For those who don't possess that mystical quality referred to as a green thumb, keeping a plant alive, no matter the season, can be tricky. But as the weather turns frostier it becomes even more important to have a little bit of life in your midst. Enter our very own plant-whisperer Lauri Kranz, owner of the Edible Gardens LA, a company that builds, plants and sustains organic vegetable gardens around L.A. Below, the gardening guru shares five plants that are hearty enough to live and thrive indoors through the winter, as well as expert tips on how to keep those green guys growing. ALOE VERA This plant has healing and culinary uses and grows very well indoors with proper care. Plant the aloe vera in a cactus mix soil and place the plant in an area where it will receive indirect sunlight. Water the plant well, but allow it to dry 1-2 inches down before watering it again. Aloe Vera requires even less water in the winter months. Cut off any baby shoots that appear to keep the main plant healthy and growing strong. BASIL Plant basil from seed in a ceramic pot with good, organic potting soil. Place on a sunny windowsill and water regularly. Once the seeds have sprouted and formed four leaves, use diluted fish emulsion every two weeks to feed the soil. The result: a plant that smells good and tastes even better. BAY LAUREL This is a beautiful evergreen plant that's used as a seasoning in many dishes. Plant bay laurel in rich, organic potting soil. Place it in a sunny room in your home away from heating vents and water regularly as bay laurel likes moist soil. Placing it outside in the spring for at least a couple of weeks will keep it healthy and thriving. ROSEMARY Rosemary has a wonderful fragrance that makes it especially nice to grow indoors. It needs a lot of light so find a bright window with morning sun. Water as needed, but since rosemary is more likely to be killed by over-watering, water the plant well and allow the soil to dry between waterings. CALAMONDIN ORANGE TREE These trees are beautiful and grow well indoors, plus they make your home smell delicious. Be sure to use a ceramic pot that's larger than the container the tree is currently in as well as organic potting soil made especially for citrus trees. One easy pro-grow trick is to place river rocks between the pot and the drainage dish to help with air flow. These trees need a lot of light, so place them in an area that sees the most hours of sun per day. Water regularly but, make sure that the soil dries between waterings by placing your finger in the soil, a couple of inches down to see if it's dry. To keep the tree healthy year-round, feed it with an organic citrus fertilizer once a month from the spring to summer and every 2 months in the winter.
Photographs: 1. Johan Sellén, 3. Courtesy of bybjorkheim, 5. expressen.se, 7. dailykos.com, 9. Hally's Parsons Green, 11. Lonny
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