Herbs Plant Plantation Some Underrated Houseplant Leaves

Some Underrated Houseplant Leaves

If you’re bored with the usual doubtfuls in the indoor plant scene, read on. Here is my List of three very underrated genres that I want to explore today.

Plectranthus

This genus belongs to the Lamiaceae family and includes many excellent species of indoor plants, including:

Plectranthus ciliatus, also known as Indian borage – includes varieties such as ‘Nico’ and ‘Easy Gold’. (From South Africa, not India.)

The classic indoor plant of the 70s Swedish ivy (image of P. verticillatus on the top left). (Not from Sweden, but from, you guessed it, South Africa).

Brazilian Coleus (P. oertendahlii) is a plant that is not often considered a houseplant, but occasionally appears. Don’t confuse it with a Fittonia like I did first! (And at the risk of repeating myself, not from Brazil, but from South Africa).

Do you want to delve deeper into this genre? There is an interesting research article here on the importance of Plectranthus in South Africa.

Pilea

Yes, we all know the Chinese silver plant Pilea peperomioides, but there are a whole bunch of other interesting Pileas. This genus belongs to the nettle family, which is obvious only at the sight of the flowers. There are many types of indoor plants to grow, including:

Pilea involucrata ‘Moon Valley’ (pictured above in the center) has folded leaves and is a beautiful terrarium plant.

Pilea libanensis (often mistakenly called P. glauca) is native to Cuba and grows like a cascade of silvery leaves: it requires little maintenance (a disadvantage is that it is a messy plant that loses a lot of small leaves at certain times of the year).

Pilea spruceana aka Silver Tree has chocolate and silver streaked leaves. Another great terrarium plant.

I will talk about this and other underestimated Pilea species in Episode 242 of the On the Ledge Podcast, which will be released after today).

Saxifrage

We are used to seeing species of this genus as alpine or garden plants, but the varieties of the species Saxifraga stolonifera make excellent indoor plants. They are much more popular in their native Japan than here, so I can’t promise that they will all be easy to find. Here are three of my favorites:

‘Tricolor’ is the most striking, with cream and green leaves tinged with pink, as well as the back of the bright pink leaves (photo at the top right). It is also the most widespread.

‘Maroon Beauty’ has reddish leaves and fuller flowers than most. Available now at Farmyard Nurseries.

‘Harvest Moon’ is for you if you like golden leaves.

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