Furniture and plants

Most people collect plants in a haphazard way, buying what they think they can grow rather than thinking about the plant’s impact on the room in which it is to be placed. A plant should be part of the décor of the room in which it is to live, and to this end it must blend into the overall effect.

After a little practice in looking after plants, you can start buying them for specific purposes – for example, to enhance the appearance of a certain room or part of the house. Fair-sized plants do this most dramatically – say, a large palm in a sitting room, a dracaena cane on a landing, a hanging plant basket of philodendron scan-dens in a bathroom.

Match plants to furnishings

Modern furniture requires distinct, angular leaf and stem shapes; perhaps just one or two large plants standing in matching containers, chosen to tone in with the room. Victoriana requires fussy plants in small bowls and pots, placed on tables, bureaux or sideboards. The containers should be varied, and often ornate. Mixed displays in unused fireplaces look charming in this sort of setting. Country or cottage type houses needs plants tumbling from windowsills or ledges. Again, mixed bowls and wicker containers suit this décor. Never put a plant where it is going to obstruct movement; plants don’t like being jostled any more than people do.

Light

Remember, all plants require light and some need more than others. If the most attractive setting for a plant is in a place away from all natural light, consider fitting an artificial light to be left on most of the time. Special horticultural bulbs that aid plant growth are available.

Camouflage

Plants can be used to hide an ugly feature, like protruding pipes, bad brickwork or simply an empty, uninteresting corner. Always experiment with different plants to see which one fits best into any situation.

Indoor gardens

Beside a floor-to-ceiling window, a plant bed can be built, so that it appears to flow out of the house into the garden, with the window asa divider. If carefully planted, the bed can give the effect of bringing the whole garden into the house. On a smaller scale, window boxes, placed inside the house and carefully positioned to receive the maximum amount of light, give a fresh look.

Indoor beds

When building an indoor bed, make sure that it is water-proof. Thick polythene, available for lining garden pools, will normally be sufficient. For safety, use a double thickness. Alternatively, the brick interior of the bed can be plastered and covered with waterproofing bitumen paint. Removable galvanized metal containers can be made to fit the bed.

The bottom should contain 5 cm (2 in) of drainage material, such as gravel or broken pots, and be sprinkled with charcoal. Fill the bed with a mixture of half potting compost and half peat. Allow the bed to settle for about a day before planting.

Plants and windows

As already mentioned, indoor gardens should be built as near a window as possible. This allows plants to receive the maximum light available. If tall plants are being grown, they will throw attractive shadows and light patterns into the room and can provide the shade necessary for some smaller plants that dislike strong sun light.

Mirrors

To enlarge an indoor plant room, consider facing one wall with mirrors. This gives an illusion of great depth, particularly with the reflection of leaf patterns. Spotlights focussed on selected plants highlight a display and at the same time help growth. Take care that no leaf or stem actually touches the light or is too near the light source; it may be burnt.

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