A popular indoor succulent at this time of year the range of Kalanchoe plants available from florists and garden centres continues to grow. Often blooming from autumn through winter these clusters of red flowers are set off by thick dark green leaves. About 12 inches tall these plants are easy to grow if the temperature stays above 10°C
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Indoor flowering all year round can be organised with the right pelargoniums.
Pelargonium more often called Geranium Something Special – from Fir Trees nursery
Throughout January this Pelargonium has been in constant pink flower on my desk. Each of 14 pips or mini buds opens to a 5 petal flower in a bunch of florets to make up the overall flower head. Three or four are in colour at any one time.
I left the plant too cold and dry and some leaves went a dark red but normally the leaves are a clear green. Some pelargonium leaves, called zonals, are banded and have good colour schemes. Betty Shellard for example has tri-coloured golden leaves.
For cuttings I know it is the wrong time but I had a leggy Blackdown Sensation, which has large cerise blooms. I wanted to knock it into shape so I have taken various cuttings. I have got out my seed propogator for the seed sowing rush that will begin shortly but in the meantime I have put the pelargonium cuttings in the box. I will let you know my success rate but working on the basis all plants want to survive I remain hopeful. If all else fails I have the stock plant, all be it a lot shorter after its haircut.
Gloxinia are showy house and greenhouse plants in a range of bright colours. I have just purchased 3 tubers and hope for different colours. They will brighten up my range of houseplants flowering in about 10 weeks. Until they flower I won’t know so I borrowed this photograph from a specialist nursery.
Tips on Growing Gloxinia
- Tubers or corms may be found under the name Sinningia speciosa or Gloxinia and are part of the Gesneriaceae family that includes African Violets.
- Plant shallowly in good compost with the buds facing upwards, this is usually the concave side like begonias.
- Water the compost with warm water from the bottom to stop the tuber rotting and keep the atmosphere humid without getting the leaves or flowers wet or they will be stained with brown blotches.
- Gloxinia like plenty of bright light without direct burning sun. If the furry leaves elongate it is a sign they need more light. Do not expose to direct mid-day sun as the leaves are liable to become scorched.
- Gloxinia also like a temperature above 60º when in growth but will give flowers for 6-8 weeks in return for your trouble
- Plastic pots are fine but I add some grit or perlite to help avoid water logging.
- Feed with half strength liquide fertiliser
- Use insecticide at the first hint of mealy bugs.
Hydrangea are easy to grow, voluminous shrubs with long lasting flower-heads. They can grow to be handsome 6 foot high and wide shrubs.
Growing Hydrangea Early autumn is the best time to plant new Hydrangeas. If planting in spring take more care with watering and mulch the plants to keep the soil damp. Hydrangeas grow best in semi shade in rich moist soil. Trim off old flower heads and dead stems in spring. Give them a balanced fertilizer in spring.
Choose the Right Variety Mophead or Hortensia hydrangeas are the type that have pompom like heads that open into a globe shape such as ‘Blue Bonnet’ or ‘Forever Pink’. Lacecap varieties have flat heads who’s flowers do not open at the same time.
Quercifolias often have pyramid shaped white flowers and oak shaped leaves. Annabelle is the best known and well liked variety of Hydrangea arborescens.
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Peace is not just an absence of war – Peace Lilies are superb houseplants with dark green glossy leaves and distinctive white flowers.
As well as being named Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum they are also known as Spathe flower, White Flag, White Anthurium or White Sails for obvious reasons.
Tips for Growing Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum as Houseplants
- Do not let the Peace lily become too dry, they love moist but not soggy soil and a humid atmosphere.
- You will be guilty of disturbing the Peace if you let temperatures drop much below 65 degrres
Arum lily or Calla Lily called Zantedeschia are available in an increasing number of shades and varieties. This Zantedeschia rehmannii can be grown to advantage in a terracotta pot that will show off the perfect spathes or funnel shaped petals.
- Arum Lily is the common name for the hardier outdoor variety. Usually white or pink.
- Calla Lilys are often the less hardy but colourful varieties in white, yellow, pink, red or purple and are easy to grow from bulbs.
- Zantedeschia have heart shaped leaves often with decorative spots.
- Zantedeschia will flower for long periods throughout the summer with dramatic and exotic shaped flowers.
- They are not frost hardy so they should not be planted out until after the end of May in the border or pots. I bury the pots to fill odd gaps and can easily bring them indoors in winter.
- Grow them in one and a half litre pots with loam-based compost such as John Innes No 2 and plant the rhizomes just showing at the surface of the container with the eyes of the rhizome uppermost.
- Water freely through the summer and feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser every two weeks until the flowers have faded.
- They make exotic houseplants as well as summer border or container plants.
Members of the Pineapple family Bromeliads grow in the tropical and sub-tropical forests of the Americas. There are also hot desert and cool mountain varieties amongst this large family.
What Are Bromeliads
- All 3000 + varieties of Bromeliads are composed of a spiral arrangement of leaves sometimes called a rosette.
- There are Terrestrial (soil grown plants) and Epiphytic species growing on other plants and trees.
- They are slow and hard to bring into flower generally only flowering once. After flowering they produce offsets called ‘Pups’ from which new plants will grow.
- The green, leafy top of a pineapple is a pup that may be removed and planted to start a new plant.
- Flowers are generally central spikes held away from the plants or short with the flower nestled in the centre.
Popular Groups of Bromeliads
- Guzmania have long lasting red bracts and like humid conditions
- Vreiesea are probably the most freely available plants with over-lapping bracts producing a sword shape.
- Tillandsia and air plants are epiphytic Bromeliands.