I bought my first indoor plant from the commissary shortly after we returned to the desert just this last spring.

The commissary, much to my husband’s dismay, does a fantastic job displaying its house plants for purchase. They must know that some of the people who wind up in this end of the duty station pool will be looking for a new hobby, and there’s sometimes nothing like the power of suggestion. That first plant didn’t make it, but that hobby was set into motion and the quiet ache familiar to a mother who’s just relocated her family was slowly beginning to stitch itself up. 

I believe plants have the ability to provide a nourishing routine to both its primary owner and the other people that live with her.

Each of my children, at different times throughout the month, like to stop and examine the plants. They might suggest that one needs water, a spritzing, or a slight rotation. Or they’ll simply comment on which one they currently like best. It brings warmth to my heart to see their small hands gripping the garden pitcher’s handle as they gently give the plant a drink.

In just a short time, I’ve learned that house plants are not just a lively way to brighten an otherwise unadorned wall or blank space, but a thing that can boost curiosity and add to one’s confidence.

If you live in a harsher climate, like I do in the desert, please don’t despair. I’ve seen beautiful indoor gardens thrive in our town and with the right plants, it’s even more of a possibility.

If you’re thinking of giving it a go, here are the house plants that have stuck it out with me.

Janet Craig Compacta

The Dracaena deremensis is best known for its durability. Most would call this one indestructible, and I’d really have to agree that my three little ones from the grocery store are hardy little growers. Their waxy leaves remain a vibrant dark green even when they’re a little overdue for a watering. If I had more space, I would buy more of these. 

 

 

Snake Plant

My kids love running their fingers through this plant’s sturdy leaves when they’re walking through the main hall downstairs. Also called the mother-in-law tongue, the snake plant is a regal, forgiving specimen that would bode well for new plant owners. If mine could talk, it’d tell you about the rubber balls it’s had tossed at it and the many Legos that have been hidden deep down its middle.

A neat fact about this one is its ability to turn CO2 into oxygen overnight. Not only that, this succulent has the ability to remove harmful toxins from the air. Now I don’t know how many you’d have to own to reap substantial benefits, but it’s a neat fact to have in your back pocket when your friends ask about your new snake plants.

This succulent comes in varieties: I own the Hahnii Birdsnest, the Sansevieria Laurentii, and the Superba.

Longevity Spinach

This plant isn’t really mine, but I’m including it because of how superbly it’s thriving near our back window. This one belongs to my middle one, and he does a fine job making sure it’s watered and loved on. This spinach may not be great to have indoors if you’re short on space, as it’s nearly tripled in size since he and my mother repotted it a couple months ago! But this one has impressed me. It stretches its branches meaty with leaves like a ballerina and I just can’t help, but love this one even though it’s taking up so much space.

This one would shrivel beneath the desert’s hot sun, but I can only imagine how much this spinach would prosper outside if you lived in a different climate. 

 

Fiddle Leaf Fig

I felt immediate buyer’s regret when I learned about the fiddle’s reputation. From what I’ve read, it prefers its environment to be exactly on that happy medium. Don’t veer off too left and wet its soil too much, but be sure to keep it moist, says one source. My head was spinning at its reviews.

And yet for months, it’s been happy about six feet from the window. I wouldn’t say this tropical broad-leaf plant is one of my favorites (mainly because I feel it’s out of my expertise), but it’s done surprisingly well in the desert thus far. I will not discount that.

If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, this might be your gal. You can get a small one like mine or a much fuller sized one that would look lovely in a corner near the dining room table. 

 

Pothos

I have four pothos spread throughout the house. What I admire most about these elegant ladies is how they each thrive in different amounts of sunlight. There’s a gorgeous one in my front living area that thrives on blinds that are open from around 8 to 11 a.m. The others roost proudly in the back of the house with more hours of brighter sunlight. These look great hanging from the ceiling, but I prefer to set mine on elevated surfaces and tabletop pieces. 

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