Foliage Plants For the Indoor Garden
Keith Markensen (04/18/2009)

If you are considering having more than just a couple of varieties of plants, it is likely that the majority of your choosing would be considered to be "foliage" plants. Whilst foliage plants do not reward the owner with masses of blooms, they have their own beauty and as a bonus are easy to grow and are readily propagated. They are also more adaptable to various climatic conditions.

Foliage plants are the mainstay of many a garden as they continue to grow and present their beauty throughout all the seasons. Within this group of plants are hundreds of naturally occurring variants and thousands of hybrids and other varieties.

The domestic gardener has a seemingly endless variety from which to choose - size of the plant, leaf shape and size, leaf colour are all indicators of difference. The following examples are readily available and can be cultivated successfully in any climatic zone.

This species of plant is the most commonly cultivated house plant, equal to the ivy. They are relatively easy to grow, do not cost much and can add to any decor. Philodendrons require minimum care are known to be long lasting indoor plants. Of the hundreds of types of Philodendron available for home growing, the majority are in the category of climbing vines. The biggest seller is known by its botanical name only (P.cordatum). This beauty has shiny leaves that are heart shaped and arranged in clusters. Any form of supporting structure is appropriate for this climber, the most popular being a piece of bark. The best medium in which to grow this specimen is good quality potting soil which is kept at room temperature. The plant requires regular watering and feeding. Philodendron has become popular as an indoor plant due to the fact that it can thrive in rooms that do not receive direct sunlight, although it does require light, as do all plants, for photosynthesis to occur. It is advisable, in order to maintain the health of the plant, to ensure that the leaves are thoroughly cleaned. Not only does this improve the aesthetics of the plant, it also reduces the chance of disease and insect or parasite attack.

There are a number of other members of the Philodendron species that make excellent indoor plants. The "Cut Leaf" Philodendron (P.pertusum) has oval leaves that are quite large with splits or "cuts" in numerous places along the leaves, from the very edge of the leaf to the centre or "spine". Another cultivar is "P. hastatum". This plant has an upright growth pattern and huge leaves that extend from its very long stems. It is possible to propagate all Philodendrons using cuttings from the stems.

Another popular indoor plant is "Devil's Ivy" (botanical name Pothos). This is another climbing plant, vigorous in growth and when allowed to grow naturally will reach huge dimensions. It is identified by its distinctive leaf shape and the color of the leaves, which are bright green with irregular lines and splashes of pale yellow. The Devil's Ivy will grow under the same conditions as the Philodendron.

A species of Begonia grown exclusively for its foliage rather than its blooms is the "Rex" Begonia. The many and varied types of this plant have distinctively different colors on the leaves and the leaf patterns are all different. One similarity is that the leaves are large in size and have hair-like structures at the edges. They also exhibit veins which are prominent.

Some variants of Rex Begonia have flowers that are small and hardly noticeable as they nestle above the leaves. The main attraction of the plant is its leaf structure. These Begonias thrive in conditions that have a supply of cool, moisture laden air and an abundance of sunlight. Unlike the Lady Palm which easily adapts to most interiors, this can sometimes be difficult to achieve in a house. So it is fortunate that these plants will put up with less desirable conditions.

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