Episode 29: Christmas houseplants


When days are short, gloomy and cold, there's a lot to be said for fixating on your indoor plants. And Christmas is a great excuse to treat yourself to some new plants: be it something traditional such as poinsettias and Christmas cactus, or something a bit more, well, trendy, like terrariums and succulents. 


This week's show kicks off by considering the burning - or rather sparking - issue of whether it's acceptable to spray succulents with sparkly paint Christmas plant - like the Echeverias I spotted in Homebase recently (above), and these Sansevieria 'African Spear' (left) in Tesco. This has been going on for years - here's a post I republished from my old blog, dated December 2015 - but it seems to have reached a peak this year. What do you think? I'd love to know if you've bought one of these, and whether it survived for long? Below is a picture of a 'before' and 'after' from Barbara Hawkins of two Echeverias she bought a year ago, and how one of them looks now - there is hope!

And although I am pretty condemnatory about Poinsettias, I know a lot of people love them, and grow them - successfully or otherwise, so I share some care advice and find out from Graeme Edwards of Poinsettia growers Woodlark Nurseries about the incredible journey these plants go on from North Africa to your windowsill, via the Netherlands. Graeme also shares his tips for getting Poinsettias to bloom again next year (warning - it isn't easy!). A Christmas plant I can get behind is the ridiculously gaudy but dramatic Amaryllis aka Hippeastrum. Lisa Eldred Steinkopf offers advice on how to treat them after flowering. 

And if you thought Christmas was all about Poinsettias, think again - I find out what's flying off the shelves at the excellent Perrywood Garden Centre in Essex.

Barbara Hawkins bought these Echeverias just before Christmas last year... they are starting to 'grow past' the paint.

Barbara Hawkins bought these Echeverias just before Christmas last year... they are starting to 'grow past' the paint.


Many thanks to my guests this week: 

More Christmas plant resources

  • Here's the blogpost I wrote for the Guardian last year about the houseplants of Christmas 
  • A great piece from James Wong in the Observer about Christmas cactus
  • RHS advice on Christmas-flowering houseplants
  • Alys Fowler on Christmas cactus, with a lovely story about Poinsettia at the start
Poinsettia in the wild: so much better than the indoor version, don't you think?  Photograph  by  Kathy + Sam  on Flickr. 

Poinsettia in the wild: so much better than the indoor version, don't you think? Photograph by Kathy + Sam on Flickr. 

Photograph : Living in Monrovia via  Flickr

Photograph: Living in Monrovia via Flickr

Question of the week

@missybabz on Twitter wants to know how to look after her new Gardenia potted plant.  

I try not to be a party pooper here, but acknowledge that this is a very tricky plant to keep alive indoors in the long term. It likes warm temperatures, moist air and lots of light. Here's the RHS page on gardenia care that I mention.

Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.comThere's another Q&A special coming soon, so get those plant problems logged now!


On The Ledge Houseplant Sowalong 2018...

If you want houseplants - LOTS of houseplants - in 2018, why not join our On The Ledge mission to grow houseplants from seed? I've just set up a Facebook group for you to join, and you can use #OTLsowalong for your posts on Instagram and Twitter. 

... And I want your houseplant resolutions!

On January 5 I am going to be devoting a show to my - and your - houseplant new year's resolutions. Please drop me a line to tell me what yours are - it could be sourcing that special, rare plant you have been lusting after for years (Philodendron 'Pink Princess', anyone?), taking better care of your cacti or finally eradicating that mealy bug problem. It would be great if you could record your resolutions ... just record a voice memo on your phone and send it to me at ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com. Thanks!

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This week's show featured the tracks Whistling Rufus by the Hefting Banjo Orchestra and A Man Approaches With Bowed Sitar, Rishikesh from Samuel Corwin's Selected Field Recordings from India and Nepal, Volume I (Folk Songs), both licensed under Creative Commons, and Hot Lips by Bill Brown and His Brownies. Thanks also to Mark Hamilton for his voices: find out more at markhamilton.org.uk.

Jane Perrone