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Stylish houseplants

House plant display: creating the perfect stylish display

Malverleys’ head gardener, Matthew Reese shares expert secrets for creating stylish displays of houseplants, beginning with an exotic-looking mix of orchids, begonias and ferns. Words Matthew Reese, photographs Jason Ingram

How to arrange this house plant display

Stylish houseplants
© Jason Ingram

When planning house plant arrangements, keep plants with similar light requirements together. These exotics, which we cultivate in the conservatory and bring into the house when they reach their prime, have been positioned to take advantage of the intermediate morning light next to a sitting room window.

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This position avoids the intense midday sunshine that may scorch the foliage. It’s a temporary display, and when the plants begin to look jaded they are returned to the conservatory and replacements found. The orchids take this upheaval in their stride, as do the ferns, and require little more than a light daily misting.

It is vital to avoid crowding them too closely together, otherwise, the display can look congested. Position the larger plants first, work from the back to the front, and try to consider the appearance of both flowers and foliage.

The house plants in this display

Sudamerlycaste ‘Archirondel’

Sudamerlycaste ‘Archirondel’
© Jason Ingram

A hybrid orchid that is a cross between Sudamerlycaste costata and Sudamerlycaste ariasii and has waxy, hooded, white flowers and long, plicate, arching leaves. Needs heat, shade and humidity. 50cm.

Davallia solida var. fejeensis

Davallia solida var. fejeensis
© Jason Ingram

Known as the rabbit’s foot fern for the soft, scale-covered rhizomes from which finely divided fronds are produced. It forms a much larger plant in tropical countries. 1m. RHS H1C, USDA 10a-12.

Find Davallia solida var. fejeensis through the RHS

Brassia hybrid

Brassia hybrid
© Jason Ingram

Brassias originally hail from the tropical Americas, and are epiphytic. This punchy, purple-flowered hybrid is an easy-to-cultivate orchid for a bathroom or kitchen windowsill. 50cm.

Pteris parkeri

Pteris parkeri
© Jason Ingram

An easy and attractive little fern that has busy, variegated attractive foliage. It is a half-hardy perennial and the small pinnate fronds are evergreen.30cm. AGM. RHS H1C.

Find Pteris parkeri through the RHS

Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’

Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’
© Jason Ingram

A very smart tender perennial that makes large, round, lustrous, copper-green foliage. The leaves are loosely arranged and held on long, slender, light-green petioles. 40cm. AGM. RHS H1B, USDA 9b-11

Buy Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’ from Etsy

Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens
© Jason Ingram

The snowy angel’s trumpet is a fast-growing tender shrub that produces large leaves and masses of trumpet-shaped, pendent, white flowers. The blooms are night-scented. 4m. AGM. RHS H1C, USDA 8a-10b.

Brassia Edvah Loo gx ‘Vera Cruz’

Brassia Edvah Loo gx ‘Vera Cruz’
© Jason Ingram

This wonderful primary hybrid orchid has very showy spidery blooms in yellow and chartreuse with dark maroon spots on long, arching stems. 50cm.

Find Brassia Edvah Loo gx ‘Vera Cruz’ through the RHS

Paphiopedilum Leeanum gx

Paphiopedilum Leeanum gx
© Jason Ingram

An easy-to-cultivate, hybrid lady slipper orchid that has large flowers. Its slipper, or labellum, is dark burgundy and contrasts beautifully with the overhanging white hood. 30cm. AGM.

Find Paphiopedilum Leeanum gx through the RHS

Begonia x albopicta

Begonia x albopicta
© Jason Ingram

Known as the guinea-wing begonia, this cane type begonia grows into an upright plant that is decked with wonderful spotted, shield-shaped leaves. It forms trusses of small, white flowers. 60cm.

Buy Begonia x albopicta from Dibleys

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Where to buy

  • Burnham Orchids Forches Cross, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6PZ, Orchid specialist that offers mail order and is open Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm.
  • Cross Common Nursery The Lizard, Helston, Cornwall TR12 7PD, Offers wide range of exotic plants. Mostly mail order, but visitors are welcome if they telephone first.
  • Dibleys Nurseries Llanelidan, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 2LG, Specialist in indoor plants, with a good range of exotics, mail order only.
  • Wisley Plant Centre RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB, Offers good range of indoor plants. Open Monday-Saturday, 9.30am-5.30pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm.