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Historic Houseplants for Trendy Indoor Gardens

April 20, 2018

Victorian-era houseplants are back and better than ever.

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Abutilon 'Yellow Finch' (Flowering Maple)

Once the rage in Victorian homes, flowering maples are back in style. They're lovely in hanging baskets or other containers that show off their dangling, bell-shaped flowers. Most gardeners keep their plants outside in warm weather and overwinter them indoors. They need a bright exposure in your home and should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Prune lightly to keep them compact, but don’t remove too many stems, or the plants won’t set buds. ‘Yellow Finch’ has crinkly, yellow flowers and prefers full shade.

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Photo: Costa Farms

Majesty Palm

This is it: the palm used to decorate Victorian parlors. Majesty palms are still valued as relatively slow-growing, easy-care houseplants. They thrive in medium to bright light and can vacation outside in warm weather, as long as they're not in the hot sun. Early gardeners admired this palm for its exotic look, and it still adds a tropical feel to most rooms. Keep its potting soil moist, but not soggy.

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Photo: Sakata

Primula (Primrose)

Most gardeners buy primroses in bloom and toss them after the flowers fade. The Victorians grew primroses in greenhouses and conservatories to provide the humidity and slightly moist soil the plants require. For best results, grow your primroses in a cool room. It's hard to coax them back into bloom, but if you want to try, move your plant outside when the weather is reliably warm. Bring it back in before frost, let it go dormant for a month and cross your fingers--or just buy new plants to enjoy. ‘Sweet 16’ is a large-flowered variety with white and pink flowers.

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Photo: Costa Farms

Maidenhair Fern

Delicate-looking maidenhair ferns, like so many plants from the Victorian era, love high humidity, so early gardeners grew them in Wardian cases, terrarium-like structures made of glass. To keep your fern happy, mist it daily, keep it in a room with high humidity (such as a bathroom or kitchen) or run a small humidifier nearby. These feathery beauties need moist, well-draining soil and indirect sun. Don’t let them dry out or stand in drafts.

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