Plants requiring minimum temperature 12°-15°C

Plants requiring minimum temperature 12°-15°C

Aphelandra squarrosa louisae is of Brazilian origin and grows erectly with large, lance shaped, dark green leaves. The central and lateral veins are etched in white and droop in opposite pairs down the upright stem. From the top pair arises a bright yellow flower spike about 2 inches in length. The spikes must be cut out after flowering just above the nearest pair of leaves.

Aphelandras require a warm situation, with plenty of light, but protection from direct sunlight. The leaves must be sprayed daily, or sponged weekly with a damp sponge. They need to be pot bound to flower well.

Begonia boweri is a small begonia from Mexico, with a creeping rhizome. It grows a few inches high and its leaves seldom exceed 3 inches in length. The leaves are emerald green with a narrow, maroon-coloured zone around the edge. It should be treated as B. rex but will tolerate more light.

caladium

caladium

Caladium are characterized by having tuberous rhizomes for roots. The beautiful leaves are in a variety of colours and die down each winter and reappear in spring. They need a fair amount of heat to bring them to perfection. The chief species are C. bicolor, which has green and red leaves, C. picturatum, green and yellow and C. schomburgkii green, white and silver, but as they cross-fertilize readily there are many hybrids.

These plants must have high temperature and humidity and water must be gradually withheld as the leaves fade. The dormant tubers can be stored in their pots.

Cissus discolar is a very attractive plant, although it tends to shed many of its leaves in winter. It is naturally a climber and makes a good plant for a hanging basket. Summer temperature should ideally be l8°C.

Diffenbachia are erect evergreen perennials native to tropical America, that make effective foliage plants for the house where a minimum temperature of 13°C can be consistently maintained. Growth should be kept as continuous as possible as the individual leaves do not survive for a long period. The plants are commonly known as ‘Dumb Canes’ and are extremely poisonous. Biting any part of them will prevent speech for several days. D. bowmannii develops very large, wavy-edged leaves of deep green, with light green markings, up to 2 feet long and 12 inches across. There are others, mostly smaller, such as D. picta from Brazil, with dark green, long, pointed leaves spotted with pale green, white or cream.

Dracaena fragrans from tropical Africa are grown for their foliage, which consists of long sword like leaves. D. sanderiana is a smaller slender plant with green leaves 6 to 9 inches long, 1% inches wide, with a broad white margin. All varieties enjoy semi-shade, a warm humid atmosphere, and leaves sponged frequently.

Fittonia are perennial Peruvian evergreens that are distinctive for their marked and netted foliage. There are only three species. F. argyroneura is a dwarf trailing plant, with heart-shaped oval leaves 3 to 4 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, which are netted with ivory white veins. On F. verschaffeltii the ground colour is dark green and the veins are red. The third species, F. gigantea, grows to a height of 18 inches with broad ovate leaves and carmine-red veins. All species need warmth, shade and humidity and should be watered and sprayed freely in summer. The flowers are insignificant, and should be pinched out.

Peperomia magnoliaefalia is a sturdy shrubby plant with compact growth and frequent side shoots. The leaves are an elongated oval shape about 2 inches long and about 1 ¾ inches wide and have an attractive glossy appearance throughout their lives. Green Gold is a variety of recent introduction. The leaves are edged and splashed with creamy-yellow, the centres streaked with greyish-green. They like light, airy conditions, no draughts and only moderate watering in summer, more sparingly in winter.

Pilea cadieri (Aluminium Plant) is an extremely popular house; plant. The leaves are long-stalked, oblong-oval in shape with a slightly toothed edge. They are dark green with silvery patches between the veins. It needs light, airy I conditions, regular watering and feeding in summer and minimum watering in winter.

Plutycerium (Stag’s Horn Fern) is an extraordinary epiphytic fern that has recently become very popular as a house plant. It is found in many warm countries, including Australia, and is distinguished by bifurcated and forking fertile fronds. The easiest to grow indoors is P. bifurcatum. It can be attached vertically to a piece of cork bark, the roots covered by a mixture of equal parts of fibrous peat and Sphagnum moss and held in place by copper wire. To water, the root ball and bark can be soaked for a few minutes and left to drain before rehanging.

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