Senecio cruentus (Cineraria). All the varieties grown in pots have been derived from this one species and are superb winter-flowering house plants. The leaves are green on top but ash-coloured underneath, and the daisy-like flowers come in a multitude of brilliant colours, some single, others mixed. Most of the varieties grow about a foot high, and if you regularly remove dead flower heads and leaves the plants will remain attractive and bushy. Cool conditions, a light position and food and water while flowering are the main requirements. Discard after flowering.

Camellia. These are essentially hardy evergreen shrubs with shiny, dark green leaves, attractive single or double or striped flowers of white, pink or red, which make good house plants and require little attention. They grow 1-3 feet high in pots and flower through the dull winter months. Position in a light airy place and ensure the soil compost is kept evenly moist or the flower buds may fall. Sponge the leaves at intervals and keep the temperature at about 50F (10C). Remove dead heads and prune unwanted shoots after flowering. There are a mass of varieties to choose from and new ones are frequently introduced.

Chrysanthemum. Although these plants can now be produced in flower at any time of year, thanks to special growing techniques, people still regard them as autumn/winter plants. So complex has the formation of the flowers become that a botanical treatise would be required to explain them,all.

Essentially among pot-grown 'Mums', the florist offers pompons (with smallish heads of
flowers made of many curved petals), sprays - some times referred to as American sprays (with single, semi-single or double blooms up the stems at intervals), decoratives or 'mop heads', (with a mass of petals that form one large 'ball' flower per stem), quilled (with very fine petals), and cascades (which produce a mass of daisy-like flowers which literally pour over the side of a hanging basket or pot). With the exception of blue and black, Chrysanthemums can be obtained in virtually every shade of colour. Given a moderate temperature, a light position, regular watering, feeding and removal of dead heads, they are one of the best long-lasting flowering plants for the home. Generally discarded after flowering, they can be planted in the garden but will not make good pot plants a second time. So many varieties are grown that it is impossible to keep pace with the names, and one usually buys unnamed plants from shops.

Calluna (Heather or Ling) and Erica (Heaths). Together these are generally referred to as Heather, and in overall appearance and necessary conditions for cultivation there is little variation. Both form shrubby evergreen plants with needle-like leaves in various shades of green or a beautiful golden-yellow copper and autumnal russet. The flowers are small and tubular and, because there are so many varieties, many colours abound, especially purple, pink, red and white - generally singly but sometimes as bi-colours. Few Callunas are successful pot plants; the Ericas adapt more readily to indoor conditions. For autumn and winter flowers try E. gracilis (1-14 feet, rosy purple); E. hyemalis (Winter Heath, 14 feet, pink-tinted white); E. persoluta (1-3 feet, soft red); and E. carnea (up to 14 feet, in many shades). New varieties are introduced regularly and you may find all sorts in the shops. Callunas and Ericas should be grown in lime-free compost and watered regularly (with rainwater if possible) all year round to keep the compost evenly moist. They do not like over-heated dry rooms and it helps to place their pot in an outer container of moist peat. They rarely flower a second year, so throw away after flowering.

Polyanthus. In appearance Polyanthus are very similiar to Primulas (described under spring-flowering house plants) and require the same growing conditions indoors. Their brilliant flowers are eye-catching in winter when colour is important and the primrose-like leaves are almost swamped. One particularly attractive group are the gold-laced forms with narrow bands of golden-yellow round the edges of the flower petals. Other showy varieties are the Pacific, Festival and Giant Bouquet strains, but usually the plants are grown from mixed seed and unnamed and you just choose your preferred colour and flower form. Put the plant in the garden after flowering or discard.

Begonia. Fibrous rooted Begonias that bloom in spring/early summer have been described earlier. In addition there are several autumn and winter varieties known as Christmas Begonias, which are raised from B. Gloire de Lorraine. Usually the flowers are red, but the blooms of B. glaucophylla are pink and pendulous, ideal for hanging baskets, B. scharffianas are white and B. fuchsioides and B. froebellis are scarlet. Culture and care are identical to what is needed for spring Begonias.

Capsicum (Christmas Pepper). The flowers are insignificant on these shrubby pot plants which are usually grown for their highly coloured spiky red fruits which last for a long period of the winter. A warmish room about 60F (15.5C) - and a light but not draughty position is required for healthy growth. The compost should be kept evenly moist and liquid fertilizer given every 10-14 days. Discard when leaves fall and fruits wither.

Solanum. This is a genus of numerous kinds of plants, most of them hardy enough for outdoor growing. There is one particularly popular for indoor colour in autumn and winter, S. capsicastrum, the Winter Cherry. It has unexciting flowers, but the bright orange-red fruits last for a long time and are very colourful. This small bushy plant should be kept in a coolish atmosphere, free from draughts and gas fumes, but it needs plenty of light. A moist atmosphere can be achieved by spraying the leaves and standing the pot in an outer container of moist peat in summer. After the berries have fallen stand the plant outdoors and cut back the stems to about 2 inches from the base. Sometimes (but unfortunately not always) this will encourage flowers and fruits for a second year.
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