The Ericas are small shrubby plants which are bought in flower during the winter months. Their tiny leaves and masses of bell-shaped flowers are attractive, but these plants will give disappointing results in a centrally heated room. In hot, dry air the leaves drop very rapidly, so only choose an Erica for display in winter if you can provide a cool and well-lit spot. Pay careful attention to watering – never use hard water and make sure that the compost is never allowed to dry out.

There are two popular varieties to choose from – E. gracilis bears tiny globular pink or pale purple flowers and E. hyemalis which bears larger tubular pink flowers with white tips.

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Living Stones

The Living Stones are interesting rather than beautiful, as they mimic the pebbles which abound in their natural habitat. Living Stones are flowering succulents that blend into their native environment because they grow in a stemless clump resembling small stones. All are members of the Mesembryanthemum family and each plant consists of a pair of extremely thick leaves. These are fused together to produce a stem-like body with a slit at the top. This slit may be as small as a tiny hole or it may extend right down to ground level, depending upon the species.

The sizes of the various types available do not differ very much – the range is a height of ½-2 in. Colors and patterns, however, present a bewildering array and collecting a comprehensive range of Living Stones can be a hobby in itself.

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Cyclamen is one of the most popular of all winter-flowering pot plants and its charm is obvious. Compact growth, beautiful swept-back flowers on long stalks and decorative foliage which is patterned in silver and green. The blooms are in bright colors or pastel shades, large and eye-catching or small and perfumed.

Most Cyclamens are unfortunately consigned to the dustbin after a few weeks. With care they will bloom indoors for several months and then can be kept to provide another display next winter. First of all, try to buy a plant in fall and not in mid winter, and choose one with plenty of unopened buds. Then put it in a suitable home – a north-facing windowsill is ideal. The spot must be cool and away from direct sunlight – a warm room means a short life for a Cyclamen.

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A crocus is a well loved perennial flower that grows that grows to be 3 to 6 inches tall with yellow, purple, lavender and white cup shaped blooms. A member of the iris family, the crocus is a hardy plant that commonly blooms in the spring, with the exception of a few species of crocus that bloom in the fall.

The crocus plant has over 80 species, about 30 of which are raised commercially. The most commonly planted crocus is the Dutch Crocus, also known as the crocus vernus, which also has the largest bloom (blues and whites predominate). Other common species of crocus are crocus chrysanthus, which is one of the first to bloom in late winter or early spring (often yellow), crocus sieberi, which is also fairly short and blooms very early, and the crocus tommasinianus, another early bloomer that comes in various shades of purple.

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Orchid Care – The Basic Instructions

Orchids are exotic plants that have thrived on this planet for millions of years but many people are reluctant to grow them as they do not understand the basics of orchid care. The orchid is a fragile flower but with the right care its quite robust and don’t need a lot of care. You get a good growth potential by buying hybrids from the orchid nursery or orchid garden. While orchids can be challenging to grow, their care is really not that complicated and if you understand what they need to florish, you, too, can enjoy these beautiful and fragrant plants.

Watering. One of the big mistakes that people make is over watering their orchids. People assume that since they are tropical plants they need a lot of water and this is not necessarily the case. While they do appreciate the humid environment, over watering can kill them.

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Indoor Plants: Dieffenbachia

The large and highly decorative leaves of Dieffenbachia make it a great favourite with interior designers, who use large ones as solitary specimen plants and smaller examplesas a key part of plant groups.

A well-grown Dieffenbachia may reach 5 ft or more, but under ordinary room conditions some of the lower leaves will fall to give a False Palm effect. It is not an easy plant to grow – it will not tolerate low winter temperatures or cold draughts. Dry air and fluctuating temperatures can be fatal to some delicate varieties, but the most popular types (varieties of D. picta and D. amoena) are fairly tolerant and not at all difficult to grow in the centrally heated home.

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