Popular Easy Flowering Plants

There are two flowering plants that will do well under the coolest conditions; these are the geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) and the fuchsia.

These are such popular plants that their cultivation is fully described in Favourite Garden Flowers, elsewhere in this work. When grown in the house, pelargoniums should be given as much light as possible, preferably on sunny windowsills. Fuchsias like a well-lit, but not sunny situation and will do perfectly well in the centre of the room. They do not mind shade, provided it is not dark shade.Fuchsias - Fuschia hybrids

Busy LizzieImpatiens walleriana is a popular flowering plant for rooms, but the purple-leaved Impatiens petersiana is better. This is like the old busy Lizzie with its scarlet flowers, which are produced freely in quite shady situations as well as in well-lit ones, but its dark purple leaves make it attractive even when it is not in flower. Cuttings root so easily, that all you have to do is to put them in water and roots will soon start to appear.

As the season advances the plants tend to become leggy and the lower leaves drop off, so it is best to renew the plants at frequent intervals, with the last cuttings, that you intend to overwinter, taken at the beginning of September. If you do not want to start them in water, you can insert them in the usual cutting mixture, but there is no need to .cover this with a polythene bag. It is practically impossible to overwater these plants during the spring and summer, and they require plenty during this period. During the autumn and winter they must be kept just moist and they also require to be fairly warm, preferably around 55 F (13 C), although they will survive at 50 F (10 C). Stopping may encourage bushy growth, but they seem to do quite well without any encouragement. Since the plants are normally only kept for the one season, soilless composts will be quite satisfactory without additional feeding.

One of the best and most easily grown house plants for continuous flowering is the Barbados heatherCuphea hyssopifolia (Cuphea hyssopifolia). This makes a small, twiggy shrub with every twig covered with leaves, about 2 in. long and j in. across. From the axils of these leaves emerge innumerable small purple trumpet-shaped flowers. Flowering starts in April or early May and will go on non-stop until November. During the winter a temperature of 55°F (13°C) is advisable, but if it falls below this occasionally, no harm seems to occur. Tip cuttings, which should not be too soft, root rather slowly in warm conditions, which probably means that you cannot take them until June, unless you have a heated propagating case. The plant should be grown on year after year, but when it is three years old it may be rather too large (although in this case you can prune harder) so occasional propagation is a good thing. At the end of March it should be pruned, shortening all the main shoots by about 2 in., but otherwise no stopping is necessary. The plant should be potted on every year in April and regular feeding from June until September will encourage more growth and flowers. It likes a well-lit situation and does not mind some direct sunlight, so long as it is not excessively burning, while during the winter it should be given a well-lit situation.

The shrimp plant (Beloperone guttata) is another small soft-leaved twiggy shrub, with heads of flowers at the ends of the branches. The flowers are concealed in the bracts, which form a shape like the body of a prawn and are either maroon-purple or, in the form known as lutea, a pale yellow. These are produced fairly continuously throughout the summer and autumn and, if conditions are warm enough, well into the winter.

During the winter the temperature should be 55°F (13 C) and the plants should be given as much light as possible. In the spring all the main growths should be cut back by a third, or the plant will tend to become rather leggy with a bare base. Once in a 5-in. pot it can remain there for two years, provided it is fed between mid-May and mid-September and the same period when it is potted on into a 6-in. pot. The plant should be kept moist all the year round, although it will require far less water during the winter months and it should be in a well-lit position that does not receive much direct sunlight.

If you keep your house very warm in the winter, beloperones may produce a lot of weak spindly growth, which looks unhealthy. Remove this in early spring. The plants should be fairly warm, around 65°F (18°C) between the spring pruning and the appearance of the first flowers and higher temperatures will do no harm. Once the flowers have appeared they will persist for longer under cooler conditions, but this sort of temperature adjustment is not very easy in the home and the plant will grow quite happily whatever the temperature is, within reason. Foliage Plants There is a much larger range of plants with attractive foliage.

Many of these plants are variegated. This variegation tends to be more marked in well-lit situations and most variegated plants need more light than the normal green-leaved forms. On the other hand many green-leaved plants will thrive in shady conditions which would be unsuitable for either flowering or variegated plants, so they have definite advantages. The only plant that will survive in very dark shade is the Aspidistra. However, there are numerous situations where foliage plants will grow happily, although they would be too dark for flowering plants. Foliage plants also have the advantage that they look attractive throughout the year, while even the best flowering plants have some period when they are not flowering, so in many ways the foliage plant gives you better value for your money.

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