Rising to challenge of looking after plants at home

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THE spring, summer and autumn months present few problems for plants in the home, direct sunlight being the worst – it’s when winter comes along that the difficulties arise.

Watering, humidity and position have all been covered recently. Plant choice can determine how long they will last, many are temporary. Some are easy, others difficult, but a challenge is what many people like – especially gardeners and those with a love of plants.

Let’s take a look at some different types. Among the ‘easy’ foliage plants are chlorophytum (Spider Plant), dracaena, ficus elastica (Rubber Plant), monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant), peperomia, schefflera (Umbrealla Plant), tolmiea (Piggyback Plant), the popular tradescantia group (Wandering Sailor and Wandering Jew), all manner of Cacti and succulents and, the most tolerant of them all, sansevieria, more populary known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.

This last one is virtually indestructable, surely most people have kept one for years. It will grown in shade or bright sunshine, will withstand dry air of centrally-heated rooms, draughts and periods without watering, seldom requires repotting – but a killer is if too much water is given over the winter and TLC! Neglect it, within reason, and it will be happy.

Foliage plants in a group which could be described as ‘delicate’ and ‘difficult’ include begonias, the decorative-leaved types such as b. rex, caladium, croton and calathea, all of which require warmth and humidity for them to thrive. In saying that, they are not plants to dismiss as they are very decorative and can give months of pleasure.

Flowering plants in an ‘easy’ group include bromleiads (Urn Plant), kalanchoe, passiflora (Passion Flower) and, when available, campanula (Bellflower), saintpaulia (African Violet) and impatiens (Busy Lizzie).

What could be termed ‘difficult’ flowering plants include anthurium (Flamingo Plant) and when available in the summer, begonias, as they drop their flowers in the dry atmosphere of a house. Aphelandra, usually labelled Zebra Plant on account of its foliage markings, will last for several weeks before losing its leaves if conditions are not ideal but a decorative plant nevertheless with yellow cone-shaped flowers.