Foliage Plants

Simon's Simple Hydroponics Plans

Hydroponics Homemade System

Get Instant Access

During the winter months, it is very difficult to provide a sufficient number of flowering pot plants to meet your house requirements; so during this period foliage plants become essential. In this context it is to be understood that the term 'house plant* refers to plants which are grown for their foliage, the flowers of such plants, being very insignificant, are usually removed when they appear.

The ten house plants covered by this chapter are all plants which I have grown in the house over long periods of time, sometimes over three years in the same place, and they are all plants which will not just survive but will thrive in the usual conditions of centrally-heated houses.


These plants are regarded by some gardeners as the most beautiful of all the foliage plants. They certainly exist in a very wide range of leaf patterns and colours and a large well-grown plant is a magnificent sight.

The species Begonia rex was a chance import into England in 1756 and its potentiality was quickly recognised by nurserymen with the result that it was propagated and also used for breeding. As a parent plant it has the remarkable property that no matter which species it is crossed with the resulting progeny always possesses the characteristics of the rex species. The plants sold today under the description Begonia rex are, of course, all varieties and not the original Begonia rex species, which is seldom seen nowadays.

The species has the typical begonia shape of leaf, but it is smooth-edged, of dark metallic olive green, with a silvery green band marking along the leaf, running parallel to the edges. It comes from Assam. Some of the best hybrids have been produced by crossing it with Begonia diadema which gave hybrids leaves with ¡agged edges, and Begonia decora which introduced a red coloration into the leaves. In the past, as with many other plants, there were numerous named varieties such as 'King Henry', 'Silver Queen', 'Helene Teupel' and 'Friede', but nowadays it is very difficult to obtain a named variety and it is merely a question of choosing a plant with leaf markings which appeal to you.

A suitable compost for Begonia rex is compost E6 or Jl potting compost No.2. but it is perhaps easier to grow them in soilless compost, and my experience has been that they grow faster in this medium and are easier to maintain during the winter months.

The easiest way to propagate these plants is to select a young leaf which is growing vigorously in early summer and break it off, making sure that the whole of the stem is intact. Using a 4l/i-in (11,5-cm) half pot, about half filled with soilless cutting compost, insert the stems of the leaves about Vi in (13 mm) deep in the compost, after dipping the end of the stem in a hormone rooting powder. A pot this size is suitable for four leaf tunings, and the whole should be enclosed inside a polythene bag secured by folding the open end underneath the pot. The cutting compost should be moist but free from excess water, otherwise it could cause the cuttings to rot when wholly enclosed in a polythene bag. Examine the cuttings from time to time because the close damp conditions sometimes cause a part of the leaf or even the whole cutting to rot, and if this is not removed it will spread to the other cuttings.

When the cuttings have grown roots they should be potted in the potting compost complete with the old leaf. The roots are produced at the base of the leaf stem and it usually takes several weeks before tiny new leaves develop. When these have grown about 'A in (13 mm) long, the old leaf can then be discarded by cutting the old stem as close to the new plant as possible.

The ideal conditions for growth are a place in a good light, but not direct sunlight, and a temperature of 60-70°F (15 -21°C) in the summer when the plants should be growing strongly. Old plants tend to have a resting period in the winter and only grow very slowly, but young plants grown from cuttings taken earlier in the year will grow quite vigorously if kept in a humid atmosphere at 55- 60°F (13 - 15°C).

Plants benefit very considerably by being potted on in larger pots when ready, and this is usually quite apparent as the plant will begin to look too large for the pot.

Plants growing in the house must be carefully watered, particularly in the winter, to ensure they are not overwatered. Wait until the surface of the compost is dry to the touch and test the weight of the plant as a double check before giving the plant water.


Known in the United States of America as the 'peacock plant' it has beautiful glossy leaves usually about 6 in {15 cm) long, but sometimes they become elongated and grow to two or three times longer. The upper side of the leaf has an attractive dark green marking on a silvery green background with a light

Hedntt ianarh nas or Canary Island Ivy is a useful and easy-to-grow climbing ur trailing plant green edging. On the underside of the leaf the pattern of the dark green marking appears in a maroon colour.

Calatheas originate in Brazil and they require exactly the same treatment as marantas. The method of propagation is also the same.


The members of this genus are all climbers and are very widely used as house plants. Hedera is the latin for ivy, and although there are seven species in the genus it is the varieties raised from HeJeni helix and H. canar¡crisis which are so popular as house plants.

H. C. foliis variegatis is better known, and invariably referred to, as Canary Island ivy, and it does indeed come from the Canary' Islands, as well as Madeira and the Azores. It is a cultivar with very attractive leaves which have green centres and pale cream edges. The leaves are interesting in that no two leaves are identical. These plants are completely tolerant to

Cream Pot PlantsPopular House Plant
HeJt-rj hthx "CrOldchild") n'ilh ilk attracnvc leaves, is a good plane lor the porch as il wiH tolerate cold cotidttiuns.

house conditions and will survive considerable neglect, which makes them ideal house plants.

A soilless compost is ideal as they prefer an open compost with plenty of fibre and ideally slightly acid (pH 5.5 to 6). The best way to grow an attractive display is to put three or four plants in a Vh-in (9-cm) pot and either grow the plants climbing upwards on a suitable support, or allow the growth to trail downwards when positioned, say, on a plant stand. They are slow growers and resent being overpotted consequently should be left in the same pot for as long as three or four years and the final polling in a 5-in (13-cm) pot.

As with most house plants it is better to underwater than to overwater, and if leaves turn yellow and drop it will usually indicate the plant is being over watered.

This variety of ivy is not self-branching and an annua! stopping, by removing the growing tip, usually causes more vigorous growth.


This large family contains some of the best house plants, which are so varied in appearance that it is difficult to believe that they arc members of the same family. The family includes 220 genera and over 3,500 species, many of which are familiar names to everyone, such as tulips, hyacinths, lilies, asparagus, aspidistras and so on.

We are only concerned with four genera, all of which are very easy to grow, which is a characteristic of numerous members of this family. These four genera are all quite different in appearance and consequently offer considerable variety. Firstly we have Cklorophyium, which has long thin leaves similar to grass, followed hy Cordyliru which has broad coloured leaves growing from a single stem, then Samevena, which has thick sword-like fleshy leaves growing upright from soil level, and, finally, Dracaena deremensis which has long pointed glossy leaves growing out spirally from a thick single stem.

ChktTophyntiH tamaaim 'Varicgaitim'. [he Spider Plani.

CHLOROPHYTUM COMOSUM First introduced in 1751 this plant comes from South Africa. It is commonly known as the spider plant, due to its habit of producing very long thin stems which grow from the centre of the plant; at the end of these stems plantlets form, and if these rest on the surface of a growing medium roots quickly form at the base of the plantlet.

To propagate C. comosum all one has to do is to fill a 2Vi or 3-in (6 or 7,5-cm) pot with compost and pin the plantlet to the surface. A simple method is to use a hairpin or a short piece of wire bent into the shape of a hairpin. After a few weeks the plants will have rooted and the stem joining it to the parent plant is then severed.

The plants offered for sale are all the 'Variegatum* forms which have a white stripe running along the centre of the leaves.

Chlorophytums are possibly the easiest house plants of all to grow. Any ordinary potting compost or soilless compost will suffice. They will tolerate sunshine or shade, warm or cold conditions, dry or moist air, and any amount of neglect.

ChktTophyntiH tamaaim 'Varicgaitim'. [he Spider Plani.

Powdery White House PlantHende Belpflanzen
  1. in Chlorophyium» can easily be propagjted by means ofihr small planiletii winch bim a: the tips of long arching stems produced during aciivc growth. After dipping the base of the planllet in hormone rooltng powder, ensure that it is kepi in close contact with ihc compost, in >mall psils, by means of a hairpin or bem wire
  2. in Chlorophyium» can easily be propagjted by means ofihr small planiletii winch bim a: the tips of long arching stems produced during aciivc growth. After dipping the base of the planllet in hormone rooltng powder, ensure that it is kepi in close contact with ihc compost, in >mall psils, by means of a hairpin or bem wire

However, as wiih all plams, we should endeavour to provide the most suitable growing conditions and for this plant the best conditions are a good light, watering only when the compost has dried on the surface and potting on when necessary, usually discarding plants when they are too big for a 6-in (I5-cm) pot.

CORDYLINE TERMINAUS This plant is sometimes offered for sale as Dracaena temiinaiii, but do not let this confuse you as they are one and the same plant. The species has plain green leaves but many cultivars have been raised and there are numerous named varieties, but as with Begonia rex, nowadays ibe plants are offered unnamed and you merely select the leaf colouring which appeals to you. They are often somewhat expensive because young plants do noi develop coloured leaves, consequently the plants have to be grown on for some years by the nurserymen before being offered for sale.

Cordylines are very tolerant plants and grow very well in a soilless compost given the same treatment as chlorophvtums.

Cordytiw temtitiiilii The colouring of the leaves gives this plant ils atltaction.

House Plant With Red Elongated Leaves

Dracaena Jtrtmtnin a very good house plant and with cart will last for years.

Dracaena Jtrtmtnin

DRACAENA DEREMENSIS The variety 'Bausei' has been raised from the species, which is a native of Dercma in the Usambara region of East Africa. It is a very elegant plant with glossy dark green leaves with two white stripes along the length of the leaf, in between which there is a greyish-green band. Once you have acquired this plant and sited it in a suitable place you have a permanent resident in your home which will grow taller and more elegant each year. The one I have is about five

Dracaena Jtrtmtnin a very good house plant and with cart will last for years.

years old and is almost 3 ft (1 m) tall. It has been standing in the same position at the back of the living room for the last three years and gets most of its light, particularly in the winter, from a pair of wall lights. Without this artificial light I do not think it would have thrived as it has, because originally it was in a poor light and lost one or two of its lower leaves.

It will grow satisfactorily in a soilless compost and is not a demanding plant other than requiring a warm temperature, being definitely a plant for the living room. As with the other plants in this group it is very tolerant of underwatering and is consequently better if watered only when the compost surface is completely dry.

SANSEVIER1A TR1FASCIATA This plant was named after a nobleman Raimondo de Sango, Prince of Sanseviero, who lived in the eighteenth century, Being a rather difficult name to pronounce it is commonly known as 'mother-in-law's tongue*. The most attractive cultivar to grow is S. trijasciata 'Lauremii* in which the leaves are edged by golden yellow bands.

Sansevierias have stiff tough bayonet-like leaves which are dark green with patterns of grey or silvery green markings and additionally in the case of the variety 'Lauremii', yellow bands at the leaf edges. They grow from rhizomes and will throw up side shoots which when several inches high can be severed complete with roots from the parent plant. When

■SjintfiiTj ttylaniid is often known as Mother-in-law's Tongue.

new plants are raised by this method the yellow band is retained, but if new plants are raised by leaf cuttings the yellow marking is lost. The method of taking cuttings is to cut a mature leaf into sections 2-4 in (5- !0cm) long, allow the cut surface to dry and then insert one end in a cutting compost. Keep in a minimum temperature of70°F(21°C). Roots take at least a month to form.

It is a slow growing plant and a more pleasing effect is obtained by potting three plants to a pot using compost E6 or JI No.2. Plants do not need repotting for years, and then only when they look too large for the pot.

Like most plants with fleshy leaves, sansevieras will withstand long periods of drought and will not die by being underwatered. On the other hand overwatering can prove fatal. They are very tolerant plants and will grow in sun or shade and cool or warm conditions.

■SjintfiiTj ttylaniid is often known as Mother-in-law's Tongue.

Marantaceae Family


There are some 26 genera and 280 species in the Marantaceae family and many of them make excellent house plants. Marantas were named after a sixteenth-century botanist Bartolomes Maranti and their native habitat is the rain forests of Brazil. The popular name for M, leuconeura 'Kerchoveana' is the 'prayer plant', because of the way its leaves move in the dark. When the plant is exposed to full daylight its leaves lie quite flat in a horizontal position but at night when the plant is in the dark the leaves stand up vertically, often in pairs, as if in prayer.

Marantas arc warm house plants and do best in temperatures of 65-70°F (18-21°C) by day with minimum night temperatures of 60°F (15°C). They like a good growing medium such as compost E6 and a good light but shading from sunlight.

Mamnta h'Ui-unrrj 'Ktrchovtsivi', [he Prayer Plant, is easy to grow in the house

When the prayer plant is happy with its environment and consequently growing well it produces small insignificant white flowers. Water sparingly particularly in the winter and always allowing the top compost to dry out.

Propagation is by division of the roots and can be carried out at any time. As the plant grows it will fill the pot with roots, and a 4Vi-in (11.5-cm) pot should be regarded as the final potting size, unless for some reason you wish to grow a large plant.

With a plant of this type, taking into account the size of the leaves, you lose something in form by growing too large a plant in a large pot.

Repotting can be done at any time of the year so when you think it is necessary, knock the plant out of the pot and divide it into two or three parts depending on the size of plant you arc splitting.

You will observe that the maranta makes its growth by sending up new shoots from the roots and it is very easy to separate the different shoots complete with roots.

Mamnta h'Ui-unrrj 'Ktrchovtsivi', [he Prayer Plant, is easy to grow in the house

Rhizomes Prayer Plant Roots


Tradescantias were named after John Tradescant who lived in the seventeenth century and was perhaps the most famous gardener in England at that time.

Tradiitamia fluminrnsn is a very useful trailing plant for hanging baskets or plant sranifs

Tradcscamia fluminensis 'Variegata' is the cultivar most often grown, and it is sometimes referred to as the 'wandering Jew'. It is a very useful trailing plant for hanging baskets and plant stands. It will grow in any kind of compost, as it is a most adaptable plant, and cuttings, taken at a leaf joint on the stem, will root with such case at any time of the year that you cannot fail to have a replacement plant available whenever it may be required. It is a very good plant for ihe interior of rooms as it will grow very successfully in a poor light.

Zttbrina péndula is, very similar in both habit and culture requirements to tradescantia, from which it differs mainly in the colouring of the leaves. Tradcscantias have green leaves with longitudinal white stripes varying in widih, whereas Zebrim péndula has a central dark green longitudinal central stripe on a silvery green leaf with dark green edges. Depending on the conditions of growth the ceniral stripe, which is quite broad, can change to purple; when this happens the green margins also change to purple. The underside of the leaves is always a deep maroon colour. To develop the purple coloration, plants need to be grown in warm conditions in a reasonably good light.

A brim penjulu '(JunJiKolour' is a verv colourful trailing plant.

Tradiitamia fluminrnsn is a very useful trailing plant for hanging baskets or plant sranifs

A brim penjulu '(JunJiKolour' is a verv colourful trailing plant.

Trailing Foliage PlantsFlowering Potplants

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

Get My Free Ebook


  • katharina
    Can prayer plant produce insects?
    8 years ago
  • lea
    Which tree is known as the upside down tree of africa?
    8 years ago
  • christin
    When to plant folliage plants?
    7 years ago
  • danny
    What all kind of original leaves pot plant we can have in side the house in all rooms?
    7 years ago

Post a comment