Easy Color on Indoor Plants

December is colorful enough on its own in my house. The Christmas tree does a respectable job brightening up a portion of the house. In square footage, the tree exceeds any blooming houseplant I've ever grown. So, I am charting the time in bloom for a few potted bloomers that now share my home. The Ornithogalum has bitten the dust. And by that I mean it no longer can be thought of, by any stretch of the imagination, as attractive. It stayed bright and perky for about three weeks, or from December 27 until around January 24. I paid $20 for it at my local supermarket.

Porphyrocoma pholiana Maracas on Dec. 20, 2013
For sheer bang for the buck, I have another candidate in mind. I purchased Porphyrocoma pholiana 'Maracas' (Brazilian fireworks) in early June at a garden center and added it to a hanging pot along with some Begonias. Its leaves had a nice silvery sheen, and I figured, even if it didn't bloom, it would offer a pretty accent. As overshadowed as it eventually became by September, it gave me a couple of blooms. Feeling the poor thing had been cheated out of a chance to shine, I popped it out of its hanging residence and put it in an indoor planter. It didn't disappoint me.

Porphyrocoma pholiana Maracas on January 4, 2014
Porphyrocoma pholiana Maracas on February 13.
What's really cool about this little plant is that, although its purple flowers last for just a day, its bracts, which are a bright magenta, are very long-lived. This plant likes heat, so I think it must be happy in its spot on my heating mat, where it's been since I potted it up in October. It's actually in too large a pot, so I might be adding something to the pot that I'll talk about later.

Brazilian fireworks makes a great houseplant, its flower stems expanding upward and outward as it ages. I have it a south window on a Hydrofarm Seedling Heat Mat. I have been feeding it a dilute solution of water soluble fertilizer each time I water. It requires more water than it would if it weren't on the heat mat, but still, I use the pencil method to see if its soil is dry.

Sharpen a pencil and stick it about 2-3 inches into the soil. Pull it out and look at the wood around the pencil tip. If it's dry, water the plant. If it's wet, wait.

I paid under $10 for this plant, and it's given me quite a performance--eight weeks as a houseplant, and just as many in its hanging home in late summer.
Porphyrocoma might not be the newest kid on the block, but it adds a great tropical look to outdoor planters, and color on a winter's day indoors. I think perhaps I will curb my enthusiasm for mixed planters where this guy is concerned and let it occupy a pot by itself. It's not a fast grower, and it only reaches about 10 inches high. I can't wait to see how big I can get it by mid-May when it can take up its outdoor residence.


  1. That is a very exotic looking plant, beautiful. I don't have much luck with house plants - probably because I tend to neglect them.

    1. I know, Elaine. I don't consider any of my indoor plants "houseplants," but plants in their winter digs. But if you're not gardening outdoors, you have more time to devote to indoor plants, especially when the garden is under two feet of snow.

  2. I need help finding a place to purchase a Brazilian Fireworks Plant. I desperately want one and can't locate it.

    1. Hello Buttons. I wish I could help. I purchased my Porphyrocoma pohliana from a big box store garden center, but that's hit or miss. Here is a link to Park Seed for 10 seeds. Good luck! http://parkseed.com/maracas-brazilian-fireworks-seeds/p/04657-PK-P1/