Anyone who has ever set off to Africa on vacation or only knows the continent from television knows about the exotic and diverse plants. Thick-fleshed specimens can be found here, alongside huge fronds of leaves and flowers that appear almost unreal. Unfortunately, the African plants cannot cope with the local climate. After all, it is much warmer in their home country. In fact, that’s no reason not to bring the exotic species into your own four walls or even into the garden.
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African plants and houseplants are very popular because of their exotic appearance. In order for the joy not to be short-lived, however, the type of cultivation is decisive. Almost all African plants thrive best in a tub or a larger flower pot – regardless of whether they are outdoors or in the living room.
In addition, they can be kept all year round in the winter garden or in a sufficiently sunny room without exception. This applies to both small and compact African plants as well as to the larger and actually weatherproof plants.
The substrate and casting behavior are also decisive. Most African houseplants, shrubs and trees require barren, nutrient-poor soils and can store water for very long periods of time. They must therefore generally be poured with caution and provided with an airy substrate. It is ideal to occasionally flood the plant with rainwater or stale tap water and then let the soil dry out.
It also makes sense to use high-quality but nutrient-poor potting soil and mix it with coconut fiber. Fertilizer, if the chosen plant from Africa requires it at all, should be used sparingly.
For the safari in the living room – African houseplants
Numerous plants, which are otherwise found in the African wilderness and sometimes withstand extremely high temperatures, also feel extremely at home in the living room. Above all, plants that tend to stay small and appreciate constant temperatures all year round. These include:
- African violet
- Aloe Vera
- Smaller Protea species
- Cape lily or African African Lily
- Crown of fame
- I swap
They all need a bright location and temperatures of around 20 ° C. Window sills and bright room corners are therefore ideal parking spaces. In summer you can walk on a sunny balcony, terrace or in the garden. It is then important that they are given a protected location. While even blazing sun is well tolerated, strong winds and heavy rains must be avoided. House corners or a somewhat isolated location between other plants are ideal.
Weatherproof exotic species – popular African plants for gardens and balconies
Africa not only has small plants to offer, but also quite large perennials and trees.
The following are particularly popular:
- African giant calabash
- African tulip tree
- Larger Protea species
- Liver sausage tree
- Ornamental banana
These are partially weatherproof and can therefore be outside from spring to autumn. Rain and wind can do little to them, if at all.
A particularly protected location is therefore not necessary. However, just like the smaller African plants, they need plenty of sun.
The African violet can be used as a ground cover or hanging plant or even as a privacy screen on the trellis. The countless, velvety flowers – which can shine in blue, pink or white – are particularly decorative. The African violet can stand indoors all year round or spend the summer outdoors. Its roots should never dry out, but the plant can withstand full sun without any problems.Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is probably one of the most typical and popular representatives of African plants. It can withstand full sun and light shade and should be watered sparingly. The fleshy leaves also contain healing powers that can be used internally and externally.
Indoors all year round or outside in summer, the hibiscus is always an eye-catcher. Filled, simple, monochrome or with color gradients – the selection is huge, but the maintenance effort is small. This African plant can only tolerate drought for a short time.
Bird of Paradise
Flower The Strelitzia, as the bird of paradise flower is also called, is evergreen and impresses with its unusual flower shape. If it is watered regularly and the substrate is allowed to dry slightly between waterings, nothing stands in the way of it flourishing. It needs a sunny location.
The Protea, also known as sugar bush or caprose, is considered the queen of African plants. This species has many varieties and shows unusual flowers. Both smaller and larger varieties can stand outside in summer, but they can also stay in the winter garden or living room all year round.
The Cape lily or African African Lily is a species-rich genus. It contains, for example, delicious garlic caplilies, which bloom decoratively but can also be used in the kitchen. In doing so, they do not leave a trail of garlic. They need a lot of sun and regular watering, but can withstand the occasional dry phase and light shade.
The balloon pea is an orange-red flowering African plant with delicate leaves and flowers. It tolerates temporary drought well and does best in very sunny locations.
Crown of Fame
The crown of fame already bears its unusual appearance in its name, because its flowers are reminiscent of shining crowns. It is an exception among the African plants, as it has to be kept constantly moist and also tolerates occasional fertilization.
African giant calabash
The best African plant for hobbyists is the giant calabash. Their fruits can be dried and then turned into vases and other ornaments. The African giant calabash is annual and has a strong vine, outdoors it can reach heights of three to five meters. It needs a lot of warmth and light and should be kept moist.
The zamie is the African houseplant bad, but outside of the flower rather subtle. It has fleshy leaves and is frugal. In addition, she only likes watering when needed, but a bright location.
African tulip tree
It blooms all year round and impresses with its bright colors – but at up to 30 meters it is actually too big for the living room. Regular pruning can keep the African tulip tree quite compact. Therefore, it is suitable as a houseplant even in cold climates. The substrate should never dry out completely.
African baobab tree
Known but often confused, the baobab tree is a symbol of Africa. As a houseplant or container plant, it is extremely easy to care for, only dry phases and rainy seasons should be observed, then it can reach an extremely old age. During the period of increased watering, fertilization can be carried out every four weeks.
The teardrop-shaped, thick-fleshed leaves are characteristic of the easy-care money tree. A sunny place that is warm all year round, moderate watering and the money tree is completely satisfied.
Liver sausage tree
In the apartment or in the garden in summer, the liver sausage tree is an eye-catcher despite its strange name. It shows feathery, brightly shining flowers and forms long, brown fruits. This African plant needs only moderate watering and a lot of sun, as well as a warm location.
The ornamental banana is an African plant with large, frond-shaped leaves. Robust cultivated forms can remain outdoors in a protected location and with additional insulation in mild winters. Unfortunately, the ornamental banana will not survive long and hard cold spells.
Hibernate the plants properly
Even though most African plants can stand outside without any problems in summer – they cannot survive long and harsh winters.
Depending on the type of plant selected, the minimum temperatures naturally differ. In general, however, the plants have to be moved inside when the thermometer drops below 15 ° C. Most African plant species can withstand brief drops in temperature, but if they are permanently below 10 ° C, damage to the plant and limited growth can be expected.
Winter protection with fleece, brushwood and straw is therefore also not sufficient. In addition, the deprivation of light would damage the African plants.
The better form of wintering is in any case a light, frost-free and not too cool location that has adequate ventilation. Conservatories, bright and heated cellars or even the living room are suitable.
Caring for the exotic in winter
In winter quarters, not only the temperature but also the maintenance may be reduced a little. Because the African plants are in a resting phase due to the weaker light conditions, they do not need large amounts of water or nutrients for growth.
Therefore, it should only be poured lightly and at greater intervals. Under no circumstances should the substrate dry out completely.
Fertilization should be completely avoided in winter. This would only interrupt the resting phase unnecessarily and unhealthily and lead to an energy-sapping shoot that weakens the plant in the long term. Due to the reduced absorption of nutrients, it is even possible that the roots will experience chemical burns. This can even lead to complete death.
With the right selection and the right care, nothing stands in the way of African plants in the home garden or in the living room. And because the plants from Africa are generally easy to care for and undemanding, they are by far not only suitable for experienced or courageous hobby gardeners.