Conservatory Plants: A Complete Guide To Conservatory Plants – Good Housekeeping | Hot Mobile Press

Do you have a purpose built conservatory or garden space that is full of light but looking a little desolate?

Don’t worry, there are easy ways to turn any space you have into an extension of your home full of greenery. From creating a jungle-style tropical retreat to designing an elegant living space highlighted with interesting foliage, this guide will help you add beautiful greenery to your sunroom…

Make your space work for you

According to Lisa Rawley, owner of Fleur de Lys, a conservatory plant specialist, our desire to live alongside green plants dates back to these stunning Victorian greenhouses. “Glass buildings have traditionally been used to conserve rare species and today we all want to recreate the beauty and romance, the color and the scent, that amazing uplifting feeling you get when you breathe the warm, humid air of a greenhouse” , she explains. “A conservatory, an orangery, a billiard room, a porch, or even a simple windowsill are all places where we can act out our desire to ‘grow.'”

Of course, there are some subtle differences between the environments each of these buildings can offer. Ask yourself “what do I want to achieve”, be it a modern statement, a floral retreat or a green jungle. But also ask yourself honestly how much light and shade, warmth in winter, humidity and attention you can give your plants, where and why they should be placed.

You need to research which direction your space is facing as this will determine the light, heat and cold experienced by the plants inside.

Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society says: “Conservatories work best when they don’t overheat in the summer, so a southern exposure requires adequate ventilation and also external blinds that can be drawn down in bright weather from April to September . North-facing conservatories are better in summer, but in winter the plants have to make do with low light.”

But it’s not just about looks, it’s also about size. Guy adds: “When it comes to conservatories, volume matters – the larger the volume, the more even the conditions, which means fewer fluctuations or temperature extremes, which in turn results in happier plants.”

Choose the right plants

If you’re a complete novice, Richard Cheshire, the Patch plant doctor, recommends starting with plants that love sunlight. He says, “Cacti and succulents are great for beginners as they will love to soak up the sun and only need an occasional watering – and if they’re really happy they might even sprout a few flowers.”

Georgina Clay, Plants Manager for Monrovia, admits that finding the perfect plants for your space’s conditions can take some trial and error, but her top conservatory plant picks are:

  • Ficus Tineke
  • Ficus Abidjian
  • Shangri-La Philodendron
  • Ginny Mini Monstera
  • Blue star fern
  • Raindrop Peperomia
  • Goldfinger™ Hardy Schefflera
  • Tectonic™ Begonias
  • Jazzy Jewel™ Hibiscus

    Adds Richard: “If you’re looking for something more exotic (and colourful) for special design highlights, citrus trees will bear more fruit in a sunny location and be happy indoors or outdoors when it’s warm. Fiddle leaf figs are a light loving plant, just try to keep them at a stable temperature as they can be sensitive to changes.

    And for something extra special, a rare variegated monstera does well in bright light, but be sure to keep it away from cold drafts in winter, as a drop in temperature can damage its delicate foliage.


    Create your very own jungle

    Lisa raves about the conservatories she has worked at. “Every room I’ve seen over the past 30 years or so has been one of a kind,” she says. “Height, width, creating a waterfall of flowers and leaves are the challenges of some buildings, but there is always a way.”

    The building type and design will tell you what group of crops you can grow and where in the world they come from. For example, in a garden room with a solid roof and glass sides (windows and doors), the climate and lighting conditions are often really suited to the green tropical species loosely referred to as “house plants”. This is because these plant species like to live under the canopy of a jungle, which protects them from sunlight and experiences a similar temperature year-round, similar to our homes.

    Lisa adds: “In my experience there are certain groups of ornamental plants, such as the Mediterranean species, that like to have a glass roof over them, with no shade in winter but with some shade in the brightest summer months. The South American plants also appreciate this climate but with a little more shade in summer. The South African species needs full sun all year round to thrive.”

    Caring for winter garden plants

    Now that you have your favorite plants and everything looks fine, how do you take care of the plants to keep it that way?

    Georgina suggests that adding light makes almost any space better for all plants all year round. Simple tips like keeping the windows clean, trimming any outdoor plants that might provide shade – unless you have a very sunny aspect, in which case this can be useful, and even adding mirrors and artificial lighting will help .

    And while light is good, heat isn’t necessarily great. “Limit heat stress in the summer or shade the plants outside,” says Guy.

    In winter, when light levels are low, it’s best to avoid overwatering. To keep the plants growing and getting enough nutrients, repot every two years with potting soil and liquid fertilizer every 14 days when the plants are growing in summer. Also check for pests about every day, then implement biological controls when they occur.

    As a successful conservatory gardener, Richard summarizes a very simple rule of thumb: “Even the hardiest of plants tend to prefer a stable temperature, so keep them away from cold drafts or warm radiators in winter. Luckily, if you’re comfortable in a space, your plant will be too.”

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