by Adam Pasco

Why don't houseplants ever get featured on gardening programmes on television? Millions of houseplants are sold every year, yet so little is ever written or broadcast about them.

Houseplant - Clivia miniataWhy don't houseplants ever get featured on gardening programmes on television? Millions of houseplants are sold every year, yet so little is ever written or broadcast about them. Don't other people share my passion for them?

I'm a sucker for new houseplants, and I'm often surprised where you can pick one up. Of course good garden centres usually have a dedicated area under glass for indoor plants, and M&S sell some nice ones, but how about Tesco's?

Just look at what I found there last week (pictured above), a glorious Clivia miniata. I had one many years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed its stunning display of bright orange trumpets, but this one was different. Among a selection of Clivia with broad green strap-like leaves was one plant with light-cream stripes down its leaves. This plant I had to buy.

Clivia is an evergreen perennial from South Africa where it can be found growing in woodland areas, often alongside streams. From this I surmise it will grow well in a warm, shaded position, and needs to be kept watered to avoid drying out. OK, its flowers don't last long. Like its relative the hippeastrum, flowers last for about three weeks from first colour to fall, but these are weeks of pure enjoyment. Once they fall I'll cut down the old flower spike and enjoy the wonderful symmetry of its arching variegated leaves.

With plants like clivia so readily available alongside the weekly shop I'd be amazed if houseplants didn't start getting more publicity. Just look at what's happened to orchids.

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Talkback: Houseplants
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Gardeners' World Web User 10/03/2008 at 16:02

I find that my clivia needs a rest period in the autumn to set flowering spikes. I put mine in the garage by a small window, where it experiences temps down towards freezing, and I withhold water. Then around Christmas, in it comes, blooming February - March. This year I didn't do this, and what do you know? No flowers for me! I'm growing it over on Long Island, NY, USA, so your might need to adjust accordingly.

Gardeners' World Web User 11/03/2008 at 14:32

I love houseplants but seem to have a habit of killing them. I have such bad luck with them I tend not to buy them. You can read my blog at: Lavendon Garden

Gardeners' World Web User 14/03/2008 at 12:29

Could not agree with you more Adam and I have been trying to achieve this for some years, but have managed to rack up an impressive 100% failure record!

Perhaps we should brainstorm a few ideas and then try a joint approach to the powers that be...?

Especially now when there is arguably a greater opportunity to engage with houseplants than there has been for some time with the expanding awareness of the health benefits (and the whole back to nature argument)... not to underestimate the impact of the challenging economic situation which I think may well encourage buying plants over flowers perhaps ...

Gardeners' World Web User 14/03/2008 at 15:03

I used to kill all my houseplants too but am making a real effort to keep them alive, with mixed success. I overwatered both my Christmas cactus and Phalaenopsis orchid which resulted in their flowers dropping, although the plants themselves are still alive but I have killed one dragon tree through under-watering! Successes include a poinsettia that kept flowering until only a couple of weeks ago - now I'm attempting to keep it alive and get it flowering again for next Christmas, some miniature roses and, of course, cacti - I love them, they're so easy! :-)

Gardeners' World Web User 01/04/2008 at 09:04

I also bought a clivia from Tesco's and it has flowered for just over 2 months and has looked beautiful. I have left the flower stems on as I was unsure what to do with them, they now have seed pods/berries on them. What is your advice on how to care for this plant as I would like to keep this plant going. My gardening knowledge is very limited, verging on nil!!

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