Today’s column is guest written Deirdre Sullivan, a NYC-based writer who’s obsessed with maximizing every inch of her urban dwelling. She’s a former fashionista who has worked for Lucky Magazine, InStyle, and She recently traded her high heels and Fashion Week pass for a drill and bandsaw.

If you’re starting to feel stifled by the dark days of winter, snap out of it with a fresh whiff of spring.

January 10th is National Houseplant Day, so we rubbed our green thumbs together and came up with a list of 5 potted beauties that will brighten your mood and freshen your home with pleasing fragrances.

But that’s not all; each species we picked is also visually stunning — from eye-catching leaf textures to beautiful blossoms. All you have to do is choose the nose-pleaser that’s perfect for you.


There are over 200 varieties of this plant, and some have striking leaf shapes and textures that are ruffled and fuzzy, or smooth and lacey.

Nevertheless, what makes scented geraniums really stand out is the range of fragrances different varieties offer. Types include: Peppermint Lace, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Fancy, Prince of Orange, and the intriguing Pink Champagne.

I recently learned that the leaves of this plant are considered an herb. But here’s a twist: They don’t add flavor when used, just an aroma.

FYI: Most types of geraniums are pretty hardy and do well indoors, but they do need lots of sunlight. During the short days of winter you can give them a few extra hours of light using fluorescents.


If you’re not the type who cranks up the heat during the cold winter months, the Jasminum polyanthum is a houseplant that prefers cool indoor temperatures.

Also known as winter jasmine, this easy-to-grow plant is an evergreen vine. It features pink buds that blossom into fragrant white flowers from January to February. Its sweet, perfume-y scent might remind you of a spring floral garden.

In order for this beauty to thrive, it needs 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight a day in a cool place in your home. If a room is too warm, the flowers won’t open — so don’t place next to a heating source.

FYI: We’ve heard winter jasmine can handle temperatures as low as 20 degrees, so this is a plant that can thrive outdoors in most climates. Just make sure you have a healthy plant before transplanting, and don’t make the transition during cold weather.


There’re oodles of beautiful orchids, but Oncidium are among the easiest to grow indoors.

Orchids can flower up to twice a year and they’re available in a wide range of colors and sizes. A favorite during winter is the fragrant Sharry Baby. It features long stems covered in tiny reddish-brown and cream blossoms. When it comes to Sharry Baby’s fragrance, there are two camps: Some fans believe it smells like vanilla while others detect a chocolate-like fragrance.

As with all orchids, the Sharry Baby won’t bloom without plenty of light, but direct sunlight will cause the flowers to spot.

So make sure you keep your plant in a warm part of your home with lots of filtered light. The amount of water this plant needs varies based on its growth; refer to your local nursery for details.

FYI: When your orchid stops flowering, don’t chuck it out — replant it. That way it will have room to grow and can bloom again.


These tall, white plants can be forced to bloom indoors any time of the year, and are popular holiday gifts.

Paperwhites are a member of the daffodil family. The bulbs can be easily planted in water and in about a month, flowers will begin to appear.

To get started, all you need is a shallow pot and some pebbles. Just make sure you cover the lower half of the bulbs in water; don’t submerge them. If you do, they won’t sprout.

FYI: Paperwhites have a sweet, musky smell that some people love and others strongly dislike. We suggest catching a whiff first at a local garden center before growing these flowers at home.


Gardenias are at the top of most fragrant-houseplant lists. Although they do grow beautiful flowers, it’s actually the leaves that are responsible for its pleasant scent.

Gardenias require a lot of pampering in order to thrive. Most gardenias need daytime temperatures that are between 68 and 74 degrees, with a steady 60 degrees at nighttime.

They also require frequent fertilizing, daily misting, and lots of bright sunlight.

For expert tips, refer to your local nursery about specific types of gardenias.

FYI: While gardenias need lots of misting, they’re very sensitive to overwatering and can develop root rot and other related conditions very quickly.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit