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Hardy Houseplants With Attractive Foliage

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:23 pm    Post subject: Hardy Houseplants With Attractive Foliage Reply with quote

Hardy Houseplants With Attractive Foliage
By Beverley Boorer

Many people want to grow houseplants to cheer up that poorly lit space, but which houseplants need the least light?
Rex Begonias make hardy and showy houseplants, needing little but a light, warm room.
Some have gorgeous flowers, but those grown mainly for their leaves make the best indoor plants. These succeed in poorly lit areas that others won't tolerate.
Rex begonias have large heart-shaped leaves of various colors and markings. Some have patches of silver, crimson or maroon on metallic green leaves, with the underneath part velvety red.

Begonia masoniana or Iron Cross Begonia has smaller leaves with nearly black, cross-shaped markings on them.
All begonias need to be kept moist in both summer and winter and their minimum temperature is about 7 degrees Celsius.

Chlorophytum, rhoeo, tradescantia and zebrine are all hardy houseplants, thrive in poorly lit areas and with minimum temperature requirements of 7 degrees Celsius.
All have attractive leaves of creams, whites, pinks and purples and some are striped.
They are trailing in habit and need to be watered freely, but don't let Rhoeo get too wet.
Feed every 2-3 weeks with a weak soluble fertilizer solution.

Ferns are hardy houseplants that require very little attention.
They like to grow with their roots crowded, so don't need re-potting very often. They will benefit from being occasionally left outside on a rainy day to thoroughly saturate the roots and wash the leaves clear of dust.
The Mother Spleenwort, Asplenium bulbiferum is a great houseplant so long as the air is not too dry. The fronds are delicate and graceful and sometimes you'll find tiny plantlets on the upper surface.

Maidenhair ferns are also most attractive with their black stems and bright green tiny leaves that seem to shiver with the slightest air current.
Blechnum gibbum makes a plume of fronds on a short stem and is decidedly attractive in spite of an ugly name.

The davallias are all lovely ferns for indoors. D. canariensis and D. pyxidata are both known as Hare's-foot ferns.
Their shiny fronds are finely divided and grow from brown, furry stems that seem to hug the ground.

The Fishbone Fern has many handsome varieties with a feature of the fronds being it's ladder-like growth habit, while the Cretan Brake, Pteris cretica, also has several varieties with narrow, ribbon-fronds that can be crested, waved, variegated or divided.

Another easily grown houseplant is Fatsia japonica, also known as the False Castor Oil Plant.
Its large shiny green leaves are cut into broad lobes and it will even grow in poorly lit, unheated rooms.
The variety with cream-edged leaves is not quite as hardy.

Also worth a mention is the Monstera deliciosa.
Its large, dark green leaves are cut and divided in a most curious way, which is its prime attraction.
That it takes to poor light rather well is a bonus.
It will withstand a minimum temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (10 F)

While many evergreen plants will benefit from having their leaves sponged with a weak milk and water solution, those with a velvety texture need to have the dust removes by brushing rather than sponging, which could harm the delicate surface of the leaf.

Beverley Boorer is a freelance writer and gardener whose articles on a wide variety of topics continue to be published both online and off. Her gardening website may be found at

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