One of the more uncomfortable truths about keeping houseplants is that, when ensconced in our comfortable little British homes, perched on a shelf or dangling from a planter, they would much rather be somewhere else.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户If you’re after something to keep the children entertained, challenge them to identify and then locate the origins of the plants you have in your home. It’s a worthwhile exercise in itself – not just for our indoor plants, but those in the garden, too, for reasons I’ll explain in another column – because it may make you feel better about that limp, straggling thing in a pot in the corner. If it hails from the rainforest floor, chances are it might struggle next to a radiator in the Home Counties.
Houseplant fanatics, of course, rig up complicated systems involving air humidifiers, artificial lights and fancy bottled water (yes, really), in an attempt to mollify their transplanted treasures. But there is an easier, albeit seasonal, solution: give them a little summer holiday outside. The most consistent challenge I find with keeping houseplants is getting them enough light. Plants need light more than a regular watering system, more than a good feeding regime. It is light that they turn into energy, it is light that can coax a long-hiding perennial from a sad looking tub. I keep herbs and pelargoniums (originally from southern Africa, where they have been used to detoxify farming land for generations) on my bedroom window ledge because it’s the only one that gets uninterrupted bright light for most of the day. They simply won’t bloom anywhere else in the flat.
Unless you’re blessed with a conservatory or a glasshouse (I long for either), even these long summer days won’t give your houseplants as much light as they would receive from being outside. But because outdoor temperatures can get close to those inside, cosseted indoor plants won’t even suffer from a cold evening – although, it’s probably worth bringing very tender varieties back in at night. Prepare them well with a good drink and a liquid feed. A vocal rendition of Madonna’s Holiday is optional.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户The results can be swift and remarkable. Much like we return from a good holiday tanned, relaxed and slightly fatter, you will notice new shoots and sprightlier stems. Varieties that had never flowered for me inside (oxalis triangularis, some fussy scented pelargoniums) put on a show after a few bright days. Miserable crispy ferns will relish the natural damp of a British summer. Bring them in when it’s getting too cold to realistically dine outside.
Of course, there will be a few plants that do the equivalent of an idle holiday potter into a villa estate agency, and never come back. No fewer than 10 struggling asparagus ferns have migrated to a long, shaded trough on the balcony over the past year, where they thrive with far less maintenance than they’ve demanded indoors. As for my echeveria, it’s been out on the balcony for five years now, rain or shine, and has been known to flower in December.
Alice is the author of (Canongate, £14.99) and you can follow her on Instagram .