Also called Mountain tobacco, arnica (Arnica montana) is a much-valued perennial herb in medicine and arnica ointment is used to treat bruises, sprains, varicose veins and other conditions. It is also used in homeopathy to treat epilepsy, high blood pressure and shock. It is also used internally, because of its irritant effect on the stomach. Its action is stimulant and diuretic.
As with all medicinal herbs, it should not be used in its natural state for the plant is poisonous and toxic and can cause skin irritation. It is not a large plant ( 30-60 cm by 15 cm) and carries attractive golden-yellow daisy-like flowers, held on a long stems. It is a popular plant for growing in containers. Period of flowering is in midsummer to early fall.
For many indoor house plants, the decreasing light levels in late fall are a cue to enter a dormant phase, in preparation for making it through a potentially tough winter ahead. It’s important to allow your indoor house plant to rest over winter. If you continue to water and feed them as you do in summer, this will encourage them to keep on growing, putting them under strain and leading to weak, spindly growth.
However, follow top 5 tips for winter care and you’ll have healthy indoor house plants that will be raring to grow in spring.
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.
Calliandra is a popular plant in the U.S. but rarely grown in Great Britain. The leaves are made up of a large number of segments and the flowers are made up entirely of stamens. It blooms in winter and the ‘powder-puffs’ last for 6-8 weeks.
Calliandra inaequilatera has bright red flowers and dark green foliage. A better choice is the hardier Calliandra tweedii – the flowers are smaller and the leaves are feathery. Calliandra surinamensis has perfumed pink powder-puff and tiny, fine leaves. It’s hardy, compact rounded bush. Calliandra haematocephala has vivid pink, big powder-puff flowers from October to May. Native to Bolivia, this plant becomes a small tree with many-segmented, eight-inch leaves. Calliandra californica gets 6 ft. x 6 ft. in an open, vase-shaped shrub and red puffball flowers. Its dark green leaves are like tight miniature ferns, overshadowed by red spikey flowers.
Stephanotis (also known as Madagascar jasmine) is usually associated with bridal bouquets, but it can also be grown as a free-flowering house plant. The word “stephanotis” comes originally from two Greek words, ‘stephanos’, meaning ‘crown’. In the language of flowers, stephanotis signifies ‘marital bliss’.
Stephanotis grows as a tropical evergreen vine that bears white flowers. It can be grown inside if certain conditions are met. It is a beautiful but difficult plant – it hates sudden changes in temperature, needs constant cool conditions in winter and is attractive to scale and mealy bug. For best flowering, it should be kept free of drafts in a location that remains at about 70 °F during the day and about 55 °F at night.
Once the summer flowers are over, conifers come into their own, both as a contrast to the colors of deciduous trees and shrubs, and later as welcome green features through the winter. There is a conifer for every size garden; they vary from neat, mounded dwarf forms, slow-growing, slim-line vertical trees which eventually reach 3m (10ft) high, to others with beautiful grey-blue foliage to monsters which grow 30m (100ft) high.
They can be used to provide a wide range of effects including windbreaks on the garden boundary, ornamentals for their shape and colored foliage, and architectural features adding extra interest from fall to spring. They can be very effective in formal Italian or Eastern-style gardens.