Dé­cor & de­sign

Alice Spenser-Higgs sug­gests indoor plants for bright­en­ing things

Business Day - Home Front - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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