Sunday, March 9, 2008

House Plants

long cold winter has just ended.  Time to open the balcony doors again and take stock of the damage the harsh winds have inflicted on my mostly tropical potted babies.  After a long arduous afternoon of pruning, re potting,  discarding and rearranging a series of containers here is what I've managed to salvage... 

 Plant group: Podocarpus, Haworthia and Fittonia

A few miniature plants, Podocarpus, Haworthia and red leaved Fittonia have been arranged into a easy but attractive plant group on the dining table.  The first two are fairly easy to maintain and non fussy creatures that thrive with a little light and moderate watering - The Podocarpus would like a little misting during the hot summer months. As for the Fittonia, it is a tough one .. more about that later. 

 A Lacquer tray and some Tibetan Jewelry brings out the foilage of a verigated Ficus benjaminia.

The Ficus family offers houseplants  varying from stately  trees to lowly creepers . The most popular variety is of course the Rubber Plant. The Ficus Benjamina however is among my favourite houseplants, these elegant shrubs grow into splendid miniature trees with time and unlike the Rubber plant ( Ficus elastica ) are not fussy at all.

Podocarpus yet again, re potted into an arrangement for the balcony table.

Yet another favourite is the Buddhist pine. I just re potted mine into a rectangular dish.  A piece of driftwood from a walk, pebbles and moss from the local market have helped create an arrangement for the balcony. I love this plant for being- commonly available here, undemanding and slow growing -- which makes it ideal for miniature arrangements like above. 
The Buddhist Pine does great with a little bit of sunshine and occasional feeding and misting through summer, an east facing balcony is a great home for this one.

Large Leafed Fittonia ( Silver Net Leaf ) from Ikea  and Radermachera

The last time I could not work a miracle with a Fittonia, I had promised myself I'd go slow with my craze for this terribly attractive little plant. But that was then and on my last trip to Ikea I found myself checking out one last pot one last time again...
Thing is that this low-growing creeper is as difficult to grow under normal room conditions as it is irresistible..  My house plant manual says its needs a partially shaded spot  and humidity is vital...keeping my fingers crossed again..!
The Radermachera (top right) is mercifully much easier to manage.  A  native of Taiwan, it is a common house plant in these parts.


Also from the trip to Ikea is this beautiful flowering Kalanchoe. Many of these succulents are grown for their striking leaves and others for  their striking flowers.  I have known it to survive in my house on an east or west facing window. It flowers in winter and spring, although it is apparently possible to  bring them to flower through the rest of the year as well.

Ficus elastica robusta - rubber plant 

The Rubber plant above replaces its cousin from the previous arrangement every now and then. My experience with this elegant plant has been moderately successful so far.  One has to be really very careful about over watering and cold draughts. I have managed to make it thrive until I have to travel and a kindly but inexperienced  neighbour or friend takes over the watering !



The natural habitat of Peperomia is either in the tree trunks or mossy floors of  tropical rain forests in America. Although not entirely certain, what I have (above) is a Peperomia  magnoliaefolia or the Desert Privet.  It is a beautiful bushy plant with glossy leaves and does very well in a semi-shaded spot with frequent watering.

Dracena Fragrans

 Among the worst losses of this winter was a handsome Ti Tree grown from a mature cane from a  Dracena plant. The plant had graced my balcony for years... I have replanted the crown into a new pot hoping it will take root and amount to something  like its parent someday...  

Miniature Bamboo

Last but hardly the least, the remains of a pot full of miniature bamboo, has been planted in a small container that graces the coffee table now.  I really doubt if  this slow growing  specimen will ever grow into what it was before winter, but  right now, it is cute as is.


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