Children, Pets, and House Plants

Posted On March 5, 2020

Joy in the Caring at Wingard’s Market

by Jackie Perrone

There’s no such thing as winter blahs for a gardener. Sure, one might look outside at a vista of brown and gray; not much color in the landscape; a search for a green leaf may fail. Where’s the beauty we seek out in flowers? You’re just looking in the wrong direction.

“House plants can keep us nourished all year round,” says Heidi Woody. “They’re easy, and beautiful, and rewarding. Go on, get your hands in the dirt. It’ll chase away the gloom and lift your spirits.”

As Assistant Director at Lexington’s storied Wingard’s Market, Heidi’s specialty is house plants. Her playhouse: a spacious and beautiful greenhouse which doubles as an event venue. Hundreds of flowering plants are pushed to the walls for big occasions such as the recent Valentine Party, making room for a hundred guests along with musicians and food service. Tinkling fountains add to the festivities. It’s impossible to be down in the mouth when surrounded by this beauty. That goes for home life as well.

Every home, from a tiny apartment to a many-roomed mansion, benefits from flowering plants indoors. As Heidi expresses it, “Caring for house plants fits right in with caring for children or pets. It’s a routine that provides opportunities to flourish, and rewards the caregiver with beauty and satisfaction. People should never be intimidated about how to tackle it. Just learn the basics and give it a lot of love. Works every time.”

According to this experienced gardener, a few simple instructions will start a homeowner down the right road for enjoying house plants. Light is crucial. Find out whether full or partial sun works best. Once you settle it into the right spot, next step: the right amount of water. (Beginning gardeners tend to drown their plants. Overwatering can be a death knell.) And the right plant food should be dispensed at regular intervals. That’s it. Watch for your reward: colorful blossoms to brighten the day.

At Wingard’s, the array of choices is dazzling. According to Heidi, today’s millennials lean toward the trendy. At the moment, that may be led by orchids. Air plants paired with foliage = exotic beauty. Then there are the succulents, requiring little attention and rewarding you with off-and-on moments of blooming. Did you know that some owners name their plants, and talk and sing to them? Good company for sure.

We’ve seen artificial plants in business offices, often led by the well-known ficus. It’s a lot more fun to nurture a real fiddle-leaf fig, which likes a window providing partial sun. When it settles in, it will grow very tall and large, an exclamation point for a foyer or activity room.

Heidi admits to a personal favorite, in the beloved ferns. “Classic!” she says. “Every porch needs four ferns in hanging baskets. There are so many varieties, everyone can find one to love.”

Ever thought of taking on a Bird of Paradise? They’re easy, full or part sun, can spend the spring and summer outside, and produce elegant blooms unlike any other. You don’t even have to wonder about watering. Their leaves begin to curl when it’s time for a drink.

Citrus plants produce colorful fruit indoors: Persian lime, Myers lemon, some orange plants.  Then there are the ever-popular terrariums. Wingard’s can get you started with a ready-assembled one that will keep the whole family entertained. Good companions for terrariums are the Moss balls, round hanging ornaments with a fuzzy feel. The Peace Lily can thrive in a low-light environment, and if fed regularly will bloom for a long time.  And then there are the carniverous plants, a recurring favorite of children. Venus fly-trap is perhaps the best known, although others come under this heading as well.

At Wingard’s, organic plant food, water-soluble, at 20-10-20 ratio, is favored. They offer a Lake Murray Mix, slow-release and specifically designed for the Midlands climate and seasons.

Wingard’s is known also for its special-occasion events. A recent demonstration featured Birds of Prey, a program about such birds as the peregrine falcon and the red-tail hawk. For many years they have held an open house in June featuring their vast array of day lilies, but this event is being phased out. Heidi says, “We just potted up hundreds of Gail’s heirloom day lilies, including some very rare and special ones. They will be available as soon as spring arrives here. That’s the season we call Crazy World, when every homeowner in the area decides to go shopping for seasonal plants.” (She is referring to Gail Wingard Buff, who along with her husband Wayne serves on the staff.)

No disputing the slogan, “Something’s Always in Bloom at Wingard’s!”  Indoors or out, dig in and enjoy. It’s good for the soul.