Combining Green Plants In Displays

Coloured leaf display

By bearing in mind three main elements, it is easy to produce very effective groups of green plants. These are plant size, leaf shape and colour.

Balancing plant sizes You can create a very successful arrangement using just one plant type in Iwo or three different sizes, perhaps grouping them on a shelf, or matching a large floor-standing plant with a smaller one on a table at its side.

combining green plants

Any number of geometric shapes can be produced by a group. Try a right-angled triangle with a tall plant at one side and others descending in size to the opposite edge. Form a puffball shape for a group arranged on a central table.

Leaf shape and texture If you contrast these in a group, each plant will set off the qualities of the others. A Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica), for instance, with its large, shiny leaves would look well against the light, feathery leaves of a Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum) or the spiky leaves of a Yucca.

Balancing leaf colour Again, plants with contrasting leaf colours will show off one another; but an effective group can also be formed from plants with the same colour characteristic—leaves with cream and white flecks or stripes, or pink streaks.

Different levels

Plants of different height and size do not have to be used for groups, as height can be gained by placing the plants at different levels.

If you want the second level to be unobtrusive, use a basket or plant pot upside down and place a similar one containing the plant on top of it, or use a pile of old magazines.

Group based leaf shapes

Group based leaf shapes

In the picture here plant leaf colours are similar, but contrast is created by the varied leaf shapes. The large, spiky arched leaves of the Kentia Palm contrast with the rounded matt leaves of the African Violet, the glossy leaves of the Tree Ivy and the rush-like leaves of the Umbrella Plant.

Space and accessories

A sparsely furnished room makes a wonderful background for a plant group which will add life, texture and contrast to the room’s simplicity.

grape ivy and weeping figIn the picture here a Grape Ivy on the right and a Weeping Fig on the left form a frame to the window. By placing the fern on a basket, height is gained and the plant catches the sunlight. Objects can also be used in the group — cones, driftwood, rounded pebbles or ornaments. Add some colour with a jug of garden flowers or, in winter, a dried display, or even a bowl of oranges and lemons.

Combinations to try

You can base your group on plant size, on leaf colour, on leaf shapes and textures or on a mix of all three. Here are some suggestions that you may like to consider.

Mixed group

The plants shown above give a variety of heights and shapes. Dark leaves are highlighted by the addition of a couple of plants with interesting leaf colours, including variegations of pink, red and white. Plants in this group include:

Hanging arrangements Three hanging baskets placed close together at different levels can form a very effective group. Plants that would be a good choice for this include:

Highlights of cream

Plants which contain the same tones look good grouped, but add a few plain-leaved plants to act as a foil. These include:

The same genus

Group plants of the same type but with slight leaf variations, such as different forms of Asparagus Fern.

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