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#1 Monstera Deliciosa

Swiss Cheese Plant

The mighty Monstera mesmerizes plant collectors with its large per­forated leaves and aerial root sys­tem, immediately conjuring images of dense Central American jungle. Literally translated “monstrous deli­cious plant”, the Fruit salad or Swiss cheese plant is one of the most icon­ic indoor varieties found anywhere around the world. They are also in­credibly easy to grow and suit our South Coast environment perfectly.

There has been a resurgence of in­terest around this species recently, due somewhat to the scarcity of var­iegated varieties which fetch around $350 to $500 for a small pot. Aus­tralian companies are jumping on board with the trend importing Thai varieties which have been cultivated using tissue culture to ensure they retain their speckled appearance.

The monstera truly is an amazing plant. Not only are they fascinating to look at, but they are incredibly useful. The fruit is safe for human consumption and tastes like pineap­ple with a banana consistency, but you must give it time for the small green hexagonal scales to fall off be­fore you eat what’s underneath. If you don’t wait long enough and hap­pen to eat unripe fruit it can really sting your mouth (speaking from experience). The Monsteras aerial roots are also used in basket weav­ing, ropes and homemade remedies for arthritis.

There are various forms of the mon­stera and if you feel like reciting a pavorotti song they include deli­ciosa, variegate, obliqua, adansonii, pinnatipartite, borsigiana, dubia, siltepecana, Rhaphidophora tetrasp­erma (Mini monstera) and more.

I once watched a lady sell a 5 ft high, very advanced variegated monstera for $100 at a Sydney plant show. She told me her Husband just want­ed the old (30 yrs) thing out of the green house. As an Orchid enthu­siast she didn’t realise the value of what she had lying around the house.

I wish you well on your plant hunt­ing journey as you never know when you will find that rare monstera you have been searching for.

#2 Kentia Palm

Howea forsteriana

The kentia palm also known as Howea forsteriana is one of Australia’s most iconic native palms. Originally found around Lord Howe Island, where it got its name Howea, the kentia has been cultivated and export­ed around the world since the middle of the 19th century.

Kentia Palms are amongst some of the easiest palms to grow here on the South Coast. They are suitable for both Indoor and outdoor use with Single palms better in the garden and multi potted palms better for inside. They don’t require much in terms of potting mix, and do well in low light, cool tempera­tures and dry climates. These are slow growing palms usu­ally only producing one or two fronds a year and grow­ing to around two and a half metres after many years. It is rare to see Kentia palms grow beyond 4 metres. If your planning on growing these palms inside keep the soil moist but not soggy and give the leaves a wipe every few weeks.

The Kentia palm is my go to choice here on the south coast for both beauty and

Norfolk Island – Home of the Kentia Palm.

#3 Rubber Plant

Ficus Elastica

The Rubber plant is an excellent choice for any indoor situation with a myriad of forms available from variegated pink specimens to elegant black leaved varieties and much, much more. In fact, the Ficus group is one of the largest families of all plants. Most figs originate in the tropics or semi tropic regions and thrive on humidity. You can actually drill into and tap some of these trees to produce rubber.

A word of warning to anyone wanting to plant their newly acquired addition in the garden. These plants get big! Do not plant within 20 metres of house footings or underground pipes. Rub­ber trees can quickly grow to over 15-30 metres in height and have a huge spreading canopy. This is great for acreages but may­be not your average quarter acre block.

#4 Lady Palm

Rhapis Excelsa

The Lady palm is another highly prized indoor palm which grows in clumps with fan shaped leaves and a mat of fibrous tissue growing up the stem. Lady palms grow in much the same way as bam­boo and are a great alternative indoors as they have next to no leaf drop.

These are slow growing palms capable of growing beyond two metres but usually sitting around half a metre to a me­tre high. Rhapis palms will grow outside here in the South Coast but like a protected po­sition away from winds and out of direct sunlight. These palms originate from South East Asia and are often used as hedges in Bali. They thrive on humidity and like moist soil.

The Lady palm is a great choice for a feature plant in a large room.

#5 Giant Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia Nicolai

The Strelitzia Nicolai is an elegant addition to any plant lovers list. When grown indoors their leaves retain a stunning deep green colour and don’t suffer from wind damage or ripped foliage. These beauties have a blue coloured flower with white sepals. If you have a large space to fill or a double storey entrance to your home, you should consider the giant bird of paradise. If grown outside they can reach heights of up to 6m. Don’t worry though! If they are restricted in a pot and kept indoors you will be lucky to have them reach over 2m to 3m.

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