7 deg C/45 deg F

This plant has suffered from several name changes and is occasionally known as Drejerea or Justicia bran-degeana. The common name is derived from the appearance of the pinkish bracts surrounding the inconspicuous flowers. These form pendent spikes of shrimp-like appearance, usually borne freely from spring to mid-winter. A well-grown plant, which may reach about 60cm (2ft) in height, bearing a profusion of bracts, is most eye-catching. However. it is not unusual for plants kept in the home to deteriorate in winter, especially if they have been grown for some years and are getting old. Such plants are best cut back in late winter to early spring. They will send up new growth to

form handsome specimens. Most plants bought from florists are young and recently raised from cuttings. In winter and up until spring, only sufficient water should be given to prevent the roots drying out completely. then water can be applied freely. There is some difference of opinion about the light requirements of beloperone. most horticulturists suggesting shade. In fact. it is a good idea to stand the plants outdoors in full sunshine during summer, making sure, of course, that watering is not neglected. In general. February to March is the best time to do any pruning or trimming to keep plants shapely and neat. Any straggly weak shoots should be removed entirely.

I3elopcrone has no special problems, but neglect of pruning and trimming may lead to spindly, untidy growth.


13 deg C/55 deg F

B. Speciosa, from Colombia, is a valuable winter-flowering pot plant. Plants are usually available from florists, but it is easy to grow your own from seed sown in a pot and placed near an ordinary window-sill. The older hybrids are usually tall, reaching about 60-90cm (2-3ft) by winter. The flowers, rather campanula-shaped but more starry, are various shades of beautiful blue. Flowering can be expected to continue all winter.

Recently, an excellent new dwarf form has been introduced called ‘Blue Troll’. This is very compact and bushy, growing only 15 cm (6in) or less in height. It is best if several seedlings are planted in each pot as these will then form clumps smothered with flowers. The colour is a rich, vivid purple-blue, with a small. central black-and-white eye effect. It is a great improvement on the older forms and should prove extremely popular. Seed can be sown in spring and the seedlings potted, using any of the usual branded potting composts. Keep the plants free from chill, if the sowing is early, and protect from direct sunlight. Although this species is perennial, old plants usually become straggly and. in the old forms, too tall. Seedlings of the non-dwarf types are best slopped at an early stage to promote bushiness. If plants are saved, these should be cut back in spring to encourage new growth from the base. A little-known charming easy species you can also grow from seed on a window-sill is B. viscosa. This is a summer-flowering annual with white-eyed pretty blue flowers. It is quite neat in habit, reaching about 30cm (lit) in height. Discard after flowering. Browal-lias rarely have pest or disease troubles. In fact, these are very resilient plants and thrive exceedingly well in the home as well as a conservatory.

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