About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Exotic Plants with Eugene Higgins

Thursday, 9 November 2006


When it becomes too cold to enjoy gardening outside why we can concentrate on nature in the home in the form of indoor exotic plants. Eugene Higgins is here to tell us more. He will also be answering your queries and calls.

If you have a question for Eugene call us on 1850 71 71 11.  The lines open today at 2:30pm and remain open until the end of each weekday programme. You can also e-mail us at or text STUDIO followed by your thoughts to 53555.

It's too cold to be doing the gardening outside and these beautiful exotic plants will brighten up any home. Given the correct care, you don't need to worry about them dying away!

Bonsai Plants - €80.00
There is a 1,000 year old tradition of dwarfing trees, it's only 100 years ago that they started turning up in this part of the world. Watering a plant and especially a Bonsai is perhaps the most critical part of its care. It should be done early in the day so that the leaves dry before the temperature drops in the evening. Plants in this category generally prefer that the soil be kept damp, never wet. These plants need a more porous soil so that they do not retain too much moisture. These are not desert plants, however. The soil should become almost completely dry between waterings. During summer, plants receiving southern exposure should be partially protected, either by moving them away from windows, lightly shading windows during the hottest hours of the day, or moving them to east or west facing windows in June and through August. These plants can also be grown under intense fluorescent light (center tube 12 to 15 inches from tree top to bulb).

Strelitzia - €81.00
"Bird of Paradise Plant". Perhaps the most spectacular of all the flowers you can grow, it can take up to 4 or more years to flower but it is worth the wait. Amazingly it's not that difficult to grow. The Bird of Paradise do best with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, but should have bright light all day, with day temperatures of 68-72° and night temperatures of 50° to 55°. Generally they are hardy to about 20°. They tend to flower more readily when they are somewhat root bound, which is why they are more often grown in large pots or tubs. It should be potted in a mixture of sterile potting soil, peat moss, and sand with a liberal amount of bone meal added. Excellent drainage is essential. Keep the soil evenly moist except from November-February when the plant should be kept on the dry side. Feed every two weeks from March through September with the correct fertilizer. 

Kentia Palm - €96.00
Howea forsteriana or by it more common name, Kentia Palm, is a slender upright palm with single stems carrying attractive arching green fronds. It is a very easy palm to grow. Filtered sunlight is best, though it will tolerate poor light but not grow so well. Temperatures between 13° and 25° C (55° to 77°) are needed. Water it well in summer, but allow the top of the growing medium to dry out between waterings. Feed every two weeks in the growing season. In winter in centrally heated rooms, mist it often and keep the compost just moist.

Pachira Aquatica - €50.65
Pachira needs plenty of light; however avoid direct sunlight during the hot months of the year because its leaves may get sunburned. Increase humidity by spraying the plant with water once a week or place the pot on top of a wet pebble tray. Its soil should be light and should contain some sand to ensure adequate drainage. Plant will tolerate brief exposure to temperatures as low as 28ºF (-2.2ºC), but may drop some leaves. Water 2-3 times a month. Do not let the pot sit on water and always empty excess water from the pot tray. Mist leaves once a week.

Guzmania Pax - €11.50
The Guzmania Pax is white in colour. There are approximately 120 varieties of the guzmania. They are native South American plants. The sol of a guzmania doesn't need to be specially watered although it should be a little humid. Preferably use rain water to water it as it doesn't stand lime. To avoid funghi developments empty the cup every 15 days and substitute with fresh water. It prefers illuminated places but does not like to be directly in the sun. It prefers a peaty, acid soil. Maintain it in a necessary place and make sure to maintain the humidity.

Top Tips
. You can bring many house plants out into the garden or veranda in the summertime. Orchids in particular like to get outdoors.
. A mixture of milk and water will bring a shine back to dusty plants.
. To keep cacti dust free brush gently once a week with a pastry brush.
. Try to use water that is room temperature when watering indoor plants.

For more information
You can contact Eugene at
Colour Green in Tullamore,
Co. Offaly on 057 9355840 or in Dublin on 01 8674319

Stock information
Bonsai Plants €80.00 at Woodies DIY nationwide
Strelitzia €81.00
Kentia Palm From €96.00
Pachira Aquatica €50.65
Guzmania Pax €11.50 all available at Plant Life Cork Street or visit all products can be bought on line. They also have a plant rental service available and any queries will be answered by the office Monday to Friday 8am - 5pm, or by email