Exotic Indoor Plants

An exotic plant needs only the simplest of backgrounds to show it off to best advantage. If you have a sun porch, sunroom or conservatory, you have the ideal environment for your scene-stealing plant.

Giant specimens

Large exotic plants are usually best displayed on their own. An orange or lemon tree, with flowers and ripening fruit on the tree at the same time, or a Banana Tree or a huge palm would be lost in a group. Place it in an imposing container or a garden urn where it can be viewed from a distance, perhaps through a doorway. Try the effect of placing a pair of tall, slim trees, such as Stick Yuccas, on either side of a door. You don’t necessarily need a sunroom or conservatory to house a large exotic plant. Put it in a sunny, light window in a room with an evenly warm temperature, give it plenty of humidity and it will thrive. Keep the humidity high by putting the pot on a layer of pebbles kept constantly damp, or put damp peat between the pot and an outer container, and mist the plant regularly.Exotic Indoor Plants

Frames for climbers

Climbers need training. You can use rigid square or expanding diamond shaped trellis on walls and around windows. An arch-shaped trellis can be used so that a climber forms an attractive curved frame for a large plant or tree. Use lengths of wire at ceiling height in parallel lines stretched across the room to support large climbers. You will need to protect these plants from scorching by the sun with blinds or special anti-glare paint.

A grape vine looks very effective trained in this way in a conservatory, especially when bunches of grapes hang decoratively overhead. Wire can be used on the walls too, to support climbers. Special nails, called vine-eyes, are available with ‘eyes’ to thread the wire through, holding it away from the wall and allowing space for the plants to climb. Preformed metal arbour and archway forms are also available for training plants into decorative shapes. Use one where you want a special climber to create a focal point, or to divide one part of the room off from another.

Trailing displays

Trailing plants become most interesting when viewed at eye level or just above. Group three hanging baskets together at varying levels and use for three specimens of the same plant. Italian Bellflowers (Campanula lisophylla) would form a waterfall of blue.

Shelves placed high on the wall and used for trailing plants can create a similar effect. If you wanton old-world look, use old wrought-iron cistern brackets as shelf supports. These can also be used as supports for hanging baskets.

Grouping plants

Most plants enjoy close proximity as each plant creates some humidity for the others.

When grouping plants take into account their size, leaf shape, texture and colour. Use tall plants to provide the background. They need not be placed centrally – one tall plant could be placed to one side of the group at the back. Some plants can be placed on plinths if you want to give them height; you can use an upside-down container for this. Mix dark green glossy leaves with light coloured variegated or feathery-leafed plants and bring in colour with just a few flowering or coloured-leaf plants.

Plants can be grown together in a bed or grouped in pots. Use large rocks placed among the plants to add interest to a bed, and include some small statues or a piece of sculpture in the group of plants. The clever use of lighting can enhance the display even further.

Plants for exotic displays

Climbers and trailers

  • Bleeding Heart Vine has evergreen leaves and crimson flowers surrounded by white sepals.
  • Chilean Bellflower is an evergreen lily-like climber with white, red, or white-spotted red flowers.
  • Leadwort can have pale blue or white tiny star-like flowers.
  • Chinese Jasmine has clusters of tiny white, highly scented flowers.
  • Bougainvillea has bracts in white, orange, red, yellow, pink or purple that surround miniature white flowers.
  • Chenille Plant has tassel-like pink flowering spikes that trail.

Large specimen plants

  • Kentia Palm with its arching fronds can grow as tall as 2.5m (8ft).
  • Coconut Palm thrives in tropical conditions and is fast growing.
  • Citrus trees— Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine and Grapefruit— all have fragrant flowers as well as fruit. Jacaranda is a graceful tree with fernlike foliage.
  • Oleander commonly has pink flowers but white, red, purple, yellow and orange are also available, plus a variegated leaf variety. This is a poisonous plant, so don’t keep it if you have young children in the house.

Exotic flowering plants

  • Bird of Paradise has flowers of yellow and blue that resemble the head of a tropical bird.
  • Caladium has insignificant flowers but wonderful coloured leaves that can be mottled red, pink, silver, white and green or a mix of all these colours.
  • Urn Plant is a bromeliad with bright pink bracts that support lilac flowers.
  • Orchids of most types will flourish provided they have 12 hours of light every. Day.
  • Camellias come in pink, red, white, lilac or salmon and with single, double or semi-double flower heads.
  • Flamingo Plant has brilliant red disc-shaped spathes.

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