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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Balcony Plants III

Easy To Grow Balcony Plants

9. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (Flaming Katy)

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a flowering rosette plant up to 35cm in height, with fleshy, dark green leaves and clusters of small red flowers borne on tall stems. Flowering is from late winter to early summer, though plants may be forced into early flowering for sale at Christmas time.

A bright position with some sun encourages a good show of flowers. Keep Kalanchoe in a moderate environment. The ideal positions would be a south-facing window in winter, east or west facing in spring and summer. Water it sparingly at all times and feed every two weeks while in flower. After flowering, trim back the growth and let the plant rest in partial shade, with the compost barely moist, for about one month. It is a short-day plant and will not bloom a second season if kept too light in between times. Repot in a soil mixture, in a larger pot only if this seems necessary.

10. Hypoestes (Polka Dot Plant)

The species sold as a houseplant is Hypoestes sanguinolenta, meaning 'blood-spotted', and Hypoestes is very popular for its decorative foliage, olive-green dappled with pink. Small lilac flowers may appear in summer, but these are usually insignificant. An older plant will become straggly and the maximum effective height is about 35cm, when stems may need some support. Pinching out of growing tips encourages bushy growth, but Hypoestes is generally regarded as a short-lived plant and discarded when leaf-growth becomes sparse.

The plant grows quickly and should be potted on as necessary in loam-based soil. Water moderately at all times and mist the leaves to maintain humidity. A warm temperature is required, as is good light to preserve the leaf markings. Take stem cuttings, keeping them warm and moist, to replace an aging plant.

11. Hedera ( Ivy )

There are many varieties of small leaved Ivies bred from Hedera helix, the common Ivy. They are vigorous plants that trail or climb, and may be variegated with cream, white or yetllow. Hedera canariensis, Canary Island Ivy, is a popular species with larger leaves that are heavily marked with cream and grow on red stems. Varieties of Hedera helix cling naturally, but Hedera canariensis must be tied to or interwoven with its support.

Variegated Ivies need some bright light, filtered or indirect as the sun's hottest rays can cause scorching. They tolerate a broad range of temperatures and should be given a more humid atmosphere in an environment over 18 degree celsius. Water moderately at all times and reduce watering in winter months to allow a brief rest. Pot on if roots emerge through the drainage holes of the pot. Prune the growth as necessary and use the pruned stems as cuttings. These root in water or moist, loam-based compost.

12. Guzmania (Orange Star)

In common with other bromeliads, Guzmania has a rosette of leaves forming a natural cup at the center; unlike other popular types, the leaves are soft and ribbon-like rather than tough and fleshy. They are a glossy, rich green marked with fine red lines. In winter a flower spike grows from the cup; it consists of red or orange bracts that last a few months; short-lived flowers, white or yellow, arise from the bracts. The plant grows about 38cm tall; the leaves arch gracefully outwards.

Bright light, a warm environment and continuous moisture are the requirements of this plant. Keep compost moist and also pour water into the cup and over the foliage from time to time, adding a liquid feed every two weeks except during flowering . The plant is shallow-rooting and may not need potting on. Offsets growing at the base can be detached and potted up in spring.


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