GrahamEllis      SUB TROPICAL GARDENING  WITH GURU - GRAHAM ELLIS

Welcome to the last month of winter – and as all eager gardeners know, August is a time to look forward to and prepare for Spring!
As we are spending more time indoors and on covered patios at this time of year, I like to use this time to revitalise and renew our indoor and patio pot plants. If you are thinking of replacing some of these plants, or just looking for some good new additions, today I will give you a list of some of the best indoor or shaded patio plants available.

If you like palms, the best varieties would be the Raphis or Lady Palm, the Seifritzii or Bamboo Palm or the Chamaedorea Elegans or Parlour Palm.

1. Raphis Palms form dense clusters and their multi-trunking effect is ideal for filling out corners or hiding ugly walls. Their deep green, glossy multi-fingered leaves look elegant and graceful.

2. Bamboo Palm (although not related to a bamboo), gets its name from its multiple stems that, when mature, resemble the canes on a bamboo. Like the Raphis Palm, the Bamboo Palm is ideal for screening.

 3. Parlour Palm is a smaller version of the bamboo palm, and although this is a clumping palm, the foliage on the stems stay close to the ground.
All three palms are perfect for shay or low light areas, will tolerate a little filtered morning sun, but will not take direct sun, particularly afternoon western sun.

Another  good palm for indoors or patios is the Howea Fosteriana or Kentia Palm which is a single stemmed glossy green leaved specimen.
If your patio area can be exposed to a lot of sun, use the Phoenix Noelina or Ponytail Palm  with its strappy foliage and large, slowly developing bulbous base.

Next on the list for ideal indoor or patio plants is the Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily. This has been a popular favourite for decades, with its glossy green leaves and pure white flowers – but now we are blessed with a whole range of newer, more compact varieties that flower more profusely and for a longer period. You can now buy dwarf Peace Lilies which are ideal to use as a table specimen or opt for the larger varieties to make a bigger splash! Peace Lilies have a vigorous root system, so when they become pot-bound, you will need to give them plenty of water until you re-pot them.

Another essential, hardy indoor plant is the Aglaonema, which produces many different combinations of green, cream and silver foliage according to the variety selected. There is also a new range of Aglaonema that produce very striking pink/red/green/silver foliage combinations. All Aglaonema will tolerate shade or low light and are very hardy.

The old Umbrella Tree has been use as an indoor patio plant since the early ‘60’s, but like all plant, over the years they have been hybridised to produce many better alternatives.  One of my favourites in these is Schefflera Madam De Smet which is a stunning dwarf Umbrella Tree with a compact, bushy habit and delightful glossy gold and green foliage. Growing in sun or shade, it makes an ideal patio alternative.
Like the old Umbrella Tree, the rubber tree (Ficus Decora), has been a favourite for decades, but now with newer varieties of this tough plant emerging, it still has a place indoor or on your patio. One of the newer varieties is Ficus Burgundy with its large, glossy black/burgundy leaves.

Another great Ficus is Ficus Lyrata or the Fiddle Leafed Fig with its extra large fiddle-shaped glossy green leaves that definitely make a statement. This plant needs bright, filtered light as it will deteriorate rapidly in dim lighting.

So there you have a selection of the best. You might be interested to know that when I first started in Nurseries in 1969, there were only a handful of indoor plants available, and now there are thousands. Always remember that there is no such thing as a true indoor plant, as all indoor plants are really outdoor plants that have been adapted to indoors. God Bless.

Hope you can join me on Fraser Coast FM107.5 every Tuesday 9-12 noon and Fridays & Saturdays 12 noon-3pm for my Good Music and Garden Advice shows.
Or come and meet me on Saturday 4th August at our Radiofest in City Park, Main Street Pialba (the Big Whale), where Fraser Coast FM will be celebrating 25 years of broadcasting…..lots to see and do!