Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Four house plants to savour this winter

It’s the time of year when understandably house plants come into their own. Not only do they increase the feel-good factory by having some greenery around, they also purify the air we breathe and keep green fingered skills alive.

It’s the time of year when understandably house plants come into their own. Not only do they increase the feel-good factory by having some greenery around, they also purify the air we breathe and keep green fingered skills alive.

Here’s a quartet of easy to grown and intriguing plants for indoors.

1. Peperomia clusiifolia (baby rubber plant)

This is one of the most impressive variegated forms of the peperomia group you will find. Peperomias are generally very easy to grow. They are cold sensitive and require well-drained soil with some organic matter. Allow the soil to become quite dry before watering.

The leaf blades are wonderfully adorned in various hues of green, ivory or cream and rosy-pink, and are beautifully bordered in red to show off their beauty. 

These evergreen, sometimes succulent houseplants may be either rosette-forming or erect with trailing stems. Though peperomia produce greenish white, panicle-like flower spikes, they are grown primarily for their foliage. Indoors, they require bright indirect light, but do tolerate low light. Water moderately during summer and sparingly during winter with water that is room temperature. Fertilize monthly with a balanced fertiliser. Though you might hear these plants favour daily misting, it is not necessary. These plants like to be a little pot bound. 

Begonia Rex2. Begonia rex

Begonias such as Begonia Rex and Begonia metallica are popular houseplants grown for their attractive foliage or flowers. The leaves may have bold shapes or striking, often silver markings. 

Rex begonias are tropical plants, prized for their colourfully patterned and intriguingly shaped leaves. Although they are at home in a shady garden, they are also popular as houseplants. Many people collect and display several varieties. Most begonias sold today are named hybrids, although they are not always labeled.

Begonia rex hybrids have been developed to have unusual markings, leaf shapes and colours.

The leaves grow on short leaf stalks, from the underground rhizome. The leaf edges and undersides are covered with short red hairs.

The leaves are asymmetrical, usually between four and nine inches long and variegated in shades of green, red, pink, purple, silver and brown.

The flowers are usually pink, however while a few rex begonias have showy flowers, most are barely noticeable and don’t add anything to the appeal of the plant. It’s usually recommended that you cut the flowers and allow the plants energy to go into growing the leaves.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia3. Zamioculcas zamiifolia 

These are hip, stylish and incredibly easy to look after houseplants.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a member of the Araceae (Arum) family. It’s an evergreen plant with feathered leaves which grow to a length of 40 to 60cm. The leaves on the thick stems are smooth, shiny and dark green. The plant can flower, but rarely does indoors and the 
arum-like flowers grow from the base of the plant. 

It’s important that the plant is free of pests and diseases, although zamioculas is not particularly prone to these. The plant may sometimes have one yellow leaf, in which case it may have been in storage for too long or got too wet. Black spots on the stems are natural, and do not indicate problems. Also check the pot size in relation to the thickness of the plant and the number of feathers and their length. With some plants the pot is somewhat distorted by the enormous strength of the underground tubers in the pot. This can even cause pots to crack sometimes. In that case urgent repotting is required.

gynuraaurantiaca4. Gynura aurantiaca

Growing purple passion houseplants (Gynura aurantiaca) offers an unusual and attractive houseplant for any brightly lit indoor area. The young purple passion plant has velvety leaves; thick, deep purple hairs on a green coloured leaf and a cascading habit, making it perfect for an inside hanging basket. The purple passion plant, also known as velvet plant or gynura, appears to have purple leaves from the thick hairs. As the plant ages, the hairs spread further apart and the colour is not as intense. Most purple passion houseplants remain attractive for two to three years. Plant the purple passion plant in a houseplant soil that offers good drainage, as the plant is susceptible to root rot from too much water. 

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