Gardens: the A-to-Z of winter houseplants | Life and magnificence


A is for avocado

Want extra houseplants? Great. Post-Christmas funds restricted? Understandable. So why not develop your individual indoor tree from an avocado stone? Scrub the stone clear, wrap in damp kitchen paper, put in a plastic bag and depart someplace darkish and heat. Within just a few weeks, it is going to sprout and could be potted up.

B is for begonias

Angel wing begonia.

Angel wing begonia. Photograph: Alamy

Forget the gaudy denizens of pub hanging baskets: as an alternative, embrace the indoor begonias prized for his or her foliage. My favourites are angel wing (Begonia maculata ‘Wightii’), dark-leaved ‘Black Fang’ and the palmlike B. luxurians.

C is for cuttings


Echeveria. Photograph: Getty Images

It’s simple to make extra houseplants. Many will root even if you happen to simply stick a stem in a glass of water for just a few weeks. And you may make extra of sure succulents (together with echeverias, haworthias and crassulas) by rigorously eradicating a leaf from the stem, leaving it to callus over for per week or 2, then urgent into gritty compost. Soon, a rooted child plant will develop from the top, whereas the leaf steadily shrivels away.

D is for dormancy

Many houseplants, cacti and succulents included, like a breather over winter, so scale back watering and cease feeding till spring.

E is for epiphtye

Tillandsias (air crops) are epiphytes, that means they develop on timber within the wild and have few, if any, roots. So, if you happen to worry the mess of compost, air crops could be the reply: they don’t want a pot and want solely a weekly half-hour soak in water to maintain them completely satisfied.

F is for fiddle leaf fig

Still a painfully modern specimen plant, however not the best to maintain completely satisfied. If you don’t have the contact, go for a Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) as an alternative.

G is for gynura (and different furry houseplants)

I really like houseplants that not solely look good, however really feel good, too: the purple ardour plant (Gynura aurantiaca) has scalloped, velvety leaves that seem like offcuts of an Austen Powers swimsuit, whereas the rusty leaves of my feltbush (Kalanchoe beharensis) are the right tactile stress reliever.

H is for hippeastrum (aka amaryllis)


Amaryllis. Photograph: Getty Images

If you raised certainly one of these outsize bulbs as a Christmas curiosity and fancy a repeat efficiency, begin reducing again on watering subsequent September and let the crops die again. Cut away the leaves, then depart someplace cool and darkish – a shed or storage will do – for about six weeks. Bring again indoors, begin watering and feeding once more, and it’ll quickly be coming out one other phallic flower bud.

I is for ivy

Surprisingly, the English ivy (Hedera helix) that runs rampant in gardens does fairly badly in most properties. Grow lookalikes that received’t shrivel and die: particularly, grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) or satan’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum).

J is for jewel orchid

Ludisia discolor.

Ludisia discolor. Photograph: Alamy

If you’re uninterested in grocery store moth orchids, you simply must unfold your internet wider. If you worth foliage over flowers, you’ll love the jewel orchid (Ludisia discolor) with its good, darkish inexperienced and silver-striped foliage.

Okay is for equipment

Yes, that copper watering can could look beautiful, however I’ve discovered drinks bottle with a sports activities high is definitely a greater manner of watering with out splashing.

L is for gentle

In winter, low gentle ranges could cause cacti and succulents to turn out to be leggy and stretched. Invest in an LED develop gentle to maintain them completely satisfied.

M is for mealy bugs

If your succulents are coated with fluffy white lumps, it’s in all probability mealy bugs, a sap-sucking scale insect. Put a drop of methylated spirits on the top of a cotton bud and dab on to the bugs. Repeat till they’ve all gone (though, in critical infestations, chances are you’ll must ditch the plant altogether).

N is for Norfolk Island pine tree

It’s not a real pine, however Araucaria heterophylla will fill the hole very properly in case you are lacking your Christmas tree already.

O is for Oxalis triangularis

Oxalis triangularis.

Oxalis triangularis. Photograph: Getty Images

Purple shamrock is my prediction to turn out to be the must-have houseplant of 2018. Its heart-shaped leaves match completely with the Pantone color of the 12 months, extremely violet.

P is for pebble trays

Cacti and succulents enjoy dry air, however that may be problematic for different indoor crops. Misting is commonly beneficial as an answer, however sticking pots in a tray of gravel or pebbles half-covered with water is more practical.

Q is for quarantine

If you need to keep away from importing pest issues similar to mealy bug (see M, above), hold any new crops in a special room from the remainder of your assortment for just a few weeks, so you possibly can examine the arrivals for any undesirable guests.

R is for rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii)

This trailing plant with heart-shaped, silvery leaves has a intelligent trick up its sleeve: the bead-like aerial tubers that develop alongside the stems could be snipped off to make new crops.

S is for succulent

Got a succulent for Christmas? Don’t kill it with kindness. Right now, it’s sleeping (see D is for dormant), so put it someplace cool however sunny, and water sparingly till spring arrives.

T is for terrariums

If you may have tried and failed with succulents, don’t label your self as somebody who “can’t do houseplants”; you’re in all probability simply rising the flawed crops on your house. Shady spots are excellent for closed terrariums planted with ferns and moss. Be impressed by Tovah Martin’s ebook The New Terrarium.

U is for umbrella grass (Cyperus involucratus)

Umbrella grass,

Umbrella grass, Photograph: Alamy

If you’re the overwatering kind, this bog-dwelling plant is the 1 for you.

V is for variegation

Calathea makoyana.

Calathea makoyana. Photograph: Alamy

Leaves with swirls, stripes and splashes of color look nice on Instagram, which can clarify their present reputation: strive nerve plant (fittonia), calatheas and prayer crops (marantas).

W is for watering

The largest killer of houseplants is overwatering. If unsure, step away from the watering can. Use a picket skewer caught deep into the compost as a moisture indicator. Pull it out earlier than watering, and go forward provided that the wooden is dry.

X is for ex-plant

Tempting as it could be to attempt to nurse a leafless stick that was as soon as a plant again to life, don’t. Limited house means you must be brutal, so consign it to the inexperienced waste bin and begin once more.

Y is for yellow

When your plant’s leaves flip yellow, it’s normally since you’re not watering proper: an excessive amount of or too little. See W.

Z is for Zamioculcas zamiifolia

If you possibly can’t hold something inexperienced alive, this architectural foliage plant is probably the most forgiving of all.

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