Grouping Indoor Plants Into Displays

In nature, plants rarely grow in isolation and they add to each other’s beauty by their association. Bringing indoor plants together in well planned groups will transform their effect in a manner which can be quite breathtaking. A bold, eye-catching display can become the centre of attention. Many small leaved plants, for example, are unimpressive on their own but when combined with larger-leaved varieties provide a striking contrast.

When grouping indoor plants, don’t aim for the greatest number of colours or leaf shapes possible. Style and overall form are usually much more rewarding. Perfection in each plant is not essential; a plant which is lopsided and would look unattractive on its own can look excellent when in a group or in a trough.

When planning a group which includes flowering and foliage plants together, be sparing with the flowering plants unless you hope to achieve a really strong, colourful display. If that is the case, then select foliage plants with fairly tall, elegant or feathery foliage to act as a foil for the blooms. Never mix foliage plants and colourful plants in almost equal proportions, or the true beauty of both types will be lost.

The plant tray

This is not the most striking method of grouping plants, but it is one which allows frequent change and greater convenience. The tray should be about 5 cm (2 in) deep and can be made of any waterproof material. A 21 cm (1 in) layer of small pebbles or shingle should be used to cover the bottom of the tray. Water should be added, but should not reach the level of the bottom of the pots which stand on it. The tray will provide the humidity the plants need.

The plant troughgrouping plants in a trough

Here you can make a long-lasting garden of indoor plants. Troughs are available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes from garden centres and nurserymen. It is important that the trough should be watertight and large enough to take the pots when they are standing on a thin layer of shingle. There should also be room to pack damp peat around the pots.

It is better to keep the plants in their pots rather than plant them direct into the trough because you can then change them around as you wish. The peat packing must always be kept moist; it provides the necessary humidity and a moisture reserve beneath the pots.

If you water the plants well before you leave on holiday, the plant trough will manage without attention for a period of two to three weeks.

Not so many years ago the standard indoor plant was a dusty, tired Aspidistra in a hideous pot, placed at the window. Modern home design, and the developments in plant culture, and types, have transformed this image. Indeed, many modern homes need the softening and naturalising effect of indoor plants and seem to lack something if they are absent.

There are a few simple rules to follow to ensure that indoor plants make the fullest impact to your d├ęcor-

  • Keep your display in scale with the area. Monstera deliciosa, for example, can look ungainly and prove obstructive in a tiny hallway, yet it can soften the almost clinical conditions of a large hall incorporating an open plan staircase.
  • Ensure that they are ones which can adapt to the environment. Above all, ensure that they have ample humidity for their needs.
  • Position your plants carefully. Radiators can be a problem but it is possible to buy fittings which fit on top of or above the radiator to deflect the hot air away from the plants.
  • A redundant fireplace is an ideal spot for plants, providing that the flue has been blocked off and it is draught-free.
  • In the dining room, wall displays and one striking centrepiece for the table are the most practical. For the table, choose a wide, dwarf arrangement – a big bowl of Saintpaulia (African Violets) for example.
  • The moist, steamy atmosphere of a bathroom can provide excellent conditions for plants which you cannot grow elsewhere. If the bathroom is centrally heated then it is possible to grow delicate varieties in its humid environment.
  • Form is often more important than colour, although both have their place.
  • Place the display where it is frequently seen but does not get in the way.
  • Do not display on their own plants which are `below par’; their defects can be camouflaged by placing them in the company of other plants.
  • In winter, remember that if your room is at a temperature which is comfortable for you, it is probably too warm for most plants. Give some thought to the type of plants you keep in the room and

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