Home   Lifestyle   Article

Seven houseplants with a difference


By Features Reporter


If your spider plant has lost its lustre, you're done with your devil's ivy and have lost your appetite for your Swiss cheese plant, it's time to seek out some more unusual houseplants.

You could go for a tropical look with parrot-shaped flowers, or something architecturally on-point, or even a plant that grows coffee beans.

So, what's out there that you probably haven't tried?

Undated Handout Photo of air plants housed in upended sea urchin shells. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Crocus/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of air plants housed in upended sea urchin shells. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Crocus/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

1. Take a breath of fresh air

Move over cacti because air plants are on the rise. They don't need soil, just a humid environment, so a bathroom or steamy kitchen would be ideal and you just need to mist them a couple of times a week.

They can be used to trail or just form part of a display in a glass container, provided there's plenty of air circulation around their base. Crocus offers air plants in quirky upside-down sea urchin shells to give a jellyfish effect. (£12.99 per air plant jellyfish at crocus.co.uk)

Undated Handout Photo of a parrot plant. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Thompson & Morgan/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of a parrot plant. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Thompson & Morgan/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

2. Find a rainforest favourite

The parrot plant, also known as the Congo cockatoo (but officially Impatiens niamniamensis), is a striking plant which produces unusual red and yellow flattened tubular flowers with a green hooded mouth, dangling below leaves to provide an eye-catching display.

Originally a stalwart in the African rainforest, it prefers a humid environment and is ideal in a heated greenhouse or frost-free room, but keep it away from central heating because it needs moist air.

It will sit happily outside in summer in a shady spot. (£6.99 for a 9cm potted plant, Thompson & Morgan)

Undated Handout Photo of a Hawaiian palm. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: iStock/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of a Hawaiian palm. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: iStock/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

3. Go Hawaiian tropical

It may be rare, but the Hawaiian palm can bring a dash of the exotic into your home with its rich green leaves and sweet-scented jasmine-like flowers which bloom in October.

This succulent, which doesn't need much watering, makes its main growth in the winter months and is easy to grow indoors. Give it a light position inside in winter and a sheltered position in the house or garden in the summer, when it is dormant.

When the lower leaves turn yellow, snap them off to emphasise the characteristic of the trunk. (£17.99 for a 12cm pot from Amazon)

Undated Handout Photo of a Begonia maculata ‘Wightii’. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: The Ginger Jungle/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of a Begonia maculata ‘Wightii’. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: The Ginger Jungle/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

4. Leaf through spots

Variegated leaves are nothing new in the plant world – but what about spots? There's a begonia out there to give you spots before your eyes.

The Begonia maculata 'Wightii' has a white dotted upper leaf and deep red underbelly and will do well in bright light, but not direct sunlight.

Keep the soil moist, watering once the top two inches of soil have dried out, but don't let the plant dry out completely, and give the plant good humidity. (£19.99 for a 10cm pot from The Ginger Jungle)

Undated Handout Photo of an Alocasia amazonica. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Thompson & Morgan/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of an Alocasia amazonica. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Thompson & Morgan/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

5. Explore elephant ears

Alocasia are proving popular at the moment, thanks to their tropical-looking veined leaves in a variety of colours and leaf markings.

Try the Amazonian elephant's ear (Alocasia x amazonica), a dramatic addition to any room, with its arrow-shaped evergreen leaves which reach up to 60cm (24in) long.

They do well in a warm, lightly shaded room or conservatory. (£9.99 for an 11cm pot, Thompson & Morgan)

Undated Handout Photo of a bat flower. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Suttons/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of a bat flower. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Suttons/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

6. Go batty

The bat flower (Tacca chantrieri), so called because it mimics a bat in flight, is a striking houseplant whose large, rich leaves surround an almost black bloom with long 'whiskers' during summer.

Plant it in well-drained soil, positioned in a shady spot with high humidity, so place the pot in a tray of wet gravel to keep the air around it humid. It will need repotting annually as it doesn't like to be pot-bound.

It's a great alternative to an orchid. If you're growing it from seed, soak the seeds for 24 hours before sowing. (£4.99 for five seeds, Suttons)

Undated Handout Photo of a coffee plant. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Suttons/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.
Undated Handout Photo of a coffee plant. See PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant. Picture credit should read: Suttons/PA. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature GARDENING Advice Houseplant.

7. Fancy a coffee?

Ever thought of bringing your own taste of heaven into your home with a coffee plant? The Barista has luscious green leaves to add a tropical touch to a shady spot in your home.

Its attractive clusters of sweetly scented white flowers are followed by glorious red berries, which are in fact coffee beans.

Sow seeds from January to December, but you'll need to be patient as they are slow-growing. (£3.99, 10 seeds available from January, Suttons)



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More