Platycerium

Plants for indoor decoration can be acquired in all sorts of different ways and they need not all be terribly expensive nursery-raised ones. Much of the florists' foliage material commonly used to enhance the appearance of cut flowers can be used as cuttings. An example I have in mind here is the wavy edged, glossy leaved Pittosporum tenuifolium that is much used by florists and is hardy in more sheltered parts of Britain.

Cuttings about 3 in (8 cm) in length should be taken from firm shoots and placed in pots filled with a peat and sand mixture and kept warm and moist until they have rooted. To get a plant of full appearand when rooted they can go into John Innes compost No. 2 and be grown on to provide glossy green plants for the living room that are much more attractive than many of the more conventional house plants offered for sale today. Even if it should fail it will not have been a cosily experiment.

Slightly more tender out of doors, but equally easy in cool, light conditions indoors. P. unduhtum vuriegatum is a handsome plant that will attain a height of some 6 ft (2 m) when its roots are confined to a pot. Keep the compost moist, but avoid extremes of wet and dry conditions.

These arc ferns with a difference in that they do not have the delicate foliage which is normally associated with this group of plants. Instead they produce two types of fronds, the more interesting of the two being the firm, down-covered fertile ones that are not unlike antlers in shape and are responsible for the plant having the common name of stag's-horn fern. The other fronds are sterile and are known as the anchor fronds as they attach the plant securely to whatever tree or other support it is growing on. In time these leaves change to an unpleasing dry brown, but when young they are beautifully smooth and pale green. Neither type of frond should be handled or cleaned in any way as this will mar its natural downy appearance.

To do well these ferns require warmth, shade and moisture, but at no time must they become waterlogged. Being natural epiphytes they are seen at their best when attached to a piece of bark or old tree stem sections of bark can be purchased and plants do look better when set off against this clean and natural backing. To attach a plant knock it from its pot and bind the root ball with wet sphagnum moss, then fasten it to the bark with plastic-covered wire, and thereafter keep it moist by periodically plunging both plant and anchorage in a bucket of water. In time the anchor leaves will completely envelop the bark and a most pleasing plant will be the result. Platycerium hifurcatum is the most commonly available kind.

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