The flowers of Rosa moyesii may be long over but at the moment this species rose is covered in flagon-shaped scarlet hips that will dangle from its branches until Christmas. It’s worth growing for these alone and for the wildlife that they attract.
Succulents are enjoying their moment in the spotlight and it’s not hard to see their attraction.
Their fleshy leaves, which have become adapted to store water, come in a pleasing range of colours and shapes and they make undemanding houseplants as long as they are not over-watered.
There’s no quicker way to see off a succulent than to allow it to stand in damp soil. In fact most do best in a mixture of compost and grit, with a layer of grit on top to lift their leaves clear of any moisture that may be lurking below. There are all kinds of succulents, from the Chinese Jade plant with round, grey leaves to Euphorbia milii, better known as Crown of Thorns. This is not a plant you want to place on a low coffee table or anywhere that children might reach it because it is truly vicious. Not only is it protected by sharp, needle-like spines but if damaged its stems release a white latex that can cause burns to skin.
The Painted Lady, Echeveria Derenbergii, is much better-behaved. Look closely and you’ll see that each of its tightly-packed bluish leaves has a very faint red edge. And if you give it the cool and sunny conditions that it enjoys then it may reward you with yellow and orange flowers in winter.
But for all the fancy succulents out there, I still don’t think you can’t beat a good, old-fashioned houseleek, with their whorls of red, green and purple leaves and their spreading habit that allows you to dig up pieces of the plant and share it with friends.
And that’s the thing about houseplants, you don’t always need to start with the biggest because if you treat them well they will grow. I’m currently nursing along some palms that were bought from my local supermarket for less than the price of a cappuccino. Taken home, repotted, watered frequently and given just a tiny amount of feed and in a couple of weeks they have doubled in size.
There’s more fun in raising them this way as well as the satisfaction of seeing them flourish and small plants at pocket-money prices are a great way of getting children hooked on growing things.
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