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As winter turns our focus indoors, it’s time for an indoor plant cabinet reshuffle. Ditch the dead weight, move around the reliable performers and add some fresh talent to keep things interesting.
Start by tossing anything not pulling its weight. Next, as nothing thrives in the hot wind emanating from reverse cycle air conditioners, or the baking heat alongside column heaters, move plants out of the line of fire. Some can safely go closer to the windows, where direct sun would frizzle them through the summer, but where the milder light of winter is welcome.
Phlebodium ‘Davana’ is the trendy new houseplant to try.Credit: Plant Management Australia
Then add something new to the scene. Phlebodium ‘Davana’ is a new-release blue star fern whose gorgeous blue-green leaves have a wavy margin that give it an underwater look.
‘Davana’ is an especially easy-to-grow fern. No special knowledge or techniques are required, and it is tolerant of a fair amount of neglect. Treat it well though, watering the potting mix directly when required, rather than getting water on the leaves, and keeping it away from direct sunlight in summer, and it will look lush on its own or as part of a group of different foliage forms.
Phlebodium ‘Davana’.Credit: Plant Management Australia
Flowers always help to make winter feel warmer. Cyclamen offer tones of red and pink to white, the flowers floating like butterflies above dark green, or silver-veined foliage. Cyclamen like it cold, so don’t keep them in an overheated room. Twist the finished flowers off from the base of the plant to keep it tidy and give it a dose of half-strength fertiliser once a month to extend its flowering life.
Poinsettias, manipulated to sell as Christmas colour, naturally flower in winter and the white, pink or red bracts offer long-lasting colour. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana has clusters of little, rose-like flowers in a wide range of colours. This plant is a succulent so keep the mix on the dry side, and choose a room that doesn’t get too cold as it is unhappy in temperatures under about 15 degrees.
Anthuriums also provide colour all through winter, in reds and pinks. These are an especially good choice for new houses or renovations as they excel at removing formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene and xylene from the air. Use a damp cloth to keep the leaves and spathe (the coloured bit that shields the flower) clean of dust. Avoid using oils to give them a glow-up as this can block the pores of the leaves and interfere with the plant’s ability to breathe and to clean your air.
Cold weather calls for changes to care schedules too. Pause the fertiliser until you see new growth starting in spring. Reduce water as growth slows, especially for those plants in the darkest and coldest parts of the house. Water only when the mix is dry, and use tepid rather than icy cold water. Cold, wet soil is a stressor for all plants, and stressed plants are susceptible to pests and diseases.
A poinsettia.Credit: AP
Also keep an eye out in nursery centres for pots of spring bulbs in bloom, starting with hyacinths and tulips, and including hippeastrum as winter wears on. All are good for a couple of weeks of
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