Where have they gone? Older houseplant varieties
I will apologise in advance for this weeks ramblings as I think I must be having a senior moment. A casual remark about a houseplant I haven’t seen in a long time set me thinking back to when I first became involved with houseplants ( that, scarily enough, was about 40 years ago). The plant in question was a “Lollipop plant” (Pachystachys Lutea), so called because of its upright yellow flowers. It set me thinking about how much trends have changed in the houseplant world and how many of the plants that were very popular back then have now taken a back seat or virtually disappeared off the houseplant scene altogether. See if you remember any of these.
A similar-looking plant to Pachystachys is Jacobinia Carnea but the upright flowers are pink and of a more open habit. Browallia (Bush Violet) has masses of tiny blue and white flowers and although it was generally treated as an annual, the blooms lasted for several weeks. The “Shrimp plant” with salmon-coloured blooms very occasionally turns up for sale as does Brunfelsia. This plant bears the common name of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” reflecting the flowers’ habit of changing colour as they age, from purple to lilac and finally white.
A graceful plant that was popular was the Grevillea (Silk Oak), which had delicate fern-like foliage and a useful plant for arrangements was Draceana “Red Edge”, I still miss that one!
Two particularly nice dark-leaved plants are Gynura and Mikiana and one with very distinctive veined leaves is the “Zebra plant” (Aphelandra). I do see this one occasionally although it is not one of the easiest to keep.
Finally, although Primula Obconica is readily available nearly all year round, where is Primula Malacoides? With its upright stems bearing scores of tiny delicate pink flowers above light green foliage, it deservedly earned its common name of “Fairy Primrose”.