DIZYGOTHECA ELEGANTISSIMA (false aralia, spider plant)

13 deg C/55 deg F

This is an elegant and graceful foliage plant, originating in Australia. It has a limited useful life of a few years. It is usually seen as a single stem, but it may also branch. The stems carry regularly-spaced slender stalks, terminating in a group of thin foliage, giving a spider-leg effect and inspiring one of the common names.

The young foliage is reddish, but as it matures turns a deep olive-green. When the plant reaches about 1.5m (5ft) in height, the foliage loses its graceful form and becomes coarser and broader. If growing conditions are good, it can be cut back to induce new shoots. For satisfactory vigorous growth the

recommended winter minimum temperature should be strictly kept, and in summer the plants will enjoy quite high temperatures provided a high humidity is also maintained. The foliage should be sprayed with water and slight shading provided in summer. In winter, the plants need as much light as possible. and preferably to be put in a window facing south. In winter, water just enough to keep the compost slightly moist.

A well-grown plant makes a very beautiful sight and the foliage is quite distinctive. It forms an excellent feature plant for groups. However, in some homes it can be troublesome, and sheds its lower leaf stalks so that a plant looking like a palm with a leafless trunk results. This is most likely to occur where it is chilly or draughty, or if kept too wet.

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