Indoor plants for festive colour

Brighten up your home in time for festive celebrations! Indoor plants offer an instant solution for drab rooms. What plants should you buy and how should you care for them to ensure they flourish? Jenny Simpson has some suggestions…

Indoor plants are invaluable for brightening up your home. If they are given the right care and attention they will thrive and provide enormous pleasure. Where life is a garden, it is not difficult to have pots of flourishing plants filling your home with exotic colour and as an added bonus - sometimes perfume. Often plants are allowed to die out of ignorance. It is very important to find out exactly what conditions suit each plant best. For example; does it need more or less water, sunlight or air? Does it need to be repotted or perhaps fed?

Try these popular house plants:

Poinsettia

The stunning poinsettia with its brilliant red bracts really deserves its popularity as a Christmas plant. When buying, choose a plant where the tiny flowers in the centre are only just coming out. Poinsettias need good light, moist soil and the temperature must not fall below 13-16ºC. Feed it with a pot plant fertiliser while flowering.

Coleus

The richly coloured leaves make the coleus an impressive plant. It grows readily indoors but will need morning sun. There are many varieties with eye-catching leaf colours. Keep the plants bushy by pinching out new buds. Coleus plants should be kept at a temperature not less than 13 ºC and fed every two weeks. You can make new plants easily from cuttings by rooting them in water and then potting them up in lime-free compost.

Gerbera

The gerbera's elegantly showy large, daisy-like flowers in colours ranging from yellow to pink, and sporting single or double rows of petals have been conjured from our very own orange scarlet Barberton daisy. They make good short-term accent house plants as they are best grown in a greenhouse.

Kalanchoe

This is a very worthwhile leaf succulent hailing from the highlands of Madagascar. Breeders have worked their magic on the species and, as well as the original red flowers, we now have white, cream yellow and orange blooms to light up our homes. Water the plants liberally in summer but sparingly in winter and apply a dilute fertilizer every two weeks. To encourage bushiness, pinch out the leaf tips when young.

Lastly, remember that the most dramatic effect is achieved with a striking individual plant, so site it in a room so that attention is drawn to it and it becomes a focal point. Since there is no point in drawing attention to a miserable weed of a plant, only a mature, healthy specimen should be bought for this purpose.

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