Formal Style House Plant Displays

Plants arranged in formal style are best used to show off simple surroundings and large rooms, or the more formal parts of the house such as halls and dining rooms.

Using large plants

Large plants with striking shapes are often displayed to best advantage on their own, as this not only serves to highlight their shape but also makes a bold, dramatic statement to complement formal surroundings.

To achieve a formal effect, leave space around a large plant and position it so that it forms part of a view through a doorway, at the end of a hall, on a turn on the stairs or across a room as you enter.

Tall, slim plants like Stick Yuccas, and Daisies or Fuchsias grown as standards, beg to be used in pairs, standing in matching pots or jardineres. Place one on either side of an archway, doorway or large window.

Modern styleFormal Style House Plant Displays

A formal style of plant display is just as well suited to modern surroundings as to elegant period homes. High Tech interiors, for instance, need strongly shaped plants to complement their furniture and neutral and primary colour schemes.

Choose from plants that can hold their own in such harsh surroundings:

  • Yuccas are ideal. Use in a pairor a strong effect. If one is slightly smaller than the other, place them side by side, or place identical plants in modern pots on either side of a window or doorway.
  • Bird of Paradise, with its upright, spatula-shaped leaves and orange and blue crested flowers, will create a striking image in a spacious room.
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, with its spike-like and mottled, dark green leaves, looks modern and formal on its own.
  • Staghorn Fern, with its antler-like, drooping fronds, is shown off to good advantage in a hanging container.
  • Bromeliads, such as Urn Plant, Scarlet Star and Fan Flower are ideal for modern interiors.

Using small plants

Smaller plants can be given a formal look by ranging them along a shelf or windowsill. Choose their containers carefully — perhaps a matching row of plain white ceramic pot holders and saucers, or one large, deep copper plant trough. Display a row of identical plants, or select a variety of different plants with flowers in tones of the same colour. Identical plants can be varied in colour — a row of Gloxinias in alternate purples and white make a bold and formal effect.

Small shelves fixed across a window could show off a collection of desert cacti in a south-facing window or small ferns in a north-facing one. Take care, however, to create a simple, not a fussy, effect.

An elegant fireplace can be enhanced by a formal display. In summer, arrange a mixture of green and flowering plants in a composition that follows the lines of a formal flower arrangement. Position a tall plant at each end of the mantel shelf with plants of decreasing height towards the centre to form a swag effect.

Plants for formal arrangementsPlants for formal arrangements

Large plants

Most Palms, especially Kentia Palm, Parlour Palm, King Palm and Golden Feather Palm, look best displayed on their own in a room corner, at the corner of a staircase or beside a patio door or French windows.

Ferns, such as Sword Fern, Bird’s Nest Fern, which bush out and look especially effective displayed alone on a tall plant stand.

Large Ivy plants, grown up a support to form a column, can be used in the same way as Yucca Plants.

Cacti, with their well-defined shapes, are ideal for collections. Show them off ranged along shelves fixed across a window, on fireplace mantels, alcove shelves or along a windowsill. Use a row of identical plants or mix plants of a similar shape and height. Some particularly suitable varieties are: Awl Cactus, Barrel Cactus, Bishop’s Cap, Century Plant, Christmas Cactus, Gingham Golf Ball and the tiny ‘tot’ Golden Tom Thumb.

Bulbs can be arranged in matching pots. Set out a row of Hyacinths, all in the same colour, or place several plants in two contrasting colours, side by side.

Bead Plants provide autumn and winter colour. Use Christmas Pepper or Christmas Cherry and group three or four plants in a simple container on a coffee table.

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