Five of the Best Houseplants
Greenery and even some spiky additions to your household can set off interiors and provide warm
colours throughout autumn and winter
SPIDER PLANT, CHLOROPHYTUM VARIGATUM
Despite being derided as a leggy relic of the 1970s, spider plants have been popular for over 200 years. Not only is a well-tended specimen a thing of beauty, but, not to put too fine a point on it, they are hard to kill.
The plant grows quickly producing green-and-white striped arching leaves and cascading stems which terminate in small white flowers and tiny plantlets. It looks great in a hanging planter and is supremely adaptable: it is happy in a bright spot but tolerates shade and dry air, it is not all that fussy about temperature (but don’t freeze it, obviously) and it is unappealing to pests. Water liberally in spring and summer, less so in winter. Feeding regularly will help prevent the tips of the leaves from going brown and promote vigorous growth.
Everybody loves to evoke that Jurassic jungle vibe at the moment, and whether you choose to decorate your indoor garden with toy dinosaurs or not, these false palms are a no-brainer.
Low-maintenance specimen plant, the Madagascar dragon tree is enduringly popular. Lean and spare, its long, pointed, evergreen leaves have a reddish edge, while the variety D. marginata tricolor has an additional cream stripe.
Grow in free-draining loambased compost. Position in good light but not direct sun, and don’t overwater. New plants can be propagated by taking cuttings.
By and large, I don’t have much time for begonias. But Begonia rex types are grown for foliage rather than flowers and are interesting, diverse and lush.
Sub-tropical shrubs, they tolerate the low light levels of our interiors and prefer a spot that gets no summer sun – although in winter an hour or two of direct sun early or late in the day will give them a boost; make sure that the temperature does not drop below about 12C. Keep moist during the growing period and water more sparingly in winter Repot each spring to keep the plant looking good.
Rosehips: a sign of the season