Flowering House Plants

Flowering House Plants

Everyone wants to have flowers in the home, but unless you have a garden, cut flowers need to be bought fresh every week. A flowering plant, on the other hand, will bloom for several weeks at the very least, and often for several months. Some will flower all the year round, if allowed to. Don’t forget you can have pot plants in flower in winter, too, a time when the garden may be bereft, or when flowers from a florist are at a premium.

There is something peculiarly satisfying about having a plant of your own which flowers, especially if you have grown it to that stage yourself. Flowering plants are not as easy to care for as leafy ones, and the successful cultivation of these, and especially of fruiting plants, says a lot for your horticultural skill.

Flowering pot plants are an extremely good way of adding colour, fragrance and a great deal of beauty to the home. As with leafy plants, there are different shapes; the trailing ones with their hanging stems festooned with blooms, such as the Italian bellflower (Campanula hoya isophylla), or the climbers, such as the passion-flower, Passiflora, the wax flower, or Hoya, white-flowered and strongly scented. You can have great fun training these in all sorts of ways-circular, triangular, upright-on moss sticks and trellises, or to surround window-frames.

Most of the flowering plants have a rounded or bushy shape; some, like the African violet, are very small, some really large-the hydrangea and the African lime and many are in the medium-size range, such as the cyclamen, gloxinia, primulas and pelargoniums. But there are tall-growing ones to choose from as well, if that is the kind of shape you want, for instance fuchsias, clivia and anthuriums.

Whatever the season, there will always be an indoor plant to flower during it and, although the winter might be thought a bad time for such plants, there are almost more at that time than in the summer. Aphelandras, azaleas, Cape heaths, poinsettias or Pachstachys lutea are a few winter-flowering plants whose blooms will last, with care, for several weeks or months.

In summer, you can go in for gloxinias, streptocarpus, the double-flowered begonias, achimenes and calceolarias, to say nothing of the legions of cactus species which can so easily be brought to flower. You can welcome the spring with cinerarias, astilbe, genista, and later, epiphyllums; all kinds of bulbs which flower outdoors in spring can be brought on indoors to flower in late winter and very early spring. As epiphylums the summer ends and autumn arrives, the nerines, hibiscus and autumn crocus will begin to bloom, epiphyllums will have their second season, and many other summer plants will still be in flower.

Some flowering plants have the endearing habit of blooming the whole year round if you let them. It is not, actually, a good idea for a plant to flower non-stop; it gets exhausted and dies sooner than it need, but you can let it flower for most of the year, with the right feeding.

Busy Lizzie (Impatiens walleriana), and the shrimp plant (Acanthaceae) are two that bloom continuously as do small flowering begonias, both the kinds used for bedding and the winter-flowering ones. Others which flower for many months are Exacum affine, with a mass of deep purple flowers, African violet, chrysanthemum, Streptocarpus, the crown of thorns (Euphorbia milli) and Dipladenia.

If you have a special affection for fragrant flowers, you will find that some of the indoor plants can have an overpowering perfume. Fragrant plants include jasmine, hyacinth, narcissi, miniature roses, calamondin, and some of the epiphyllums and cyclamen.

Flowering plants often have highly ornamental evergreen leaves, so that they are doubly worthwhile, but there are some with a third bonus, the fruiting plants.

The calamondin probably tops all these for value for money, because it can easily be in flower and fruit at the same time, as well as having glossy, deep-green, evergreen leaves. Others are the Christmas cherry with white flowers in summer and marble sized red berries in autumn and winter, and the ornamental pepper.

In the same way that foliage plants have special needs, so flowering indoor plants have basic requirements which should be met if they are to enjoy first-class health and provide you with the pleasure of a superbly ornamental plant.

Light is the most important ingredient in the recipe for success. Without a good light-preferably direct sunlight-very few plants can ripen their growth so that they produce flowers, and later fruits. So put your flowering plants close to windows and glass doors.

However, if the summer sun is very hot and bright, as can happen at midday, move them away temporarily, or provide light shading. If you have any skylights, make the most of them, because the biggest problem with bringing indoor plants into flower is the lack of overhead light. Greenhouses and lean-to garden rooms are successful because they have this built-in advantage, as well as being extra warm.

Even if you cannot give flowering plants a window sill, try to put them on a plant stand or table (or a Victorian whatnot), as near to a source of light as possible, so that they at least have a good light even if they are not directly in the sun.

If you are totally bereft of any good natural light, you can supply it artificially, in the form of alight cabinet, which has strip neon lighting, and often thermostatically controlled supplementary heating as well. Light cabinets are not cheap, but are very pretty when filled with plants, and are of course permanent once bought.

To some extent, you can also overcome a lack of intense light by giving the plant a high-potash fertilizer, because potassium is the nutrient associated with flowering and fruiting. Like light, potash helps in the maturing of plant growth and, as well as making sure it is present in the compost, you can use a liquid feed which has a higher percentage of potash in it than the other two major plant foods, nitrogen and phosphorus.

The duration of light, or day-length, is important to quite a lot of plants, since it affects whether they actually flower or not. Some are short-clay plants, that is, they will only flower when the daylight hours are less than the night-time or dark ones. Because of this, they can be made to flower at any time of the year, by giving them short or long days as required, to bring them on or hold them back. This is why you can now get chrysanthemums in flower at any time of the year, not just autumn. Poinsettias are also short-day plants and they will not form coloured bracts in winter unless given short days in autumn.

Humidity is vital. A dry atmosphere can ruin all your care at the last minute because the buds will drop off without opening, or if they do unfold, the flowers will drop almost at once. Be doubly careful to spray or mist regularly just before flowering time, although afterwards, when in full flower, it is better to use trays of evaporating water close to the plants so that the petal are not marked by drops of falling water.

When flowering is near, do not move plants if you can avoid it as this also encourages buds to drop; so does dryness at the roots, and draughts. Once the flowers are dead, take them off so that they neither rot the leaves onto which they have fallen, nor provide a place for grey mould to get a hold.

The shrubby and climbing or trailing flowering plants will need careful pruning if you are not to remove all potential flowering. In general, it is the practice to prune container plants in late winter, shortly before reporting and/or spring growth starts,

Sometimes it is better to prune directly after flowering. This should be done with plants that flower in spring or early summer, as the new shoots which they then produce during the rest of the growing season will be the ones on which they flower the following spring.

If you prune this kind in late winter, you will only cut off what would otherwise have been flowering shoots.

Plants that flower in mid summer or autumn can be safely pruned in late winter; some may even be pruned as soon as flowering has finished.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.