THIS chapter treats of various kinds of vase-plants suitable for halls and apartments, and how to grow them.
In order to be successful in growing plants in the halls or ordinary rooms of the dwelling-house, we must select those accustomed naturally to the strong heat of tropical and semi-tropical regions, as they stand the dry and dusty air of a living room with a temperature varying from fifty to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit.
It should perhaps first be stated that if the plants are intended to be kept close to the glass of the windows and exposed to the Southerly sun, a class will have to be selected different from those which can be grown successfully if placed either in the middle or toward the side of the room where they will be partially shaded.
Among the latter class, that is, those which thrive well in the middle or side of the room, and, while enjoying the light, are injured by the direct rays of the sun shining through glass, may be mentioned that best of all parlor vase-plants, Kentia Belmo-riana, the ideal condition and exposure for this plant being in a room facing the West, the pot being placed on a, level with the window-sill about three feet from the glass. The window-shade should be kept up all day until the sun gets round, when it should immediately be pulled down and left down until the sun leaves the window, at which time it should again be raised.
Among other plants which do well in similar conditions and with similar treatment may be mentioned the Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica), Dracaena Terminalis, Pandanus utilis, Dieffenbachias and Alocasias, also some of the stronger-growing Marantas, such as Maranta zebrina, Maranta bicolor and Cal-adium esculentum.
Bamboos make most effective hall plants when well grown. They also stand shade well. Another favorite which thrives under all conditions is the Aspidistra lurida, and mention should be made of the Aspidistra lurida variegata, whose broad sword-shaped leaves have a fine effect either in a hall or a sitting room.
The Cocos plumosa, Seaforthia, Corypha australis, Latania borbonica, Areca lutescens, and Areca Baurii, also Raphis fla-belliformis (the Japanese cane palm) are all satisfactory in the decorating of apartments.
In a general way it may be stated that most of the plants which carry thick, leathery, smooth foliage are satisfactory and are easily grown, whereas most of the plants which have thin, transparent foliage, or those of hairy, downy or russety texture do poorly. The dust sticks to the fibres of the thin leaves and to the rough surface of those which have a downy or hairy texture, and, as this dust cannot be washed or sponged off, the pores get choked up and the leaves turn yellow on account of their lungs being clogged, so that unless taken where the air is free from dust the plants will sicken and die.
Among window plants which stand a little sun and, as a rule, thrive well, may be mentioned the shrubby Begonias, Geraniums, Petunias and Nasturtiums. Few of the Fern family are happy in the dry air of our apartments, although some of those with leathery, smooth foliage do well for a time. The Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), Pteris cretica and Pteris argyraea are among the best for this purpose. For shady nooks or verandas many Ferns do extremely well, the Five-finger Fern and the Woodwardia making excellent growth.