Selecting and Caring for Your Flowering Houseplants

Selecting and Caring for Your Flowering Houseplants
by Thomas Fryd

Blooming houseplants are a wonderful way to add colour to your home. They can be difficult to grow, but are worth the effort. When taken care of, many of the plants discussed here will bloom for long periods.

Two common varieties of Anthurium, the Tail Flower and Flamingo Flower, have long, narrow, shiny leaves and red buds. Arthuriums need well-drained soil (add sphagnum) and plenty of heat, humidity and watering. Keep in partial sun at an east or west window and propagate by seed or division. More on anthurium plant care here.

Beloperone guttata are called Shrimp Plants for the pinkish-brown bracts surrounding their clusters of purple-spotted white flowers. They require rich, well-fed soil, warmth and plenty of sun and watering. Spray several times a week and take cuttings in autumn or when the plant gets overly leggy.

The Bromeliad family has over a thousand species, many of which produce spectacular flowers. Like their cousin the pineapple they have hard, spiky leaves. Bromeliads will grow in moderate sun but won’t prosper in a north window. They prefer 60-75 temperatures but tolerate variations. Use room temperature water when spraying or watering and avoid over-watering. Propagate by division.

With its lush, abundant flowers Cineraria is among the most beautiful houseplants. It should be kept cool and wilts if exposed to temperatures over 55. Propagate by seed but be warned: a practiced hand and greenhouse conditions are required. Cineraria are annuals and only bloom once.

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Another beauty is the Cyclamen, whose masses of white, pink, or red flowers bloom above dense foliage. It should be kept humid at 60-70. Use warm (even hot) water, and water from the bottom. In winter reduce watering, keep cool and in good light. Repot in autumn, feeding it well until it blooms. Propagate from seed: it takes well over a year for new plants to flower.

Fuchsia likes it cooler than most of us keep our homes but otherwise its thick pink, red and purple flowers make it a perfect houseplant. Keep it well drained and in partial shade. In spring pinch its buds, water and spray it daily but avoid over watering in winter. Fuchsia is propagated by cuttings, and blooms all summer.

Heliotrope is grown mainly for its scent, though it bears tiny purple flowers. It likes warmth, direct sun and frequent spraying, but don’t over water. Though Heliotrope is a perennial, treat it as an annual by propagating new stock yearly. Take cuttings in summer for late winter blooming, or propagate from seed.

lmpatiens blooms pink, red or purple through winter. Originally found in Zanzibar, Africa, its seedpod breaks at the slightest touch, resulting in nicknames like snap weed and touch-me-not. Keep in partial shade during summer but give it as much sun as possible in winter. Impatiens likes plenty of water and should not be over potted; it flowers better with confined roots. Sow seeds in spring, or root cuttings in early autumn.

Lantana is a perennial with red, orange or yellow flowers clustered above oval leaves. Grow at room temperature close to a sunny window. It flowers in late summer and early fall but will bloom in winter if pinched back, watered sparsely and kept at 60. Plant Lantana in your summer garden and propagate by slips and seeds.

Marica is known as the Apostle Plant because its leaves, up to two feet long, grow in clusters of twelve. In late winter its violet and white flowers bloom, drop and bloom again in a period of weeks. Marica needs good sun but give them partial shade in your summer garden. Propagate by division or rooting flower-bearing stalks.

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