Two indoor shrubs to bring some warmth

Always try to  opt for more expensive azaleas as you'll get much better blooms.
Always try to opt for more expensive azaleas as you'll get much better blooms.
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Chris, who lives at Hilsea, wrote to me last week asking what would be the best indoor shrub for winter flowering? He loves his apartment which he says is decorated and furnished in what he calls the minimalist style but a little bit of warmth is needed in the main lounge.

Between ourselves I have not been well, nothing serious but possibly the worst cold ever.

I was wondering what to write about because of the dreadful weather and was thinking it might be a good idea to write about indoor plants. Thanks for the inspiration Chris.

I would recommend two evergreen shrubs which are easy to grow.

The first is camellia, the prices range from £9.99 to £19.99. If you can find your way through all the Christmas decorations and avoid Rudolph’s droppings at your garden centre, you will find loads in pots.

I won’t recommend particular varieties because as soon as I do they all disappear. Do what Pam and I do.

Have a look at the plastic picture hanging on the branches so that you can find the colour you love. Bear in mind there are single flowers, double flowers and very pretty frilly-centered types. Don’t be confused, just choose the one you like best.

The plants will have lots of plump flower buds, they are very noticeable. Choose a plant with lots of buds on a bushy plant and the flowers will emerge a few weeks after being brought indoors.

Give them plenty of light and water, with rain water, when the compost feels dry to the touch.

My second recommendation would be azaleas. Available from supermarkets and nurseries, the price ranges from £2.99 to £10.

I know which one I would choose, the larger ones are more expensive but there will be dozens of blooms.

Azaleas love the cold. Choose short bushy plants with lots of plump buds. A few will be just showing the colour of the blooms.

There will be a label, probably in Dutch or German, but don’t worry, just give them plenty of light, but not in warm sunshine. Always water the compost with rain water when it’s dry to the touch.

But what if you don’t have any rain water?

Simple. Put out a bowl and catch some, there’s plenty falling down.

If you live in a flat and you find that your plants don’t survive, it’s probably too warm, you water too often or forget to water.

Camellias and azaleas are just right for you and because they are not two a penny, you will look after them.