Colourful pot plants bring warmth to winter

Azalea indica.
Azalea indica.
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Cheeriest of all at Heighley Gate in November is the anticipated indoor potted plants.

Cyclamen colours have improved so much and how they stand out in any mixed display. Azalea indica is there in abundance alongside the so-called ‘winter cherry’ (solanum), chrysanthemums and a good range of showy orchids.

Chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums.

These plants are long-lasting in flower if you follow a few basic rules. They enjoy full light conditions but will not thank you for turning up the central heating. A temperature of around 15 C suits them just fine.

Watering is the one aspect of keeping plants indoors over winter that people find most difficult. When the plant is bought it should be in perfect condition so get used to the weight as you hold it. Pick the pot up daily and notice how it becomes much lighter as the plant processes moisture and evaporation occurs. Eventually, you will know exactly when it needs watering, that is the time to fill the space between compost and the rim then let it drain off. Do not offer a dribble of water daily until the compost becomes saturated.

Winter pot plants are actively growing and do need water but if you are in doubt as to how much there is a simple solution. Stand the pot on a saucer of gravel and add water to that rather than the compost. The plant will absorb exactly what it wants, which relieves you of the responsibility.

Poinsettia (euphorbia), primula and early bulbs will eventually join the indoor displays, giving us a brilliant choice of colour over winter. Meanwhile, there is a plant that simply oozes class. It is incorrectly viewed as exotic and too difficult to grow in the home, but the phalaenopsis orchid will flower almost year-round with little else than an occasional drink.

Phalaenopsis orchids

Phalaenopsis orchids