ROOM or HOUSE PLANTS

There is an increasing interest in plants which can be grown indoors. Nevertheless, many amateurs still obtain indifferent results because they are not fully conversant with the fundamentals of successful cultivation. A most vital point is to avoid draughts of any kind (this applies almost equally well to any plants grown outdoors). Indoor plants will not thrive if placed near a door which is constantly being opened and shut. Central heating causes excessive evaporation and a hot, dry atmosphere, although it does ensure an even temperature which most plants appreciate. To counter this excess evaporation whether in a centrally heated or other room, pots may be stood in larger containers, the intervening gap being filled with damp peat to conserve moisture. Note that quite a few plants will give good results in centrally-heated rooms, a selection being given later. The majority do best in a position where they receive plenty of light, but not direct sunlight, as this frequently causes burning. Leaves of nearly all indoor plants accumulate plenty of dust and should be sponged or syringed regularly with clear water. Very few plants withstand gas fumes, the foliage turning yellow and dropping off. Hederas (ivies), £ebrinia pendula, Tradescantia Jluminensis and Philodendron scandens are notable exceptions.

Cold tap water often damages room plants. Rainwater is usually preferable. Only water when the soil in the pot is moderately dry, and in winter one watering will usually suffice for several weeks. Yellowing of the leaves usually denotes over-watering. Pale green foliage indicates lack of water and/or shortage of plant foods. An application of complete fertiliser, I.e. one containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, should help to revive backward plants. Water the soil before application. Sulphate of ammonia is an excellent stimulant to growth. John Innes Potting Compost will give good results with a wide range of room plants and should be used as the basic potting mixture.

Plants for Centrally-heated Rooms.

Beloperone guttata.

Impaliens sultani

Billbergia nutans.

Philodendron scandens hedera (ivy) in variety.

Saintpaulia ionantha

Hqya carnosa.

Sparmannia africana

Plants Preferring Shade.

Ficus radicans.

Scindapsus aureus maranta in variety 3J

Plants Grown Mainly for their Flowers

Azalea indica in variety.

Primula malacoides

Begonia Gloire de Lorraine. saintpaulia (South African violet)

Beloperone guttata.

Billbergia nutans. streptocarpus

Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana.

Primula kewensis

Plants Grown Mainly for their Foliage

Cissus antartica.

Monstera deliciosa (Philodendron

Commelina bengalensis.

Cyperus alternifolius .

Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii

Ficas elastica .

Tradescantia jluminensis .

Cacti and Succulents. Note that all succulents are not cacti. Various plant families including the Cactaceae have succulent members. Succulents are fairly easy to grow in sunny rooms, and the plants usually do best on window-sills. In summer the plants can be transferred outside to the window-ledge. Rochea coccinea is an attractive succulent known to the florist as crassula. It bears carmine, tubular flowers with oval leaves. Height about 20 in. Aloe variegata is the partridge-breasted aloe with tubular, orange-red flowers. It grows to about 10 in. and is a really tough room plant.

Notes on Individual Room Plants:

Azalea indica: see RHODODENDRON.

Beloperone guttata: the shrimp-like, white flowers come on drooping spikes and are virtually hidden by the brownish-pink bracts. Grows to about 20 in. Evergreen.

Begonia Gloire de Lorraine: see BEGONIA.

Billbergia nutans: see BILLBERGIA.

Cissus antarctica: has several popular names, I.e. kangaroo vine (the plant originates in Australia), russikivin or king’s vine. It is a climber with a vine-like habit of growth, the somewhat rough, shiny green leaves coming alternately on reddish stems. Prefers cool conditions.

Clivia: see alphabetical entry.

Commelina benghalensis: a little-known trailing plant with silver and green leaves and small, bright blue flowers. Evergreen.

Cyperus alternifolius (Umbrella Plant or Nile Grass): has been well compared to a miniature palm. The narrow leaves radiate from the top of a bare, 18 in. stem, suggesting the spokes of an umbrella. There are forms with variegated foliage. Keep away from direct sunlight and stand the pots in water. Likes shade and a moist atmosphere.

Ficus elastica (India Rubber Plant): in Tropical Asia this may reach 100 ft., but in a greenhouse or room is usually kept down to a maximum of 8 ft.

The long, leathery leaves are shiny green on the upper surface, yellowish- green beneath, and are equally spaced on a single stem. It tolerates insufficient light and lack of attention!

Ficus radicans: an evergreen trailer with small, pear-shaped, dark green leaves. Appreciates shade and plenty of water while in growth. Hedera or Ivy: ideal room plants as they show little objection to gas fires. Prefer a little shade, otherwise the full leaf colouring may not always develop. Hedera helix Holly has attractive frilled foliage.

H. dentata aurea has large green and gold leaves.

Hoya carnosa: a quick-growing, evergreen climber with clusters of drooping, waxy, rose-pink flowers and thick, dark green leaves. Slight fragrance. Impatiens sultani: see IMPATIENS. Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana: see KALANCHOE.

Maranta: shade-loving foliage plants which require plenty of water in summer.

Maranta leuconeura: a tuberous-rooted species with pale green leaves which are purple on the undersides.

M. I. kerchoveana: has bright green leaves with chocolate splashes. Monstera deliciosa (Philodendron pertusum): large, serrated, bright green leaves. The plant grows at an angle of about 60 degrees as fresh foliage emerges from the back of the previous leaf. Primula kewensis and P. malacoides: see PRIMULA.

Philodendron scandens: a popular climber with heart-shaped grey-green leaves, which are a reddish colour on the undersides. Saintpaulia: see alphabetical entry.

Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii (’ Mother-in-Law’’s Tongue): also known as snake plant, this has stiff, leathery, sword-like leaves, pale green with yellow stripes. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates shade and neglect, though often a slow starter.

Scindapsus aureus: a climber having bright green leaves with lemon-yellow markings.

Sparmannia africana: also known as African hemp and Zimmerlinde but is probably best described as an evergreen lime. It has large hairy, pale green leaves and clusters of white flowers in May. It is fairly easy-going but should be kept away from very hot sun. Streptocarpus: see alphabetical entry.

Tradescantia Jluminensis (Wandering Jew): a creeping or trailing plant with small, oval green leaves which are striped yellow and white. Prefers a fairly light position, though direct sunlight is not advisable. Vallota: see alphabetical entry.

Note that special pots for room plants can be obtained. These usually have extra thick sides of an open texture which help to retain moisture. They are perhaps best suited to climbing plants like Cissus antarctica, Philodendron scandens and the ivies. Some incorporate a specially shaped cane to hold the plant in position without tying.

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