Indian Summer: plants of the month for September

During an Indian summer the garden exceeds all your expectations, particularly with these five remarkable accent plants that bring even more colour to your life. 

Making summer last a little longer
It’s becoming increasingly common to have an unusual period of warm, dry weather in the northern hemisphere in September and October during which you can still comfortably enjoy your garden. The phenomenon is called an Indian summer, and is characterised by the fabulous changing colours of nature and a lengthening of the garden season. A lot of the plants in your garden will be past their peak, but with Indian Summer plants you can bring new life, new greenery and particularly plenty of colour to the scene. These are late bloomers that only put on their show now with fabulous leaves and spectacular berries, but also plants with staying power that bring colour and excitement to your garden until well into the autumn and the winter. And that golden Indian summer starts now.

5 x Indian Summer at home

Trumpet vine is a climber that flowers profusely in late summer with orange, red and yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. There are also compact varieties for small gardens or to place in pots.

Spindle tree has crimson leaves and vermilion fruit which contain orange seeds. The colder it gets, the more leaves the plant sheds, the better the berries are displayed: they stay on the plant the longest.

Japanese andromeda displays fabulous copper, pink, bronze or golden green foliage in the autumn which fits perfectly with the changing colours of nature.

Beautyberry looks like the last remains of summer are squeezed together into the small burgundy berries that lend colour to the garden until well into the winter. There are also species on which the leaves change colour beautifully.

Smoke tree blooms in plumes that resemble pink clouds, and combines that with eye-catching foliage that can turn red and dark purple.

How Indian is that summer really?
Although this term is widely used, the extension of summer is so remarkable that every country has its own name for it, such as oudewijvenzomer, Altweibersommer, sintmichielszomer, Brittsommar, Babí léto or St. Luke’s summer. The term was first used in an American essay in 1778: it was how the original colonists in America described this remarkable late summer phenomenon which was most intense in the regions where they were living at the time.

QUOTE
“This strangely still pause between summer and autumn, greenery and gold, is one of the best parts of living on earth.”
Victoria Erikson

How to keep Indian Summer plants looking good

  • All Indian Summer plants like a position with some sun, but can also tolerate partial shade.
  • Choose rich, well-draining soil.
  • The plants for an Indian Summer are accent plants that like to have some space to ensure they look their best.
  • Fertilise before the growing season and before the winter.
  • Prune in moderation before the growing season that starts in March.

Indian Summer styling
Allow the Indian Summer plants to shine by keeping the base simple. Black pots, grey containers and a single shiny element create a mood of harmony and clarity that fits well with an enjoyable Indian summer in the garden. The selection makes it possible to create a sheltered garden room with trumpet vine and beautyberry as tall plants and the other three as low and semi-tall container plants. Add a fire bowl, grab some marshmallows, and just relax. 

Garden Plant of the Month
Plants for an Indian Summer are the Garden Plants for September 2019. The ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose one or more plants which are particularly popular with consumers, or which are not (yet) particularly well-known but which have the potential to do well in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony.

Large-leaved Ficus: Houseplant of the Month for September

Start the indoor season with a statement plant like large-leaved Ficus, also known as ‘the Bold and the Beautiful’ in the world of plants.

Sometimes size does matter
You’re probably already familiar with Ficus as a strong indoor tree with hundreds of little leaves. Well that plant also comes with XXL leaves on species that can effortlessly reach your ceiling. Primaeval, rugged and decorative, one of these giants will already make an impact in a room on its own. We’ve selected five great Ficuses for September which can provide an instant natural mood now that the indoor season is gradually starting again.

Large leaves as protection
Large-leaved Ficus is trending in home decor as a buffer plant: large and full of foliage, the plant creates a friendly, soft and comfortable atmosphere to counter the harsher world that many people have had enough of. The varieties with pastel shades in their foliage further reinforced that softness, as do round smooth planters, textile-covered pots and pots in delicate pastels.  

Pleasant housemate
Houseplants like ficuses with large leaves improve the air in your home by converting CO2 to oxygen. The large leaves also absorb particulates from the air and store them in their roots where they are broken down and expelled. The green leaves also improve the humidity in your home by evaporating moisture very gradually. A Ficus really is a valuable addition to your home.

Meet the Ficuses

Ficus lyrata is available as an indoor bush and as a standard, and has shiny leaves that resemble a violin. The large, eye-catching veins that bring texture to the leaves particularly stand out.

Ficus elastica has smooth dark green leaves with fine veins that are marked like a feather and reach a length of around 25 cm. It grow straight up and therefore does not take up much space despite the large leaves.

Ficus binnendijkii ‘Alii’ and ‘Amstel King’ have long leaves that are not as wide, but do hang down decoratively. Available as a green pillar and as a standard with a full crown. 

Ficus Cyathistipula has dark green shiny leaves, can produce figs from an early age, and is a heavily branched potential indoor giant that climbs upwards along a stake and therefore grows attractively upright. 

How to keep them looking beautiful

  • Ficus can tolerate both a light spot or partial shade, but not full sun.
  • Once it’s comfortable, leave it where it is. Getting used to a new spot demands a lot of energy from the Ficus.
  • If the plant is in danger of growing crooked, turn it a quarter turn every day.
  • The soil should be slightly damp at all times. Ficus can cope with less water in winter.
  • Give some food once every two weeks.
  • A quick shower or standing outside in summer rain will enhance both the plant and the leaves.
  • Treat the plant to a larger pot and fresh potting soil once a year to keep Ficus in top condition and maintain its growth.

Watering like a pro!

Height of Ficus Summer              Winter
40-100 cm          160-320 ml         120-200 ml
100+ cm              480-960 ml         320-640 ml

Ficus trivia

  • Ficus was one of the first plants to be cultivated in Europe from Asia some 11,000 years ago for agricultural purposes. 
  • In the summer Ficus can be placed on the patio or balcony when the weather is good.
  • Ficus has a special spiritual meaning in both Buddhism and Hinduism, and also has an inspirational, calming feel as a houseplant. 

QUOTE
‘ saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.’
Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

Houseplant of the Month
Large-leaved Ficus is the Houseplant for September 2019. ‘Houseplant of the Month’ is an initiative by the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose a plant which is particularly popular with consumers or is not (yet) well-known but does have the potential to do well in the living room.

Care-free Summertime: garden plants for August

This is what you need during a sizzling summer: plants that you hardly need to think about and that still bring a Mediterranean mood to your patio.

Chilling on your patio
August is not a month when you want to spend a lot of time gardening. You may be on holiday, and if you are at home it’s often too hot to work hard in the garden. A quartet who can look after themselves are therefore very welcome. Agave, Aeonium and jade plant (Crassula) are succulents that store moisture in their leaves, whilst eucalyptus can cope pretty well with heat and drought thanks to its oil-bearing properties. Together they provide an attractive grey-green palette for a sun-soaked summer mood that fits better with ‘enjoying the garden’ than ‘working in the garden’.

Green sun worshippers

Agave Primaeval, rugged, grey-green or variegated, with Mediterranean looks. Available in utterly perfect symmetrical designs or more laid-back versions.

Aeonium Rosettes usually grow on the ground, but Aeonium’s grow upwards with the plant, lending an unearthly touch: after a while it looks very ‘Roswell in the desert’.

Jade plant Sturdy and stylised, the silhouette of a tree but with sleek lines and hardly any leaf shedding. If you want you can apply bonsai techniques to it, but alternatively you can just sit under it with a cold drink.

Eucalyptus The silver/green/grey fits perfectly with the other three. And they are rather stoical types, so that the rustling of Eucalyptus’ leaves provides a nice contrast.

4 Care-free Summertime plants
• You don’t need to ask the neighbours to water your plants when you’re away.
• No need to wander around every evening with a watering can – just sit back and relax.
• They’re the perfect plants for creating a holiday mood, or hanging on to that holiday feeling a little longer.
• The plants’ strong lines mean that there’s plenty to see with little effort.

Hosepipe ban? No problem!
Agave grows in Central and North America, eucalyptus comes from Australia, the jade plant from South Africa and Aeonium is native to the Canary Islands. All four originate from fairly dry, hot regions and are entirely adapted to surviving there.

Simple styling
Because the plants for a Care-free Summertime are classic orangery plants (that prefer to overwinter indoors), it’s best to place them in pots. Keep it simple and opt for simple terracotta. The mood can be quite laid-back: not so much Mediterranean sophistication as understated and rugged. Think about recycled materials and harmony in fairly neutral colours. Using pots provides clarity, the plants’ stylised leaves provide calm. Which is just what you need when it’s sizzling hot.

QUOTE
“August is like the Sunday of summer, even your plants like to take a break.”
Yoyo Ha

Care
• All the Plants for a Care-free Summertime can tolerate full sun.
• The soil must be well-draining. It’s better not to place saucers under the pots.
• Water sparingly. The soil can be left to dry out between waterings.
• Agave, Aeonium and jade plant preferred to overwinter indoors, whilst eucalyptus can tolerate a couple of degrees of frost.

Carnivorous plants: Houseplants of the Month for August

Trend: green carnivores on your windowsill. Carnivorous plants are green, bizarre and entirely danger-free – unless you’re a spider or insect.

Dangerous temptation
They look like they’ve just emerge from Jurassic Park, and they can fend for themselves very well. Carnivorous plants also offer exciting colours and freakish shapes and are useful in your home if you want to get rid of unwanted pests in an environmentally friendly way. Carnivorous plants attract spiders and insects with their colourful and weird appearance. They catch and digest their prey and carry on silently luring in order to snatch another fly in 3, 2, 1…

New balance
The way that carnivorous plants look after themselves in the wild is utterly smart. That’s why they fit well with the interiors style in which technology plays an ever greater role in the home. The unusual colours and bizarre shapes look particularly good in a setting that is clean and stark, a bit like a laboratory. Pots can be fresh and cool: geometric shapes, cool lilac and matt white all help to provide a contemporary stylistic counterbalance for these plants. Bang on trend: pots that provide you with information about the plant in an app.

Introducing the carnivores
The Venus fly trap uses a sweet odour to attract insects into its red ‘mouth’. Once a tasty fly lands, the leaves snap shut and the plant digests its prey in about ten days. Missed? Then the Venus fly trap sulks for a couple of hours before slowly opening again.

Sarracenia grows in rosettes. Each tube features an attractively coloured pitcher containing nectar. The top edge is very slippery: if an insect slides down, it will meet its end very sweetly. The plant digested its prey to obtain its nutrients.

Droseria lures its prey with attractive colours and a sticky shiny substance on its tentacles. Once an insect has got stuck, the leaves of this sinister beauty close around it and it is digest it as a tasty snack.

Nepenthes is an elegant feature plant with large hanging pitchers. As with Sarracenia these have a smooth edge causing insects to tumble down into a treacly substance that digests them. Nepenthes’ online hashtag is very graphic: #nobugsjugs.

Anti-pest protocol
Don’t trigger carnivorous plants’ traps with your finger, This demands a lot of energy from the plant without it getting a meal in return. Furthermore, the trap can open close about six times before the plant dies. If you would like to see the plants in action, serve them a dead fly.

Swamp monsters
In the wild carnivorous plants live in fairly damp regions with nitrogen-poor soil such as swamps. Nepenthes does that in Southeast Asia, the Venus fly trap and Sarracenia come from North America, and Drosera grows on all the continents apart from Antarctica.

Where do they like to hang out?
Nepenthes likes some space so that slightly dumb insects are not distracted but tumble straight into its pitchers. The Venus fly trap, Sarracenia and Drosera look good together, each in their own pot or as a carnivore show together in an open or enclosed terrarium.

Feeding & care
• Most carnivorous plants like full sun.
• Waterlogged soil is fine. Place the plants in acidic potting soil and a shallow layer of water.
• Carnivorous plants prefer to drink rainwater, distilled water or soft tap water. If you live in an area with hard water, boil it and leave to cool before serving.
• They don’t need any plant food – they catch their own meals.
• Remove dead brown leaves and pitchers; they’re a magnet for fungi.
• Repot the carnivores in the spring once every year or two.
• Don’t give carnivores any meat; this will cause the traps to rot.
• The plant’s traps will wither in winter. Don’t worry – they will reappear in the spring with a healthy appetite!

RECIPE: BEGONIA IN YOUR (COCKTAIL) GLASS

After a long day of hard work you can use a refreshing drink to cool you down. Will you choose a fresh lemonade or a fragrant cocktail? Or even better… both? Thanks to The Joy Of Plants we have two delicious recipes we want to share with you.

Ingredients for the lemonade 
• 150 grams sugar
• 150 ml water
• 100 grams begonia flowers *
• 2 lemons
• Optional: sparkling water

How to make it
Boil 150 g sugar with 150 ml water until all the sugar has dissolved. Crush the begonia flowers and mix with the sugar syrup. Leave to cool completely. Then blend the mixture thoroughly with the juice of two lemons and place in the fridge until needed. You can add sparkling water if desired.

Ingredients for 1 Begonia Cocktail with orange vodka
• Slice of (organic) orange peel
• 50 ml vodka
• 100 g sugar
• 1 tbsp dried mint
• Zest and juice of 1 (organic) lime
• 10-15 pink or red begonia flowers *
• 30 ml orange lacquer
• chilled carbonated water

How to make it
Place the orange peel in the vodka and leave to stand for at least 1 hour, and preferably a couple of days. Heat the sugar with 200 ml water in a saucepan, and add the mint, lime zest and juice. Simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes to form a syrup, and pass this through a sieve. Chop the flowers up finely, add to the syrup and roughly puree so that syrup turns pink. You can sieve the syrup again if you want to.

Pour 20 ml (approx. 11⁄4 tbsp) syrup – or more if you prefer – into a large cocktail glass. Add the liqueur and the vodka and top up with sparkling water. Keep the rest of the syrup for later cocktails.

* Worth mentioning: never just tuck into a (cut) flower or plant. Only use edible flowers from specialist suppliers that have been grown for consumption. 

Source: thejoyofplants.co.uk

Monstera: Houseplant of the Month for July

With this botanical beauty you’re not just bringing the tropics into your home, but also a living air purifier that’s easy to care for. Fancy a beautiful green monster?

Mighty beauty
An impressive name, an airy look, extravagant foliage: it’s no wonder that Monstera is a massive hit on Instagram. It’s not just photogenic because of its size – which ranges from tabletop size to welcome-to-the-jungle – but also its highly original components. Monstera has stems, sometimes a moss pole, or possibly a trunk, usually impressive aerial roots – it’s always exciting. The most fascinating aspect is that the young leaves are heart-shaped and only develop the characteristic incisions later, when they’ve had some experience of life.

Monstera delights

  • It’s an easy houseplant: hang, climb, whatever you want.
  • Its size makes Monstera perfect for use as a decorative room divider.
  • It’s a living air purifying system, for anyone who wants both privacy and fresh air.
  • It’s one of the few plants with its own hashtags, such as #monsterarmy, #aroidaddicts and #monsteramonday.

Smart monster
Monstera really is different from other plants: when the seed germinates, it will grow towards the side that is darkest. Why? Because that’s where the biggest tree trunk is. Once Monstera has found a good trunk, it can climb up it and get plenty of light. If it had to settle for the light that reaches the ground, the plant wouldn’t stand a chance. While it’s very resilient in the wild, it’s more hesitant indoors: the plant will grow best if you give it a bit of guidance (moss pole, climbing string) in the direction you want it to go.

The emancipation of greenery
More restrained and sustainable living, taking responsibility, purity, organic shapes: Monstera fits perfectly into the style trend in which greenery is given an ever greater role. Not just in the home, but also in public spaces. Think of uses of plants to keep the air cleaner, to generate energy in an environmentally friendly way, or as a buffer against constantly advancing technology.

Trivia

  • The incised leaves are an evolution thing. They help Monstera to survive in the rainforest: the leaves are less likely to break in strong winds or heavy rain.
  • In China Monstera symbolises a long life and honouring elders and respected people.
  • In Feng Shui (a kind of Oriental acupuncture for your home) Monstera is used to bring happiness or to stimulate big dreams.

Rugged climber
Monstera is a member of the arum family. They are originally mainly lianas from Panama and southern Mexico, where the plants can climb up the trees to a height of 20 metres. They also use their fleshy aerial roots to secure themselves a tree trunks, rocks or the soil in the forests of Southeast Asia. They snake and clamber upwards, enable their gigantic leaves to flourish and so provide some extra shade.

How to style Monstera
Because there’s already a lot going on with Monstera in terms of foliage, the base can be simple: sleek white, sleek black, or sleek terracotta if that’s more your thing. A mobile Monstera is very on trend, with wheels under the pot. They make it easy to bring it with you to your favourite flexi-spot or push it into a new Insta-worthy location.

Care

  • Monstera prefers a light spot, but not full sun.
  • Cold makes the plant grumpy; keep it above 13°.
  • Water moderately; the soil can be kept slightly damp, but not drenched.
  • A bit of plant food once a fortnight is enough.
  • Monstera rarely flowers indoors. If it does happen to you, cut the flowers off. They draw a lot of energy from the plant and have a rather… distinctive odour.

Pollinator Friends: garden plants of the month for July

Pink, white and purple summer bloomers not only help your garden to look stunning, but will also make you incredibly popular with honeybees, bumblebees and others.

The whole country is buzzing!
A green garden is not just a joy to look at, walk through and relax in; it’s also a paradise for bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies and other useful insects. A flowering garden is a sweet shop for them, particularly since intensive agriculture and increasing paving mean that they are struggling to find food. This is threatening these useful creatures, who are very important for pollinating flowers, plants and crops. A green garden with pollinator friends helps tackle the lack of diverse nutrition and results in plenty of cheerful buzzing, fluttering and humming life. The plants supplement what is already growing and flowering in the area and help to create a healthy biotope in your neighbourhood #sustainability.

These are the Pollinator Friends!

  • Yarrow Flat white, yellow, pink and purple umbels that sway beautifully in the wind. The flowers smell a bit like chamomile.
  • Anise hyssop Tastes of aniseed, smells like liquorice, blooms with fabulous spikes packed with often indigo flowers. Not just popular with insects, but equally irresistible to birds in the autumn.
  • Hollyhock Majestic height with enormous white, pastel-coloured or red flowers: this is the pollinator friend that can turn a wall or fence into an insect holiday resort.
  • Astrantia One of the most beautiful summer bloomers ever – a flowering pincushion in a star. And it comes in red, pink or white – no wonder that Bees & Co love it.
  • Anemone Fabulous white, pink, lilac and purple flowers with an even more attractive green, yellow or dramatic black heart. This pollinator friend makes your garden look even more exciting.

From far and wide
The pollinator friends are native to regions throughout the world. Yarrow and anemones occur in the northern hemisphere. Anise hyssop has travelled over from North America, but also grows in China and Japan. Hollyhocks originate from countries east of the Mediterranean, and Astrantia shines in mountainous regions from the Caucasus to the Pyrenees.

Garden tip Make sure that your flying visitors also have something to drink in the form of a pond, a water feature or a large bowl of water that makes a garden filled with pollinator friends even more attractive.

Bees and flowers – all you need to know.
Bees visit flowers in order to eat, but particularly in order to collect nectar and pollen for their larvae. At the same time they also pollinate flowers by travelling from flower to flower with pollen on their feet, snout and bodies. Insects can see which flowers contain nectar, and pollinator friends attract the visitors with their scent and colour. The flowers are lovely for humans to look at and a kind of billboard for insects: this is the place to be!

Garden style
To create a bee paradise you might think of an insect hotel (obviously that’s always welcome in the garden!), but the style and mood of the summer tends more towards new frontiers. It can look a bit modern and tech, with transparent and semi-transparent materials creating a disconcerting depth effect. The colours white and purple help with that. You can also use reflective materials or pots with an iridescent or oily effect to make it look ‘smart’.

QUOTE
“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes.”
Mark Nepo

Care

  • Hollyhock likes to be placed in the sun against a wall or fence, whilst the other pollinator friends prefer a sunny to partially shady spot.
  • Yarrow and Astrantia like to be in a well-draining soil, whilst the other pollinator friends prefer slightly damp soil.
  • With the exception of anise hyssop, give the plant extra food during the growing and flowering period.
  • Removing or cutting away wilted flowers will keep the plants attractive and make sure that the pollinator friends have enough energy to carry on flowering.
  • All the pollinator friends are hardy perennials that you can enjoy for years. In the autumn they die back above the soil and hibernate underground.
  • Leaving the dead leaves on the plant protects them against extreme winter conditions, and looks lovely with some frost or snow on them. Remove them at the end of February and the pollinator friend will shoot again in the spring.
  • After a few years the plants can be separated to keep them young and vigorous.

Honeysuckle: Garden Plant of the Month for June

When you walk through the garden or sit on your balcony in the evening, honeysuckle embraces you with a delectable sweet fragrance that makes you think of sultry summers and far-off places.

Fairytale at dusk
Honeysuckle is everything you could hope for in a trendy garden plant. It’s a natural-looking shrub with a slightly wild look thanks to the long vines. It blooms vigorously with flowers that you never get tired of looking at. And as a botanical bonus it also offers a fabulous sweet fragrance that is particularly released in the evenings – just when you’re sitting comfortably on your patio or balcony. They already knew it 5000 years ago: when the honeysuckle flowers, summer truly has arrived.

As the plant of love, honeysuckle is said to stimulate the libido and prompt erotic dreams with its ‘midsummer night scent’.

Climbing, trailing and flowering
Honeysuckle (the scientific name is Lonicera) is an extravagant shrub and climbing plant that easily wraps itself around other plants, trees or a fence post. The flowers are spectacular: a group of tubular petals accompanied by a variety of stamens that surround and hang from them like a fringe. The flowers are often dark pink and golden white, although they also occur in other shades. After flowering the plant produces red, blue or black berries. Honeysuckle is available as climbing species and as deciduous and evergreen shrubs. The plant will reach a height of between one and four metres, depending on the species, and flowers from June to the end of September/beginning of October.

5 reasons for choosing honeysuckle

  • It’s an easy garden plant that grows and flowers readily.
  • The flowers attract bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies and moths.
  • Can be used both as a container plant and planted in the soil.
  • Honeysuckle’s botanical look is bang on trend!
  • The flowers are a guaranteed hit on Instagram.

Tough northerner
Honeysuckle is a member of its own honeysuckle family, and grows mainly in the northern hemisphere. There are some 180 species, of which 100 occur in China, where many poems have been devoted to the plant. Alongside the cultivated garden varieties, honeysuckle also occurs extensively in the wild, particularly on the edge of thickets where the plant can get plenty of sun. The strong, flexible vines were being used as far back as the Bronze Age to make rope. Remains of this have been found.

Sweet goats

  • Honeysuckle is also called ‘goat-leaf’. That corresponds to the French  ‘chèvre-feuille’, German ‘Geißblatt’ and  Italian ‘caprifoglio’.
  • The name ‘honeysuckle’ is derived from hummingbirds that love the sweet nectar and can fit neatly into the tubular flowers with their narrow beaks.
  • Honeysuckle’s sweet scent is released during the summer months at the time when the moths come out. The fragrance tells them exactly where they can find food.

QUOTE
“The sweet scent of honeysuckle mingled with the earthiness of recent rain. Summer rain. She’d always loved that smell.” Kate Morton – The Lake House

Care

  • Honeysuckle likes a spot where the roots remain cool and the flowering upper part gets sun. The more sun the more flowers!
  • Because the plant can easily wrap itself around other plants, it’s important to think about its neighbours and whether you’d rather have a vertical green carpet or some space left in the garden. In the latter case it’s best to place honeysuckle in a more spacious spot.
  • The soil should always be slightly damp. Placing attractive stones around the stems both helps to keep the roots cool and prevents the unnecessary evaporation of water. Planting a low shrub in front of honeysuckle also helps keep the roots cooler.
  • Adding some plant food once a month during the growth period (March to May) helps keep the flowering going.
  • There’s no need to prune, but you can prune the plant if necessary. The plant will then reshoot.

Sunflower: Houseplant of the Month for June

Radiant yellow and totally summery: the sunflower now also comes as a houseplant to shine everywhere in your home with its big flowers.

Sunshine happiness
It doesn’t grow as tall as the garden variety, but it does offer those unique cheerful bright yellow flowers and the dark heart of a real sunflower with attractive dark green leaves below. Perfect company for on the kitchen worktop, the (garden) table, your desk and anywhere else in your home where you want to bring a touch of summer. Place a couple together in a container or in a group to make your home feel like a flowering field. You can add a touch of lilac or purple to visually offset all that yellow.

Buffer and feature
The upgrading of sunflowers from a stunner in the garden to an indoor feature fits within the current zeitgeist’s desire for ambition, wanting to better yourself and creating more balance between mind and body. It’s no surprise that the sunflower is the international symbol of the environmental movement and of the vegan (plant-based) lifestyle. Technology is expected to play an ever greater role in homes. A sturdy blooming archetype like the sunflower has the fresh, contemporary look that fits with this and simultaneously offers a bit of natural counterbalance.

Keep the styling of the sunflower simple to achieve the maximum surprise: transparent glass, cool white ceramics and iridescent effects here and there as a subtle reference to the ever-advancing microchips.

Fourth sister
The sunflower (its official name is Helianthus) grows in North and South America. Native Americans planted the seeds on the north side of their fields as the ‘fourth sister’ of the familiar combination of maize, beans and pumpkins – plants that help one another to grow. Spanish sailors brought the sunflower to Europe in around 1530. The seeds grew easily and so sunflower seed became part of our food: it was eaten, roasted and turned into oil. The flower has been transformed from a garden giant into a houseplant, but has always maintained its familiar appearance.

Trivia

  • The sunflower was an icon for the Incas: the people revered the flower as a symbol of their sun god because the head always turns towards the sun and turns back to the east at night. This is called heliotropism.
  • The symmetrical pattern in the heart makes a mathematical figure that is related to the Fibonacci series (perfect numbers) and the Golden Ratio, a formula for the most attractive visual proportions.
  • The sunflower has been incredibly popular in Russia since the 18th century. It provided one of the few oils that can also be used during fasting periods according to the Russian Orthodox Church.
  • The series of still-lives with sunflowers which Vincent van Gogh painted in 1887 and 1889 are amongst the world’s most famous works of art. The field of sunflowers that inspired him most was near Arles in France.

Handy to know
The houseplant does not produce pollen. This means that the sunflower keeps looking beautiful for longer and flowers for considerably longer than the outdoor variety: the flowers continue to shine for several weeks. It also has a long availability period for a flowering plant, up to the end of August. However, the houseplant does not produce seeds and once it has finished flowering that really is the end for the indoor sunflower.

Care

  • As the name suggests, the sunflower loves sunshine and can tolerate a lot of light.
  • The plant needs a lot of water. The soil should always be a bit damp.
  • Wilted flowers can be removed to give the new buds more space.
  • A bit of plant food once a week keeps the flowering going.