Bring colour into your home

OUTSIDE, bleak and brown; inside, green, growing, blooming. Even if it’s only one pot, one plant, this is what every room needs now and in the months to come. And it’s never been easier, or more fun.

There are all kinds of delightful ways now to green every surface and a new generation of planters to make it all possible and practical.

In the green era we’ve also learnt to enjoy a much wider range of plants, which has helped to open up a new world of possibilities for indoor gardening.

FLOOR SHOWBig is back – one really tall plant can transform a room – but sculptural forms or graceful branch patterns need space to show off, and look best in minimal décor.

“The trend for the past few years has been for tall pots with small plants,” says Gavin Armfield of Plantimex. “But now we’re seeing a return to taller plants and lower pots again.”

Classics such as well-shaped Ficus benjamina or flyrata, cordylines and palms are popular again.

Consider bamboo, yucca or a group of two or three-year-old evergreen saplings against a north-facing, plate-glass window where they will enjoy the winter sun and cast delightful shadows into the room. When the sun begins to move out in late spring, pass the saplings on to gardening-in-a-garden friends.

Cymbidiums are stars for autumn and winter. Nothing looks more luxurious than one or two large baskets or pots of these and the flowers last for months.

PLANTER PROGRESS

It’s best to plant in a plastic lining pot and slip it into a really good container – ceramic, metal, wicker – whatever suits the plant and the room. The best lining pots contain pipes and draining grids for easy, spill-free, leak-free watering and are among a great range of new generation planters and accessories, including special floor protectors, planters with concealed castors and “plant taxis” for easy moving of big pots. For lots of ideas, visit www.hortimex.co.za

WALL FLOWERSVertical gardening has been the sensation of the millennium. Green walls are great for making the most of space on balconies and terraces, but indoors they need a well-lit spot and a careful choice of plants.

The idea of a patch of herbs in the kitchen area for quick snipping is particularly appealing but few kitchens have sufficient light for this. It is possible (as with all indoor gardening) to supplement natural light with fluorescent or red and blue LED strips. A fair variety of hanging systems are available, from fabric pockets to interlocking systems such as the Minigarden with sealed drip trays and the option of automatic feeding and irrigation (see www.terraceliving.com).

Start small and experiment with plants and placing before you invest in a large system.

Take into account texture and fragrance; these should be strokeable, pattable surfaces.

Choose plants with similar water requirements and monitor moisture levels carefully if you’re watering by hand and feed weekly.

Consider classic ways to use walls with shelves, pot brackets or flat-backed hanging pots.

DANCING OFF THE CEILING There are numerous chic new updates on the old hanging basket-planters in glass, ceramics and new generation plastic, even upside down pots, all of which make charming displays.

In Cape Town, Opus Studio uses the completely organic Japanese kokedama, a small clump of soil wrapped in moss and other plant material, to magical effect. (Visit www.opusstudio.co.za and be inspired.)

Air plants or Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) are a current rave – amazing plants that need no soil. They can be hung up to create all kinds of delicate effects and curtains.

They do need a moist atmosphere though – in the dry air of the Highveld misting them daily is a good idea.

Our advice: Keep it light and go for a group of small coordinated hangers at different heights.

TOP TABLES Here the options are endless. It’s never been easier to bring instant colour into your living space – every supermarket has displays of flowering plants in chic pots; right now there are cyclamen, liliums and phaelanopsis which shine as single specimens.

Spring bulbs – daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and primroses – star in groups.

Try them in large shallow baskets, square trays or boxes and pack moss around them, or replant single plants into pretty glasses or teacups.

The mini garden is also a charming idea for a table top, in a terrarium, an open bowl or tray.

Low-growing and miniature plants work really well: try a collection of dwarf succulents in single pots, cacti in a tray of sand or pebbles, or a mix of rosettes such as echeverias, sedums or haworthias. Terrariums: www.entrepoco.za; planters and extras: www.hortimex.co.za © Home Weekly

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