Of all the fragrant house plants, gardenia is
probably one of the more widely known. Prized for the heady aroma its creamy-white
flowers emit, unfortunately, it is also notoriously difficult to
grow and bloom well, or even at all, in the home. In fact, one of my
most-often-asked questions is "Why doesn't my gardenia bloom?"
for indoor gardeners there is a type of gardenia that grows and
blooms well in the home. It's called African gardenia. It's an
easy-to-grow relative of gardenia that blooms reliably in the home.
African gardenia is a shrubby plant that looks
similar to gardenia, but on a smaller scale. It has short, slender
leaves that are carried on woody stems. It tends to grow rather flat
and rarely grows larger than a couple of feet high and wide, making a
good choice for even a small windowsill garden.
Its best attribute, of course, is its flowers.
Unlike the common gardenia that is so difficult to make bloom in the
home, African gardenia blooms almost continuously all year long with
no extra effort. It bears small, star-shaped flowers that are pink in
bud and open creamy white. The flowers are carried in clusters all up
and down its stems and even the smallest stem will have a few flowers
on it. There are dozens and dozens of flowers in bloom at any one
time and their fragrance is wonderful, very similar to gardenia,
albeit a little more subtle. The fragrance easily carries on the
breeze, perfuming a room.
Unlike gardenia which is very fussy about its surroundings, African
gardenia can be grown just about anywhere in the home. It grows well
in a sunny window, but will grow equally well in a shady one.
Humidity, which is a must for the common gardenia, is not as
important for African gardenia. It will tolerate low humidity or high
humidity or just about anywhere in between.
African gardenia also grows well in a broad range of temperatures.
Night temperatures as low as 45 degrees are not a problem for this
easy-care house plant. Click
here to order African gardenia from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.
plant is a real conversation piece. It's an everblooming
house plant, providing color all year long, but its flowers are not
at all what most would consider when thinking flowers. Its common
name describes its flowers almost perfectly. Resembling long strips
of chenille, each tassel-like flower hangs down from the leaf axil.
The bright-red tassel can be up to 20 inches long and nearly an inch
wide. The tassels have a soft, fuzzy texture and remain colorful for
weeks. Not only is it everblooming, it's also a profuse bloomer,
having numerous flower tassels dangling from its branches at any one
time. I think it would be a good plant for kids to grow because of
its fun flowers.
Chenille plant is an upright plant, forming a shrubby shape with age.
It can grow to three feet tall or so, but it can be pruned to keep it
shorter. I've seen it trained as a five-foot-tall standard with a
single stem and a bushy head of foliage and flowers. One chenille
plant I'm growing I'm keeping at just over one foot tall and it is
constantly in bloom. Chenille plant has large, bright-green leaves
that are generally three to four inches long, but can be up to eight
inches long. The leaves are about half as wide as they are long and
are slightly hairy on the upper side. Click
here to order chenille plant from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.
plant is a fun, unusual plant. It has medium- to dark-green,
hairy leaves that are roughly heart shaped with deeply-lobed edges.
The leaves are also deeply veined, giving them a quilted appearance.
The leaves are two to three inches across and are borne on
four-inch-long leaf stems. What is so unusual about this plant is
that each leaf bears a live, young plant. This method of reproduction
is called viviparous, meaning bearing live young. The small plantlet
appears to sit atop the leaf, but it is actually borne in the axil
where the leaf meets the short leaf stem. The little plantlet is an
exact replica of the mature plant, but in miniature. The plantlets
are bright green that matures to deep green. In addition to bearing
plantlets atop its leaves, piggyback plant also produces plantlets
along runners, similar to the way a strawberry plant grows. At
maturity, piggyback plant can spread 12 to 15 inches around and be
nearly a foot tall. Click here to
order piggyback plant from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.