NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR OCTOBER 2, 2004
INDOOR PLANTS FOR THE SOUTH WINDOW
BY GLADYS JEURINK
in Lincoln, Nebraska, the sun is directly overhead and if you have some
overhang on your roof your window will not receive intense light.
But come fall and winter, the sun is on a slanted course so
warmth and light increase. On
a sunny day in winter the light and heat coming in my south window
actually causes the furnace to stop.
Therefore, I can have a completely different set of plants in the
living room from winter to summer.
will write about winter south windows since I put almost all of my
plants outside in the summer as wind pressure strengthens their stems
and real rain with its dissolved nitrogen encourages growth.
are two layers of plants in my living room. Those closest to the glass
like intense light and the second row likes a little protection.
the first row close to the window:
My “Orange Tree” (Calamondin).
This is usually kept between 2 to 3 feet tall.
Its blooms are very fragrant and there may be fruit at the same
time. It’s a little fussy
about too much water and will drop its leaves.
It can be pinched back any time to maintain its size.
Use an acid fertilizer (Miracid or Earl May All Purpose Acid
Fertilizer). The oranges are only 1 inch to 2 inches across and are for
“looks” rather than eating.
The Tropical Hibiscus. This
can get very large if you have room.
I generally prune mine back very much when I put them out so that
by fall they are a good shape, with fresh leaves, and will bloom all
winter. They like a warm
room, constantly moist (not wet) soil and monthly fertilizer.
If its growth gets out of control you can start new plants by
cuttings. You will need to
watch out constantly for white flies.
I think Hibiscus is their favorite food!
Next to the Hibiscus is an
Iresine, also called beefplant, beefstake plant, or blood leaf.
It does not bloom but the stems are bright red as well as the
veins in the leaves. The
leaves are variegated. It
is a fast grower, uses lots of water and looks better if you start a new
plant at least once a year.
A “different” plant
that needs to be as close to the window as possible is the
“Powder-puff” or “Fairy duster” plant.
It comes from Honduras and Southern Mexico and is in full sun all
summer. Its directions say never to go below 60 degrees F. so it’s
about the first plant I bring in. The
buds look like small raspberries and it blooms year round in spurts.
They are soft, round and fuzzy. With a little imagination you can see
the fairies dusting the sunflowers.
Next in row one is “Jatropha”,
another tropical that stores water during wet periods in its stem.
Another name for it is “Buddha’s Belly”. The leaves are one
foot across and the stem bulges as it comes out of the soil into a
belly. There are rather
strange orange flowers that I consider more weird than beautiful.
Cactus comes from hot and
dry places so most do well in a bright South window.
Especially if you are one who forgets to water very often.
Geraniums are a common,
easy to grow plant that requires full light in order to bloom well.
In the second row:
Bromeliads, some of which
are rather large. They are
fun as you pour water in their vases often, but seldom into their soil. Many
of the mother plants die after blooming, but have several babies that
branch off before they do. Outside,
I use the hose to wash out their cups.
Their blooms may be a sword, a column of beads, a drooping head
of red and green bracts about 12 to 15 inches long, or a red bird’s
nest. They are tropical,
and many are from South America. The
Pineapple Plant is a “brome”. There
many small species which will grow on a slab.
The Purple Passion (also
known as purple velvet) is a trailing plant preferring sun and a warm
room. Under less light they
become a dull green. This
is a plant that needs to be started over again as it gets long and
gangly after a year or so. It
is easy to start from cuttings. I
like to put about four cuttings in a pot at the beginning of summer,
keeping it moist and by fall its growing well for my sunny window.
I will need to
talk about South Window houseplants again later as many plants prefer it
to other lighting.