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Gulf Coast Gardening: Classic Houseplants for Outdoor Use

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Planting classic houseplants such as bromeliads, spathiphylum, and bird's nest ferns in your yard can lead to fantastic results.

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I discovered their effectiveness in the landscape quite by accident many years ago. Indoor plants can become overly stressed by the controlled temperatures that air conditioners and heaters supply. Spider mites, white flies and general decline from insufficient lighting or humidity can quickly become a problem for houseplants. It didn't take long to realize they were much happier in the elements of our Gulf Coast outdoor climate.

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Bromeliads welcome the humid conditions and natural rainfall of central Florida. Water, held in the cups of their leaves, supplies them with steady nourishment. The pups (young plants) produced from the mother plant rapidly increase their presence as a groundcover in the shade underneath the oak trees.

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The bracts they produce display vibrant colors, with unique forms and textures that give a wonderfully exotic touch wherever they grow. Did you know Spanish moss is a bromeliad too?

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Long-lasting pristine-white flowers of Peace Lily (Spathiphylum) make a crisp contrast against its deep-green foliage in the shady parts of the garden. Like most aroids, Spathiphylum prefers a moist, organic soil and thrives in a humid environment. A wide swath of these easy-to-grow plants lines my front walkway. Situated under the cover of tall oak trees, they rarely need extra protection, even in the winter cold. I've propagated them each spring by dividing the rhizomes to increase their population in several shady places around the garden.

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Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus) is a classic houseplant and quite easy to keep indoors. But in my garden they thrive remarkably well, even through some of our coldest winters. This fern blends well with other shade-loving neighbors such as begonias, ground orchids and stromanthe. It prefers humidity and a highly organic medium, with good drainage.

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If you live in the northerly areas of this zone, any of these plants work well in containers that can be moved to shelter in the event of frost.

Have you ever tried transplanting houseplants to an outdoor environment?