There are hundreds of candidates to provide colourful blooms, some even scented, for house and apartment. Unlike those grown principally for their foliage, most require a little more care to persuade them to flower. But the results and almost guaranteed admiration from visitors is worth it. ‘Bright light’ means several hours direct sun a day, while filtered light means at the back of such exposed room or perhaps near a window in an east or north room. Always use room-temperature water—cold water is almost certain to cause flower and bud drop.
An introductory selection for the novice plant fancier:
Bougainville, Bougainvillea hybrids Although a scrambling shrub it can be pruned to control growth. Bright light, keep moist while in bloom, soak and then allow to dry when not in flower
Dwarf Orange, Calamondin Orange, Citrus mitis Sweetly scented flowers produced year-round with small, sour but edible fruit. Keep evenly moist in summer, allow to partially dry out in winter
Cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum hybrids Blooms from a corm for a few weeks in filtered light; allow to almost dry then water; will tolerate lower temperatures
Crown-of-Thorns, Euphorbia millii A sprawling, thorny shrub that is a continuous bloomer. Requires bright light, soak and then allow to dry
Hibiscus, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis A classic flowering shrub for indoors, or outside in summer. Needs bright light, even moisture, fertilizing and occasional pruning
Wax Flower, Hoya bella Sweetly scented vine best suited to hanging baskets. Bright light, soak and then allow to dry
Kalanchoe, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana hybrid Often sold as a winter gift plant. Requires bright light, soak and then allow to dry.
Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea Beautiful blue flowers, best kept in bright light and evenly moist in hanging baskets; a red-flowered form, P. caerulea, is also available
African Violet, Saintpaulia hybrids Continuous bloomer in filtered light. Keep evenly moist and avoid splashing water on foliage
Gloxinia, Sinningia speciosa hybrids Blooms for a few weeks from a tuber. Filtered light, keep evenly moist and avoid splashing water on leaves
Spathe Flower, Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum hybrids One of the easiest blooming plants. Prefers subdued light and is difficult to overwater; available in small to very large sizes
Madagascar Jasmine, Stephanotis floribunda gloriously scented vine best suited to hanging baskets
Bird-of-Paradise, Strelitzia reginae Only mature plants flower but what blooms! Bright light, water then let dry. Best grown in a large floor container
Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.
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