Dramatic Hothouse Foliage
2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited
This popular elephant ear, Alocasia amazonica (foreground), is a striking houseplant, with deep green leaves accentuated by whitish or light green leaf veins.
If you’re fed up with the monotony of a neutral room, inject a dash of dazzling color with tropical foliage plants grown in contemporary containers. Their flamboyant good looks make them eye-catching focal points, and they are best displayed in pots on their own, rather than in mixed groups where they will fight against others for the limelight.
With leaves that measure a whopping 18 inches (45 cm) long, this plant’s common name is no exaggeration. Held on sturdy stems, the arrow-shaped, glossy, dark green foliage (pictured above) is truly spectacular, with its bright silver veins creating a beautiful pattern. Ideal for a bright location indoors away from full sun; it will not do well and start to lose its intense color in a gloomy corner. It also requires heat to thrive and will drop its leaves in cool conditions, but if you restore warm temperatures, within a day or two the plant will recover and produce new foliage.
Keep the compost moist at all times, but avoid overwatering, which could lead to root rot. In the winter, allow the compost to dry out completely before watering again. During the growing season, mist plants regularly to raise humidity levels, and feed every month with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Prevent the plants from looking untended by snipping off dead, dying or damaged leaves.
For a spectacular display of variegated foliage, try the peacock plant. Native to Brazil, it is a bushy clump of paddle-shaped leaves with dark green edges and ovals of dark green marking the surface. Turn the leaf over and the same pattern is repeated in purple, while the silvery effect is produced by netlike see-through areas on the foliage. Plants are shown off to their best advantage in a neutral or light-colored pot and will enjoy a sheltered bright spot away from drafts, with high humidity.
Caring for Peacock Plants
Water plants regularly but allow the compost to almost dry out between each application, and reduce watering even further in winter. Spray the leaves during the summer to raise humidity levels, and feed monthly with a balanced liquid fertilizer to boost growth.
Among the most spectacular foliage plants you can grow in the home, crotons come in a range of colors and leaf shapes. Originating from Malaysia and the islands of the East Pacific, they are grown for their leathery leaves, which are splashed, dotted, or flushed with the bright colors you find in a child’s crayon box.
In their native environment they grow into large trees, but they make compact plants when grown in containers in the home. To thrive, water plants regularly, reducing the frequency in the winter. Mist leaves with a handheld sprayer, and feed every month or so during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
C. variegatum var. pictum ‘Petra’ has spear-shaped green leaves with dramatic yellow veins, while ‘Gold Star’ produces gold-splashed foliage. For bolder colors, try ‘Excellent,’ which has large forked leaves marked with green, yellow and red patterns.