Most container-grown plants can be taken indoors for short periods (1-2 weeks) and can provide excellent decoration when in flower. As well, there are a number of Australian plants which can tolerate indoor conditions for extended periods. These are usually those species native to tropical and sub-tropical rainforests where the plants have become accustomed to low light levels. Some worth trying include Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree), Castanospermum australe (black bean), Davidsonia pruriens (Davidson's plum), various Lilly Pillys (Syzygium, Acmena, Waterhousea) and Grevillea robusta (silky oak). Cordyline species grow well indoors and in air conditioned areas. Although these are flowering plants, they are unlikely to flower if kept indoors for extended periods so selection should be based on their foliage characteristics.
Among the non-flowering plants, ferns make excellent indoor plants especially hardy ones such as Doodia aspera (rasp fern) and Nephrolepis cordifolia (fishbone fern). Even tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea sp.) can be used for several years before their trunks develop. Cycads, such as Macrozamia communis (Burrawang) are also excellent indoors as is the small conifer Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii (syn. Microstrobos fitzgeraldii).
A good reference for choosing and maintaining Australian plants indoors is Growing Native Plants Indoors by John Wrigley and Murray Fagg, 1992 (published by Simon and Schuster).
|The Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla), left, and the dwarf mountain pine (Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii), right, are both attractive foliage plants.
Photos: Manuel Rodriguez and Brian Walters