Flowering Houseplants: Which to Save, Which to Toss


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When you buy (or someone gives you) a flowering houseplant, it’s not always clear whether the plant is supposed to be a long-lived rebloomer or a temporary guest that will bloom only once. I call the temporary plants—the ones you’re expected to toss into the compost after they finish blooming—“florist plants.” Not that I intend to disparage florists, but their business really is mostly about instant but temporary beauty. 

In the following lists, I’ll point out which flowering plants are true flowering houseplants that you can reasonably expect to flower repeatedly in the average home and which are florist plants, designed as temporary living decorations. I also indicate whether you should simply compost the spent florist plant after it finishes blooming or whether, and under what conditions, you can plant it outdoors so it can bloom again. 

Toss after blooming because they won’t bloom again

The pocketbook plant (Calceolaria × herbeohybrida) makes a charming gift plant, but it’s not one you can recuperate and rebloom. Photo: gardenguideusa.com
  1. Christmas pepper (Capsicum annuum)
  2. Fairy primrose (Primula malacoides)
  3. Florist’s cineraria (Pericallis × hybrida, syn. Senecio × hybridus)
  4. German primrose (Primula obconica)
  5. Pocketbook plant (Calceolaria × herbeohybrida)

Plant outdoors in a cool climate; otherwise toss into the compost pile

You can plant a polyantha primrose (Primula × polyantha) outdoors in a temperate climate (one with a cool winter) after it blooms, but can’t keep it indoors. Photo: http://www.plantmaster.com
  1. Christmas rose (Helleborus)
  2. Christmas holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  3. Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum
  4. Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
  5. Hardy bulbs (AnemoneCrocusNarcissusTulipaMuscari, etc.)
  6. Hortensia, florist’s hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  7. Lily (Lilium)
  8. Miniature rose (Rosa)
  9. Polyantha primrose, garden primrose (Primula × polyantha)
  10. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Plant outdoors in a frost-free climate, or toss in the compost heap

  1. Christmas holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  2. Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum
  3. Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
  4. Freesia (Freesia × hybrida)
  5. Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
  6. Gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii)
  7. Hortensia, florist’s hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  8. Paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus)

Can recuperate and be used as a repeat-blooming houseplant

The florist’s gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) is a good example of a plant you can recuperate and rebloom. Photo: amazon.com
  1. African violet (Saintpaulia)
  2. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
  3. Anthurium, flamingo flower (Anthurium)
  4. Azalea (Rhododendron simsii)
  5. Calamondin orange (Citrus × microcarpa, syn. × Citrofortunella microcarpa)
  6. Calla lily (Zantedeschia)
  7. Cape primrose, streptocarpus (Streptocarpus × hybridus)
  8. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera × buckleyi)
  9. Christmas kalanchoe, flaming katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  10. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
  11. Easter cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri, syn. Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri)
  12. Florist’s gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa)
  13. Fuchsia (Fuchsia)
  14. Guzmania (Guzmania ligularia)
  15. Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
  16. Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
  17. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  18. Orchids (all types)
  19. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
  20. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  21. Reiger begonia (Begonia × hiemalis)
  22. Silver vase (Aechmea fasciata)
  23. Sun star (Ornithogalum dubium)
  24. Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)
  25. Vriesia, flaming sword (Vriesea)