Indoor Gardens

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 18:48

I know some gardeners look forward to a break from garden work in the off season, but many of us like to keep the plant life going indoors! For me, for many years, indoors was my only gardening, when I lived in cities, mostly without so much as a balcony. Even now, with a lot of outdoor space, there is no way I could be satisfied with the few short months that plants are actively growing outdoors here, much less abandon my long developed and developing interests in particular groups of sub/tropical plants...
My oldest and still main interest is in cacti and succulents, so I'll start with a plant that flowered last night - this is Discocactus zentneri a cactus from areas of rocky outcrops/quartz deposits in a semi-arid/seasonally dry part of Brasil. Plants in this genus form a cephalium- a sort of dense wooly growth on top of the main vegetative body- once they reach maturity, and after that the main body does not get much if at all larger, just produces offsets and flowers. Because of the cephalium, early bud development is hidden, and the bids suddenly appear in the daytime, reaching maturity and flowering overnight, for just one night! My plant does not seem to be notably scented, though some are, and flowers open at /after dusk (depending on season here) and close before dawn, so I can only take flash pictures or in ambient light (no photo light set-up currently) meaning they are usually kind of crappy It flowers for me usually a couple or several times a year from spring through fall, and gets no water over winter..
Unfortunately my plant is a little homely since I bought it with the dumb straw flower glued on, and not knowing anything about cephalia at the time, didn't realise that any spines lost in removing the straw flower would not be moved lower down the body out of sight as they do when other cacti grow- so it has that bald area on the upper sides permanently! Lower down is a dense skirt of offsets...

A page for the genus:


Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 13:30

That really is a nice one, Cohan! I've always believed that cacti with cephalia had rather small flowers :o like this one from Los Roques.

With that white colour you should expect it to scent?

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 15:17

Thanks, Trond- that looks like a nice Melocactus- there are a lot of species, and I think they all have small pink/purple flowers. Discocactus on the other hand all have large white flowers. Some friends who have the same species as me have scented flowers, but I have never smelled any on mine. Its not impossible that the scent develops nearer to dawn, but I think I have checked it at different times and never found any...

Submitted by RickR on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 18:19

I went to bed last night, thinking about Disco-cactus.

Maybe it's because Donald Duck and I have the same birthday, but you wouldn't believe the dream I had ...

--- Or maybe you would!  ;D

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 10:31

Rick, you haven't tasted any of your plants, have you :o

Submitted by cohan on Sat, 08/18/2012 - 16:46

Lol-- I guess I'm just so used to the genus that I don't think of 'Discos' that way, in spite of having been, at times, very fond of both discos, and cacti! Not sure they mix well, apart from this genus...

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 08/31/2012 - 15:36

Another cactus,  Thelocactus hexaedrophorus, this one from Mexico. I've had mine for 6 years or so, and its still happy in a 4" /10cm pot; This could be its mature size or it could get nearly twice as wide over time. I have another form with different spination, but it hasn't flowered for a few years...
This one usually flowers in early spring for me (can't remember right now whether it did this year) but gave me this flower in the last week of August...


Here's a site for the genus:

For contrast, here is the flower when it first opened... many cactus flowers change a lot in shape, size, even colour over a couple of days, or even hours like this one, from just opened to wide open in the hottest (on the windowsill) time of day..

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 08/31/2012 - 19:23

A different kind of succulent, this little plant came as an extra cutting with an order of Haworthias from Belgium in 2005; it's still in a 4"/10cm pot, though I bet it could be bigger by now if it had had enough ferts all along! Not the most exciting shape for an asclep ( I prefer those with small ovoid stems!) might need a hanging pot over time, or would probably make a nice mat in a warm climate or greenhouse! Stems will be all green in lower light, but get nicely marked with red if its sunny enough. It's a nice easygoing plant- drought tolerant of course, though it may lose stems if really dry, it will grow new ones from below the soil line, where most of the stems come from anyway (some branching, but not tons for me). Lots of small, but dark and pretty, shortlived flowers; it has flowered spring and late summer/fall for me. may be more water dependent than really seasonal... Sits on a south facing windowsill all year, mostly dry over winter..

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 17:20

What the heck- a couple more cacti :)

Turbinicarpus klinkerianus, a miniature (in fact most in the genus are said to be neotenous, staying small and flowering very young) plant from Mexico; this is in a 2.5" pot since 2007, and nowhere near filling it on top, though the fat roots are trying to make the square pot round...
flowers several times from spring through fall, though this is the most flowers it's had at once this year.. pics show day two then day three for these flowers..

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 17:25

And another- Eriosyce (napina? have to find my original records.. this species is very similar to occulta, so I'm not sure)
This time a Chilean plant, also small, in a 3 inch pot, these are mostly buried in nature, but tend to slowly get a bit cylindrical in cultivation;
It flowered a couple of weeks ago with 2 flowers, but don't think I got those photos posted...

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 03/11/2013 - 12:22

A fairly common Haworthia type- but I don't usually bother trying to name these exactly if they come with no provenance: there are many many(many many many) similar forms, and species are far from agreed on, plus, mainstream plants can be hybrids as well, so I enjoy them namelessly!
This particular plant is looking (in my eye) very elegant in its closed, mid-winter rest form.. (only the tip opens while in growth,  lower leaves might just loosen a bit) .. colour also varies through the year depending on water and light...

Submitted by Hoy on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 07:48

Cohan, is this its natural habit or is it caused by low levels of light?

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:44

Completely natural. These types often grow partly/shaded by shrubs etc so they do not need/want really full sun, though I keep them just back from south windows so they get some good sun, especially spring and fall. You can tell by the partly reddish colouring that it gets some sun.
These taller species will grow upright for a while and eventually lean or fall over (unless they are propped up by shrubs) but this stem is probably near maximum height, and most growth now will go into offsets, which you can see starting..
This particular form is also more gracile than some other forms, one of the numerous points of variation among these forms and similar species.

Submitted by Hoy on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 15:11

Interesting! The only Haworthias I have grown had no stem at all or very short ones.

Submitted by RickR on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 21:04

Now that could make a very interesting (or at least, different) hanging basket in its old age.

How old is it?  With my inconsistent care, if I grew that plant I don't think it would be clothed to the base anymore. :(

So you've inspired me to take a few pics of some of my more usual houseplants.  You especially, Cohan, will recognize the hard life they endure.

This one you probably know of the top of your head.  It's fairly common but I don't remember the name.

Drimiopsis maculata petioles

Haworthia turgida

Haworthia sp. Aloe haworthioides

Sinningia leucotricha survives, dwarfed in a 2.5 inch pot.  But it still blooms two or three times a year.

Mamallaria elongata - I think

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 00:44

Trond- there are a number of  species of these columnar Haws, and many dozens (hundreds?) of variations among them.. coarctata, reiwnwardtii and herrei/ glauca would be among the most common, but not the only by any means..
Rick- some nice examples- and mainly plants that look better for a tougher growing regime- while most c+s appreciate regular- even generous- water and ferts in season, if that were maintained year round most would not maintain characteristic growth! Mine tend to be grown a little harder than I intend, though I'm working on it!
The Haw I pictured actually has probably had drought for the majority of the year in recent years, but these species are not much prone to losing lower leaves. while there are many stemmed Haworthias, there are few (if any?) that develop bare stems. lower leaves are not so commonly  lost in this type, as in Aloe,  and where they are lost, the plants mostly retract the stem to soil level so there are still no bare stems.. I'm not sure of its age-  it was potted before I left Toronto (2007), and into a 5" or so pot, so it  was likely at least several years old at that time- I probably bought it at a couple of inches tall in a 2/2.5" nursery pot.  You could grow them in  a hanging pot, though I don't think they'd hang far- probably more interesting would be some sort of basket/ball that the plants could send out offsets from in multiple directions- you could easily grow a sort of spikey ball that way- something I'd do for sure in a greenhouse, but hard to water in the house! I have a similar form quite a bit older/larger, planted in a hanging basket type pot (not hanging though) and at a similar stem length the stems mostly flopped over (maybe I'm wrong and they were never as tall),  but in the last couple of years the older stems have mostly died out and been replaced by a whole crop of younger stems, that may be due to some periods of inadequate water/ferts.. I'll have to look for some older pics of it..

Your first plant is certainly an Aloe species, though I can't say which- my first thought was that it reminded me of peglerae- though that does not get a tall stem (I'm not sure of the scale of your plant, either) and also reminds me ( the leaves) of humilis or longistyla, though those also do not form significant stems, and are very small- but maybe your plant is much larger than I'm thinking? and is a young tree aloe sp? Without knowing the species, I'd suggest it actually has excellent leaf retention for the stem length..

Funny that you just picture the petioles of the Drimiopsis- I have a number of SA bulbs who have pretty (and often similarly zebra striped) petioles as their best vegetative

Nice H turgida.

The one marked Haworthia sp is, I think, Aloe haworthioides, one of the Madagascar species, quite distinct among Aloes and very nicely grown. I've had this do well in the past, though my most recent plant died out. If you see flowers, it would be very clear whether it is Haw or Aloe.

Interesting that the Sininnigia has dwarfed so nicely.. I haven't got any of these silvery species for lack of space in the sun (lots of contenders for those spots) but maybe for a 2.5 " pot... Is if flowering now?

Your Mamm is putting on a good show :)

Submitted by RickR on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 00:05

Thanks, Cohan.
My first Aloe pictured is 9 inches (23cm) tall in a 6 inch (15cm) pot.  It was actually replanted 2 inches (5cm) deeper than before.  When I think of what subshrub stems are like outside, I would characterize this one as non-woody, but very strong, if that makes any sense.

Oh yes, Aloe haworthioides and not Haworthia sp.  The name definitely rang a bell as I read your post.  Thank you.

At the moment the Sinningia is just resprouting.  The first pic was taken yesterday.
For many years, I grew a simple Mirabilis jalapa as a "caudiciform", and it performed in the same manner in a 4 inch (10cm) pot.

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:40

There are a bazillion Aloes, and I am certainly no expert, so I still wont hazard a guess on your first plant, but it's a nice one :)

I shouldn't be surprised about caudis or other plants  dwarfing in pots- I have enough forced dwarves  ;D

Here's one that doesn't need any help to stay small- from seed in 2008 from Penrock as Rhadamanthus sp, now Drimia, this is probably D platyphylla, and there are 4 of them with plenty of room in a 3 inch pot. This one is the first to flower- tiny one day flowers, but very nice in macro!

Submitted by Fermi on Fri, 03/15/2013 - 00:56

An exquisite jewel, Cohan!

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 03/15/2013 - 01:06

Thanks, Fermi- they are sweet little things, though I'm really glad I remembered to get some macro shots- the flowers don't last long and don't look like anything more than little specks without the magnification! It has also been trouble free on the windowsill- just water whenever I remember except mid- summer and

Submitted by Hoy on Sat, 03/16/2013 - 01:15

Looks splendid, Cohan! Does it go dormant?

Submitted by cohan on Sun, 03/17/2013 - 00:48

Thanks, Trond. It sounds silly, but right now I can't remember for sure if it is ever completely leafless for me! I think I keep it mostly dry in mid-summer, but since it is so small I still give a little water now and then. I think by late summer the leaves are probably dry and then I water more regularly again from early fall and it makes new leaves. Because my summer is not that hot ,and maybe more importantly, nights are never hot, my winter growers are mostly only dormant a short time from mid to late summer- in spring/fall when light is best and I water both winter and summer growers the most on my windowsills and shelves, it can get quite hot inside the glass, especially in the main room where there is a curtain between the plants and the rest of the room, so light and heat are somewhat trapped in there, but nights are fairly cool all year (especially once we no longer have a fire!)..

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 11:16

While waiting for spring warmth outside I can enjoy some plants inside. Here are Tulbaghia simmleri and Clivia miniata. The Tulbaghia has a pleasant scent. Last spring I had the pot outside from March on!
Although the Clivia is quite common I like the colour.

Submitted by Mark McD on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 15:17

I grew Tulbaghia simmleri for a number of years, great house plant, and as you say, sweetly perfumed blooms (like many Tulbaghia species).  Although, cut off a leaf or stem, and it emits a strong fetid skunky smell (again, like many Tulbaghia do).

I'm terrible with houseplants, always forgetting to water them, but I have several Clivia plants (hybrids) given to me about 5 years ago. They've grown well and thrive in spite of general neglect, although no flowers yet. They were very small plants when I got them, should be large enough to flower now; still waiting.

Submitted by Hoy on Tue, 03/19/2013 - 15:19

McDonough wrote:

I grew Tulbaghia simmleri for a number of years, great house plant, and as you say, sweetly perfumed blooms (like many Tulbaghia species).  Although, cut off a leaf or stem, and it emits a strong fetid skunky smell (again, like many Tulbaghia do).

I'm terrible with houseplants, always forgetting to water them, but I have several Clivia plants (hybrids) given to me about 5 years ago. They've grown well and thrive in spite of general neglect, although no flowers yet. They were very small plants when I got them, should be large enough to flower now; still waiting.

It was you who told me the name of the Tulbaghia, Mark ;) And it is very easy as a houseplant during the winter. I do not water mine at all!

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 13:12

Looking good Trond! This is a key time for indoor plants here- still a long time before anything will be happening outside..
Mark- I'm no Clivia expert, but they may be needing some kind of seasonality to flower..

Submitted by Hoy on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 14:35

Yes, you have to give it a cool rest sometimes!

I move my Clivias outside to a shady place under a tree during the summer where they don't get more water than they get from the sky. In fall, before it is getting too cold I move them inside to a conservatory  and continue watering till December. During the winter the temperature can drop to 0C. I don't start watering till I see buds develop and the scape has elongated about 1ft, usually in March. When the buds show colour I bring the pot into our sitting room to enjoy the flowers ;D

Submitted by Tingley on Sat, 03/23/2013 - 15:36

Just as we were getting used to no snow, the skies opened and dumped a blanket on us! I hope to have Trond's luck with a Clivia, though mine is just a small pup we bought last year (time to wait!). A few things have come through to give us a brush of colour.

Colmanara Wildcat is a complex hybrid of three genera (Miltonia, Odontoglossum, and Oncidium), though in the case of Wildcat, the taxonomists may have reclassified the Miltonia species used as an Oncidium. Some sources now call these variable plants "Odontocidium Wildcat". The plant was a Home Depot rescue, so I have no idea of the clonal name, but it blooms regularly at least once or twice per year, and the flowers last for over a month.

Streptocarpus 'Purple Panda' took much of the winter off, but is now blooming like mad! It is potted in an African Violet pot (pot within a pot, the external one a reservoir of water, the internal one made of porous clay with no holes for drainage) so the plant's roots pull moisture through the wall of the pot. It seems to thrive in these conditions, but to be honest- it needs a bigger home!

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 04/09/2013 - 11:59

Looking good, Gordon- great to have some colour inside when it's lacking outside- that's most of the year for me  ;D

Submitted by RickR on Sat, 04/13/2013 - 22:15

Sinningia leucotricha in the 2.5 inch pot:


Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 01:09

Rick, such plants doesn't exist :o :o
What a gem!

Submitted by cohan on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 17:03

Very encouraging to me to see it so small, Rick  ;D How big does it get in full leaf?

Submitted by RickR on Mon, 04/15/2013 - 07:57

cohan wrote:

Wow- that's it? Quite manageable, I usually think of them much larger..

A "marvel" of a more austere environment and a tiny, tiny pot...  ;D
I was actually thinking of transplanting it up (after), as the caudex is almost the size of the pot itself now.

Submitted by Mark McD on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 21:13

Rick, you have invented a new plant fascination, bonsai Gesneriaceae!

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:26

A couple from yesterday,
Thelocactus hexaedrophorus and Mammillaria nana

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 04/30/2013 - 12:27

Different views of the two plants above- showing the subtle striping on the Mammillaria, and the coloured throat and nice spines on the Thelocactus.
Also, Tephrocactus molinensis- still small after 6 or 7 years  from a small rooted cutting- it has a pretty sere regime, but I doubt a softer treatment would do more than encourage soft growth-- maybe just a bit more water and The South American opuntioids are not likely to flower on a windowsill..

I showed this plant last year, but happened to have some shots again, so I'll just post a link.



Orbea umbomboensis- it's a rather small member of the asclepiad family, with stems maybe 1/2  the diameter of the common O variegata. Flowers no more than an inch across, but they are very cool and produced quite generously for an extended period- usually spring and fall for me, those are my periods of best light indoors where this plant lives full time. Unlike many in the family, no disagreeable scent to the flowers that I have been able to detect.


Euphorbia francoisii 

Caudiciform tender succulent from Madagascar.  Leaves are very firm and I'm guessing can go for several months without water with no leaf drop.  Plants grow to 2 foot mounds over 7-20 years.  Old plants may have a turnip-like caudex

Bright light and sandy soil.  Grow well under artificial light.  Flowers inconspicuous.  I have 8 plants growing entirely under artificial light.  Leaf patterns and shapes may vary greatly with growing conditions.  Pictures are from eBay.  Thailand has very active breeding programs, these may be hybrids.

There are a lot of very beautiful Euphorbia species, and this is right up there with the nicest. I haven't seen one with wide leaves like the last one before,  but there are a number of natural variants in leaf shape, pattern and colour. I haven't grown this myself, but have admired it for years.