Posted: 01/06/2015 at 07:09
It's the first plant that I ever grew 'on my own' from seed with no help from anyone. I think I was about 11 years old. I potted them on and sold some at the local fete, gave some to friends etc, saving my favourite ones for myself as they all had different colours and patterns. They're dead easy - they're happy in a cool greenhouse, conservatory or sunny windowsill at the moment, outside in dappled sunshine when it gets just a bit warmer than it is now, then back indoors in the autumn - too much sun will scorch the leaves and too much shade will affect the colours - they do best in morning sun as long as they're in a warm but shady spot by the time the sun gets really hot - they're not at all frost hardy. You can put them in the ground but I think most people keep them in pots - they need good moist but not soggy compost and try to keep the water off the leaves. A general liquid fertiliser at half strength every 4 weeks is fine - too much fertiliser spoils the leaf colours.
They do best if you nip top and side shoots out every so often to encourage them to bush out, and as they strike easily you can use the bits you nip out for cuttings. Also nip out the flower spikes - they're insignificant and boring and spoil the shape of the plant - who needs flowers when you've got leaves like those?!
They went out of fashion - but I've seen more about lately - I think you're right 'on trend' this year