Moderately Easy Indoor Plants

Plants in this section may well be considered as a natural step up for the plantsman who has achieved reasonable success with the easier subjects. And it may well be found that some of the plants listed here are not as difficult to manage as some of those in the easier section. However, personal experience of growing these plants and of seeing them growing in other people's homes suggests that they do, in fact, present that extra bit of difficulty in average home surroundings.

Indoor conditions have changed considerably over the years and the average home is now well heated and offers abundant light for the general benefit of plants. However, excessive temperature can be a disadvantage to many plants and the cyclamen, which prefers cool and light conditions, is a typical example of a comparatively easy plant that can become a difficult subject when grown in rooms that are very hot and dry. The same applies to bougain-villea, which can be particularly difficult in conditions that are hot. dry and airless given cool, light and airy conditions it could well be described as an easy plant. But such conditions are now becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Given the warm and moist conditions that they require many of the aglaonemas will develop into fine specimen plants that will be much admired. They will also appreciate shade and a peaty compost that is free draining, so it is necessary to provide ample 'crocks' in the bottom of the pot. One common problem with aglaonemas is that the bases of their leaves curl tightly around the stem of the plant and provide a perfectly protected home for the mealy bug pests that seem to find these plants particularly appetizing. Dealing effectively with these pests will mean thoroughly drenching the areas around the stem of the plant with appropriate insecticide - to kill mealy bug direct contact with the pest is essential.

Where space is adequate and a bold plant tion should be given to Aglaonema pseudo-bracteatum, a fine plant with cream and green variegation. Plants a easily come by and it may searching through the specialists' catalogues before a source of supply is located.

Much more compact and much less trouble to acquire is A. Silver Queen which has attractive variegated leaves in shades of grey. When purchasing this plant tak,e the precaution of inspecting the area around the base of the leaves just to ensure that there are no pests in residence. There are a number of other varieties that may be offered for sale but not all of them are as attractive as those mentioned.

The simplest method of propagation is by division of the root clumps in spring, or at any time if a heated propagator

Belonging to the Araceae family, all the anthuriums will require warm and humid conditions if they arc to be seen at their best. Provided it can be obtained the keen plants-man will find that the majority of the anthuriums can be raised from seed with little difficulty if a propagating case heated to a temperature of some 20°C (68°F) can be maintained. At all stages of growth a peaty and open mixture is required. Older plants will benefit from having a little fresh sphagnum moss added to the potting mixture, and for larger plants of Anihurium andreanum it will be an added advantage if the moss can be soaked in liquid fertilizer prior to being added to the compost.

The easiest to manage indoors, and by far the most freely available, is A. scherzeria-num which seldom attains a height of more than 2 ft (60 cm) and will, when carefully grown, oblige with a fine display of scarlet-coloured 'flowers'. The flower-like spathe is highly colourful and the spadix is spiralled and said to resemble the flamingo, hence the common name of flamingo plant.

Much more demanding in respect of space and attention is the very exotic A. andreanum with colourful flowers in many shades of pink and red; the rarer white forms are a coveted acquisition. This grows much taller than the flamingo plant and to gel the best out of it it is necessary to bind a thick layer of sphagnum moss around the stem of the plant as it increases in height aerial roots will then grow into the moss and the plant in turn will do very much better. A. crystal/mum is grown purely for its large and exotic leaves, and needs warmth, shade



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