, with shiny green leaves (like those of a jade plant); donkey's tail has beadlike leaves and stems as long as four feet.

Care and feeding: Succulents require bright exposure, but they do well with relatively little care—you water them every ten days to two weeks in winter, more often in summer. And you can grow a whole new plant by sticking a single leaf into soil.

Cement planter, $150, The Window Box
Orchids in assorted vases

Photo: Sang An

3. Shy and Elegant
With names as delicious as lady's slipper, dancing doll, and vanilla, and colors (yellow, cream, plum, burgundy) to match, orchids are perfect if you're a minimalist but don't want your rooms to look bare. Most varieties bloom once a year, between January and July. They're delicate yet not difficult to care for, says Jamie Gibbs, an interior designer and landscape architect in New York City.

Care and feeding: Orchids are grown in pebbles rather than soil to generate roots. They require fairly high humidity, indirect light, and watering about once a week. (Covering the pebbles with moss helps keep moisture in.) For novices, Gibbs suggests starting with the common phalaenopsis, cattleya, or dendrobium, which are easier to rebloom. Containers with an Asian flavor complement exotic blooms.

From left: Ceramic moss tray, $75, Dimson Homma; ceramic planter, $25, Takashimaya; nineteenth-century brush pot, $350, Dimson Homma; antique Japanese lacquer brazier, $925, Takashimaya; nineteenth-century brush pot, $800, Dimson Homma; Chinese elm table, WaterMoon Gallery
Cyclamen, kalanchoe, and moss

Photo: Sang An

4. Some Like It Cool
If you've got a corner nowhere near a radiator, create a charming mini garden of several pots and planters rather than one big one. Cyclamen, with its heart-shaped leaves and butterflylike flowers, is a hardy plant. Similarly resilient ("It can take abuse!" Geiger says) is kalanchoe, a relative newcomer on the plant scene. Distinguished by clusters of vibrant flowers that just keep on blooming, it produces a seriously gorgeous effect for a modest effort. More high maintenance, surprisingly, is moss, which nowadays is often seen potted all by itself for a refreshing spot of indoor green.

Care and feeding: Cyclamen thrives in moderate light, in temperatures of 65 degrees and below. Kalanchoe needs to be cool, too, and tolerates most light levels well. Moss, unlike the rest of us, thrives in humid conditions, with daily spritzing and, every other day, a quick dunking under the tap (never soak, or it will rot). Vibrant flowers are shown to best advantage in earth-tone planters.

From left: Chinese Huang Huali rosewood scroll pot, brass moss pot, $100, and Chinese Huang Huali rosewood brush pot, $450, all available at Dimson Homma; antique Japanese cedar brazier, Takashimaya


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