Foliage plants

When plant-growing in ihe home was first attempted, the plants used were ihe ones grown for the beauty of their leaves rhe aspidistra, the rra descant ¡as and the ferns. For a long time, the image conjured up b\ the word houseplant was of a green, leafy plant. Then, houseplants camc to include those that flowered short term plants that could be kept for a few weeks only and then died climbing plants, cacri and manv others. In fact, it became apparent that a great many plants which had been thought to thrive only in the well-lit conditions of a greenhouse were quite happy in the home, provided their needs were reasonably well met.

If you live in a home which is on the dark side, per haps a basement flat or an old house with tiny windows, or a house getting little sun because of tree1-, don't think vou will not be able to grow indoor plants. You can, ven successfully, bur you will do best to concentrate on foliage plants, and yoo will hnd that the\ can be ex tremely ornamental, and can be grown in practically anv situation. The\ have the great advantage of being much hardier and more able to put up with conditions not tolerated bv other plant groups. !t neglected, thev Will just tick over unt il you remember them again, and rarek do the\ turn up their toes and die. Many will (trow much

Plant With Coloured Leaves

Previous pa^e Aechmea rftodocya'ittri

QpposrH below Brilliantly coloured leaves of Cociiaeum vanegaium ptctuf)t Bfllcw Three foliage plants of contesting liirm. colour and textuie disguise an unused hreplace Sansevmna behind a glossy Asfjlurt/um nidus and Mantnta leuconeura fitcotor Right Ttitf shapely leaf form of Philodundroii lacintmum which should be [rained up a stake clothed with sphaqniim moss

Houseplants Foliage

QpposrH below Brilliantly coloured leaves of Cociiaeum vanegaium ptctuf)t Bfllcw Three foliage plants of contesting liirm. colour and textuie disguise an unused hreplace Sansevmna behind a glossy Asfjlurt/um nidus and Mantnta leuconeura fitcotor Right Ttitf shapely leaf form of Philodundroii lacintmum which should be [rained up a stake clothed with sphaqniim moss

Previous pa^e Aechmea rftodocya'ittri better and be a deeper green if kept slightly shaded.

Since light is one of the two major limiting factors (the other being warmth) to growing plants in the home, as opposed ro a greenhouse, your choice of foliage plants will lx* far greater than that of other group-, more dc pendent <>n these factors. There is a wide variety of form. Some may be bushv and spreading like the hn(sidt \spidis?rt). Piled or Mara/ttd, while others are tall and sometimes narrow, such as Greri/Jea, the rubber plant, Di^ygptbeid, or Cjperus and the umbrella plant. The climbing and twining kinds are good plants tor dark places. Their habit of growth has been developed ti> make them grow upwards, either to reach light from a dark beginning, or because there is no room for them at ground level. They can only survive by getting out of the way of the crowd, ami growing up and round tree irunk-. The ivies, the sweetheart vine, the grape ivy and the kangaroo vine are all climbers, and are easy to grow.

Finally, there are t he t railers wandering Jew [ I rades can/id and Zebrina), mother of thousands [Saxifm^a sfoieniferd), ivy. which looks jusi as pretty cascading down a*- growing up, hearts-entangled {Ceroptgia woadii) and VdisMtra ii^ti, to mention just a few.

The foliage plants offer a greai variety of leaf shapes. Take Diijjiptheid^ with its extraordinary toothed, narrow leaves, elegantly poised in mid air on delicate stems; the Sw iss cheese plant (Aioru/era deli(iosu), whose enormous cut and holed leaves make the most dramatic of shadows

Narrow Leafed Plant Examples

Above The multi coloured leaves . tt the begonia can teanh Statelv proportions left Begon/a rex right Beqoma masonmna Below left a flourishing example ot Dietfenoachia Opposite the preltv leaves of Futonia argytoneura grow closely together

Plant Indoor Types

Above The multi coloured leaves . tt the begonia can teanh Statelv proportions left Begon/a rex right Beqoma masonmna Below left a flourishing example ot Dietfenoachia Opposite the preltv leaves of Futonia argytoneura grow closely together and silhouettes, and the ubiquitous ivy, whose leaf shape has been used in design since the times of the Greeks and Romans, the green leaves of which hanging down a white wall have a classic simplicity of unique beauty.

An illusion which the newcomer to houseptant growing will soon have shattered is that leaves are always green. There must be just as many plants grown for their different coloured leaves as for their green ones, to say nothing of the variegated-leaved kinds.

The coloured-leaved plants now available for grow ing indoors are exotic and rainbow-like. Thcv outdo the flowering plants in their dazzle and brilliance plants like the codiaeurns (croton) ami dracaenas, the lovely purple-furred Gyrntra, Begoniu rex in all its variations of rose-pink, wine red, silvery-grey, pale green and cream, and the flame nettle (Co/eus), with its really fantastic range of brilliant colours and. in the most recently produced varieties, exciting shapes.

For those who still like green in their leaves hut think ail-over green a bit dull, there are many, many, foliage houseplants whose colouring is relieved with cream, white or yellow variegation in the form of spots, blotches, edgings or centre colouring—outlining the veins, or taking up most of the leaf. Mother-in-law's tongue (Sattsei teria trifasciata 'Lauren™' i, the goosefoot plant {Syiifiiinium podophyllum), Initiation a, Peperomin magnoliaefolia and the spider plant {Cbforopbytumcomosum variegatum) all have variegations of one kind or another.

There are some general rules that can he applied to the care of foliage plants, as distinct from the other groups, f or instance, nitrogen has priority -is a plant foot! over all the others. This is the nutrient plants need most for Strong, well-coloured leaves and stems, so make sure that it is always contained in the compost, and use liquid fertilizers which have a high or higher percentage of nitrogen (N) than of the other foods.

The foliage plants with plain green leaves will grow in places distant from the light, in some shade, and in rather dark corners. The variegated and coloured-leaved varieties need a good light, such as a window sill facing north, or one facing the sun which has a net curtain over it. They can he put on a table near an un shaded sunny window sill but not in the direct sunlight.

Leafy plants need more grooming than the others. Grit and dust must lie regularly wiped or sponged off the leaf surface with tepid water, or brushed off" in the case of ham leaves. ( kxasional polishing with a proprietary leafshine will give them a larger-than-life look for special occasions.

Slight h more water is needed in the compost than for other groups, and a humid atmosphere is especially important for those yvith thin papery leaves, such as Caiad'tum (if vou have the courage to attempt to grow it), M/irtWfa and Dkfftttbacbia.

There are other groups of plants grown entirely or mostly for their leaves; these include the bromeliads. the cacti and succulents, and the palms and ferns, but these are rather special groups, with special needs and are described later in sections of their own.

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Responses

  • Alexander
    WHY DO PLANTS HAVE COLOURED LEAVES?
    7 years ago
  • karin
    Do bromeliads like leafshine?
    7 years ago
  • Martha
    Why leaves in different colour with plant?
    7 years ago

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