Growing in pots for a terrace or a balcony is popular. | R.D.


Once, many years ago it was suggested that from time to time instead of gardening we had a ‘Botanical balcony’ day. We do speak of terraces and indoor plants from time to time so today we will look at some of the more popular plants and of course the easier ones to grow. You will probably find that those of us who like potted plants fall into two catagories. There are those of us who are instant death to anything in a plant pot and those who have a balcony or window ledge overflowing with healthy green leaves during any season. If you are new to the idea of a few plants indoors then let's start off with the easy ones that nobody should be able to kill off.

The Spider plant (Chlorophytum) I prefer its popular name, its easier to pronounce! To begin with this plant is not fussy at all as to where you place it. Most indoor plants require plenty of light but beware of direct sunshine through the window where the glass will magnify the suns rays. The Spider plant fits into this catagory. It can live with the minimum of water due to its fleshy roots but never let it dry out altogether otherwise the leaves will loose their lustre even turn greyish green then start to die back. The mature Spider plant will produce cascading stems with tiny plantlets at the tip, these plantlets can happily be left on the plant then pegged into the soil where they will root and produce new plants. Keep a spray bottle of water handy specially if the indoor temperature is really warm, this plant loves a misty spray from time to time and you really can’t kill off the Spider plant.

For indoor colour you just can’t beat the Cyclamen, to begin with the tiny one is a native of this island and can be found growing wild in many hidden away places. The larger variety as well as the tiny one are very popular as house plants but do need a little extra care to keep them alive. With care a Cyclamen will bloom indoors for months. It hates to be in an overheated room so is happier in a north facing room or on a balcony. They prefer to be watered from the bottom by standing in a drip tray rather than soaking from the top, this is due to the fact that the plant has a fleshy crown or corm which easily rots if water stands on it for any length of time. which is the reason for watering from the bottom. If bought now, look for plenty of leaf and tightly closed buds and you will be surprised to see that the plant lasts well into next spring but do bear in mind the room temperature where the pot stands and certainly not in direct sunshine.

Passiflora or Passion Flower I have mentioned at times as a climbing plant that needs to be kept under control if you don’t want it to take over the whole garden. Why not pot one up and move it indoors now? Form a hoop with a flexible twig or wire and train the plant round it. This plant likes plenty of warmth and sunshine and will need frequent watering. Once inside a plant pot one can at least keep the root suckers under control. Keep training the top growth round and round the hoop you have formed and when it comes into bloom you will wonder why you did not try one before.

Jasmine can be trained in a pot in the same way, the tiny pinkish blooms have a delightful fragrance, it likes a little winer sunshine, never let it dry out so be sure to keep the compost moist at all times.

If you really want to try growing a Camelia here the only way is to grow it in a pot. It does not like the soil here at all and will never thrive outdoors in the ground it does not like to be overheated so a shady corner on the terrace is the ideal place. The Camelia really is a challenge to obtain the perfect plant. It is not helped by the hard water so best watered with rainwater or that from a dehumidifier.

We can mention all the Cacti and Succulents as ideal indoor or tarrace plants, they are really easy to grow both indoors and out and I admit we often speak of them. There are just a few simple rules to follow when growing plants indoors or on a terrace: light, temperature, draughts as well as drowning need to be considered for the healthy potted plant be it indoors or on a terrace but it is still nice to have plants indoors as well as out.