What Is A House Plant?

Almost any plants can be dug up from the soil, placed in a pot and brought indoors. Here most plants will last for a few days, some for longer. But on the whole by house-plants we mean those that will live for long periods, probably months, under normal home conditions of light, warmth and humidity.

Most house-plants then, under this meaning of the term, will be foliage plants, grown for the beauty of their leaves, the colour, texture, shape or habit. A few will be grown both for their flowers and their foliage and examples here that come quickly to mind are the grave and glorious Greek vase plant, Aechmea rhodocyanea, with its long-lasting and prickly pink flower stem and blue flowers, the zebra plant or aphelandra with its cockscomb of yellow flower and its striped leaves, the striking ‘crown of thorns’, surprisingly a euphorbia, with its tiny, red blood-spots of flowers and the tender and lovely African violet, furry-leaved and never without a top knot or froth of nonchalant flowers the whole year through.

Yet we must make exceptions for such flowering plants as azaleas and begonias, for the ever-wideningAzaleas range of bulbous plants which can be grown indoors to give us magnificent blooms, and even for the little early primrose or snowdrop, dug up from the garden to be brought inside as a promise that spring is near.

If we accept that flowering plants of this and other kinds are to be enjoyed in the home while they look their best, and are then to be thrown out or to be re-planted in the garden, then surely we can accept that all other plants in the home can stay only when they are decorative, and that when they have passed their best or outgrown their situation they should be discarded. An elderly or ailing plant has ceased to be decorative and it is most unlikely that it will ever again be beautiful. But even worse is the fact that such a plant will be particularly sensitive to pest or disease attack and so possibly a source of infection for many of the other plants which may be around it

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