Gardening Vivian | 02 Nov 2010 02:39 pm

Foliage Plants in Flower Colors

If you’ve always thought of foliage plants as green, you’re in for a nice surprise. Gay-as-a-rainbow foliage is not as rare as you may think. Some kinds are seasonal, like the fancy-leaf caladium in shadings of pink, red, and white with green. This particular variety grows from tubers indoors in cold weather, in shaded spots outdoors in summer. Others, like coleus, are year-rounders.

Your florist or greenhouse man sells short, bushy plants each spring to set into outdoor flower beds and borders. But you can have these plants indoors, too; they’re quite easy to root from stem cuttings, and they will grow willingly from seed. Choose from a wide variety of reds, yellows, and oranges, with or without a mixture of green in the ruffle-edged leaves.

Crotons are grown as shrubs in the deep south, as house plants elsewhere. They do demand high humidity, however, so you may have to supplement the moisture in your home during the winter months.

Among other colorful foliage plants are begonias, velvet plant, calathea, episcia (also called flame violet), red-nerved fittonia, some of the tradescan- tias, maranta, Cissus discolor, and several of the ‘fancy-leaf’ geraniums, as well as Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera).

In general (there are a few exceptions), the more colorful the foliage, the brighter the indoor light a plant requires in order to maintain its most brilliant display. It won’t take you very long to find out if the sun is insufficient, as the colors in new foliage will be paler or absent.

What constitutes the proper amount of light for a given variety of plant is a question many beginners find puzzling. Once you realize that the brightest winter sun indoors is but a tiny fraction in strength of full sun light outdoors in summer, this will help you understand house plant requirements.

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