House Plant Bulbs

Spring Bulbs

Bulbs make rather good houseplants, albeit temporary ones. When grown in a clear glass container without soil, the developing roots can also be seen. This can also be an excellent way for children to have an interest in plants and gardening. The white roots on show also have a light, fresh appearance. Layering several bulbs between compost will mean a longer-lasting display because the lowest bulbs will take longer to get to the surface and flower. For a maximum-impact display, pack single layers of bulbs in the pot so that there is hardly any compost visible.

Spring Bulbs

Generally, bulbs are ideal for a temporary indoor display. You can then plant them out into the garden after flowering. In autumn, plant bulbs into a pot of multipurpose compost. Keep the container moist, but not wet and in a cold or cool place (ideally outside). Once the leaves start to show, keep in plenty of light. Bring into its display position once the flower buds have formed; the cooler this spot is, the longer the flowers will last. Keep well watered. A fertiliser is not necessary. At the end of flowering, (remove spent flowers if there are more still to come), plant the bulbs in the garden or dispose of in the compost heap.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

A classic bulb planted alone in a pot and bought for Christmas displays. Usually red or white flowers, sometimes with several per stem. Leaves appear after the flower spike.

Amaryllis

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  • Very free flowering – each bulb will yield multiple stems – the mix comes in a wide array of dazzling colours.

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)

A couple of these flowers will be sufficient to scent an entire room. Available in a range of colours and shades. Traditionally, hyacinth is a bulb for indoor display. A popular variety is Hyacinthus orientalis “Blue Jacket”. This navy-blue hyacinth is a bulbous perennial bearing dense, upright spikes of fragrant, bell-shaped flowers with purple veins in early spring.

Daffodil (Narcissus)

Specific daffodil varieties have been developed that are ideal for either forcing (such as “Paper White”) or small pots (“Tete-a-tete”). Small and miniature daffodils make good spring-flowering, bulbous perennials for both indoor and outdoor displays.

Spring Bulbs

Crocus (Crocus)

The sweet fragrance is gorgeous up close, and so a pot or two of these small flowers are worth growing. It is even possible to cultivate saffron in a bowl, using Crocus sativus bulbs. Spring-flowering crocus are indispensable dwarf perennials as they bring a welcome splash of early spring colour into the garden.

Snowdrop (Galanthus)

Minute variations of green patterns can appear on a snowdrop petal, but even the most basic form, G. nivalis, brings a welcome sign of spring. A popular variety is Galanthus elwesii. This robust snowdrop is a bulbous perennial that produces slender, honey-scented, pure white flowers in late winter, above the bluish-green foliage.

Spring Bulbs

Tulip (Tulipa)

The simple form of the tulip flower works both in isolation (a forced bulb in a single vase) and in a group. Dwarf forms are available for small spaces, but many of the varieties will not flower again for the following year. A popular variation is Tulipa clusiana. This yellow-flowered lady tulip is a bulbous perennial which flowers in early- to mid-spring. The star-shaped flowers, tinged red or brownish-purple on the outsides, are produced in clusters of up to three per stem, above the linear, grey-green leaves.

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Forcing Bulbs

Most flowers that can be forced have flower embryos already formed within buds, scales or tunics ready for emergence when they receive the right amount of heat and moisture. If these flowering initials are not present, then no amount of forcing will produce a flower.

Some plants have a relatively uncomplicated programme. Lily of the valley, for example, can be brought into flower at any time of the year as long as the rhizomes are chilled immediately before subjecting them to warmth. Many spring-flowering bulbs will behave in the same way and can be brought into flower early by artificially simulating a season at the wrong time. Daffodil and tulip bulbs are subjected to cooling treatment, and hyacinths to heat treatment, which results in their flowering weeks before untreated bulbs.

Spring Bulbs

Hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses and several tulips can be mildly forced by plunging them in a cool place after planting to let them develop an adequate root system before they are forced by heat. To do this plant the bulbs as soon as they are obtainable in pots or containers. Use ordinary potting mix if the pots have drainage holes; if not, use bulb fibre which contains charcoal. Plant the bulbs with their tips at the surface of the mix. Ideally, they should then be buried in the garden under 15cm (6in) of soil or ashes with each pot wrapped in newspaper.

Cellar, Cupboard or Cold Frame

If this is not really possible, then they should be kept in an unheated cellar, cool cupboard, or cold frame, wrapped in newspaper to exclude light. If the containers were well packed and the mix well-watered beforehand, the bulbs should not need any attention until about eight weeks later when they should be checked to see if they have pale shoots protruding about 2 to 5cm (1 to 2in) above the surface of the mix. The buds of tulips or hyacinths must be well clear of the neck of the bulb before they are brought into subdued light at a temperature around 10C (50F).

Spring Bulbs

Water as required to keep the mix moist. When the leaves are green, and the flower bud can be seen swelling inside them, move the bulbs to a warmer room to hasten flowering. Once the bulbs have finished flowering, the flower heads (not the stalks) should be removed, and the bulbs should be planted in the garden to recover. It may take a few years before they flower well again in the garden and they should be allowed at least three or four years to recover fully before forcing is attempted again.

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Mix different bulbs in assorted containers for a springtime display. What are your favourite bulbs? Which ones make you smile?

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House Plants That Like Sun

These plants need a good level of light, but not direct sunlight. The ambient temperature is, therefore, lower than for the plants in my “Sunny Spots” section, and although again they do not generally require high humidity, some may benefit from an occasional misting.

Pineapple (Ananas comosus)

It is possible to buy ornamental pineapples that sometimes bear small fruits, but its cheaper and more fun to try rooting the top of a fresh pineapple purchased from a local grocer or supermarket. Twist off the top and remove the lower leaves. Suspend the bare stem in water and wait for roots to appear before potting in a 50/50 compost and grit mix. Water as required and feed in the summer. But, prune only to remove dead leaves.

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  • Grow your own delicious fresh pineapples on your windowsill, and from the same plants used for commercial pineapple production in South America!

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

The bird’s nest fern is a very tolerant plant, therefore making it an ideal beginner’s houseplant. The large flat, glossy leaves are mid-green and have an attractive black midrib and crinkled edges. Pot using a mix of 75/25 multipurpose compost and grit, and water as required. Clean the leaves regularly to keep them clean and shiny. Prune only to cut out dead leaves to the base but brown edges can also be trimmed. New leaves will unfurl from the bottom of the bird’s nest fern.

Plants for Bright Spots

Dwarf Mountain Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

A staple of home stores and garden centre houseplant sales, the dwarf mountain palm makes an attractive houseplant and is usually available to buy in various sizes. The long, pinnate leaves are borne on slender stems, earning the plant its “elegant” name well. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves.

Dwarf Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

This palm is fully hardy but also grows well indoors (it can be moved outside for the summer). It is squat rather than elegant, and has fan-shaped leaves on spiny stalks. Older specimens will have a fibrous trunk. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves.

Dwarf Fan Palm

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  • Ideal hardy palm for UK patios and smaller gardens, it is very compact growing, weather tolerant and hardy.

Natal Lily (Clivia miniata)

Strappy, dark-green leaves are the perfect foil for the bright orange and red tones of the flower spikes on a Clivia. The flowers, borne in spring and summer, are lily-like, and the plant needs a colder spell to produce them, so a conservatory with more seasonal temperature variations is ideal. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flower spikes. Clivia’s bright flowers are offset by its glossy dark leaves.

House Plants for Bright Spots

Arabian Coffee (Coffea arabica)

It is unlikely that coffee grown as a houseplant will actually produce any useable beans, but regardless, the plant is attractive with glossy, crinkled leaves and an enjoyable curio. “Grow your own coffee plant” kits and packets of just the seed are available from online suppliers. Alternatively, buy a ready-grown plant. Pinch out the growing tip of young plants to encourage bushy growth. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves.

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

Madagascar dragon tree is widely available either in its basic form, which has green/red leaves or as the “Tricolor” variety, which has cream-edged leaves. Both bear clumps of arching, strappy leaves atop a slender trunk, with plants usually sold with two or three trunks per pot at different heights. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves. If the room is very dry, an occasional misting will help.

House Plants for Bright Spots

Flat Palm (Howea forsteriana)

One for a larger room, as it can reach sizeable proportions, but its young growth is relatively upright. The broad leaves are divided (i.e. pinnate) and borne on slender stems. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves.

Four-Leaved Pink Sorrel (Oxalis tetraphylla)

Some Oxalis species are serious garden weeds, but contained as a houseplant they are rather pretty. Their clover-like leaves are sometimes supplemented by red/purple flowers in summer. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers.

House Plants for Bright Spots

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Mother-in-law’s tongue grows as an upright clump of lanceolate, fleshy leaves that are predominantly green but have yellow margins and some yellow patterning. Pot in a 50/50 compost/grit mix (plants can be easily divided if getting too big for the space). Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves. It is named as its leaves are seen to be sharp and persistent, just like a mother-in-law’s tongue!

House Plants for Bright Spo

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

The peace lily forms clumps of dark green, ovate leaves and white flowers (spathes). All parts of the plant are extremely toxic. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers. It will benefit from an occasional misting.

House Plants for Bright Spots

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Bird of paradise plants are aptly named and make a spectacular houseplant. Bright orange and purple flowers emerge from tall spikes with beak-like buds, set off well by the slightly glaucous paddle-shaped foliage. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in spring and summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flower spikes. Mist occasionally.

House Plants for Bright Spots

Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus)

This plant has a primrose-like flower borne on delicate stems above long, slightly furry, dark-green leaves. Varieties available can include pastel-pink, blue or purple flowers (visit a specialist nursery for the best choice). Best watered from a saucer to avoid rotting leaves, but do not allow to stand wet. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and trim flower spikes back to the base.

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House Plants That Like Humidity

The following plants all need good light, but not direct sun, and high humidity, so a bathroom or kitchen windowsill would be a good choice for them. Boost the moisture, if needed, with regular misting sprays. The constant humidity which circulates in a bathroom is ideal for many of the following plants.

Tail Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)

An unusual plant, with its waxy, tail-like flower, which is long-lasting and usually brightly coloured, supplemented with glossy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves. Flowers appear in spring and summer. Water regularly in summer but sparingly in winter. Mist as necessary to maintain high humidity. No pruning required; simply remove any dead leaves and flowers, and repot in fresh compost every other year.

Humid Plants

Zebra Plant (Goeppertia zebrina)

Formerly classified as Calathea zebrina, zebra plant has unsurprisingly stripy leaves in dark green and purple tones, which are red-purple on the underside. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Give a weak dilution of fertiliser in the summer. Prune only to cut out dead leaves.

Humid Plants

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

The Venus flytrap is a useful if temperamental house plant. A brilliant curiosity, but be aware that carnivorous plants are challenging to maintain. Refer to specialist websites and books for further care instructions. Keep compost moist and mist regularly to maintain very high humidity. Do not feed with fertiliser. Do not tempt the leaves to snap shut without a fly inside, as this will harm the plant.

Humid Plants

Missionary Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Produces saucer-shaped leaves and, in summer, tiny pink or white flowers. The stem joins in the middle of the blade on the underside. Leaves and stems can trail over the edge of the pot. Water regularly and feed monthly in summer. Prune to remove dead leaves and flowers.

Humid Plants

Common Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)

An epiphyte, best grown in a mix of woodchip and moss, such as an orchid potting mix. It can be mounted on a wall, fixed to a piece of cork or similar, with sphagnum moss packed around the root ball. Prune only to remove dead leaves. Feed during the summer. In a pot, water freely in summer, sparingly in winter. For wall-mounted specimens, water by soaking the base and feed by adding fertiliser to the soaking water.

Humid Plant

African Violet (Saintpaulia)

A mini flowering house plant and ideal for small spaces. Flowers can last for months, and available colours range from deep purple-blue to pink to white. Although they require some humidity, misting can cause the leaves to rot. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers.

Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata)

This is an extremely popular houseplant and will thrive in the humid atmosphere of a bathroom. However, ferns will need extra attention if the heating is switched on during the winter, misting lightly once or twice per week will help. You could also stand their pot on a container filled with pebbles and water. A Boston fern’s number one enemy is dry soil, it needs to be checked daily, adding water if necessary. The entire pot can be soaked in lukewarm water. If the leaves start to turn yellow, this is a sign that more humidity is required.

Humid Plants

Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum)

This is a graceful plant which enjoys bright light and is not difficult to care for. It has attractive light green, feathery foliage and is the source of oil commonly used in shampoo products. The black stems have been used as a dye in the past, and Native Americans used the plant as a poultice, to help wounds to stop bleeding. It should be grown in small pots, and not re-potted if possible. If its surroundings are of low humidity, it should be misted daily, and the soil should not be allowed to dry out, but not overwatered either.

Humid Plants

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

This plant can purify the air and strip out toxins such as formaldehyde from materials in your home. Pothos works quite well in a hanging basket, with its trailing stems or can be trained to climb up a trellis or other supporting object.

Humid Plants

Orchids (Orchidaceae)

This beautiful plant is notoriously difficult to care for, with overwatering being the most common reason for harming them. Despite the fact they originate from rainforests, they should not be left to sit in water, as this causes the roots to rot. An innovative idea is to place ice cubes on the soil, under the leaves to ensure the correct amount of water is dispensed slowly. You can also add fertiliser in this way. They should be misted at least twice per day, preferably with distilled water. They prefer a constant temperature and can actually burn when placed in direct sunlight.

Humid Plants

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum)

This plant is straightforward to grow and has curving white blooms that are very pretty.

Humid Plants

Snake Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, this plant is super easy to cultivate, and its variegated leaves grow in an upward direction. Some of the leaves have white or yellow edges, and it has small white flowers, but rarely blooms.

Humid Plants

Bamboo (Bambusoideae)

Although it prefers to be outdoors, it is possible to grow bamboo as a house plant. There are many varieties but the one thing they all require is plenty of light, and they will benefit from occasional spells outside in the garden in bright sunlight. High humidity is another necessity, with misting needed daily, preferably accompanied by the use of an oscillating fan to keep moisture in the air. Yellow leaves are actually quite healthy and not a sign of ill-health, but curled up leaves do indicate stress. The plant will eventually need to be divided up.

Humid Plants

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Do you have any plants in your bright and humid spots, whether they be in your bathroom or kitchen? Do you have any tips for their care and maintenance? If you have any questions or comments, please contact me below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Kitchen Wall Planters

Edible Kitchen Wall

Even a kitchen with no windowsills or spare surface space can have some fresh herbs, or even fruits and vegetables growing in it, thanks to innovations in vertical growing. It is a growing trend in horticulture, and can also be of financial benefit, saving you money on buying fresh produce. A vertical wall of food is practical, being easily at hand to use at its maximum freshness, as well as beautiful. And, if your kitchen doubles up as your dining area, what could be sweeter than eating in the fresh and fragrant atmosphere provided by the edible wall.

Edible Kitchen Wall

Choosing a Container

The container options for wall gardens basically fall into the following categories:

  • Fixed structures that mount to the wall and can hold various pots
  • Actual pots and troughs that can be attached directly to the wall
  • More flexible, modular systems of material planting pockets

The only thing to consider is to ensure that the wall behind will be sufficiently protected from any water or damp (usually the product you buy will include this protection) and that both the wall and the fixings are strong enough to take the weight of the thoroughly watered, fully grown plant (or plants) and the compost.

Edible Kitchen Wall

What to Plant

Leafy and trailing plants are best for covering containers and creating a green wall appearance, but if the containers are a feature, many culinary plants can be used.

Use annual and bushy herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, mint, lemon balm, coriander, and chamomile. Shrubby upright herbs, such as rosemary and sage, will eventually outgrow small containers and won’t regrow new leaves quickly, but young plants can be used for a short time.

Also, worth considering are dwarf and tumbling tomatoes (those bred for growing in windowsill pots and hanging baskets), such as “Tumbling Tom Red” and “Hundreds and Thousands”.

Other edible favourites to try are dwarf cucumbers, cucamelons (grape-sized melons that grow on an attractive, scrambling vine and taste like cucumbers), strawberries, salad leaves, nasturtiums, radishes and spring onions.

Fabric planting pouches can bring greenery and fresh produce to the smallest of spaces.

If you have bought a ready-made planter, follow the instructions on the product. If you wish to give it a more personal feel, use a little DIY skill to mount the pockets or planters with a wooden frame surround. This can make an even more decorative feature (a piece of living art).

Paint your frame or pots to make them look more attractive in your kitchen. You may wish to paint them with blackboard paint to add plant labels (useful for identifying plants when you are cooking).

Any multipurpose compost can be used. Crops can be grown directly from seed in the wall or purchased as young plants.

Edible Kitchen Wall

Maintenance

It is possible to add an automatic watering system, such as drip-line irrigation. This could be worth considering for large-scale wall plantings, as the small pockets of compost can dry out quickly. In most cases, however, hand watering is just as practical and cheaper.

Edible Kitchen

Basil

A staple of continental cookery. Sow seeds from spring to early summer for a regular supply. Seeds give the best range of varieties, but supermarket-bought potted plants can also be divided and replanted to provide a good crop. For pesto, grow “Genovese“, for Asian dishes “Siam Queen” and for ornamental plants “Purple Ruffles” and “African Blue“. For a more intense flavour and bushier plant, try Greek basil (O. minimum). Lemon basil (O. x citriodorum) is also an alternative worth trying.

Parsley

A biennial but best treated as annual because the leaves become coarser with age. Easily grown from seed or from potted-on supermarket plants. Sow seed from spring through summer. Parsley will take a cooler and shadier spot than most other herbs.

Edible Kitchen

Thyme

Thyme’s aromatic leaves have a wide range of uses. As with rosemary, regular snipping of the shoots will keep the plant compact, but it is best to replace every five years or so to prevent the lower stems from becoming woody and sprawling. When potting on, include some grit in the compost to aid drainage. Never allow to sit in wet compost. An alternative thyme plant to try growing is lemon thyme.

Mint

This is undoubtedly one of the most natural herbs to grow indoors and actually thrives when potted, becoming a vigorous plant in no time. The container should have adequate drainage, and a commercial potting mix, for healthy plant growth. The mint should be watered well and placed in indirect light, away from bright sunlight. It prefers a warmer temperature but can tolerate cooler nights. Mint enjoys humidity and will benefit from a thorough misting every few days, and should be turned regularly.

Edible Kitchen

Lemon Balm

This is an attractive plant to grow year round and has a fresh, lemony fragrance, with its leaves being ideal for adding to various drinks and cocktails. It will snowball, so start with a large container, which drains well, and add a good amount of potting soil. Lemon balm requires regular watering and enjoys a sunny position in the kitchen. Don’t allow flowers to form as they affect the flavour of the leaves, pinch them off on appearance.

Coriander

Widely used in many cuisines. Easily grown from seed. For fresh leaves, use bolt-resistant varieties such as “Leisure“. Seeds are easily produced by any stressed plant; alternatively, use the variety “Moroccan“, which has been developed for good seed production. Water well and give seedlings plenty of space to avoid bolting. Sow successively from spring for a regular supply of leaves and a good crop of seeds by the autumn.

Edible Kitchen

Rosemary

Rosemary’s aromatic leaves have a wide range of uses. Regular snipping of the shoots for the kitchen will keep the plant compact, though they are best replaced every five years or so to prevent the lower stems from becoming woody and sprawling. “Miss Jessop’s Upright” is a slightly more upright and compact form. When potting on, include some grit in the compost to aid drainage. Never allow to sit in wet compost.

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Air Plants Care Instructions

Air Plants

Tillandsias have undoubtedly fascinated me ever since I first saw them. These “air plants” from the subtropical and tropical New World are simultaneously adorable and bizarre. With over 550 species and counting, deciding on which air plant to grow can be a daunting task. Luckily, air plants are easy to grow, and if you read this article and follow the instructions, you should not have that many problems growing your first air plant, even if it’s your first time.

Air Plants

Selecting Your First Air Plant

There is a good chance that you probably ordered your air plants from the internet which means they will have been in the dark for at least a couple of days, so it is vital that they ease into their new surroundings properly. This is the only challenging stage of air plant care. Slowly allowing air plants to acclimatise to the abrupt temperature change (from box to air conditioning or heat) can be made earlier with these quick tips.

Air Plants

Acclimatising Your New Air Plants

When you initially take them out of their box, do not be tempted to set them directly in front of an air conditioner, heater or fan and leave them

To lower the plant’s stress, give them a bath for 20 to 30 minutes. Just soak them in a warm bowl of water. (Even if they came from your local market, be sure to soak them first).

Next, you should lay them out drying completely

If you are planning on displaying them in maybe a glass terrarium, a pretty wall hanging display or any kind of enclosed container (or in a hole to stand them up), it is essential that you allow them first drying out completely

Do not plant your air plants in soil, ever, as that would lead to rotting

And, do not let them stay wet for long periods to avoid spoiling

Yes, you may cut the unsightly roots off and peel off the brown leaves. An air plant gathers nutrients through its leaves (or body) and has no use for soil. Roots are nature’s way of attaching air plants to their rock or tree host.

Air Plants

Understanding Air Plants

These are the immediate steps to take upon the arrival of your new plants. There is more to know to provide healthy lives for your air plants and their pups (yes pups), like air, light and fertiliser.

But don’t fret. Once you get the idea that these are not earthbound, root dependent potted plants, you view them with a whole other understanding. And, you will see how natural, independent and care free these tree-dwelling, rock hanging beauties can be.

Air Plants

Air Plants as a Display

In the wild, air plants, such as Tillandsia, grow without soil and attach themselves to trees, rocks and other supports. Their dull-grey/greenish-blue foliage has no distinct leaves or stems and is covered in tiny pores that allow them to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. The various species of air plant, rosettes or stringy, lend themselves to being displayed in different ways, but they are at their most natural as hanging plants. However, air plants can be housed in almost anything, such as empty seashells.

Air Plant Maintenance

Place air plants in a spot with proper ventilation in bright, but not direct, light. They will need a minimum temperature of 12 C and relatively high humidity. Water by plunging into tepid water (preferably rainwater or soft water) two to three times a week (unless in high humidity, in which case allow drying between watering). A specialist orchid fertiliser can be added monthly to the water (leave the air plant in the water for a few hours when feeding). Rosette-forming plants should be allowed drying facing downwards so that water does not pool in the leaves. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers.

Air Plants

The Air Plant Family

Tillandsia Cacticola

This plant is named for its habit of growing among cactus and has a tall, projectile inflorescence (a group or cluster of blooms arranged on a stem) with lavender flowers. It is actually quite a rare species, as it only produces one or two “pups” or offshoots, once the flower has died away. It is more at home in bright and warm areas. A problem to look out for is if the edges of the leaves begin to curl upwards more than usual. This is a sign that it requires fully submerging in water for up to 12 hours, to restore its former glory.

Tillandsia fasciculata

This species blooms within the spotted, thorned, stiff leaves of a billbergia, another bromeliad family member. It is also known as a giant air plant and is native to Central America and Mexico. In the wild, they grow in vast quantities on tree trunks, especially in rain forests. It can have as many as 50 leaves, which form a rosette shape, and is an epiphytic organism, which means it grows on the surface of other host plants.

Air Plants

Aeranthos

Originating in South America, specifically in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, Aeranthos is an epiphytic air plant that grows mostly on trees. They can grow both as a single plant or groups of between two to 12 plants. Aeranthos is characterised by long grey leaves which are incredibly pointy. They produce a beautiful deep blue three petal flower and can form many pups. This plant tends to thrive in an area with low humidity and can survive in colder temperatures and is one of the most natural air plants to cultivate although it is relatively slow growing.

Air Plants

Bergeri

Originating in Argentina, Bergeri is an epiphytic air plant that grows on rocks near the ground. Bergeri produces pups or offshoots throughout the year and is the fastest growing air plant available. It rarely flowers but can produce attractive blue blooms.

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A Windowsill for Cocktail Drink Garnishes

Kitchen windowsills or sunny spots on worktops and dining tables are the ideal places for edible houseplants, especially when growing crops that can be used as soon as they are picked. Culinary herbs are an obvious choice, but for something a little different, grow garnishes and flavourings for a home-grown cocktail party.

Windowsill Garden

The Botanical Collection

For gin cocktails, use herbs with flavours that will complement the botanicals of the spirit. Robust and punchy-flavoured plants, such as the Greek lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum) or lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus), lemon verbena (Aloysia citradora) and rose-scented pelargonium (Pelargonium “Attar of Roses” is an excellent choice), will all grow well on a sunny windowsill.

Windowsill Garden

The Pimm’s Garnish Collection

Windowsill Garden

If you have space, try planting these together in one large planter. Dwarf cucumber plants (varieties suitable for pots or labelled as “dwarf”) or cucamelons can climb up supports or trail over the edge. Borage will grow tall; pinch out the growing tips of young plants to create a bushy rather than tall plant. Alpine strawberries will cover the rest of the pot to complete the garnish.

Muddling Herbs

For a mojito or other long drink, mint is hard to beat. Virtually indestructible, it is easy to propagate by putting a stem in water until it sprouts roots. Even better, there are so many varieties, such as pineapple mint, strawberry mint and chocolate peppermint, not to mention the basic peppermint and spearmint.

Ginger leaves can be used like mint, and it also makes a great houseplant for a sunny, warm spot. It can be grown from an organic root, bought from a supermarket or food market; plant in a shallow tray until it sprouts, then pot on. See below for more detailed instructions.

Windowsill Garden

Ginger Roots

It is easy to grow ginger from “roots”, technically rhizomes bought from a supermarket. Use the plumpest, freshest-looking roots. Organic ones are preferable because commercial growth inhibitors are sometimes used on non-organic roots which can stop them sprouting once planted. You may find there are already some swollen buds visible.

Plant in a shallow pot in multipurpose compost, so that the root is about half submerged in the compost. Keep the compost moist and the container in a hot place (ideally 25 to 28 C). Shoots should sprout from the root. Once it is established in the shallow pot, it can be potted up to a larger one. In the autumn, cut back the old stems as they die.

Windowsill Garden

Planting a Windowsill Cocktail Garden

Windowsill Garden

All these collections will be fine planted in multipurpose compost. Plant either singly in an array of pots or all together in one window box or large trough planter. Prepare a small wigwam of canes or cucamelon to climb up and secure the plant to one of them; otherwise, let it trail over the side. Wayward stems can be snipped off.

Maintenance

Water as required, and feed throughout spring and summer. Regular picking will keep most herbs to size. When mint becomes pot-bound (i.e. the roots have filled the pot, leaving no room for them to expand), divide the plant into two or three new plants and pot up individually.

Ocimum basilicum

Windowsill Garden

Also known as sweet or common basil, this aromatic annual has bright green leaves, and tiny pink or white flowers swirled around a short spike. The flower heads should be pinched out to encourage the growth of the edible leaves. Not only ideal as an addition to cocktails, but it also has many culinary uses including pasta sauces and lasagna. It is easy to grow from seed and prefers warmth and light, well-drained soil. Its origins are unknown but is thought to be from Asia. Be aware, that it is not recommended that pregnant women or small children consume basil oil.

Thymus citriodorus

This is a lemon-scented evergreen plant, whose fragrance can be released by rubbing its leaves. It sits happily with other plants but requires some cutting back regularly to ensure it does not overwhelm them. During summer, it produces pretty lilac flowers and would be ideal on a sunny windowsill. The tiny leaves can be harvested regularly and either used straight away or dried, for future use. Not only perfect for adding a lemon essence to a cocktail, but it can also be added as a seasoning to soups, salads, sauces and stews, and is ideal with fish dishes.

Windowsill Garden

Aloysia citradora

Also known as lemon verbena, this aromatic shrub can be deciduous or evergreen, and produces tiny white or pale lilac flowers. It originates from South America and is widely found in Chile and Argentina. It is easy to grow and prefers well-drained soil, with its container placed in a sunny position on the windowsill, as it is sensitive to cold. Its pointed leaves bruise easily to release the lemon fragrance and are slightly rough to the touch. Other than as a welcome addition to a cocktail, lemon verbena can be used to make a refreshing herbal tea or with fish.

Windowsill Garden

Pelargonium “Attar of Roses”

Having strongly scented leaves, this shrub can be evergreen or perennial and has small clusters of pink flowers with five petals each. The rose fragranced foliage adds a nice to touch to summer cocktails, and the flowers, when cut, are long-lasting when displayed in a vase. The leaves also add a surprising floral edge to an apple and blackberry pie. The roots of the pelargonium can dry out very quickly, and need to be covered entirely with large volumes of compost, and regular watering is required. A high potash fertiliser can be useful during the summer months for growth.

Windowsill Garden

Share Your Story

What’s your favourite cocktail? Have you ever thought of growing your own garnishes? Do you have any other suggestions as what to plant in a windowsill cocktail garden? I hope you enjoyed my article, and it has given you some ideas. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Plant a Succulent Container Garden

Succulent Centrepiece

Succulents have naturally geometric shapes that lend themselves so well to being displayed in a configuration with a repeating pattern. This makes a tremendous low-maintenance centrepiece for a dining or kitchen table. The resulting display is fascinating when viewed as a whole, but its also entirely possible that dinner guests will get lost in admiring the intricate detail of the individual plants.

Choosing a Container

Choose a shallow dish for the container; it need not have drainage holes, but take care not to overwater the plants.

A circular dish is ideal, but rectangular and square vessels also work well, especially if they have sharp rather than rounded corners, which will give the display a very modern look.

Succulent Centrepiece

What to Plant

Providing they are small (i.e. supplied in little pots), any succulents or cacti would be suitable for a centrepiece.

At its simplest and best, a container could be filled with alternating diagonal stripes of two different species of houseleeks (Sempervivum) or Echeveria. Some of the latter have such glaucous tones that would work particularly well against other darker and greener species, such as E. elegans and E. “Black Prince”.

The aim is to have several of each plant arranged in a pattern that best sets off their distinctive colouring, shapes and heights, while still achieving a pleasing overall display. Sedum also works particularly well in this kind of succulent centrepiece.

Succulent Centrepiece

Method

Both succulents and cacti prefer well-drained soil, so use a half-and-half mix of multipurpose compost and grit (horticultural-grade fine gravel, available from garden centres).

Before planting, lay the plants out to check the spacing; for the best effect, there should be no visible bare compost.

Water carefully so as not to over saturate the compost.

Succulent Centrepiece

Maintenance

Keep the planter in a sunny position, and water as required, aiming to get the spout of the watering can directly over the compost rather than splashing over the leaves, which can rot if left wet in these conditions.

In the summer months, a half-strength diluted liquid fertiliser will also be of benefit to your plants.

Pick or cut off any shrivelled, dead or rotting leaves as necessary; a pair of tweezers is a useful tool for this.

Any baby plants produced can be teased out, cutting away some root as well as the tiny rosette, and planted in their own pots. Replant the whole container after a year or so, in springtime, to refresh it.

Succulent Centrepiece

Step by Step

Prepare Your Pot; you can use a pot without drainage holes, or even an attractive glass vessel, but, in this case, you need to prepare the base of it. Start with pebbles or gravel to a height of 2 cm, followed by a further layer of crushed charcoal, to another 2cm. Taking care with this level or preparation will ensure the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.

Fill the Pot; it is now possible to buy ready prepared succulent potting mix from reputable garden centres. This has been specially formulated to drain quickly, creating the ideal environment. Otherwise, as described above, use multipurpose compost, thoroughly mixed with grit. Fill the pot to within 2cm of the top of it.

Plant Your Succulents; before planting, you could lay out your succulents in the approximate design you would like, to ensure the plants look pleasing together. Plant each one carefully, and make sure the roots are fully covered by the soil mix. Succulents have no problem being placed close together if this is the look you are wanting.

Succulent Centrepiece

Add Finishing Touches; if there are unsightly gaps between the plants, and you don’t wish to see the soil, you can add decorative pebbles or pieces of mosaic glass.

Clean Your Plants; your succulents will benefit from a quick wipe, as no doubt they will have become dusty or have soil on them. An old paintbrush or toothbrush is ideal for this task.

Water the Centrepiece; be careful not to overwater, as this can rot the roots. Simply moisten the surface.

Sempervivum

This is an attractive perennial, evergreen succulent with spoon-shaped leaves, coloured dark green with a purple tinge. Its name translates as “ever alive” thanks to its tolerance of extreme temperatures. They are commonly known as houseleeks, as they were grown on roofs in the past and thought to deflect lightning. The leaves are arranged in rosette fashion and have short, dense hairs which almost gives it a furry, velvety appearance. During the summer months, it produces star-shaped yellow or pink flowers and is easy to care for, requiring no pruning and can survive on very little water.

Succulent Centrepiece

Echeveria

The Echeveria succulent is easy to grow and maintain, able to withstand neglect and requiring little water or nutrients. It has attractive coloured leaves in various tones which form rosettes and is slow growing. The fleshy leaves have a waxy exterior which can leave marks on the skin if pressed too firmly. It prefers a bright, well-lit interior and should not be overwatered; the soil should be left completely dry. Never stand the plant in a saucer of water as this will cause its roots to rot. There are trailing varieties of Echeveria, which are ideal for the edge of your succulent centrepiece.

Succulent Centrepiece

Sedum

This gorgeous perennial, a semi-evergreen, grows in small clumps, no more than 10 cm, making it ideal for indoor planting. The dark green fleshy leaves have a pink and white edge, with bright yellow flowers making an appearance in late summer in star-shaped clusters. They are simple to grow, and don’t even need to be planted; they can just be laid on the soil, and their roots will reach out by themselves. They require very little care, other than occasional watering, but may need pruning as they can spread rapidly, and their weight may cause them to topple over.

Succulent Centrepiece

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Do you have a centrepiece on your table? What is it composed of? Which succulents would you recommend for a centrepiece? Feel free to add any comments below.

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How to Build a Hydroponic System at Home

Salads and Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems are a way of growing plants without using soil or compost. They are becoming increasingly common in the agricultural industry and are used in the growing number of urban farms, but can also be incredibly useful for growing at home.

Hydroponics and Salad

What Does a Hydroponic System Look Like?

In a hydroponic system, all the nutrients that soil would provide are given to the plant through the water. It is a system commonly used in commercial glasshouses for growing salad vegetables but is also useful in growing situations where compost or soil would be too heavy or bulky, such as roof gardens and living walls.

Sometimes the roots simply dangle in an ever-moving aerated stream of water and diluted fertiliser, and sometimes an inert growing medium, such as rock wool, is used to anchor the plants.

Hydroponics and Salad

Hydroponics at Their Simplest

Many people will have had a go at growing hydroponically without even realising it. The old childhood activity of growing cress “hair” from an eggshell “head” stuffed with damp cotton wool is essentially a form of hydroponic growing.

Hydroponics and Salad

Advantages and Disadvantages of Short-Term Crops

Advantages

Hydroponics has many benefits. There is no messy compost and, especially when used in commercial environments, the nutrient balance for the plants can be adjusted to the perfect level, depending on the maturity of the crop and even the daily weather.

Once the system is in place, it also cuts down on costs. Lush growth can be quickly achieved due to the watering and feeding system. The use of artificial light means that crops can even be grown underground, which has the potential to revolutionise urban food supplies.

Disadvantages

Disadvantages include the environmental cost of the growing media, many of which are not biodegradable, and the initial capital outlay. The average home isn’t going to be able to convert a room into a greenhouse using LED lights, heating fans, water circulation and feeding pipes just to grow a bit of salad for dinner! However, many small-scale set-ups include lighting options for gloomier kitchens. These off-the-shelf products are ideal for a windowsill or desk space and come with full instructions.

Hydroponics and Salad

Creating a DIY Hydroponic System

Have a go at creating a home system using a bit of DIY.

The plants will need a container (such as a length of guttering that is higher at one end than the other).

They will also need a substrate (rock wool, perlite or similar) for their roots.

Water and diluted fertiliser can be poured into the guttering and allowed to flow down and out. A more complex system could collect the run-off in a tank and pump it back to the top.

You can find books on the specifics of hydroponic growing to help you, or seek out further guidance online. Recommended books include “Ditch the Dirt: How to Grow Beautiful, Edible, Hydroponic Plants at Home” by Rob Laing (Dovetail March 2018). Online websites include www.ikea.com, www.seedpantry.co.uk and www.homehydrosystems.com.

Hydroponics and Salad

What to Plant

For growing some salad leaves, such as lettuce, rocket, mizuna and mibuna, hydroponic systems are a fun experiment. If there is sufficient space, they can also be used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, peppers, annual herbs and wheatgrass.

Lettuce

Greenhouse lettuce can quickly be grown in a hydroponic system, using a mineral and nutrient mixture to feed the plants. The most commonly used method is that of the nutrient film technique. This is a closed system, which means that any surplus nutrient solution is recovered after use, ready to be recycled.

Hydroponics and Salads

Rocket

This popular green salad crop is also known as arugula, and both the perennial and annual varieties are suitable for a hydroponic system. They are highly productive plants and can be harvested weekly to encourage further growth. Rocket has a lower light requirement than other salad vegetables, making it ideal for a tired hydroponic system.

Hydroponics and Salad

Mizuna

This Japanese mustard plant is often found in commercial salad leaf mixes but is incredibly easy to grow at home. Being a small, compact plant makes it suitable for those with limited space, and it will sit happily alongside other salad crops, using the same nutrient formula as that of lettuce or rocket.

Hydroponics and Salad

Mibuna

Mibuna is very similar to mizuna but has a more intense mustard flavour, and different shaped leaves. It is easy to grow and continues to thrive, even when neglected. The plant can endure extreme cold but doesn’t tolerate heat particularly well. It is ready for harvesting in as little as three weeks, and the leaves can be hand-picked or cut with scissors.

Hydroponics and Salad

Tomatoes

Although it is possible to grow tomatoes using a hydroponic system, it is more expensive than the conventional method. They require a material which is strong enough to support their roots, such as rock wool, coconut coir or perlite. The material should be soaked before adding the seeds and placed under artificial light.

Hydroponics and Salad

Cucumbers

The favourite salad vegetable, the cucumber, positively thrives when grown in a hydroponic system. They require only moisture, nutrients and warmth for a rapid growth rate, with the hybrid varieties being the most successful, as they are resistant to disease. As a vine plant, they are ideal for vertical hydroponic systems.

Hydroponics and Salad

Chillies

Hydroponics is the fastest way of growing chillies, and you can get a high yield in a relatively small space. They work well in a static solution system, where the nutrient solution is aerated by the use of pumps and is changed once per week. For a more extensive set-up, with more plants, a continuous flow system can be used.

Peppers

Green peppers typically grow the best using a hydroponics system, but you need to be careful to ensure the plants are not too close to the artificial lights, as they burn quickly. Care should also be taken with the temperature too, as extreme heat may cause the flowers to drop, thus not producing any peppers.

Which salad items do your family enjoy? Why not take this exciting opportunity to grow your own using this simple hydroponic system?

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Good Plants for an Office

For those who work in grey, lifeless offices filled with the hum of different technology and overhead strip lighting, it will come as no surprise to learn that these environments are dangerous for human health. However, by just introducing a few common house plants, it is possible to improve the air quality and create a more refreshing and relaxing work environment.

Greener Office Space

Everyday Pollutants

As long ago as 1989, NASA conducted a study on house plants to ascertain which species most effectively filtered and purified indoor air. The average urban office is likely to have high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere; either the windows cannot be opened, trapping all the emissions from the various machines within the office, or, if the windows can be opened, indoor pollutants are exchanged for external ones, such as vehicle exhaust fumes.

The worst offenders as regards pollutants in the air are trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene, which can variously cause symptoms from a relatively innocuous irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, to the more severe nausea, dizziness and fainting with prolonged and massive exposure. These may sound like dangerous industrial chemicals, but they are found in everyday items, including some cleaning agents, printing inks, paint, exhaust fumes and even paper towels and tissues.

What to Plant

A few well-placed plants on a desk and around the office can go a long way towards creating improved air quality, as well as giving everyone some greenery on which to rest their eyes. The best plants to choose are as follows.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

This is an evergreen plant, native to the tropical rainforests and swamps of southeastern Asia. It has waxy green leaves, and may occasionally produce a white or yellow flower, followed by orange or red berries. It prefers a shady spot, as direct sunlight can scorch its leaves.

Greener Office Space

Tail Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)

This is an evergreen perennial, with large, simple leaves and a distinctive bright red and yellow spiked flower. It originates from South America, particularly Colombia and Ecuador, and prefers a constant temperature and high humidity. It should be watered regularly, with the use of a liquid fertiliser.

Greener Office Space

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

This indoor palm easily adapts to any environment and is native to Mexico and Central America. It grows very slowly and has delicate, lacy leaves, which should be trimmed off if they die. They prefer bright light and humid air, which can be sustained by standing their pots on a bed of pebbles.

Greener Office Space

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

This is a favourite plant for novice gardeners, as it is easy to grow, maintain and is virtually indestructible. There are nearly 200 different varieties, and they are often used as a part of a display in hanging baskets. They need very little light, and consistent temperature, and will tolerate any type of soil.

Greener Office Space

Pot Mum (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum)

Ideal for containers, this is the most versatile of the species and is available in many colours, including white, red, orange and purple. They are easy to grow using rooted cuttings and require daily watering in warm conditions. They typically bloom in late summer or autumn but can be forced to flower all year round.

Greener Office Space

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

This is easy to care for, an indoor plant, which can survive in lower light conditions, as direct sunlight will burn its leaves. Overwatering is the main reason this plant dies, as it causes the roots to rot; once every three weeks is enough. Originally from Hawaii, they prefer high temperatures and average humidity.

Greener Office Space

Benjamin Tree (Ficus benjamina)

Also known as the Java Fig, this plant can be evergreen or deciduous and has simple, leathery leaves. It has tiny flowers, quickly followed by reddish fruit which turns black. It originates in South Asia and is easy to care for, rarely suffering from any diseases. Be aware, that the leaves can cause an allergic reaction.

Greener Office Space

Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

This pretty pot plant is related to the familiar yellow and white daisies, but is a striking red colour, and much more prominent. Its name dates back to 1889, after the German botanist Traugott Gerber. It is one of the more challenging plants to grow indoors, as although it requires sun, it doesn’t like heat.

Greener Office Space

Common Ivy (Hedera helix)

This is an evergreen climbing plant, which has green-yellow flowers, soon followed by black berries. It originates in both Europe and Asia and can become somewhat invasive if left unattended. Its ideal for planting around the edge of containers, allowing its leaves to spill over, but be aware its sap can be irritating to the skin.

Greener Office Space

Lily Turf (Liriope)

This is an evergreen perennial, with densely packed spikes of purple flowers, followed by black berries. It originates from China, Japan and Taiwan, and can survive in most conditions, easily coping with drought. It can swamp other plants, so needs to be taken care of by pruning if necessary.

Greener Office Space

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

This particular fern enjoys a warm atmosphere and is easy to care for. It has graceful fronds, ideal for drooping naturally over the edge of a container. It doesn’t like draughts and is renowned for being able to soak up vast amounts of water, therefore increasing the humidity of the air around it.

Greener Office Space

Plants for the Office

All of these plants are sold commonly in garden centres, and all will filter at least one, if not several, of the pollutants from the air listed earlier. For desks with only space for one plant, choose Sansevieria or Spathiphyllum, as they are the ones that will filter all five of the worst toxins. Larger plants can also be useful for dividing up space in an office and can be a pleasant distraction in a relaxation area, taking away the stress of work. Which plants do you have in your office?

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A Christmas Plant Display

A Christmas Display

House plants come into their own in winter, when they bring real cheer and life to indoors compared with an often drab and dreary world outside. By putting a few carefully selected seasonal plants together in a large container, a stylish and annual display can be created very quickly. How much glitter and tinsel to add is entirely down to personal taste! 

An Evergreen Arrangement

The dark green tones of conifers and ivy show that their leaves are full of chlorophyll, and they are used to relatively shady positions, making them ideal for an indoor planter in winter. They will happily last through two or three months, including over the Christmas period, but will appreciate being potted up and moved outside in spring to recuperate (bring them back in again the following winter to repeat this temporary display).

What to Plant

A Christmas Display

Try using miniature or young conifer trees; those of a classic Christmas-tree shape are commonly sold relatively cheaply in supermarkets and garden centres in winter as baby Christmas trees and use young ivy (Hedera helix) plants. 

Plant up a large bowl, putting one or more (odd numbers work best aesthetically) trees in the centre and filling around the edge and underneath with ivy plants.

An alternative would be to use a standard (lollipop-shaped) bay (Laurus nobilis), olive (Olea europaea) or rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) tree as the centrepiece, providing it can be displayed in a bright spot. Use multipurpose compost and water as required so that the compost does not dry out.

Using Forced Bulbs

A more colourful temporary display can be created using forced bulbs, though the timing can be quite varied, and it’s best not to rely on them being in bloom for a particular date.

A Christmas Display

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) and paperwhite daffodils (Narcissus) are the two most commonly forced bulbs for mid-winter and are widely available either as dry pre-treated bulbs or ready-potted and growing. Both will have been subjected to a cold spell, and bringing them into a warm house then tricks the bulb into thinking it is spring and time to flower. See below for more details about these specific bulbs. 

Pot up dry bulbs into a multipurpose compost; putting in as many as will fit in a single layer for the best display, as they will be split and replanted after flowering, and water as required.

Keep in the brightest, sunniest spot possible, although they can be moved once flowering to a better position. The warmer the room temperature, the faster the flowers will go over.

Facts About Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

Bulbs make rather good house plants, albeit temporary ones. This is a classic bulb, planted alone in a pot, and bought for Christmas displays. Usually red or white flowers, sometimes with several per stem. Leaves appear after the flower spike.

With its glossy leaves and stunning trumpet-shaped flowers, the amaryllis plant will bring brightness and colour to the dullest of winter days. And if planted at the correct time, will bloom at Christmas, a perfect addition to the celebratory table, alongside the roast turkey and mulled wine!

The plant originates from South Africa, and its correct name is Amaryllis belladonna, which is often grown outdoors in the UK, and it actually translates as a naked lady! The indoors variety is composed of over 90 species and is correctly termed as Hippeastrum, but most people call it amaryllis. The name hippeastrum is of Greek origin, translating as knight star, so called as the flower is said to resemble an ancient knight’s mediaeval weapon.

Amaryllis have actually been cultivated since the nineteenth century, and are mainly used as house plants during the winter, but can be left outside in the warmer summer months.

If buying from a garden centre or supermarket, the bulbs should be thoroughly checked to ensure they are firm and in good condition. Select the larger ones if possible, as they produce more flowers. Store in a cool, dry place until ready, otherwise, they may rot. If requiring them to be in bloom for Christmas, then the end of October is the ideal time to plant the bulbs. Once the flowers start to open, it is best to move the pot to a cooler position and water regularly, but sparingly for the best long-lasting results.

Facts About the Daffodil (Narcissus)

A Christmas Display

Specific daffodil varieties have been developed that are ideal for either forcing (such as “Paper White”) or small pots (“Tete-a-tete”). The name narcissus is the correct term for the daffodil family, and is Greek in origin, translating as numbness. This is a reference to the bulbs having a toxic substance, making them poisonous if consumed. In the past, they were actually used as a medicine to make people vomit, although this is not to be recommended! 

A Christmas Display

The appearance of the daffodil is very distinctive, with its long, narrow stem, the inner cup of the flower (known as the corona), and its three petals. It is usually yellow or white, with the central corona occasionally being a different colour, depending on the variety. They are typically found in the Mediterranean, but some species are native to Asia and China. They are a popular choice of decoration for the Chinese New Year. It is the national emblem of Wales and is traditionally worn on St David’s day. 

A Christmas Display

Narcissus plants are ideal for an easy to grow and maintain indoor Christmas display. The bulbs need to be planted in pots which allow for adequate drainage and can be grown from August to November, but the earlier, the better. Surprisingly, they can be grown just in a mix of water and pebbles, with no soil at all. 

The blooms will appear between October and April. Once they have ceased flowering, they need to be dead-headed, as this stimulates seed production within the bulb. The leaves should be left alone, as they release valuable nutrients into the soil, ensuring the successful growth of the daffodil the following year.

Which plants would you recommend for a Christmas display?

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