Unusual Flowering Houseplants

Published on September 14th 2019
A close up of a flower
Sometimes it can feel that the same flowering houseplants come around time and time again. As we move into autumn and winter, we know the usual suspects: cyclamen, winter cherries and, eventually, poinsettias.
Feel like a change? Try these more unusual windowsill residents.

Goldfish plant

Also known as the guppy or clog plant, Nematathus is one of two flowering houseplants commonly known as the goldfish plant (the other is Columnea). They are both related, belonging to the same family as the African violet.
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In the wild, this plant grows as an epiphyte (on trees). With its little bulbous orange flowers pollinated by hummingbirds, this plant is charming, exotic and relatively easy to care for.
Provide bright indirect light with a little sun, especially in winter. Do not allow to dry out entirely, but be cautious not to overwater. Keep warmth and humidity levels high, like its jungle home.
A close up of an orange flower
A close up of the flowers also might explain another alternative name of 'kissing lips'.

Mexican shrimp plant

Running with the aquatic theme, the shrimp plant is very different in appearance and has arching multicoloured ‘flowers’.
These 'flowers' are actually modified leaves known as bracts, and the true white flowers peep out from in between these. Plants enjoy bright light with full sun. Place outside the summer months and water regularly in warmer rooms.
Plants are brittle and can also grow leggy, but will respond well to pruning and feeding from spring onwards.
A pink flower with green leaves
The bracts of the shrimp plant have a faded colouring, beginning pale greenish-yellow and becoming dusky pink.

Parachute plant

A real commodity of houseplant oddity, the parachute plant is the strange cousin to the popular trailing string of hearts and, thankfully, also shares its ease of care.
It requires bright light and moderate watering in the summer. Watering can be reduced over winter as the plant has fleshy, water-storing leaves and tubers which can rot in too much water.
The parachute plant is also known as the umbrella flower and looks equally great climbing around a hoop or trailing from a container.
The unusual flowers are designed to trap flies for pollination, releasing them only as the bloom begins to wither.
A close up of a green plant
A fly's-eye view of the flower - probably better not to get any closer!

Chenille plant

The chenille plant's long, crimson catkins are the reason behind its alternative name - red-hot cat’s tail!
It can be seen in hanging containers as well as growing upright if trained. The plant benefits from bright light, preferably with a good dose of direct sunlight.
It is greedy for water and food during the summer months, less so during winter.
Surprisingly, the chenille plant is a relative of the ubiquitous Poinsettia, and the name comes from the French for caterpillar.
A close up of a green plant
The long catkins are very tempting to touch, but, as with other plants in the Euphorbia family, the sap may irritate the skin.

Shooting star hoya

The hoyas are all rather unusual, with their waxy leaves and porcelain-like flowers (see main image), though the shooting star hoya may be the most striking of all.
Keep in bright light with full sun during the winter months. Be cautious when it comes to watering as hoyas are succulent plants which will rot easily.
The fragrant flowers appear in clusters. Do not remove old stems as they produce new blooms.
The shooting star hoya, like all other hoyas, is prone to mealy bug, so keep an eye for the white-tufted pests.
A close up of a plant
Hoyas are often regarded as some of the most beautiful houseplants and they are definitely some of the most unusual, too.
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