Some houseplants demand a great deal of attention. They require a specific amount of feeding, moisture and rest at precisely the right time, and consequently not everyone is in a position to cultivate these delicate varieties. Fortunately, there are also houseplants which will thrive with less careful nursing. The varieties mentioned below can take a knock or two. The often do very well in the homes of people whose busy lives leave them little time for pampering house plants; and those of us born without green fingers.
- Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears). An easy-care bromelia, with a rosette of long, sword-shape leaves that have a curving growth habit. The plant can bloom for months on end with tubular flowers of red, green and yellow. But like every bromelia, it does so only once in a lifetime. However, it does from new offsets at the base and brings them to maturity before it dies off.
- Chlorophytum. Commonly known as the Spider Plant because of the spider like appearance of the young plantlets that grow from the long and trailing flower stems, and sometimes as St Bernard’s Lily. The all-green chlorophytum capense is the least demanding, and also need less light than the other varieties. The cultivar Chlorophytum comosum ‘Variegatum’ with finely striped green and cream leaves is, however, the most popular, but if it is put in too dark a position the fine markings will fade from the leaves.
- Cissus. An exceptionally hardy climbing shrub. This applies particularly to Cissus rhombifolia (Rhoicissus rhomboidea), a shurb with red-brown hairy stems and characteristic, diamond-shaped triple compound leaves.
- Cyclamen. A well-known corm-plant. The most popular species is Cyclamen persicum, with large red, pink or white flowers. There are also many cultivars ranging in colour from white to deep crimson. The richly blooming miniature cyclamens with small flowers are particularly sturdy.
- Cyperus alternifolius. Also called the Umbrella Plant. The tiny light-brown flowers grown from the center of the leaf rosettes which curve outwards like the spines of an umbrella.
- Fatshedera. Also known as the Tree Ivy, it is a cross between an ivy and japonica. It has large, glossy leathery, ivy-shaped leaves and often grows to a great height. A support is then indispensable. Fatshedera lizei is the best known strain; Fatshedera lizei ‘Variegata’, having leaves with creamy-white margins, is prettier but more difficult to maintain.
- Hedera (Ivy), A well-known genus for evergreen climbers of which there are very many species and strains both for indoors or outdoors. The strongest strains include the small-leafed Hedera helix ‘Chicago’ or ‘Pittsburgh’, whose deeply incised leaves have pointed lobes.
- Philodendron scandens (Sweetheart Vine or Lover’s Plant). Originally a climber, but also does well as trailer or in a hanging basket.
- Sanseveria. Commonly known as Mother-in- Law’s Tongue or Bowstring Hemp.
- Tradescantia (Spiderwort). An old-fashioned trailing plant. The Strongest variety is the green Tradescantia albiflora; a more lively species is the creamy-striped ‘Albovittata’. Tradescantia blossfeldiana is virtually indestructible, providing it is placed behind a sunny window. Also called the ‘Flowering Inch Plant’ it has a more creeping growth habit, wit leaves covered with soft hairs and tinged with purple on their undersides.