It's hard not to love a lily. This family includes some of the most magnificent flowering plants, including the flowering Hymenocallis. This large plant, sometimes known as the spider lily, features huge and very unusual flowers that rise above the strap-like leaves. It is good for a season indoors, although be aware that it is poisonous.
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Here's the last plant for your indoor annual garden: the Asteriscus. A member of the aster family, this compact, low-growing plant has beautiful yellow flowers that are prized in Europe for balcony plants. They can be grown indoors as well, and in fact will thrive indoors if you can provide strong, direct sunlight. They are acclimated to low humidity already, which is common in indoor growing areas.
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Like the heliotrope, the Ageratum is more commonly used as a bedding plant, but perhaps deserves a second look as an indoor flowering plant. These members of the aster family are tough enough to survive indoors, and provided they get decent light, there is little to stop them from blooming all summer. Remove withered flowers to prolong the bloom.
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This whole series of blog entries could easily be titled: "Plants You Probably Never Thought About Growing Indoors." The list herewith begins with the heliotrope. These common bedding plants have lovely flowers and a very intoxicating vanilla scent, yet almost no one grows them indoors. My advice is to try one or two in a massed planting with the other plants in this series, turning a sunny windowsill into an indoor annual flower garden.
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Corny, yes, but I couldn't help it. The brake ferns hail from the Pteris genus, of which only one is commonly found in cultivation. It's too bad these aren't more common...among ferns, these are hardy, beautiful and don't grow especially large. They are actually perfect for a tabletop or desktop, providing you can give it filtered, bright light and enough humidity.
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Now here's another cool plant you don't see very often: the Davallia species of ferns. Commonly referred to as deer's foot ferns or rabbit's foot ferns, these interesting plants have creeping, fuzzy rhizomes that somewhat resemble animal feet. As far as ferns go, they aren't the easiest to grow. They require loads of humidity, which can be tricky to deliver in an indoor environment. But they are such a novelty, it's probably worth it to keep one for a while.
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If you've read this blog for a while you know that I'm not the world's biggest fan of palm trees (except the coconut palm, which I love with the white hot passion of ten thousand suns). But nevertheless, there is something cool about the European fan palm. First, it's an attractive clumping palm. And second, it's the only palm tree native to Europe, where it grows along the sunny shores of Spain and Italy. No wonder all the other palm trees are jealous of its accent.
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This is one of those plants my wife can't believe I actually grow. "Why on earth would you want something that smells like rotting chicken down the driveway?" she asks. Okay, fair enough. Good question. And the answer is kind of weak: "Because they're indescribably awesome?" So yeah, Amorphophallus might be an acquired taste. But still, they have gorgeous foliage and even the smell is hard not to love a little, if only because it's so unusual.
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The Thelypteris genus is a fairly huge group of plants, in part because of the dire confusion surrounding the naming. The Latin names are all goofy, and the most common fern in the United States is frequently called the maidenhair fern, a name that's usually given to another species entirely. No matter what their name, though, these are beautiful and delicate ferns that are worth growing if you can find out.
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This is just a flat-out cool plant, at least when it's flowering. Called the pineapple ginger, though it's neither pineapple nor ginger, the flower spikes emerge directly from the ground at the base of the reedlike leaf stems. It's a very dramatic show, and the first time you see it, it's hard to imagine that it's all the same plant. These are rare, however, in part because they are highly tropical and require warmth, humidity, and lots of water.