What is a house plant?

What is a house plant?

The definition of a house plant which I have adopted in this website (with a few exceptions) is a plant which can remain as an almost permanent inhabitant of a room and which looks attractive all the time.

It is often a tropical or sub-tropical plant which is grown, in rooms, for its foliage alone, as greenhouse conditions are usually necessary to produce flowers on this type of plant. The flowering greenhouse plants so freely sold in pots will not continue to live happily in a room, nor can they normally be brought into flower in room conditions.

Many books on the subject include all sorts of exotic plants, such as hibiscus and orchids. In America and Scandinavia, where whole windows and sometimes entire rooms are filled with plants, conditions are often adjusted to resemble those of a greenhouse, and there such flowers can be grown, and indeed any of the varied selection of flowering green-house plants.

The average older house, however, is not hermetically sealed in winter, with air-conditioning and temperature thermostatically controlled. Its windows are often opened, and may let in the cold even when closed; it is draughty; it does not always have central heating; the air is dry, and the temperature is frequently high in the evenings and very low at night. These are not ideal conditions for house plants to flourish.

Now, there are some plants which will stand up to the worst of such conditions; but clearly the more we can adjust the environment to the ideal – constant adequate warmth, reasonably humid atmosphere and draughtlessness – the better the plants will like it and the greater the variety we can grow.

We must also remember that plants in pots must have a lot of attention. We cannot treat them as mere ornaments which only need dusting. They require watering, cleaning, occasional feeding and re-potting. Anyone wjio is not prepared to give his plants at least an hour’s attention each week will inevitably fail with them. To those who will give some care, the plants will bring pleasure and interest as a living decoration.

My main object is to describe those plants which should thrive permanently in a living-room without recourse at any time to a greenhouse or garden, and to outline the care and cultivation necessary, with specific reference to the average home. I have attempted to include in it all the important genera which are commercially available at the present time, but, of course, new introductions are always being made. In passing, I will suggest the best means of keeping the flowering ‘gift plants’ in a reason-able state for as long as possible, and mention other classes of plant — annuals and succulents – which can be introduced into rooms.

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