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More indoor trees and plants

Araucaria Araucaria

One of the most handsome of all indoor trees is the Norfolk Island pine, Araucaria excelsa. As the common name suggests, it comes from an island not far from New Zealand. It has branches arranged in tiers that radiate from a central stem so that they make an extremely elegant shape. The branches and stem are all covered with pale green leaves rather like pine needles. The plant is at its most attractive when between three and six feet in height; after that it becomes much coarser in appearance. Unfortunately, pruning can only ruin the plant.
It needs good light and cool conditions - about 13°C (55°F). If it does not have even, all-round light, turn it regularly so that growth is symmetrical. Err on the side of dryness when watering, particularly in winter. Young plants are not difficult to raise from seed.

ScheffleraCussonia and Schefflera

Three rather similar plants, all of which reach a substantial size quite quickly, are Cussonia spicata, Heptapleurum arboricola (sometimes sold as Schefflera venulosa erystrastachys) and Schefflera actinophylla (commonly known as the umbrella tree but also called Brassaia actinophylla). They all have palmate leaves that radiate like fingers of a hand from the end of the leaf stalk. The Cussonia grows very rapidly and may be the ideal plant for filling a gap quickly. Be careful when moving it, though; the stems snap very easily.
The umbrella tree is possibly the most attractive of all the larger indoor foliage plants, combining elegance and impact. It is not difficult to manage. When indoor trees reach seven-inch and larger pot sizes they will benefit from being potted into John Innes 3 potting mixture. As email plants, however, they prefer a more peaty mixture.
The Heptapleurum is a comparative newcomer as a commercial houseplant, but it is an attractive and surprisingly durable plant. With leaves that are similar in shape to those of the Schefflera but much smaller, it has the advantage of growing well either large or small. Allowed its head, it forms a stately tall specimen, but if the growing tip is removed it becomes a very attractive but more shrubby plant.
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