Bringing the outside In

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2007 | Go to article overview

Bringing the outside In


Byline: By John Humphries Western Mail

Treat houseplants right to bring out their best in winter

THE approach of Christmas is a signal that gardening is moving indoors, but while a houseplant might be a perfect present, few make it beyond 12th Night.

Of the tens of millions of poinsettias produced for the Christmas market, how many actually make it to the big day without catching a cold, sometimes even on their way home from the warm garden centre?

A native of Mexico, poinsettias prefer a warm room away from any draft produced by an open window or door.

The compost should always be moist but never waterlogged, and don't plan to keep it for another year because for it to flower a second time requires a carefully managed day-length regime.

Another Christmas favourite, azaleas, detest the hot dry atmosphere produced by central heating, preferring instead a cool position on a windowsill, in a porch or conservatory where they should never be allowed to dry out.

Cyclamens, the third in the Christmas hit parade, need good light and cool conditions, and when watering it's better to stand the plant in a saucer than risk splashing water onto the corm.

This is not to suggest that houseplants are difficult to grow, only that they will remain healthy and attractive if given the correct care.

Light, temperature and humidity are crucial to the welfare of houseplants, all of which depend not simply on the room in which the plants are grown but also their position in it.

Most pot plants need cool, light conditions to flower well for a long time.

In a dark corner of a hot, dry living room, the flowers will almost certainly fade and not be replaced by new ones. An azalea in this position would soon begin to drop its leaves and die.

Houseplants originating from tropical forests, where they are adapted to shade, will flower indoors in a relatively dull position.

Climbing plants, which in their natural habitat flower at the top of the forest canopy need more light. …

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