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houseplants

Three Plants for Inside and Outside

In Mother Nature’s book there is no such a thing as an indoor plant per se. What we gardeners use indoors are the many so-called ‘garden plants’ that can adapt perfectly to growing conditions inside the home. Here is a trustworthy trio that fill dual roles as tough and easy-to-grow groundcovers for shady areas in the garden, as well as lovely low-care houseplants.

3 Houseplants to Consider

Variegated spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’ (also called hen-and-chickens) is a spectacular cultivar of the indigenous C. comosum with colourful, variegated foliage. This rhizomatous evergreen perennial forms a large basal rosette with arching straplike leaves up to 45cm in length. It produces thin cascading stems with white star-like flowers that are soon replaced with perfect little miniature plantlets. In temperate gardens it can be used as a clumping groundcover to add light and interest to dull, shady corners where the many little plantlets formed will soon root where they touch the soil, creating more clusters. Indoors it can be popped on shelves, planted in hanging baskets or used in macrame hangers and grown in bright, indirect light. Keep the soil just moist and do not over-fertilise as this may inhibit the production of many new plantlets, which gives it such an interesting appearance as a potted plant.

Gossip spurflower

Plectranthus verticillatus, also known as the money plant, is an indigenous groundcover perfect for growing in full sun to light shade. This semi-succulent perennial has attractive glossy leaves with broadly toothed margins, which can be light or dark green above with deep purple shading below. Delicate sprays of white to pale mauve flowers appear intermittently throughout the year, with a peak in spring and again in autumn. For indoor use, it can be planted in hanging baskets to allow the elongating stems the freedom to spread and cascade. Use a rich and well-draining soil mix, and allow it to dry out between watering. If left to dry out too long, however, the plant will droop. Fertilise monthly in summer with a water-soluble fertiliser.

Polkadot plant

Every summer brings trays of hypoestes seedlings for us to plant with other typical shade lovers such as impatiens and begonias. The presence of these spotted and mottled foliage plants always attracts interest in the garden, where they are used as annuals to be replaced every season. Hypoestes sanguinolenta ‘Splash Select’ is a superior range with leaves that are mottled green and either rose, pink, red or white, and which can be grown indoors as smart, perennial houseplants. Keep them in bright, indirect light and anchored in well-draining potting soil. These eye-catching plants are vigorous growers and can become leggy. Prevent this by pinching out the top two leaves of every stem weekly in summer to encourage bushiness. If the odd insignificant flowers appear, pinch them out too. Never allow the soil to dry out too much as it will cause wilting, but also don’t overwater as drenched roots will cause rot. These houseplants like high humidity in the atmosphere, they will benefit from regular misting. Feed monthly in summer with a water-soluble fertiliser and overwinter them on the drier side.