Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Salpiglossis sinuata Solanaceae PAINTED TONGUE

Salpiglossis is an annual that makes an outstanding pot plant for the greenhouse or sunroom and, although not often seen in the home, it makes a good temporary houseplant. 

Salpiglossis sinuata Solanaceae PAINTED TONGUE pic

The beauty of the individual flowers is often lost when it is grown outdoors, and the five-pointed star-shaped blooms, some 2in/5cm wide, should really be examined closely. 

They come in a choice of colours, including yellow, orange, red, and lilac, with velvety petals heavily veined and overlaid in contrasting colours.

FACT FILE Of Salpiglossis sinuata Solanaceae PAINTED TONGUE

ORIGIN: Chile; hybrids.

HEIGHT: To 2ft/60cm.


POTTING MIX: Peat-moss-based.

REPOTTING: Move seedlings into larger pots as they grow, until a 5-in/13-cm pot is reached. 

PROPAGATION: Sow seed in spring for summer flowering or fall for early spring blooming. 

KEEPING PLANTS: Stake stems as they grow, to prevent them from falling over and breaking.


  • Bright light with some full sun. 
  • Cool to normal room conditions. 

  • Water well, but allow the top of the potting mix to dry out before rewatering. 
  • Feed every 2 weeks until early fall with a standard liquid fertiliser.

Friday, 16 June 2017

SANCHEZIA SPECIOSA (syn. S. nobilis) Acanthaceae SANCHEZIA

A striking plant is best grown as a small shrub in the sunroom or greenhouse, sanchezia will, however, thrive as a houseplant if the humidity is high enough. The 12-in/30-cm ovate leaves are pointed, with yellow and ivory veins. 

SANCHEZIA SPECIOSA (syn. S. nobilis)  Acanthaceae SANCHEZIA photo

They provide the main display, although attractive yellow flowers are borne in upright clusters above the foliage in early summer. High humidity is essential.


ORIGIN: Ecuador; Peru. height To 5ft/1.5m.

POTTING MIX: Soil-based, with added grit or perlite. 

REPOTTING: Annually in spring.

SANCHEZIA SPECIOSA (syn. S. nobilis)  Acanthaceae SANCHEZIA image

PROPAGATION: Take stem cuttings in spring or summer.

KEEPING PLANTS: Prune the plant in spring to keep it bushy and within bounds; it can easily be kept to half its potential growing height.


  • Bright light, but not direct sunlight in summer. 
  • The plant will, however, also tolerate low light. 
  • Normal room temperature, with a minimum of 55°F/13°C in winter. 
SANCHEZIA SPECIOSA (syn. S. nobilis)  Acanthaceae SANCHEZIA plant pic

  • Make sure that there is adequate ventilation, ii Water liberally when the plant is in active growth, but allow the top vhn/13mm of the soil to dry out before rewatering. 
  • Stand the pot on a tray of moist pebbles to increase humidity. 
  • Feed every 2 weeks from spring to fall with a standard liquid fertilizer.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Sarracenia flava Sarraceniaceae YELLOW PITCHER PLANT

Known also as the huntsman’s horn, this is a carnivorous plant for a cool room or greenhouse. Like Darlingtonia californica, the cobra lily, the leaves are fused into a pitcher shape, with the top slightly bent over to act as a lid. 

Insects falling into the liquid contained by the pitcher are unable to escape, and they are then absorbed by the plant’s juices.

The leaves are bright yellow-green, often with red veining on the lid, and in summer the plant produces yellow flowers up to 4in/10cm wide.

FACT FILE Sarracenia flava Sarraceniaceae YELLOW PITCHER PLANT

ORIGIN: USA (Virginia to Florida and Louisiana) HEIGHT To 2ft/60cm in a container.

POTTING MIX: Sphagnum peat, sand, and leaf mold in a ratio of 2:1:1.

REPOTTING: Only when the pot becomes overcrowded.

PROPAGATION: By division when repotting, or by seed in spring.

KEEPING PLANTS: Remove leaves from the base of the plant as they die off.

PLANT CARE Sarracenia flava Sarraceniaceae YELLOW PITCHER PLANT

  • Bright light with some direct sun. 
  •  Cool room temperature, with a winter minimum of 40°F/ 4°C at night and 50°F/10°C in the daytime. 

  • Water copiously with soft water when it is in active growth. 
  • Stand the pot on a dish of moist pebbles, but do not let water stagnate around the roots.

Monday, 12 June 2017


Usually, only hybrids of this plant, also called butterfly flower, are available. This is an annual plant which buds in spring and is discarded when flowering is over—often in late fall. 

The 2-in/5-cm-wide flowers resemble those of an orchid and come in shades of red, pink, mauve, and white with a yellow center, which is often marked with purple. The foliage is fernlike, and the stems are somewhat sticky.


ORIGIN: Chile; hybrids.

HEIGHT: 3ft/90cm.

POTTING MIX: Peat-moss-based.

REPOTTING: Pot seedlings as they grow, ending with a 5-in/13-cm pot for dwarf varieties, and a 7-in/18-cm pot for taller forms.

PROPAGATION: Sow seed in spring for summer flowering, or fall for an early spring.

KEEPING PLANTS: Pinch off growing tips to encourage bushiness. Stake the stems to prevent them from toppling over and splitting.


  • Full sun. 
  • Cool or normal room temperature.

  • Keep the potting mix moist at all times. 
  • Feed every 2 weeks until flowering is over.

Sunday, 11 June 2017


The variety of this sedum that is usually grown is the hardy, long-lived ‘Medio-variegatum.’ It has slender stems, which begin to grow upright but soon arch over. They trail to about 10in/25cm, making this a good plant for a hanging basket.

The fleshy round leaves, with lightly scalloped edges, are carried in whorls of three; they are steely blue-gray tinged with pink and have a cream central splash or stripe. Heads of small pink flowers are borne at the ends of the stems in late summer or early fall.


ORIGIN: Japan.

HEIGHT: 4in/10cm; stems trail to 10in/25cm. 

POTTING MIX: Soil- or peat-moss-based, with added perlite or coarse sand for good drainage. 

REPOTTING: Move to a pot one size larger in spring.

PROPAGATION: Take stem tip cuttings in spring or summer. Remove the leaves to expose about lin/2.5cm of the stem and allow it to dry for 1-2 days before inserting it into soil.

KEEPING PLANTS: Watch out for mealybugs and aphids, which both attack this plant.


  • Bright light with plenty of direct sunshine.
  • Cool to moderate temperatures: 40°-60°F/ 4°-16°C. 

  • In summer allow the top J/in/ 13mm of the soil to dry out between waterings; water more sparingly in winter. 
  • It is not necessary to feed this plant.

Smithiantha HYBRIDS Gesneriaceae JEMPLE BELLS

Several species of smithiantha have been crossed to produce a race of free-flowering plants. They have heart-shaped, velvety- textured, deep green leaves topped with panicles of long-stalked, tubular
blooms that resemble penstemon flowers. 

The flowers are carried between late summer and early spring and come in shades of bright orange, yellow, or pink. Plants grow from fleshy rhizomes and become dormant once they have flowered.

FACT FILE Of Smithiantha HYBRIDS Gesneriaceae JEMPLE BELLS:

ORIGIN: Mexico.

HEIGHT: To 12in/30cm.

POTTING MIX: Peat-moss-based, with a little added lime to reduce the acidity of the peat moss.

REPOTTING: In late winter, set 2 or 3 rhizomes in a pot; barely cover them with potting mix.

PROPAGATION: By division when repotting.

KEEPING PLANTS: Store dormant tubers in cool conditions in the pot or in dry peat moss.


  • Light shade.
  • In the growing season, about 70°F/21°C; cooler in the dormant period.
  • Let the top V2in/13mm of the medium dry out before rewatering in the growing season. Reduce watering after flowering; keep dormant tubers dry. 

  • High humidity is necessary; stand the pot on a tray of moist pebbles, but do not spray the hairy leaves. 
  • Feed with high-potash liquid fertiliser every week in the growing season.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017


The common name of this evergreen creeping plant derives from its fast-growing, mat-forming habit: it can become a weed in gardens in mild areas or in terrariums indoors. The tiny round leaves, which
give it another of its names, baby’s tears, are carried alternately on slender, fragile stems. 

They are silvery green in the variety ‘Argentea,’ while Aurea’ has pale yellow foliage. It was formerly known as Helxine soleirolii and is still sold under that name.


ORIGIN: Corsica; Sardinia.

HEIGHT: To 2in/5cm; prostrate. 

POTTING MIX: Soil-based, with added leaf mould and grit for good drainage. 

REPOTTING: Move in spring, into a wide shallow pot.

PROPAGATION: Divide plants into smaller clumps by pulling them apart carefully.

KEEPING PLANTS: Soleirolia makes an attractive ground cover under taller pot plants.


Bright filtered light; the direct sun will scorch the foliage.

 • Normal to cool room temperature. 
• Keep the soil moist at all times. 
• Feed occasionally with dilute liquid fertiliser.