Foliage plants
Foliage plants give pleasure all year round. If they have attractively
shaped or coloured foliage they can be featured on their own. Plants with
plain green leaves are best used in associated plantings, to provide a foil
for bolder foliage plants or for brightly coloured flowering plants. All
foliage plants produce flowers but they are almost always small and

Ferns bear no flowers but produce highly attractive fronds, ranging from
the delicate and feathery Nephrolepsis to the bold and tongue-shaped
Asplenium. In their natural state, most ferns grow on the forest floor, so
when cultivated indoors they prefer slightly shaded positions, moderate
temperatures and high humidity.

Palms are among the most elegant and impressive plants, ideal for
displaying in a prominent position. Easy to cultivate and slow-growing,
they provide many years of pleasure. Unfortunately they are also often
difficult to find and expensive. Some varieties can be grown from seed but
take several years to attain a reasonable size.

Flowering plants
Flowering plants provide colour and seasonal variation. They are useful
for featuring in key positions and can often make a stunning impact.
Plants come into flower in all seasons of the year and some, such as
Saintpaulia, have no set flowering time at all, producing blooms at
intervals all year round. The duration of flowering also varies with each
plant, ranging from just a few days to several months. A number of
flowering plants are treated as annuals when grown indoors, to be
discarded after the first flowering.

Flowering Bulbs
Although they could be put with the flowering plants, bulbs are usually
treated separately because of their particular growing requirements.
Bulbs provide a spectacular display of colour, especially if several are
massed together in the same pot. Many flower in the winter months when
most other flowering plants are dormant. They are either artificially
forced into early flowering or come into bud at their normal time but
grow very rapidly because of the warmth of indoor locations. Forced
bulbs will not flower in subsequent years indoors.

Cacti and other succulents
Cacti do not bear leaves but have instead thick, succulent stems, which
store water. Succulents have thick, fleshy stems and leaves, which also
act as water reservoirs. Both types of plant have evolved the ability to
store water in order to survive the arid or semi-arid conditions of their
natural environment. Many cacti produce spectacular but short-lived
flowers, which can completely dwarf the plant. Some have prickles or
spines, so should be handled and positioned with care.

Bromeliads are distinctive plants, usually producing a rosette of glossy
green foliage and a vividly coloured flower head or spike. The spike is
formed by a series ofmodified leaves called bracts; the flowers themselves
are insignificant. Bromeliads are tree-living or epiphytic plants. As such
they have weak root systems and water and food should be applied
through the central ‘cup’ formed by the rosette of leaves.

Each of the plant type descriptions in this book also includes details of
the plant’s habit. This is the overall shape and direction ofthe growth and
can be erect, upright, bushy, shrubby, prostrate, trailing or climbing, or a
combination of two or more of these qualities.

Season of interest
This is the period during which a plant is considered to be at its most
attractive. For the foliage plants, ferns, palms, bromeliads and many of
the cacti, this tends to be all year round. For the flowering plants, bulbs
and some cacti it is generally the flowering period.

Plants grown indoors rarely attain their full natural size. They are
constrained both by imperfect growing conditions and the need to keep
them to a manageable or attractive size by regular pruning. If a plant can
achieve its full potential indoors, this size is given. If it cannot, the size is
described in terms of a range within which the plant is considered to look
at its best and is practical to keep indoors. Some specimens will be able to
exceed this range if space allows or conditions are ideal.

In the flowering plants, bulbs, cacti and bromeliads the flower or flower
head is usually the main feature of the plant and is covered in detail. In
the groups of plants where the flowers are small and insignificant they
are described only briefly to aid identification.

The size, shape and colour of the leaves are described both as an aid to
selection and to facilitate the identification of unknown plants. The
descriptions given are for plants that are in good health; the foliage of
unhealthy plants may appear quite different.






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