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Gardening with Gael:  Bringing the outdoors in



8 Aug, 2022


thumbnail Wall planters-460Back in the Seventies and Eighties, when my children were young, I had a passion for indoor plants. As the outdoor garden grew the passion waned and some of the plants found their way outdoors. [No, I am not responsible for the proliferation of asparagus fern although I suspect that’s how it got away! It is/was a popular house plant I believe.]

My Ficus benjamina, also known as weeping fig, found its way outdoors and has grown into a nice-sized tree. With the constant rain my thoughts have turned to indoor plants once again. Visiting our daughters, I notice they have both created tropical forests in their homes and they look great. Indoor plants have many benefits, not least the ability to improve the air quality of your home. They use what we breathe out and vice versa.

Covered outdoor decks and conservatory areas have always been the popular areas that are enhanced with a variety of plants. The range has increased enormously since last century. My favourite would be a Kentia Palm Howeia forsteriana, a tropical palm with green arching fronds that can be grown indoors. Locally Che ‘The Palm Guy’ usually has them at the market and also Greenspace Plants on Mountain Rd near Kaiwaka have them. Slow growing, Kentias require little care. Mine is very happy on the covered deck and responds well to the regular misting this season’s weather is providing for it.

On the lookout for a new Ficus benjamina I spotted on Facebook ‘Inflora’ a plant nursery dedicated to indoor plants. Off I went to investigate. Situated at the end of King Road, down Brooke Lane and over a little bridge is the nursery. Indoor plants are Susi’s passion and I was treated to varieties I had not seen before. Yes, she has the ficus, but so much else as well. On a wall was a display of many of her plants using black wall pockets to accommodate small planters and a great variety of suitable plants. The secret, Susi informed me, was the special clips she has for attaching the plant stems as they grow along the wall. Green and robust, they attach the stems to the wall inconspicuously – they actually look like little leaves. Another good idea for my endless retaining walls.

In a large pot surrounded by a luscious bubble plant, was a cultivar of the well-known peace lily. Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ is just that. Sensational. My mind was trying to imagine exactly the right place for it. Peace lilies are renown as air purifiers and this variety, with its large lush green leaves, would also provide an instant tropical ambience.

Another plant that caught my eye was an interesting looking succulent commonly called the Flapjack succulent, Kalanchoe luciae. The succulent leaves form fat rosettes and because the look of them represents clam shells it is also known as a Paddle Pant. The leaves are green with a blush of red toward the margins of the leaf. This is a spectacular plant which can grow taller, Susi informed me, by removing the pups from the centre stem.

I spotted the hanging plant ‘string of pearls’, Chinese hearts, and a lovely fine leafed plant belonging to the Dracaena family which I consider would be a great contrast to the Sensation peace lily.

Back home I stepped back into my house. I’m sure I can find places for all of the above. In one corner I noticed Susi also had sago palms. I’ve always wanted to give them a go.


A way to check if a pot plant needs repotting is to let it dry out. Slide it out of its container. If the roots are starting to cram at the bottom or are circling the pot it is time for a larger pot.




Wall pockets can accommodate small planters and a great variety of suitable plants.

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