Indoor Foliage Houseplants
Create a luxuriant indoor jungle by grouping together masses of bold foliage plants, using their rich greenery for maximum atmosphere and effect.
The humblest room can be transformed into an atmospheric indoor jungle with masses of exotic plants chosen for their bold and varied foliage. Plants from the tropical regions of the world are now readily available, so that creating a lush green retreat is a simple task.
Expensive conservatories and garden rooms are not necessary, as many plants from rainforest regions prefer lower levels of light, which simulate the semi-shaded conditions of their natural habitat, where sunlight is filtered through the tree canopy.
Much more important in the successful creation of interior jungles is maintaining moist conditions, in which the plants can thrive. Grouping plants together is very beneficial, as they will enjoy a humid micro-climate, while smaller plants needing dappled light can find shelter beneath taller plants, as they would in a true jungle.
Watering and misting of plants is much easier when they are arranged in groups, while creating effective contrasts of leaf shape and texture becomes a fascinating exercise.
Furniture, background colours and accessories can all contribute to the creation of a jungle or colonial atmosphere in a room. Natural materials like bamboo, rattan and rough-hewn wood are particularly appropriate for containers, blinds, seating and screens. Ethnic textiles and artefacts, primitive pottery and tribal sculpture can all add to an authentic look and are relatively inexpensive.
PICK AND PLANT
Here are some ideas for making your own indoor jungle:
Indoor trees help create an instant jungle room.
Figs can grow to an impressive size, including graceful Weeping Figs, robust Rubber Plants and intriguing Fiddle Leaf Figs.
Schefflera and Coffea arabica both have handsome leathery leaves, while the Swiss Cheese Plant and Philodendron can both reach 2m (6ft) in height.
Palms have graceful and exotic foliage. J African Hemp (Sparmannia africana) has a mass of soft, translucent leaves.
Ferns, with their great variety of leaf shapes, create a luxuriant effect.
Green Foliage and Indoor Plants
Enliven empty stairways, halls and dull corners with collections of glossy green foliage plants set on tables, turning functional furniture into a valuable decorative asset.
Most homes have empty corners and spaces that can be turned into interesting focal points simply by adding a small tabletop collection of houseplants. The end of a long, narrow hall is perfect for plants which only need low light levels. Landings on stairways are ideal, as long as there is adequate space to pass without upsetting the plants, and a dull corner in any room can be enlivened by the addition of either a single specimen plant on a side table, or a collection with contrasting foliage.
Used to advantage
Plants on tables can easily be moved around to take advantage of the varying amounts of light during the year, and can be changed or added to as flowering plants come into bloom or theirfade.
Trailing plants can be displayed effectively when raised on a table, and smaller plants can be brought closer to eye level so that their subtle qualities can be appreciated at close quarters; scented flowering plants can be enjoyed to the full if placed on a side table beside a sofa.
Choose containers to harmonize with tables, or provide a telling contrast, and make sure that furniture is protected from splashes and damp by using watertight cache pots.
Building permanent planters indoors provides exciting design possibilities, allowing you to use plants creatively to make impressive focal points within your rooms.
For an enthusiastic indoor gardener, the idea of creating built-in planting in a room offers an interesting challenge in design terms. A new home, or a room which is being altered, can have purpose-built planters incorporated into the overall design, offering much more scope than individual containers.
Atria and roof lights provide the opportunity to build large indoor plant rooms, like giant terraria; rooms with marble or tiled floors, or stairs, can have sunken orthat are integral with the design; bathrooms with enough space can make wonderful locations for indoor planting. Garden rooms and conservatories are obvious candidates for built-in planters of varying designs.
Another benefit of growing plants and trees in specially-built indoor beds is the control that it gives over light, humidity and watering. Plants carefully chosen to suit the location will thrive in the deeper compost and moister micro-climate that is created. Sophisticated automatic watering systems can be installed, and the problems of draughts and sudden changes in temperature minimized.
An ongoing commitment
However, before building or installing permanent planters indoors, it is necessary to consider the implications very carefully: if you ever wish to change the layout of the room, or simply tire of the built-in beds, removing them could be expensive and messy. Built-in planting means an ongoing commitment, and plants will need to be kept in good condition. An ailing plant in a pot can simply be given a holiday outside in the garden to recover, or even consigned to the dustbin if too far gone, but indoor planting becomes a focal point in a room, a definite statement, which needs to be made with conviction to be truly successful and pleasing.