They haven't enjoyed the popularity in recent years that they have in times past, but maybe it's time to rediscover the not-so-humble houseplant? With recent plant introductions and advances in pot design, watering systems, potting mixes and fertilisers, growing indoor plants should be easier than ever.
What better way to introduce life and colour to the cavernous, bland and sterile interiors of contemporary homes? Don't forget that the pot itself can also be a decorative element. Apart from looking good, plants can have benefits to health and wellbeing, too. [continued below]
Hands off houseplants
Research led by La Trobe University in Australia has found that you'll help your houseplants with a "look but don't touch" approach. The slightest touch from an animal, insect or even other plants activates a huge number of defensive genes, which consumes energy. If the touch is repeated enough, growth is reduced. Source: Plants don't like touch, new study finds, La Trobe University. (December, 2018)
Unfortunately, a few plants won't make an as great a difference to indoor air quality you might hope. appreciable difference in normal home or office situations. However, scientists in America have modified a plant with a mammalian gene to extract chloroform and benzene from the atmosphere. The protein produced breaks down chloroform into carbon dioxide and chloride ions and benzene into phenol, all of which can be used within plants and actually help them grow. The subject in this experiment was pothos (Epipremnum aureum), a common houseplant. Source: Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home's air, University of Washington. (December, 2018)
Older news at bottom of page.
Plants for Growing Indoors
The following list is not comprehensive. It will be added to over time. It concentrates on plants suitable for use indoors, although many of the following plants are also used outdoors in frost-free Qld.
This list doesn't include species popular for as potplants outdoors in Queensland (e.g. mandevilla, cordylines, bougainvillea). For more on container gardening on balconies, patios and in the open garden, see Container Gardening in Qld. Note that in some publications from colder climates, such plants may be cultivated "indoors" in glasshouses or conservatories.
Link indicates a dedicated page
|Notes, Other links|
Includes assorted links to other websites if no dedicated page on this site
|Aeschynanthus||see African Violets|
|African Violets|| |
|Amorphophallus||See Anthurium and other aroids|
Zebra Plant - Care (Aphelandra squarrosa 'Louisae') Walter Reeves, Georgia|
|Ctenanthe||see Maranta, Calathea, Ctenanthe|
NB: Schefflera actinophylla
(Umbrella tree) is considered a weed in many regions. See: Umbrella tree
Dizygotheca elegantissima (Schefflera elegantissima) Online Manual of Subtropical Landscaping Plants, Palm Beach Community College, Florida
Dwarf Schefflera Schefflera arboricola
. Online Manual of Subtropical Landscaping Plants, Palm Beach Community College, Florida
The majority of plants commonly used indoors can also be grown outdoors in frost-free parts of Queensland in suitably shaded positions such as covered patios, bush houses and as an understory in tropical gardens. If trying to grow under trees, however, you'll have the problem of tree root competition and in some cases you may find keeping the plants in containers in these situations more successful than trying to establish them in the ground.
Most species used as houseplants naturally come from low-light environments, like rainforests. Most are grown for their foliage. Those grown for flowers are more chalenging as they generally require more light, but you need to find just the right spot. If they recive too much sun behind glass, they may burn, overheat or dry out. An alternative, if you have a bush house or other suitable area available, is to cultivate the plants outdoors and just bring them inside for decoration when they're in flower.
Growing edible plants indoors is an even greater challenge, as most require a lot of light to produce a harvest. (Remember that human eyes adjust to light and what looks like a well-lit room to us might be very dim far as a plant is concerned.). It's technically possible to provide supplemental electric lighting with special bulbs (the wavelength as well as the intensity of light being important) but you would have to consider whether the resultant power bill would make it worthwhile.
If you want to have a go with edible plants, try starting with salad greens or herbs. Neither require flowering and fruiting to produce a useful product. Herbs vary in light and heat tolerance and there are many to choose to suit the position.
Other options for edibles include starting seeds off indoors before planting in the garden. This can save space and help you get a head start in spring, but take care that they receive enough light and are hardened off sufficiently. For more on this topic, go to Seeds and seed raising.
Ferns fight formaldehyde
It has been known for some years that indoor plants can combat the effects of inddor air pollution. Scientists from Korea and USA have tested the ability of 86 diverse species of plants to remove volatile formaldehyde (which can be emitted from modern furnishings and other sources). They found that, as a class, the ferns were the most efficient, with Osmunda japonica (Japanese royal fern) coming in first amongst all 86 tested. Media release, including link to the original American Society for Horticultural Science article, here: Study of phytoremediation benefits of 86 indoor plants published (June 2011)