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Indoor plants can add life into your home. Here are some popular ones along with ideas and tips on caring for them

Miniature roses 

Potted miniature roses are in the stores and blooming beautifully. They are a longer lasting substitute for cut roses and have become a popular gift for all occasions. Position your potted rose in a room where it will receive bright light, even a little filtered sunlight and sufficient air flow to prevent the leaves from yellowing. Water your rose every second day in summer, preferably in the morning, but daily during hot spells. 

Poinsettias 

Potted poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a popular Christmas plant for holiday decor but looks beautiful afterwards too. Look for one that is just about to flower. The flowers are tiny and yellow, while the red bracts are modified leaves. Place it indoors or on the patio where it receives good light but not direct sunlight. When watering the plant, allow the water to drain, then empty the saucer. Feed every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser. 

Spekboom 

This eco-friendly plant will reduce your carbon footprint. The elephant’s food plant or spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is native to the Karoo and a popular eco warrior plant. This dynamic succulent is hardy, water wise and resistant to fire. What makes the spekboom extra special is its ability to absorb phenomenal amounts of carbon. Scientists say that a hectare of spekboom could capture around 4.2 tons of carbon annually. Spekboom can be grown as a shrub or small tree, or used as a screen or hedge in the garden. 

Spekboom – Portulacaria afra is an eco-friendly plant. Picture: Supplied

Bonsai 

This beautiful living art form is what you can enjoy for many years to come. Ginseng ficus bonsai are ideal for beginners to the bonsai hobby. If you’re a more experienced bonsaiist, consider one of the acacia, buddleja or Japanese maple species. Bonsai are outdoor plants, so place yours where it will receive good light, even a little morning sun and afternoon shade. Bonsai can be brought indoors for short periods on special occasions. 

Tips for care 

* Bonsai require water every day. The medium shouldn’t be allowed to dry out but you shouldn’t overwater the plant either as this can cause root rot. Good drainage is essential. 

* Fertilise your bonsai with an organic product either weekly or fortnightly, taking care to adjust the dosage. Over-fertilising can damage the roots and kill your plant.

Fuchsias 

These delicate “floral ballerinas” are a delight in the summer garden. Provided they are correctly positioned and receive the right care, fuchsias will thrill time and again. You can buy a ready-made basket, or you can plant up your own using a wire basket, coir and potting soil, with a little compost, kraal manure and fertiliser mixed in. Wilma Versloot, Natasha Silton and Land Van Beveren are good candidates for a hanging basket. 

Tips for care

*Position your fuchsia basket in a semi-shaded spot that receives some morning sun. Fuchsias need good air flow and plenty of light. 

*Water plants early in the morning. Don’t overwater, rather give a little water every day. During hot, dry weather, the plant may look a little wilted by midafternoon. Mist the leaves, then wait an hour or so before giving half a cup of water. 

*Fuchsias need fertiliser that is high in potassium during the flowering season. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Orchids 

Orchids are beautiful plants. The moth orchid or Phalaenopsis are the most popular varieties in stores now. They are among the easiest orchid varieties to grow. Some plants may bloom for several months, sometimes even blooming twice in one year. 

Tips for care

*Some orchid varieties need more light than others. Phalaenopsis orchids do well indoors in a spot where they will receive good indirect light, but not direct sunlight. Orchids need good air flow around them to prevent bacterial and fungal disease. 

*Water once per week in summer. To increase humidity around the plant, place a small saucer filled with stones and water under the plant but don’t let it sit in the water. 

* Fertilise your orchid once a month, but dilute the fertiliser to half the recommended strength.

Orchids should be watered once a week in the summer. Picture: Lourens Grobbler

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