Dena Cameron is the container gardening specialist at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, and she gets the funniest questions from gardeners.
"They ask me if houseplants can go outside," she says. "I tell them, well, houseplants started outside."
Dena has begun including houseplants in her container arrangements for customers, although she still mixes in annuals and some perennials.
The advantage is, the containers can be brought in doors during the winter to provide color and life and won't go dormant, as perennials do. But these arrangements aren't suited to hot decks or beside pools.
"Most houseplants do best in shade or bright shade conditions," she said. "Although they can usually handle morning sun."
She includes flowering annuals that bloom in the shade, such as impatiens or begonias, to add color.
When it is time -- by Halloween at the latest -- bring the houseplant containers indoors, she advises.
But two weeks before, spray the plants with a general pesticide to thwart pest that may be hiding in the leaves or the soil. And bring it close to the house to it can adapt to the indoor light conditions.
"Try not to set them near heat vents or drafty windows," she said. "And cut back on fertilizing in winter and begin again in early spring, around March."
Here is a list of plants Dena included in the container above, plus other combinations she likes.
green plant – Philodendron, “Xanadu” (very nice house plant, easy to take care of )
striped plant – Dracena, “lemon lime” (very nice house plant, easy to take care of )
caladium, “Miss Muffett”, (annual)
torenia, blue (trailing annual)
impatiens, elfin mix (annual)
This medium-sized container includes:
purple plant – Strobilanthes, “Persian Shield”, (tropical but may make it through the winter)
green plant with little leaves – Radermachera sinica, “china doll” (house plant, more finicky)
green/white plant – Pteris cretica, fern, “silver ribbon”
New Guinea impatiens, “paradise light lavender” and “pure beauty white”
And in this one:
variegated green plant - Schefflera, “Trinette”
yellow spotted plants – Croton, “Sloppy Painter”
yellow flower – Begonia, “nonstop tuberous”, yellow
And finally, in this small container:
variegated plant – Croton, “zanzibar”
fern – Fern, Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri', “asparagus”
orange flower – New guinea impatiens, “paradise, electric orange”