Thursday, December 10

Indoor gardening

Many gardeners describe their garden as an extension of their home or as an additional room but it can also be the other way round and your home can become an extension of your garden.

I have never lived in a house that didn't have indoor plants. As a child I filled our home with spider plants, took numerous cuttings from busy Lizzies and 'geraniums' and brought plants home from school to look after during the holidays. Often these generated offspring and I added aloes and Bryophyllum daigremontianum (neither of the latter were choice plants but fed a childhood fascination for the ease in which one became many). When my sister came along she followed suit.

Martyn also grew up in a house filled with plants and so it was only natural that our home would also have house plants and has continued being an extension of the garden. Over the years the types of plants housed have changed - there seems far less choice of readily available house plants these days. Little opportunity to acquire something out of the ordinary as supermarkets have become the main suppliers.

We were attracted to a small rose when visiting a small local garden centre. The scent drew us towards it and the knowledge that when it outgrew house plant status it could be rehomed in the garden.

Regular readers will have read how potmums also have a second life as cut flowers and my latest colour acquisitions were made with that in mind.

The gloxinia below was bought at the same time as the rose . I've read that it is best to discard the plant after flowering but I intend to give it a chance to flower again next year.
Patience paid off when, after several years, ours orchids flowered again. Just think what we would have missed had we thrown them away.
Our hoya is quite a few years old. It's not a spectacular plant but the flowers are really pretty, especially if you lay on the floor and look up at the blooms. Maybe a hanging basket would make life easier but also maybe far messier.
We have quite a collection of streptocarpuses, some inherited from Martyn's mum. I have recently tidied them up and repotted them except for two newly bought this year. They have no flowers at the moment but below is a photo of one flowering earlier in the year.

A ficus in the living room is becoming a tree and the only way to dust it is to give it a shower. Dusting each leaf would be a full time job.  The dracaena like Dr Who has undergone several regenerations as if the leaves become too tatty, I cut it down.
We have several peace lilies many because they often need splitting and there is a limit to how many can be given away.

Another inherited plant is an aspidistra. This belonged to my grandma who had also inherited it so it will easily date back to the Victorian era. When I inherited it, it had one leaf and was planted in smelly compost due to may grandma's habit of watering it with tea complete with milk and sugar. Once replanted it grew very quickly and my sister also has a large plant. Many years ago it produced a flower but I am still waiting for a repeat performance.
The Boston fern often needs a tidy as to be honest it isn't growing in ideal conditions for it but is holding its own.

Another plants that isn't growing in an ideal position is one of our clivias. Roger - the No Dig Gardener chastised me for growing it in insufficient light but I liked the dark green leaves that the low light produced and despite the lack of flowers liked it where it was. The result was that Roger gave me another plants that I have grown on a windowsill and as a result last year it flowered well. It spent summer in the greenhouse and has now been brought back into the house in the hope of flowers again this year.
Plants such as begonia rex and the prayer plant produce flowers but we grow them for the foliage. Both respond to being cut back when the leaves become tatty, in fact it seems to be part of the prayer plants yearly growing cycle. Dead leaves are cut off and new ones grow from the centre. The plant in the photo below is coming to the end of the cycle and new leaves should start to push up soon. The variegated ficus is stunted due to being kept in too small a pot but still keeps going.
We are great believers in giving plants a chance to regrow and currently have a few plants in the recuperation suite. At present these are all plants that have finished flowering and have been cut back hard. There are several regal pelargoniums, a busy Lizzie/impatiens and a begonia. The impatiens had been attacked by aphids which we couldn't control and so cutting down was a last resort which has paid off as it had grown well and has lots of new flower buds.



So our outdoor garden may be heading for a long sleep but our indoor garden is thriving. Many of our indoor plants are garden plants in other parts of the world. Malar and Endah grow many in their gardens.

Many house plants given the chance are long lived and so are not just for the short term and deserve a life.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

32 comments:

  1. You have some magnificent plants there! Although I come from a long line of gardeners, my earliest encounters with growing plants came from the indoor plants of my grandmother. At one time my living room was like a tropical rain forest! Sadly I had to move every two or three years and it was heartbreaking to have to give up my forest. These days, my sills are too narrow to accommodate much and I seem to have lost a lot too.

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    1. Our parents were surprisingly tolerant of all the house plants but my sister and I acquired, Deb. We haven't really changed.

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  2. Goodness, you do have a lot of house plants. I have three orchids and that's it. I'm pleased to see that you managed to get your orchids to flower again, I've got one currently in flower, one just throwing up a new flower spike and one is having a rest.

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    1. Surprisingly,major my sister's orchid flowered again this year to after she had despaired of it flowering again. It must've been a good year for orchids this year.

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  3. Lovely gloxinia, Sue. Mine is in buds too. Your clivia is pretty as well, mine doesn't want to bloom. And your orchids are so beautiful!

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    1. The gloxinia is now in a stage where I am waiting for some new buds to form, Nadezda. As for the clivia it hasn't flowered yet this year but I am hoping.

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  4. That's an amazing collection of houseplants, Sue - and such wonderful specimens too. You certainly look after them well. I was amused by what you have written about the Aspidistra. That is the archetypical Victorian parlour plant. Have you read George Orwell's book "Keep the Aspidistra flying"?

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    1. Funnily enough, Mark, George Orwell was the author was the subject of a long study when I was a student teacher . However that it's one of his books that I never read.

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  5. Your orchids are gorgeous, the white one especially. Lovely to have so much colour and lush greenery to take you through the winter months.

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    1. Not all of the plants are in flower at the moment, Jessica. The white orchid has finished but the purple one is still going after months of being in bloom.

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  6. Well done with the clivia, I agree that their foliage looks really nice in shade. Indeed I have trouble with mine when some of the leaves go brown when I put them out for the Summer

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    1. The clivia that you gave me, Roger spent the summer in the cold greenhouse. Some of its leaves have dried and gone brown now I just have to hope that it will flower again as it is now back on the house windowsill for winter.

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  7. Amazing collection.
    Funny how one can look back on childhood and see clearly where one's interests lay.....

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    1. It is, Sue. One thing there was no sign of it in my childhood were computers. Hardly surprisingly as I don't think anyone had them in the home all those years ago. I certainly had never thought of them and even when I started teaching we didn't have them in school.

      Over my career the use of technology in schools changed dramatically from the old chalkboard to the interactive computer controlled whiteboard. I certainly had a wide range of classroom experiences.

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  8. I've never had much joy with houseplants Sue except for African violets and peace lilies. Maybe I should have followed your lead and bought plants home for the school holidays rather than the hamsters, goldfish, stick insects etc. that I ended up with. You have a great collection of houseplants there that must provide you with much pleasure especially in the winter months.

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    1. Babysitting school hamsters and goldfish featured in my childhood to, Anna. In fact I do remember one year when my mum had to go out and buy a new goldfish as the one I was looking after died.

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  9. That's a lot of houseplant! I never has experience since young in keeping plants indoor. Most of my indoor plants are at the car porch where it get very little sunlight.

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    1. Most of our house plants you can grow outside, Malar so in a way there is no need for you to grow them inside too.

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  10. I can see that your indoor garden rivals your outdoor garden! I love houseplants but have issues keeping them alive, especially after the kids came along. Now that they are getting a bit older, I've added a couple of plants to the family room. If I'm able to keep them going - and that's a big if - I may just add one or to more.

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    1. I think in many ways it is down to the conditions in your house, Margaret. The type of heating you have how much light you have etc. all play quite a big part in whether you can keep house plants or not. Maybe you will eventually drop on one that will be happy with you.

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  11. I love the tale of your grandmother feeding her tea dregs to the aspidistra and it's a testament to the green fingers of your family that the plant is still thriving all these years later. I'm hopeless at house plants, probably because my flat is quite shaded thanks to wooden venetian blinds for privacy from the flats opposite. Even the chilli pepper which I've rather optimistically brought indoors for winter immediately got fungus gnats which I quietly hope I've now thwarted.

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    1. I am surprised that my grandma managed to keep the aspidistra for so long, Caro. By the time she handed it over to me with a "see what you can do with that comment" it only had one weak looking leaf. After I had washed all sour compost off the roots and repotted it it seemed as if it said "yippee" and sent leaves up by the bucketful.

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  12. What a beautiful selection of plants! The gloxinia and orchids are gorgeous. I was smiling at the tea given by Grandma!
    I used to have lots of house plants but haven't replaced them as they've eventually died, I am especially fond of cacti, they seem to need little attention.xxx

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    1. The aspidistra originally belonged to my other grandma who died when I was four. Apparently the church dramatic society used to borrow it for the set of their platypus.

      We once had one in the entrance hall of a school that I taught at at and when we had a Christmas concert someone actually had away with it.

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  13. Fabulous selection of house plants Sue. They must take some looking after. I remember my mum having busy lizzies & spider plants when I was a child but I never went down the house-plant route. I've always wanted an aspidistra though, loved reading how your nan watered it with milky sugary tea x

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    1. It probably didn't mind the sugar, Jo but I don't think it was keen on the milk.

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  14. I think I have about 40 houseplants. When we built our cabin and moved the light wasn't correct and I lost 12 African Violets. I miss them. A house without plants would seem very empty.

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    1. You've beaten us by three, Bonnie we have 37. I'd better go and buy three
      African violets

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  15. It’s funny you are making a post about your houseplants now Sue, as I am taking photos and planning a post about mine for next week, my last before Christmas! I have also never lived in a house without houseplants, and coming from Norway originally I think over there the tradition with having a house filled with houseplants seem more common than here in Britain – possibly because the climate means the summers are shorter and there are less choice of plants to grow outside. I was very frustrated with my previous house when it comes to houseplants as most of my windows had radiators right under the windowsill so was unsuitable for plants, the only window I was left with suitable for plants was the kitchen window. In the spring I will get some more houseplants as in my new house I have room for more. Maybe I can finally get some streptocarpus again, and not to make this into a competition but I saw the comment above and had to count my houseplants – I have only 26 and it feels like too few, I have certainly had more in the past and I have space for more – now I just have to decide what :-)

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    1. Most people I know have some house plants, Hélène and when I was growing up people had lots of house plants I think they were much more popular. I think one of the problems now is that there isn't the variety available to buy as they used to be. There used to be nurseries that specialised in pot plants that nowadays seem to have gone they were just small only businesses were you could pick up some plants that were a little bit different. Nowadays the supermarket seem to have taken over the house plant supply chain and offer very little in the way of variety. Most of the plants they supply seem just to be sold as flowers flowering plants with a limited lifespan which people off and throw away once they stop flowering. There are lots of really interesting plants in the house plant books that I have but you can never ever manage to find someone who sells them.

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  16. Some of those houseplants are not easy to grow well, but yours look great. Your collection takes me back to college days, as I used to have some of those houseplants. Indoor plants at that time were very popular, and I suspect the public has since lost interest in them -- a passing fad that is not as popular today as you point out. Remember past bars and restaurants with lots of cascading plants? I didn't see any spider plants or 'swedish ivy' in your collection.
    Ray

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    1. I think the artificial lookalikes have pushed them to one side,Ray. I do remember the long trailing plants in one of our shopping centres in Wakefield. They trailed from the roof and I often wondered how they manage to water them presumably some sort of self watering system. I did have a spider plant but it's not looking very good at the moment. mMy sister is the Queen of spider plants as for Swedish ivy again I used to have one but haven't got it any longer. I wonder if the reason that people have lost interest in house plants is just that there aren't as many available nowadays. Or is it the other way round and lack of demand has caused them to disappear from the shelves ? You would think in these days of the micro gardens that are attached to new houses that house plants would be more popular, that and the fact that they are good at cleaning the air in the house.

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