26 February 2009

Cheery Red for Indoor Colour

Although you might not think so to see the indoor plants at our house these days, I very much love houseplants. There are incredible and fascinating choices out there in some areas, depending on how good your local nursery, flower shop, garden centre or even department store is at sourcing and caring for plants. Sometimes, the plants at these places resemble mine (and a call to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Houseplants might be in order) but other facilities know plants and know how to take care of them.
Here's a lovely example of a plant that is normally fairly tough...but they resent being left unwatered for weeks on end, or being put outside in a pot without drainage during a rainy rainy summer. Yes, I'm hanging my head. Cathy of Outside In will likely be scandalized by my poor house plant-caring skills. 

It didn't used to be like that. When I was at Ag. college, my room on campus was home to anywhere up to 100 plants. No, not that kind of plant. Ordinary flowering plants, foliage plants, cacti, succulents, from lithops (living stones) to Monstera and ficus--but never did I see a ficus as pretty as this one until recent years. 

Back in the autumn I visited a nursery to find photos for a story I was doing about indoor gardening with plants, and I saw some I'd never seen before--and may not see again. This is called Dipladenia, Crimson Parasol plant. It's apparently related to Mandevilla, and I was quite taken by it, but didn't bring one home. I like to know more about plants before I bring them into the house, on account of the cat children.

I do not know what this is at all. I seem to have seen something like it on someone's blog recently, and I want to call it a red clerodendron (I had a blue one one time) but I'd be fibbing if I said I even know what genus it is. Fascinating and I should definitely have succumbed to the urge to buy it. 

And this? Its colourful flower/bracts are awesome enough, but the foliage? Ohhhh, I looked long and hard at this bougainvillea, never having seen one with variegated foliage before, but I guess they're quite common where they're easy to find. Too pricy for me, with my talent for causing houseplants to go to sleep. 

One of my favourite, if curious, plants has always been the crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii). It used to come in two flower colours, red and white, but now you see pink and yellow and probably others as well. Again, it depends on where you live. I had a yellow one, but it seemed more spleeny than the more common red varieties. 

Here's a glorious foliage plant that some regions can grow nicely outdoors at least in the warm months, longer if they live in civilized climates without so many snowflakes as I have. Caladium don't need to flower, with foliage like this, do they? Marvelous plants, but fussy indoors if you don't give them adequate moisture/humidity.

And then there's hibsicus. Some day, I'll get to visit Hawaii and see plants like this blooming in their native habitat. They do well for me usually for a few years, but leaving them out one night too long during autumn in my climate is a very, very bad plan. "And that's all I have to say about that!"

I know they're ubiquitous these days, almost as much so as geraniums. I do not care. Gerberas have this appeal to them that causes me to stop and stare and force myself to bring one home. Or maybe two. Or more. They have lovely tidy blooms, brilliant colours, not-totally-nondescript foliage, and I just plain like them. Sometimes they even do well outside as container plants (I'm speaking from my experience--they may well do much, much better for others. ) It won't surprise anyone that one leaped into my wagon at the grocery store in Liverpool yesterday. It wanted to take up residence on my office desk. Could I refuse? No. Is it red? No, brilliant yellow, in honour of the spring that I do assume will find us one of these days. 


  1. Dipladenia, last I knew, was Mandevilla (Mandevilla is the correct name for both, I mean). The flowers are pretty, but they're very prone to spider mites and most likely are poisonous (they're in the same family, the Apocynaceae, as oleander and Adenium obesum -- guilt by association doesn't always work, but with the Apocynaceae it's probably better to be safe than sorry).

    The red maybe-Clerodendrum is in fact a Clerodendrum (C. thomsoniae), and it is possible that my blog is where you saw it before, as I just posted about it a couple weeks ago.

    Your Euphorbia milii was "spleeny?" We've got a tropical order coming in next week that will have red, white, yellow and pink ones, and I'm probably going to buy one, so I'm interested in which one I should get. But I don't know this word, "spleeny."

    I tried Caladiums indoors once when I was in high school, which ended badly, and then once last spring/summer, which ended badly. There will probably not be a third try.

  2. Jodi, I almost brought home a Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily?) last night when I bought the orchid. They were half price, too, which fits in nicely with my budget. :) They're very pretty, and hearing that they're pretty hardy, I may go back for one before they're compost. All your reds are bright and cheery -- just the thing for these long Farch-like days.

  3. I agree with you and the above poster, it looks like a species of cleodendrum.

    These plants are gorgeous. I love red.

  4. Jodi, Fantastic colors and they are very cheery...I just have to pass on them! They will surely die here from neglect and cat attacks! But I can admire the texture of their leaves, the brilliant green they often wear and if lucky the tropical colored flowers from across the nursery aisles, the grocery store and on my blogging friends' posts! gail

  5. Jodi ! how are you girl !
    I love that ZAP red flowers give you to draw your attention : ) Speaking of houseplants .. I need to help mine out in a very serious way .. so now that you have pricked my guilt ? haha .. I might just have to do something about it ? How is the weather there ? .. we are having a heat wave with rain ; )

  6. I love all the red colors both in the foliage as well as the blooms. Especially like the ficus... very interesting. I have lots of houseplants-- some taking over spaces they shouldn't.

  7. Lovely Plants Jodi, My favorite is
    the Mandevillas and Clerodendrons
    I use to have the Blue Butterfly
    Clerodendrons, but my dogs decide to water it for me and killed it :(

  8. The red is definitely cheery!
    I usually can keep house plants alive for many years unless they are the flowering type. For some reason I just don't don't seem to have the same kind of success with those. They probably need more attention and pampering than I give them.

  9. I always envy people who successfully grow houseplants. I never seem to get the right light thru my windows. But the worst are my cats who zero in on house plants like guided missiles and tip the pots over.

    Your photos are great. I've never seen a rubber tree like that, it's gorgeous.

  10. Beautiful reds Jodi, especially on cold, grey Farch morning! My reluctant houseplants (er, at least the ones that survived anyway,) are looking forward to getting back outside as much as I am.

  11. Ha!!! Oh, God, Jodi, can I relate! I adore houseplants and have always had plenty since my first cactus garden in 6th grade. Without houseplants, we Northern gardeners would be lost. But as a Southern transplant, I can say with authority that, even for Southerners, houseplants are essential to enhance quality of life. Even as we speak, I have dozens of begonias and Christmas and Easter cacti, African violets, amaryllis, rosary vines, and orchids in bloom or bud in the house, with many more lurking in the greenhouse wings. Go, go, go for it, I say!!!

  12. You're probably going to hate me when you read this but I have that very bougainvillea growing outside my front porch. It's a Raspberry Ice (don't you love the name?). I love it! The variegated leaves are what won me over too. Right now it's just brown twigs because it always loses its foliage with the first frost with the rest of the bougainvillea, but it comes back in full force in April or May.

    I love gerberas too. They're forms and colors always draw me in. Gerberas are grown as annuals outside here. My sis always likes to put them in her annual beds.


  13. They are all pretty. I'm not surprised the gerbera came home with you. Has it survived the cats investigation? Cat's want to know every detail. I bought some Cat grass and have no clue where I put it. I don't even have a cat but I do want to attract them to my garden and eat those darn chipmunks.

    I like the name Liverpool.

  14. Jodi,

    Nice pics you got here. I agree about the Caladiums. I've tried storing them and it hasn't worked.

    Last year the city planted entire planters just with Caladiums and it looked as impressive as if they had planted with the usual flowering plants. I wish I would have taken pictures.

  15. Red is my favorite color for so many things, and in the garden, it's right up there with blue. But there are many more red flowers than blue. Beautiful photos here. That looks like Clerodendron to me. There is one like it at the Ft. Wayne Botanical Conservatory. I think I may have posted a photo of it in one of my blog posts about the conservatory.

  16. Hi Jodi, I am a new visitor to your wonderful blog and can't stop drooling over your beautiful pictures...I love rich colors so red flowers/foliage are my favorite! Gosh, I will HAVE to make time and go back to 2006 read you from the beginning..can't wait!

  17. I love houseplants. I have killed several. When my step-mother died I inherited a beauty. It was about a foot high, now it is a tree! I think she looks after it.

    I love the term Catchildren, by the way.

  18. I'm not big on houseplants, personally, but yours look very well cared for, to me!! The chenille plant reminds me of love lies bleeding, an annual I grow each summer. And you're quite right, Caladium is gorgeous without flowers!

  19. Jodi,
    Lovely post as always. I like red flowering plants also. Your photo of the Dipladenia 'Red Parasol' reminded me to check on mine on the back sun porch. It was spectacular in my front garden last summer and is doing well inside now...even sending out new growth already. After Good Friday I'll put her outside where she will hopefully be a show off again this summer.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  20. A shot of red is a great boost after a very chilly, but bright sunshiny day, Jodi. Those are some gorgeous plants!
    Hey, if you want to see wonderful hibiscus (some of the HUGE) why not go the whole hog and take a trip to Australia? Bougainvillea grows like a weed, and that's where I saw my first Dipladenia/Mandevilla (yes, same thing) and fell in love with it. Haven't tried growing it though. I doubt if it would like upstate NY's summer, or our old farm house in winter, but it sure loves Australia. Me too :)

  21. Jodi,
    Your plants are lovely. It is difficult to find less common houseplants, though I try! Since I discovered you can bring plants on the plane, I try to bring home "souvenir plants" when I travel (which isn't very often, hence the complete lack of houseplants!) My collection is slowly growing. The lack of color this past winter has inspired me to ramp things up in here!

  22. Jodi, I love the Chenille plant best! I've just been getting properly into houseplants again now that I own my own home. Thanks for the look at some of your favorites!

  23. Whoops! That was from me, Jodi!


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