What can be more heartwarming when winter comes than a greenhouse full of blooming plants?
For that reason, more and more homeowners are acquiring greenhouses for the pleasure and relaxation they afford during this time of year.
Growing plants in the greenhouse, no matter what kind, can be great fun. However, the more enthusiastic may want to try some more unusual things because they are more challenging.
These may have more exacting requirements than the more commonly grown kinds, but with a little special care, you can be successful.
The first step, of course, is to decide on the particular plants which are out of the ordinary that you want to try. Then make a study of their needs, including watering, ventilation, temperature, and soil.
Find out about likely pests and diseases and what to do about them.
One unusual and highly meritorious plant to try is Crossandra (Crossandra undulaefolia).
Plants grow from 1′ to 2′ feet tall and have ovate, 2-inch long, glossy leaves resembling gardenia.
Plants can be compacted by pinching, growing less than a foot high. The flower spikes of overlapping scarlet-orange florets are attractive as well as long-lasting.
Seed is the easiest method of increasing Crossandra. Use equal parts soil, leaf mold, and sand and start at any season, though the early spring is best.
Keep at a temperature of 70° degrees Fahrenheit. When grown from seed, plants require seven to eight months to reach flowering size.
Crossandra Propagation Method
Another method of propagation is cuttings placed in sand. Use a propagating case or bell jar for these, which may be taken at any time of year.
Crossandra appreciates a winter temperature reading of 65° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit.
Give sun for some part of the day, though plants will grow in semi-shade. With that ease, the leaves will be less glossy.
For soil, I use two parts good garden soil, two parts leaf mold, and one part old manure, plus a teaspoon of bone meal for each five-inch pot of mixture.
At all times, keep plants moderately moist.
Another unusual candidate to try is the rosary vine or hearts entangled (Ceropegia woodii), with thick, fleshy, heart-shaped, half-inch long leaves netted with silvery veins.
The small, pink flowers are not decorative but have an interesting structure. Stems that grow from tubers trail down over the pot for several feet.
A feature of the rosary vine is the tubers produced along the stems from which new plants grow.
Keep at 58° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit in part shade, with moderate moisture.
Use a combination of equal parts soil, leaf mold, and sand, plus a teaspoon of bone meal and a sprinkling of charcoal for each 5-inch mixture.
An interesting small shrub is hyssop cuphea (Cuphea hyssopifolia), with its narrow leaves and pale pink, six-petaled flowers with small green calyxes.
Desirable about this plant is that the flowers appear continually.
For best results, keep plants rather moist in bright light at about 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
In potting, use two parts soil, one leaf mold, one sand, plus the usual amount of bonemeal.
Hyssop cuphea can be propagated readily by cuttings. It is also possible to cut the plant back about half, reduce the ball of soil a little and place it back in the same size pot.
In a short time, a flowering plant will develop.
Kinds Of Ferns
Several kinds of ferns are worthwhile, namely:
- New Zealand cliff-break (Pellaea rotundifolia)
- Duff’s sword-fern (Nephrolepis duffii)
- Malay climbing fern (Lygodium circinatum)
New Zealand Cliff-Brake
New Zealand cliff-brake grows less than 6″ inches tall and has fronds ranging from 6″ to 12” inches.
The dark green leaves are about 1/2″ inch long, oblong, or roundish. Grown in a pan, it makes an attractive specimen.
Cliff-brake appreciates a shaded place, with plenty of moisture at the roots and a temperature of 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
It grows best in a soil mixture of two parts peat or leaf mold, one part soil, one part sand, with some lime, since plants grow on limestone cliffs in their native habitat. Also, add bone meal to the soil.
Duff’s sword-fern is somewhat like Boston fern in appearance but grows only 10″ inches tall with a more graceful look.
It has a slender and compact tufted habit. Fronds are no longer than 18″ inches.
This fern will grow in a small pot tucked in the corner of the greenhouse.
Malay Climbing Fern
Fascinating are the ferns that climb. A favorite is the Malay climbing fern (Lygodium circinnatum), with twining, vine-like dark leaves about 5″ or 6″ inches long.
The shape of the leaves resembles a person’s hand since they are 5 or 6 lobed and sometimes once or twice forked.
Excellent for covering a wall or an end of a greenhouse; or simply as a specimen for a large pot, it needs a wire or string support upon which to cling.
Caring For Ferns During Summer
When the climbing fern grows too large, cut it back completely during the summer. Then, after the new leaves appear, train them on supports so that a vigorous plant will develop.
Growing conditions for this fern are the same as for Duff’s sword fern.
Give soil with two parts leaf mold or peat, one part manure, one part sand, and a teaspoon of bone meal for each 5-inch pot of mixture.
Ferns enjoy an ample water supply in active growth but not too much light, particularly direct sunshine.
A temperature of about 60° degrees Fahrenheit is best. Propagation is by divisions or spores.
For a yellow flowering plant, con-skier Lindenbergia Grandiflora, with small, yellow, tubular-shaped, nearly heart-shaped leaves.
The upper part of the flower has two small lips, while the lower lip is larger, three-lobed, and wider.
By often pinching, depending on the size desired, plants may be kept bushy.
Lindenbergia grows well at 60° degrees Fahrenheit with moderate water and full sun, except during slimmer times when shade is necessary.
For soil mixture, I use two parts soil, one part leaf mold, one part sand, and the usual bonemeal.
New plants come from cuttings, preferably in early summer so that plants will bloom in winter.
Another good plant for the greenhouse or home” is Spathiphyllum patini.
Narrow, glossy leaves, 8″ to 10″ inches long, remain attractive at all times. White flowers resemble anthuriums in shape.
Spathiphyllum grows well if kept moist at a temperature of 60° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit. Preferring shade, it can be grown in the garden if given good light.
Propagate by divisions and provide a rough fibrous soil containing two parts soil, two parts leaf mold, one part sand, and some charcoal and bone meal.
An intriguing plant to treat as a hanging or pot subject is Pellionia daveauana.
Of creeping habit, more or less prostate, it has alternate elliptical-oblong leaves, one to two inches long.
Individual leaves open olive green but turn darker bronze-green, tinged, or marked with a dark red along the margin of the leaf. The flowers are less inconspicuous.
Pellionia appreciates a moist atmosphere and partial shade at about 60°degrees Fahrenheit.
When potting, use two parts soil, two parts leaf mold, one part manure, one part sand, and a little bone meal.
New plants grow from divisions or cuttings.
An attractive plant of the gesneriad family is the Trinidad isoloma (Isoloma hirsuta).
Flowers on axillary flower stalks enhance hairy, heart-shaped, dark green leaves.
These are somewhat tubular, like a gloxinia, about 1 ½” inches long. In color, they are scarlet and yellow, spotted crimson, with a darker red mark on the rounded lobes.
To increase plants, I take cuttings of the younger shoots that appear in the early summer and place them in the sand.
I also cut out a plant’s tall, lanky growth, reduce the ball of soil and replace it with the same size pot.
Three or four rooted cuttings planted in a six-inch pot will fill out quickly.
Give isoloma shade and a moderate amount of water. Grow in a mixture of two parts soil, two parts leaf mold, one part manure, one part sand, and the usual bone meal.
Chenille Copper Leaf
Also unusual for the greenhouse is chenille copper-leaf or red hot cattail (Acalypha hispida), with heart-shaped leaves and flowers, which develop from the arils of the stems and leaves that look like long, reddish, drooping tails.
Red Hot cattail may be grown as a standard or pinched when 4″ inches high to form a bushy specimen.
Cuttings taken from nearly mature wood will root in an enclosed case. I prefer to take them in the early summer to have flowering plants by early fall.
During the summer, it gives shade, but in the fall and winter months, red hot cattails are happiest in the sun at a temperature of 58° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
The best mixture consists of two parts soil, one part sand, one part leaf mold, and one part manure, with a small amount of bonemeal.
Manettia bicolor is a vine that deserves a place for its tubular flowers, ¾” inch long that are somewhat swollen at the base.
Their color is red, tipped with yellow. The leaves, about one inch long, tapering to a point.
To make new plants, take cuttings from the new growth and insert them in the sand. With support, 3″ or 4″ in a six-inch pot will develop into a handsome specimen.
Manettia can tolerate full sun at 55° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit. Daily syringing will keep the red spider in check.
Plants grow best in a combination of two parts loam, one part sand, and one part leaf mold, with the recommended amount of bonemeal.
44659 by William J. Jennings