Why do plants produce flowers?
Although we may sometimes refer to plants as flowers, the flowers themselves are actually just one part of the plant. They're produced as part of the reproductive cycle for some plant types, although not all develop flowers. The bright colors and strong smells are designed as ways to attract bees and birds that help spread the pollen.
However, not all plants flower even if they can, and it can often be hard to encourage flowering in an indoor environment. This is because certain conditions need to be met in order for flowering to occur, and this can be hard to replicate inside.
Plants with unexpected flowers
There are a number of different common house plants that aren't typically associated with flowers, but can actually produce them! Examples include the Schefflera, Snake Plant, Cast-Iron Plant, Chinese Money Plant and Palm Trees.
It can, however, be rare for these plants to flower. For instance, most Snake Plants will typically never bloom when kept as a houseplant, no matter how well you take care of them - sometimes it's a question of which variety, as some types don't actually flower at all. If you're lucky, though, and with the right conditions, a blooming Snake Plant variety may flower even indoors. Their flowers first appear as tiny green buds on a long stalk (this stalk may grow as tall as around 91cm or 3 feet!) and then develop into little tubular white flowers with thin petals.
Chinese Money Plants are another common plant that many people don't realise can bloom. Their flowers are small, white and form in clusters that appear in the springtime although, again, this is unlikely to happen when kept inside.
How to encourage your plant to flower indoors
It may be difficult to get your houseplant to produce flowers, but it's not impossible!
Plants will only flower if they're mature - a smaller, young plant won't provide any flowers. Additionally, your houseplants will need a lot of light in order to create enough energy via photosynthesis to produce flowers. Even if it's a plant type that can normally thrive in shadier conditions, it'll need the extra boost of light if you want it to bloom.
On the other hand, though, some plants need to experience periods of darkness and / or low temperatures in order to trigger their natural flowering cycle. As we typically keep our homes warm and light at night-time, these conditions may not be met. For instance, plants such as Poinsettias and Chrysanthemums need around 15 hours of darkness per day in order to start budding. One way to work around this is to put your plant in a dark cupboard overnight!
Finally, your houseplants will also need fertilization in order to flower. Similar to how they need energy through light, they also need nutrition - particularly during times when they are actively growing. If a plant doesn't have energy to spare then it will opt not to produce flowers.