Aphelandra 10°C/50°F; Tropical South America

Not many of our flowering houseplants have the added advantage of possessing decorative foliage as well, but in the two most popular varieties of aphelandra we havejust such plants. Both have green leaves with prominent white stripes; A. squarrosa ‘Louisae’ is free flowering and may attain a height of some 60cm/2ft, while A. dariia is with more silvery foliage, but is less free with the colourful yellow flower spikes that are the crowning feature of these two fine pot plants.

With both plants it is essential that the soil is kept permanently moist and that plants are regularly fed with a balanced liquid fertilizer – the amount recommended by the manufacturer can be slightly increased and no harm will be done. Aphelandra plants make a mass of roots, hence the need for extra feeding – it is also the reason for using a soil that is loam-based when potting plants on into larger containers, annually in spring.

In summer provide some shade from strong sunlight, but keep the plants away from draughts or they will lose their lowei leaves. When the plants have finished flowering it is best to remove the dead flowers and to cut the main stem at the top of the plant back to the first pair of sound leaves, from the axils of which new growth will develop. When these new shoots have developed two pairs of leaves they can be removed and put individually in small pots filled with a peat and sand soil mix -in a heated propagating case they will root in some six weeks.

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