Houseplant Tips for Desert Homes

Celebrate Houseplant Appreciation Day – January 10

Houseplants are “in” once more – which is super! But here in the Southwest, where humidity is low, if you want to be successful with houseplants, you need to select your houseplants with some consideration.

Look at their Genes

When caring for any plant, it helps to look at their “origin story.” Desert plants deal with certain stresses better than forest plants (and vice versa).

Most common houseplants come from rain forests need 45 to 99 percent humidity. But most Southwest homes average less than that! Average Southwest home humidity is 20 percent, less when furnaces pump hot dry air into our homes, or when AC units blow cold dry air into our spaces.

You may drool over lush tropical plants with massive leaves that will hide a child – but resist them. They are the ones that need high humidity!

5 Houseplant Selection Tips

Select plants that have the genes that help them thrive without fuss. Here are 5 things to look for.

Tip 1. Look for narrow leaves, they will need little water. One example is the spider plant.

Spider plants can also live as hanging plants. Useful if you need to keep them out of reach of pets.

Tip 2. There are a number of tropical plants from seasonally dry areas. They will tolerate low humidity. Peace lily and dracena do fine in the Southwest.

Dracena get fairly large in their Canary Island home. It’s a seasonally dry island, with mild tempertures all year – sort of like inside our homes.

Tip 3. Lush-looking, un-thorny succulents are a pretty option. Think jade plant and also sanseverias. Both come from dry but not excessively hot areas of South Africa, and tolerate low humidity.

There are many species of sanseveria. This is one of the more common ones.

Tip 4. Pick from plants that normally hang off cliffs or dangle from the tops of trees (epiphytes). These are used to toughing it out. Pothos and Christmas cactus are examples.

Tip 5. Plants with waxy coating to their leaves are better able to survive in low humidity. Think hoya. These are a favorite of mind due to the luscious fragrant flowers. Also they are a good hanging plant and easily stay out of reach of the cat.

Related to milkweed, these hoya flowers are incredibly fragrant.

Houseplant Care in the Southwest

Whole ‘nother post folks. But if you are wondering about watering them – I have a nice YouTube video on watering houseplants – here.

Peace lily do just fine in lower humidity.

More Great Southwest Houseplants

If you are interested in learning more about houseplants for our bright, dry region – consider this dynamic course Houseplants for The Southwest  The course includes a downloadable care guide, a one hour video, and an extensive downloadable plant list. This is over on my class site, hosted by New Zenler.  For the first 100 loyal readers, be sure to enter the 20 percent off coupon code on check out.  Code is simple – HOUSE.  This is only available to the first 100 readers and expires Dec 31 2023.

Note, about the class site – sort of like attending college, you have to register as a student before you enroll in the specific course.

I want to leave you with some nice science behind why you should have houseplants in your space.

soule-garden-successHouseplants are Health Giving

Houseplants clean indoor pollutants out of the air according to NASA researchers. In the top ten cleaners are a number that do well in the Southwest – including peace lily, pothos, sanseveria species, dracena species, and spider plant that have been discussed here. The NASA researchers recommend one potted plant per 100 square feet of indoor space.

There are other health benefits to houseplants, enough for a number of other posts! Meanwhile, even these more arid adapted houseplants will transpire moisture into the air, which can help reduce the dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by today.



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