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Foliage House Plants Who Needs Flowers?

Jul 5, 2008
If your space and schedule allow you to grow more than a couple of plants at one time, more likely than not, you'll be interested in non-flowering ornamentals as well as their showier counterparts. Even if they're not as flamboyant as their flowering cousins, they can be grown with ease, propagated simply and acclimated to almost any environment.

Quite often, foliage plants are the anchor in any indoor or outdoor garden. This is partly because they don't put all their energy into sexual reproduction and instead put on vegetative growth, sometimes year-round. Foliage plants are commonly available in hundreds of species and thousands of varieties.

Gardeners can chose nearly any leaf structure, leaf color, growth habit, height, width -- you name it! The plants described below will grow almost anywhere, and, consequently are also available almost anywhere.

Ficus elastica, or India Rubber Plant, is a very popular selection, though it does have its detractors. A healthy and well managed India Rubber Plant can almost fill a small room. The huge leaves -- sometimes almost a foot long -- are succulent and secrete a white juice. Rubber plants can be air layered when they get tall, or else they would take over their entire surroundings. While they do well in almost any climate, ficus trees love moisture but can be injured by over watering.

Another selection, Sansevieria, or Snake Plant, is a favorite as well. It thrives at room temperature and, if necessary, can grow in complete darkness. The leaves are mottled yellow and green with edges of brighter yellow, and they grow out of the thick stem. Sansevieria don't appreciate over watering either, but they're easily propagated from cuttings.

Both Tradescantia and another species called Zebrina are relatively unrelated plants that are commonly called Wandering Jew. Both plants have long, pointed narrow leaves, which are striped with white or yellow and grow from a succulent vine. The best way to display the Wandering Jew, especially Zebrina pendulata, is in a hanging basket, where it will thrive, though it can be grown almost anywhere else because it is so hardy, though it appreciates a warm, indoor climate. All Wandering Jews do flower, but the flowers are small and the plants are mainly kept for foliage.
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