5 Exotic plants for your home

January 14, 2012

The only thing that could be better than the ‘green indoors’ would be the ‘multi-colored’ indoors! One can bring life and energy into the home through indoor potting. Apart from bringing in freshness and a dash of color into the home, planting exotic plants will also make a bold and stunning statement. It is often feared that exotic plants were meant to be ‘exotic’ and that they would never do well indoors. This is a myth. The plants do need tending and have certain special needs. A little patience and care is all you need to add a tinge of exotica to your home. Here are five exotic plants that you could use at your home.

1. Zebra Plant ( Aphelandra squarrosa )

The Zebra Plant

One look at the plant and you realize the reason behind the name. This exotic plant has striking, emerald-green leaves with dramatically white veins that resemble the stripes of a zebra. For about 6 weeks a year, it also bears bracts which produce a plume of bright yellow flowers. Though they last only a few days, they are memorable. The plant thrives in the evergreen rainforests of Brazil but can grow well if provided sufficient humidity. For this, it would be good to place the pot on a tray of pebbles and water so that the humidity around increases. Also, wipe the leaves regularly with a moist cloth to maintain their sheen and glow. Change the soil and repot the plant every spring and you can be sure of a stunning statement at your home or in your office. The Zebra Plant also makes an excellent house-warming gift.

2. Elephant Ear ( Alocasia amazonica )

Elephant Ear

Resembling the fan-like ears of the elephant, the foliage of this plant is shiny, dark-green with bold, silver-green veins. The flowers are very insignificant but the foliage more than makes up for it. Like the Zebra Plant, the Elephant Ear too needs high humidity. However, it is very fussy about the humidity levels and to ensure that it grows well indoors, one may have to employ the use of a humidifier. Regular misting of the leaves will serve a double purpose of adding humidity and keeping the plant free of attacks from red spider mites. However, plant it in a pot with drainage holes to prevent root rot. Provide for a rest period in winter when the plant can go dormant and regenerate in a month or two. The plant requires bright light but not direct sunlight.

3. Lady’s Slipper Orchid ( Paphiopedilum species)

Lady's Slipper Orchid

Orchids are generally not terrestrial plants and the Lady’s Slipper Orchid is a special variety that is commonly grown indoors. The bloom time and color vary depending on the species of the orchid. The flowers have a very impressive shape. Long and flaring side petals border a showy dorsal sepal that is located on the top. A slipper shaped pouch of a contrasting color descends from the flower. The orchid needs moisture and dry air can kill it. It has been observed that the plants of the Paphiopedilum species grow well when planted together. This is good for the looks of the indoors that support the plant as well. When tended to carefully and re-potted regularly, the daring color combinations of this orchid will certainly add a dash of beauty to the homes.

4. Moth Orchid ( Phalaenopsis species )

Moth Orchid

The best part of these flowering plants is that they are quite easy to grow indoors. Also known as the ‘beginner’s orchid’, they grow as epiphytes on other trees and branches. In fact, when planted in a pot, the tender shoots travel over and out of the pot as if searching for nearby trees. The blooms can be as colorful as red, purple, pink, white or yellow. They regularly produce flowers if only one provides them with moist soil, fertilizers and bright light. Once the bloom is complete, cut away the stem at an angle, about 1 inch from the base so that it flowers again next season. The moth orchids are the best to create the feeling of spring indoors.

5. Crab Cactus ( Schlumbergera truncata )

Crab Cactus

Also called as the Thanksgiving Cactus, this plant comes from Brazil and has stems that resemble the claws of crabs. It is a captivating and beautiful sight to see it in full bloom with big flowers that are red, white, pink or even bi-colored. The blooming is triggered by cooler and shorter days. The plant is sensitive to temperature changes and the flowers fall off if the changes are sudden. Thus, it would be good to place the plant outside in early fall and get it back indoors before the first frost. The Crab Cactus is also a good gift for Thanksgiving – a time when it will flower and appear at its best!

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