Last week, I was at one of my local nurseries looking for annuals and perennials for my outdoor garden. Even back when I was living in an apartment, and had no outdoor space, I always looked at the summer annuals and tropicals. Among the plants marketed as annuals for "creative" containers, there were always several plants that can make good-to-decent houseplants. Common examples were Asparagus sprengeri and A. meyeri, Begonia 'Dragon Wing,' Hedera helix, Strobilanthes dyeranus, (Persian Shield) and Solenostemon (Coleus.) Now, even though I do plenty of outdoor gardening, I always look to the annuals with houseplants in mind.
This year, I came across a couple of plants I really like, so I snapped them up. About ten to twelve years ago, I tried several times to grow Murraya paniculata. The available plants were "starter" specimens, in three- to five-inch pots. I never succeeded with them for more than a couple of months, so sadly, I decided not to buy them anymore. Then after reading the plant profile a few years ago at Plants are the Strangest People, I decided that I would try one again, if and only if I could get a reasonably well-established plant in a larger pot. But they became unavailable for quite some time, due to, as I understand it, a quarantine caused by a citrus disease. So I was surprised and happy to find this at my local nursery:
I also treated myself to a Plumbago auriculata. I had originally purchased one in 2003, and kept it for at least five more years, putting it out in summer, and overwintering it in a cool room. After that, it kind of petered out, since P. auriculata really needs both cool temps and lots of sun over the winter. I can only provide one or the other, so the plant loses vigor. I figure five years is a good run for a plant most people buy as an annual and discard, and I love those blue flowers. I hope this one lasts as long.
My plan is to let both of these plants spend the summer outdoors, the Murraya on the porch, and the Plumbago in a container in the garden, maybe temporarily planted with some annuals. (My last P. auriculata looked really pretty in a pot with a pastel pink Pelargonium, though it did seem somewhat like a baby shower theme planting. Maybe I'll try something yellow, instead.) I figure spending sometime in the fresh air and sunshine will increase their vigor, and I'll be able to have them more or less permanently (the Murraya) and for a few good years (the Plumbago.)