Island Gardens with Peter Schinkel – September 25, 2020

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Welcome back to island gardens. Thank you to Simon who suggested I talk about indoor plants in this issue, and to Vicky who suggested flowers. Thank you both for inspiring today’s editorial – an exciting look at both indoor plants and flowers! Many indoor plants have advantages other than their beauty. All release oxygen into the air and many can absorb toxins from the air. Studies have shown that indoor plants can boost mood, productivity and creativity. They can reduce stress and help you sleep.

Sometimes our one obstacle can be keeping them alive and looking great. But some plants, with the tiniest of care, will do very well. While several books could be written on this subject, here’s some info about four such indoor plants and flowers that are likely to stay looking as wonderful as the day you bought them.

Starting from the top left – the Zanzibar Gem only needs a little watering once a month. It prefers a bright position with no sunlight and every now and then produces a new stem or two like the ones in this photo. Within a couple of years, it can be carefully divided and shared around.

Next, African ‘violets’ are a delightful flowering plant. There are hundreds of varieties with flowers of blue, pink, red, lavender or white, miniature flowers that trail in a hanging pot, and so on. They are really easy to grow as long as you care for them on their own terms. That is – lukewarm watering weekly, maybe twice – ensuring to let dry out for a day or two between waters. Have a good draining potting mix and always water from the base so the plant can absorb from the bottom up. They like to be slightly root-bound so if transplanting choose an only slightly bigger pot. Other than this prep work, you will have beautiful flowers in your home most of the year round.

Thirdly, back to a very easy plant to look after – the bromeliad also a great part shade outdoor plant. Their magnificent flowers are only displayed for a month or two (usually in winter & spring), so the key is often to pick the foliage you like. Place near a window as the brightness will encourage flowering, and they can handle some direct sunlight.

Again hundreds of varieties mean a choice of almost any type of foliage size, colour and pattern. They will grow with only a little water and soil, some even passing as an air plant. Bromeliads also reward you by growing ‘pups’ that you can carefully separate as long as a few roots are attached.

Lastly, orchids. They can be surprisingly easy to grow indoors and can display some of the most amazing flowers much of the year-round. There are a large variety of moth orchids (Phalaenopsis – pictured) that grow particularly easily. Simply ensure they have a very well-draining medium (not soil) and are kept out of direct sunlight. After flowering, snip the stems to just above the second node and often, a new spread of flowers will emerge.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again in issue 125 on 23rd October and as always, happy gardening!