Grouping Plants For Best Effect

The grouping of plants will depend upon personal taste. There are all shapes and sizes to choose from, including a few which may be best placed quite alone. Each plant should be positioned to set off its neighbours; trailing plants will break the outlines of the container and conceal pots; low bushy plants will fit in at the base of a tall-stemmed one; rosette plants will give solidity; climbers will give background; and so on.

Leaf colour is as important as shape, and it will be found that there is great variation even in the basic green; some leaves are grey or bluish, a few red or brown, while very many plants are striped, banded or mottled in various ways — variegation is the generic term – in white, cream, yellow, silver and red. Apparent fading of variegation is usually due to excessive shade. If non-variegated shoots appear these should be pinched out or they may in time supersede the variegated ones.

Ornamental bowls

There is an increasing tendency to group plants closely together in bowls or other containers, in effect creating an artistic arrangement as one does with cut flowers. The plants can either be left in their pots, which are concealed beneath moss or peat, or can be tipped out and ‘planted’, though without disturbing the roots, in peat. Undrained containers are quite satisfactory as long as watering is cautious and water does not collect in them, but such arrangements are basically temporary, and the plants should be given a periodic respite in pots. Very attractive combinations can be achieved, and flowering plants can be included for short spells.

Glass indoors

Various kinds of indoor greenhouse have been marketed, some simply a metal-framed box, others with a peaked roof like a real greenhouse and with a solid waterproof base. It is easy enough for a handyman to construct such a case; ideally it has sliding glass sides and top. These indoor greenhouses are derived from the Victorian Wardian Case, a glass structure which remained virtually sealed, and their merit is, of course, the maintenance of the high humidity needed by plants such as marantas which otherwise succeed only in bottle gardens. Heating may be installed, best by means of a tubular electric heater or a soil-warming cable, or by placing the green-house over a radiator. Such greenhouses must be kept in good light, or provided with mercury-vapour light tubes or the plants will become spindly.

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