Winter Gardening

Then there is the bryophyllum which sprouts new plants from its leaf notches. There are several varieties. Bryophyttum pinnatum, known commonly as "air plant," is the one often brought back from Florida by tourists. A favorite stunt is to pin the leaf on a curtain. Usually within a matter of days the leaf edges are covered with miniature plants. These tiny plants. may be removed and potted. They take root quickly and grow well for a while, although the mature plant is a greenhouse subject rather than a houseplant.

Other succulents in the bryophyllum family behave the same way. A greenhouse owner is often more annoyed than pleased by this prolific method of propagation, since the soil in benches around such plants is usually alive with offspring dropped from the busy parent leaves. Anyone who owns such a plant will be glad to part with a few big leaves. Dropped down anywhere (table, windowsill or dish) the leaves quickly produce their abundant progeny.

Easy to grow, and full of surprises, are the many bro-meliads. The "living vase" variety has little pockets at the base of its leaves which hold water and can serve as containers for small cut flowers. The "Grecian Vase" also holds water between its leaves and may be used the same way. The "Painted Fingernail" has odd red-tipped green leaves, and the "Painted Feather" has leaves much like the plumage of a tropical bird. In their native haunts these are air plants. There they cling to branches of trees and take their nourishment largely from the rainwater that lodges between their leaves. Even when planted in soil in the house they take little suste­nance from it, and it is essential that water stands in the crotches between leaves and stem. They do well in either light or shade.

The pick-a-back plant (Tolmiea menziesii) produces amus­ing little hitchhiker plants on its big leaves.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum) has little spider-like leaf clusters on its dangling stems.

Umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius), with its parasol-like leaves, is very easy to grow.

Donkey's tail (or burro tail) sedum looks much like its name, and being a sedum, is extremely easy.

Lamb's ears (Stachys lanata) is a perennial that can be grown as a house plant. The woolly leaves do look like ears.

Artillery plant (Pilea microphylla) is always a favorite with children. With the sudden bursting of the buds pollen is released like a small cloud of smoke, giving the effect of an artillery barrage.

A collection of fibrous-rooted begonias could extend itself into a long-time hobby. Dozens and dozens of begonia varieties present a bewildering assortment of leaf forms and colors.