Plants can create an interior style of their own or can be used to enhance existing decorations in your home. Flowering plants add a further dimension by either complementing or contrasting with interior color schemes.
The architectural style of your apartment, its proportions and the way it is decorated will affect the choice of plants you display there. Traditional interiors tend to suit small plants that complement fabrics, wallpapers and other furnishings. Starkly decorated modern rooms can take a bolder statement in the form of larger, more sculptural plants. The other main considerations to take into account when selecting plants for your home are the size of the plants in relation to the room area, the way that they grow and their shape and color.
Plants and Scale
If plants are to make a positive addition to an interior, they must he compatible with the space in terms of both size and shape. A large specimen, for example, needs a spacious, high ceilinged room in order to spread its elegant, arching branches and to make a suitably dramatic impact. These large indoor plants generally grow very slowly, and are cultivated in a wide range of heights, so if the room requires a 2 nil6 ft palm, select one at that height or slightly smaller, you could wait a longtime for a 1 m/3 ft specimen to fill the space you have allowed for it.
The lush, bushy shapes of Soleirolia soleirolii make an ideal choice for a low coffee table. These plants can tolerate bright, indirect light or semi-shady conditions. If you want height and a compact shape, select a climbing plant that can be trained to grow up a moss pole or bamboo stake. Ivies will naturally wrap themselves around poles and stakes and with a little pruning can be trained into the desired shape very easily. Several ivy plants grown together in a large container soon make a tower of green or variegated foliage.
Shelving is another useful way to gain height, with the added advantage that you can display a range of plants in oneself contained unit. A multi-tiered etagere is a specially designed piece of plant furniture, consisting of an upright from which stem six or seven small square or circular shelves. It is often made from wrought iron, and was particularly popular in Victorian times. Originals are much sought after, but authentic reproductions are now available thanks to the revived popularity of conservatories.
As a variation, you could create a striped sandwich effect by interspersing green plants with seasonal colors. The advantage of fixed shelving is that it can be used to combine both display areas for plants and storage for other items. Fitting triangular shelves in the corner of a room is an economical way of providing a permanent plant display area. Painted the color of the walls or the wallpaper, the shelves simply merge into the back ground, making the plants the focus. Higher shelves and those above shoulder level should be filled with cascading varieties to avoid only the container being seen, with lower shelves devoted to upward growing types of plants.
Color is another important consideration when it comes to choosing plants for your home. A delicate paint effect or softly toned wallpaper can be swamped by heavy, dark green foliage. However, the pale fronds of fragile ferns or pastel and white flowering plants will enhance a gentle color scheme rather than dominate it. Pale plain colored walls will complement most plants, but introducing foliage or flowering plants into a scheme with floral or patterned wallpaper and furnishings needs more thought. Take a piece of the fabric or wallpaper with you to the garden centre or plant specialist and use this to help you select an appropriate shade of green.
With the huge selection of seasonal flowering plants available, it is quite feasible to create a continuity of color with different varieties throughout. With this in mind, consider widening a window sill to provide a deeper platform for plants. A recessed window fitted with narrow glass or solid shelves provides the ideal support for a display of small bushy or trailing plants; while light loving climbers will quickly provide a green curtain right to the top of the window if the plants are given a series of thin wires to climb up. Climbers can also be encouraged to act as a frame. A climbing plant trained to scramble around a large picture hanging above a mantel piece, for instance, looks stunning.
This wrought-iron candle sconce has been designed to incorporate a small plant such as this ivy. Be careful not to let the candle burn too low and scorch the leaves of the plant.
This moth orchid provides a graceful organic touch to a collection of wall-mounted stone-colored vases.
If sitting plants at the window, it is essential to select ones that can tolerate hot summer rays or at the very least strong, bright light. A light, bright room may be partially separated by using a group of tall plants to create a room divider, usually partitioning, say, a dining space from a sitting area. As an alternative, fill an open shelving unit in the centre of a similar well-lit room with plants that are viewed from both sides. If the light levels on the lower shelves prohibit living plants, use them for storing books or displaying other inanimate objects instead.
Metal wall sconces designed to hold candles are easily adapted for trailing plants. Decorative wire wall containers for bathroom and kitchen accessories also make excellent pot holders. A group of these arranged closely together creates a considerable impact. Table top displays are the other obvious choice for many rooms, but most plants hate being moved around, so it is important that they can be left in peace. Narrow console tables require little space and are ideal for the purpose. If the space around the table is restricted, limit the display to upright plants. Bushy or trailing plants can be introduced if they will not be regularly brushed against. Combined with several treasured objects and planted in carefully chosen containers, these create an attractive still life that needs only a lamp to highlight the collection at night.
A group of low-level plants arranged together in one shallow basket or ceramic bowl, is perfect on a coffee table where it will be viewed from above. Put all the plants in one container making it more convenient if they need to be moved temporarily. A central display table needs plants that are attractive from all sides. Several small pots of miniature roses, Exacumaffine (Persian violet) or primulas grouped together when the table is not in use can then be split up to form a pretty line of color for a dinner or lunch party. These plants will be viewed at very close proximity, they need to be in perfect condition and may remain so only for a couple of weeks.
Plants seen at a distance are better able to carry imperfections, especially if they are arranged in a tight group. With a sensitive selection of colors and shapes, considerable impact can be made using relatively small, inexpensive plants. Choose a color theme of, say, white and green where a Dieffenbachia compacta sets the height of the arrangement for a range of smaller, bushier plants such as Thirnieamenziesii (piggyback plant), Syn (goniumand Fittonia).
A trailing tradescantia will add further dimension to the overall shape of the display, and a brilliant white azalea, Argyranthernum frutescens (marguerite) or scented gardenia will provide seasonal interest and variation. The success of these loose, informal groupings relies on establishing a strong central theme. While they offer numerous possibilities of choice and presentation, it is important to remember that the permanent plants must share the same light and temperature requirements.