How to arrange this house plant display
In the greyer months, when the garden is on the ebb, it’s lovely to lift the atmosphere in the house with plants indoors. We pay particular attention to the entrance as it sets the tone for the rest of the house, and adds a nice touch when welcoming visitors.
During the warmer months, plants might greet friends on the porch and steps outside, but in autumn we keep the displays sheltered in the vestibule and hall. Looking from the hall, the light backdrop to the doorway makes an ideal canvas for the plants to be set against, and the display can be particularly striking when the larger plants have the sunlight filtering through their foliage.
The variegated form of the Swiss cheese plant makes the most of this occasion. The lustrous, unevenly presented foliage reflects the light this way and that.
Framing your composition
Elevate your plants to make a fringe of foliage around the door frame. The epiphytic Vanda orchid is hung from the top corner of the door, and its skeletal cage creates an intriguing silhouette.
Below, the Brugmansia and Swiss cheese plant are elevated to eye level using chairs. The display continues at ground level with foliage spilling out on to the floor from pots at various heights.
It is important to remember to give each plant space to be seen, and not to crowd the pots. The blood flower, fuchsias and the other flowering plants come and go, being added to the display when at their best, and returned to the conservatory when they begin to tire. The foliage plants, such as the ferns and the pelargoniums, are more permanent.
All these plants are housed in ornamental receptacles – glass bowls and tumblers, wicker baskets, silver campanas and resin containers. I tend to use ones that do not have drainage holes to protect the floor so watering has to be done very carefully.
In our house plant display
A very smart little pelargonium that produces mounds of hairy green foliage, atop which are small, bright-pink flowers held on thin, wiry stems. Deadhead to promote more flowers.
20cm. RHS H1C.
Pelargonium ‘Lady Plymouth’
A very elegant variegated pelargonium with crinkled, scented foliage. It bears pinks blooms through the summer. Cultivate in a sunny, cool but frost-free greenhouse or windowsill.
1m. AGM. RHS H1C.
A long-flowering, hardy fuchsia that produces plump flowers with pale-pink sepals and cerise petals. Keep the plants cool and moist, and feed weekly.
60cm. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-9b.
Phlebodium aureum Davana ‘Raadphle01’
This wonderful mutation of the golden polypodium has lovely glaucous, jade-green leaves with a texture loosely resembling curly kale. It likes moist, light soil and shade.
30cm. AGM. RHS H1B.
Known as the blood flower, this African bulb is best cultivated in a frost-free alpine house. Its orbs of tiny and bristly, thin-petaled, bright-red flowers are held atop stocky stems.
45cm. RHS H1B, USDA 9a-11.
Monstera deliciosa ‘Variegata’
A superb form of the Swiss cheese plant with splatted white-variegated foliage. It is rather slow growing but makes a very good house plant. It copes well with erratic watering, shade and central heating.
3m. AGM. RHS H1B, USDA 10a-12.
A vigorous, tropical climber from Costa Rica that throws loose sprays of pale-blue flowers from the new growth. It produces vicious, hooked thorns that help it climb.
3m plus. RHS H1B.
Brugmansia x candida ‘Maya Variegata’
A lovely tender shrub with soft green and white marble-variegated foliage. It produces large pendent, trumpet-shaped flowers in pale apricot on the new growth. Night scented.
3m. RHS H1B.
These epiphytic orchids have attractive, plicate foliage and produce sprays of large, magnificent flowers in myriad colours. The blooms are held on strong stems and last for weeks.
1m. RHS H1B.
More places to find these plants
- Burnham Orchids Forches Cross, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6PZ – Orchid specialist that offers mail order and is open Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm.
- Fibrex Nurseries Honeybourne Road, Pebworth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 8XP – Specialist in ferns and pelargoniums. Offers mail order. Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm, September to February (see website for spring and summer opening times).
- Lower Kenneggy Nurseries Rosudgeon, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 9AR – Large collection of unusual and exotic plants from across the world. Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm. Closed December to February.
- New Covent Garden Flower Market Nine Elms Lane, Nine Elms, London SW8 5NX – Trade and retail. Monday to Saturday, 4-10am.