Sunday, December 27, 1998
By Satish Narula
IN winter one usually spends most of the time indoors, be it in the office or at home. Thus one finds it necessary to brighten up the indoors. Indoor plants bring the space to life by adding a touch or colour and greenery.
Most indoor plants are valued for their beautiful foliage. A few that flower hardly have significant blooms. Displaying pots in which blooming has been initiated outdoors can help counter the paucity of flowering indoor plants. Such pots can make all the difference and bring freshness and fragrance indoors.
There is no restriction on this kind of flora. The plant for floral display can be a shrub, climber, bulbous or herbaceous. Cultural requirements may differ but use fancy pots, dishes, baskets or containers to grow them.
When a plant is in the process of flowering during winter. It is braving the delicate phase of its annual lifecycle. You will have to provide it conditions conducive to growth. Once brought indoors, there is warmth but are depriving it of the free flow of oxygen and sunlight. It is better to find such a place where there is maximum light and air. It would be a boon for such plants if they get a little sun from a window or a ventilator. Make sure the sun does not each the plant through the glass of window panes. You might end up burning the leaves at different spots. The glass acts liked a lens, especially when there is water on foliage. Good air circulation is desirable but not exposure to cold currents.
It is better if you could provide some way of increasing humidity around the plant. This could be achieved by placing the pots in a water-filled saucer or gravel dipped in water. This will be very helpful where you are using room heaters or blowers etc to keep the room warm.
When the plant, flowers or fruits are under maximum stress, it is essential to provide them with frequent, but not copious watering.
A thirsty plant will protest by shedding its lower leaves and flowers. This is done in defence as these are the most demanding parts. If you feel your plant needs a good wash do it by using a sponge or wool soaked in water as water spray might damage the petals of the flowers. There could even be rotting of the bloom.
Do not give this treatment to the plants such as setcresia with hairy leaves.
There is a long list of plants that bloom and have a long life indoors. Some of them could be bloomed outside and then displayed indoors for as long as a month or so. Among these are: anthuriums, poinsettia, acalypha, begonias, euphorbias, cyclamen (for hilly regions), kalanchoe, orchids, geranium, primulas, spathiphyllum and clerodendrum thomsoniae.
Clerodendrum thomsoniae though lovers of warmth, keep sending out its bright scarlet-and-white flowers for a long period of time even when kept indoors. A little warmth will keep it going through out the winter. Keep the pot moist (not wet). The plant by nature looks like a climber but it is not a natural climber and has to be supported for climbing.
In a pot the stems might droop down due to the weight of cluster of flowers that are born terminally. Give support. The fading bracts of flowers turn pink and have a unique charm.
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