Large plants for displaying in your home

Outsize plants are well suited to a large room, but can also turn any blank corner into an important feature. One on its own may be all that is needed to give an entrance hall character or to divert the eye away from a dull view through a window behind it. A big climber could conceal a multitude of architectural sins or help to enhance a good feature such as a well-proportioned archway or door frame. Climbers can also be trained up tall moss covered posts, kept damp to give their leaves the moisture they appreciate. Keep the damp posts away from walls or furniture.

There are a number of large plants that can be used individually for room decoration. Most of them are evergreen with the foliage in various colours, but they rarely flower. Among the more common ones are Monster a, Philo-dendron (climbing and non-climbing varieties), Cissus, Schefflera and Rhoicis-sus. There are others equally easy to grow which can make delightful permanent features in a room. These could include:

Howea (Synonym Kentia) H. belmoreana (6-10 feet) and H.fosteriana (8-15 feet) are the two most commonly grown, for their graceful feathery shaped leaves are rather like those of the Date Palm. They need large containers, good compost and a room temperature of about 60°F. These ‘palms’ prefer light but not direct sun, plenty of water spring to autumn and liquid fertiliser but less moisture in winter. Sponge the leaves weekly to keep them clean and healthy.

Dasylirion. Palmlike evergreens related to Yuccas. They have short stems and long, tough, leather leaves with spiny margins. As the plants grow (upright for about \ feet), the older lower leaves bend downwards, the new ones continue upwards, and the plant develops a ‘waisted’ appearance. Growing conditions are similar to those required for Howea, but temperatures can be lower. Phoenix (Date Palm). Most varieties are too large for the home but P.acaulis (8-12 feet) and P.roebelinii (4-6 feet) with their drooping, dark green fronds of leathery leaves are very decorative. Grow similarly to the previous two ‘Palms’, except to ensure that the temperature never falls below 65 °F (18°C).

Ficus (Rubber Plants and Figs). There are many large growing forms – treelike and climbing – suitable for indoor growing. F.elastica (the India Rubber Plant) is probably best known for its tree shape (up to 12 feet) and dark green, glossy, large leaves. Its varieties F.decora and F.doescheri are even more attractive. The leaves of the former have red undersurfaces and leaf sheaths, while the latter has pale green leaves with cream markings, white margins and pale pink leaf sheaths. Ficus lyrate, (Fiddle Back Fig) is another decorative form, growing in a ‘chunky’ fashion with large violin shaped leaves. F.pumila, (Climbing Fig) has smaller leaves and will grow rapidly up supports as a screen. All Figs like semi-shade, a good general compost, plenty of water in summer but little in winter, and withstand coolish conditions but not draughts. Sponge leaves occasionally in summer. Tetrastigma, (Chinese or Chestnut Vine).

A fast growing climber with vigorous tendrils and large, green compound leaves like Horse Chestnut. It needs a large room, where it can be trained up supports to make an overhead feature or a living room divider. It likes light but not bright sun, its compost evenly moist all year round, and liquid fertiliser in summer. Datura. Not often seen as houseplants but they can be grown indoors in large containers, especially two of the shrubby perennial varieties – D.arborea and D.suaveolens (both with the common name of Angel’s Trumpet). They have large clusters of leaves near the top of the stems and in summer produce 8-12 inch long tubular white drooping flowers. They look similar, though the latter variety is larger. Normal compost, water and fertiliser in summer, little water in winter, pruning to shape in early autumn, moderate light and a period outdoors in the summer if possible, are the main requirements.

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