Houseplants for giving

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Excellent value for money and lasting much longer than fresh flowers, a beautiful flowering plant is a timeless, never fail gift for any occassion.

African Violets
These accommodating little plants will flower for many weeks on end, at any time of year. African violets thrive with lots of indirect light. Direct sun will scorch the leaves and turn them pale, but if there is not enough light the plant will stop flowering. The best temperature for African violets is between 15 and 20 °C, away from drafts.

Do not over water! Wait until top 2cm potting mix is dry then water via the saucer using room temperature water. Take care not to wet the leaves. African violets respond well to regular feeding. When plants are flowering, feed once a month, once every two months when there are no flowers. Use a balanced NPK liquid fertiliser or a specific African violet fertiliser.

These dazzling blooms come from the Middle East and Mediterranean climates with cool winters and dry summers so they’re ideal pot plants for winter. An unheated room is ideal, as cool temperatures prolong flowering. They need bright indirect light, but away from direct sun.

Keep the potting mix moist but not wet, watering from the base of the plant, via the saucer. This avoids wetting the corm, which is susceptible to rot. A yellow leaf is a sign of too much water. Remove spent blooms by holding the stem close to its base and giving a sharp pull to break it cleanly from the corm. Decaying left over stems invite disease.

A water stressed cyclamen plant will drop its lower leaves and flowers first, retaining the younger leaves most vital to survival. At the end of winter the flowers die down, you can keep your plant going if the corm is kept dry; place it outdoors over summer with the pot turned on its side. In autumn repot into fresh potting mix or plant it in the garden.

Chrysanthemums, aka ‘pot mums’, are much-loved indoor flowers, popular in winter when their flowering is triggered by shorter days. They’ll flower for many weeks in a brightly lit room. Water at the base so that the leaves stay as dry as possible, and don’t overwater.

Pot Gerberas make bright and cheerful table plants. Their daisy-like flowers come in a wide range of colours and forms. Gerberas thrive in full sun or bright filtered light. Water regularly but allow the potting mix to dry between waterings.

Begonias produce a profusion of semi-double and double flowers in vivid colours including red, pink, yellow, orange and in a range of bi-colours. Plant will last  indefinitely if you provide them with bright indirect light and well drained but humid conditions. Allow the potting mix to dry between waterings. Cut back leggy plants to promote new bushy growth.

There are dozens of different types of these increasingly popular tropical and sub-tropical plants, many of which are easy-care houseplants. Among the most stunning are the Vriesea, Achmea and Neoregelia hybrids. Bromeliads vary widely in their requirements – some need warmth, others tolerate cold. Keep them away from the heater or fireplace. They prefer humidity around their leaves.

Caring for houseplants in winter:

  • Don’t over-water. In winter, the potting mix should be dry on top and just moist (like a squeezed out sponge) beneath. Succulents and cacti should be kept practically dry.
  • Drain excess water from the saucer - never leave plants sitting in water.
  • Move plants away from cold draughts. Except for cyclamen, which prefer being outdoors or in a cool room, most flowering houseplants should be placed in a warm room with good light but not direct sun.
  • Move plants away from heaters and fires and away from direct sun. The sun is at a lower angle in winter.
  • Raise the humidity around the leaves of tropical plants and by placing them on a dish of stones filled with water so that the pot sits just above the water.
  • Keep watch for sucking insect pests such as scale and mealy bug. Move infected plants away from others.
  • Trim off spent flowers.


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