Almost everybody must know Aphelandra squarrosa louisae as a house plant, but it is in fact much more suitable for the greenhouse than for the home, being sensitive to dry, stuffy air and cold nights. It needs a minimum temperature of 13°C. (55°F.) in winter but in summer it may rise to 24 to 27°C. (75 to 80°F.). The bright yellow bracts of the plant have a splendid foil in its dark green, white-veined leaves.
Plants can be increased readily from cuttings, and young unflowered side-shoots, a few inches long, should be selected. The lower leaves are removed and a clean cut made below a joint at the base. To assist rooting, the lower ends of the cuttings can be dipped first in water and then in a hormone rooting powder and I like to place the cuttings individually in small pots. A suitable rooting medium consists of l part loam, 2 parts moist peat and 3 parts coarse sand. The pots may be placed in a propagating frame with a temperature of 18 to 21 °C. (65 to 70°F.) or each pot can be enclosed in a polythene bag which is then sealed with a rubber band.
The rooted cuttings are first moved into 3-1/2-in. pots using John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost and later, when the pots are full of roots, they should be transferred to 5- or 6-in. pots using John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost.
The growing tips can be nipped out once or twice to encourage sideshoots and produce plants with a bushy habit.
Watering and Damping Down
During the summer the plants will require plenty of water, and damping down and shading from excessive sun are also important.
Once the plants are in their final pots, feeds of a liquid or soluble fertiliser at 10-day intervals will help to keep them growing well. As they come into flower the plants are best kept in cooler conditions.
The lower leaves tend to fall as the plants age, particularly if they are kept in a room for too long where the air is hot and dry. In these circumstances it is best to cut back the stems in spring, and, given warmth and moisture, new growths soon develop. These can be used as cuttings if so desired.