Décor & design
Alice Spenser-Higgs suggests indoor plants for brightening things
Take the colour indoors to brighten up both the home and home office during a drab winter
IF THE garden is looking brown and twiggy after the black frost, compensate for the lack of colour by filling the house with vivid and cheerful indoor flowering plants. The most rewarding plants are pot primroses (Primula acaulis), Cyclamen, Cineraria and Kalanchoe.
All have intensely coloured flowers that are carried above the foliage so they stand out and make a statement. Don’t neglect the home office, especially if you run your business from home. There is nothing nicer than being welcomed by brilliantly coloured flowers as you arrive with your first cup of coffee for the day.
The daily routine of watering, or feeling the soil to check if water is needed, trimming off dead flowers, and checking for new buds is a very calming activity, a way of pausing before plunging into the day’s agenda. If the office has a sunny windowsill it is possible to plant up an indoor window box of Viola “Sorbet” or the large flowering Pansy “Matrix”. They thrive on a windowsill that is well lit and receives morning sun. The soil should be kept just moist and they can be fed every two weeks with a liquid plant food like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger.
The flowers of Primula acaulis “Tundra” are as colourful as a children’s colour-in box. Not only do they raise the spirits but also the visual temperature. You can’t help feeling a bit warmer when looking at pink, yellow, red and purple blooms, many of which have sunny yellow centres. Unlike the more fairy-like Primula malacoides, these are sturdy growers and far more compact.
They produce a posy of flowers above a rosette of tough looking dark or lime green, furry leaves. The flowers of many varieties are fragrant. They need good light but not direct sun. Cyclamen have been flowering since March but are at their peak right now. The flowers are mostly in shades of pink but you can also find brilliant red and purple shades. The shape of the flowers is like that of a butterfly with closed wings.
The foliage is just as beautiful; deep green heart shaped leaves marked with silver.
They also do well in bright light and can take some direct morning sun. Just make sure they don’t dry out. Cineraria are coming into flower as well and they can also be grown outdoors as well as indoors with good light, even some morning sunlight.
The Cineraria Jester looks like a living flower arrangement, with blooms covering the entire plant and just a hint of leaves at the base. The brightest shades of blue, carmine, crimson and scarlet have a distinctive white ring around the stamens of the daisy like flowers. Kalanchoe are probably the prettiest members of the Crassulaceae family, with flowering heads in shades of red, orange, yellow and violet rising above fleshy, succulent leaves.
Allow some ventilation for plants receiving direct or morning sunlight because the heat can build up in a closed room. Make sure that the ventilation does not result in cold draughts, as this is not good for the plants.
Remove dead flowers to encourage the plants to flower more.
Cineraria and primulas, above, with cyclamen, below, and Primula tundra.