Complete Indoor Greenhouse
Plants bring a breath of life into every interior, and create a cheerful ‘lived-in’ atmosphere in the home with their natural beauty. When choosing your indoor plants, it wise to consider the conditions under which they will have to live. A sunny, south-facing windowsill for example, offers different possibilities than a dark hall or a frequently damp bathroom. No matter how attractive a plant may look in particular spot in the room, it will not flourish if it is not happy there.
Another point is that your plants should harmonize with each other to some extent. Even the smallest vestibules, halls or work corners can be enlivened by a small foliage plant or a simple flower. The fact that plants can be placed in other areas than just the living room is, fortunately, being discovered and put into practice more and more nowadays.
The atmosphere of house is not only determined by its living quarters: the reception area at the front door can also play a role. Vestibule, hall and stairway are the ‘introducers’ of every home. Here, visitors receive their first (or last) impression of you and yours, while the occupants themselves pass these portals daily with their comings and goings. Reason enough, you could say, to make these areas more welcoming and attractive.
The smallest of hallways usually some sort of window next to the front door, and this can well be decorated with suitable plants, even if is merely to afford privacy. If the window reaches to the floor, the hall can be really brightened up by building a permanent cement through on the windowsill. If your plant the trough with fast-growing species such as Cyperus (Umbrella Plant), it will soon reward you with a beautiful screening curtain of greenery.
However, not every windowsill is a suitable location for plants. Halls invariably lead to a number of doors, and the more doors, the more chance there is of draught. So, first check the positions of the doors in relation to one another. What happens when they are all open?. If everything appears to be draught-free, you can start experimenting with some suitable plants. If after a while they produce a rich and vigorous growth, they can possibly be transferred from their separate pots into permanent, cement troughs.
Keep the experiment going for a few seasons. Plants sometimes flourish in autumn and winter, but become sadly afflicted as spring approaches, because this is precisely when sudden heavy frost can occur. The same hall will probably have a number of frost and draught-free corners, but not in front of the window.
Consider the possibility of trailing plants on the warm inside wall opposite the window, or on a cork memo-board, which not only provides space for notes, invitations, drawings and the like, but also acts as an attractive background for living greenery. And if your hall turns out to be too draughty for even the hardiest houseplants, it can still be brightened with dried flowers, in bunches on the ceiling or in artistically arranged bouquets. Dried hydrangeas, for instance, can look really splendid in an antique container.
Of course, the more spacious the entrance hall, the easier it is to turn it into a veritable haven of plants, especially as the amount of light coming in from the sides and roof is then relatively greater. A medium size hall, housing a telephone corner, with a table, chair or stool, can be greatly enhanced with a display of attractive grouped plants.
If little or no daylight reaches the hall, special plant-lights can provide an efficient alternative. Some houses have such a spacious, well-lit hall that the possibilities of creative plant displays are much greater. Then, easy chairs nestle among impressive, tree-like plants, or children play in the extra space under cascade of greenery hanging from the daylight roof.
Occasionally, a wide hallway also provides enough space for a complete indoor greenhouse; the partition between living room and hall then consists of glass and tropical plants, that can be admired from all side. This eloquent plant ‘picture window’ is, however, something of an exception. More usual, and more easily attainable, are the foliage-lined halls and stairways. These areas generally have at least one window which lets in daylight and sometime sun.
Staircases and landings lend themselves well for plant decoration, particularly spiral or curving stairs. Climbing plants are particularly happy here; after all, they have plenty of supports to cling to. But keep the pruning knife handy and do not place any plant pots on the broadest tread of a stair, or you may be heading for a fall.
The Rhoicissus rhomboide, with its elegant leaves and brownish vines is a particularly fast and easy grower. The creeping Ficus (ficus pumila or ficus repens) is likewise a fast-growing climber, with small, glossy leaves. Both species need high degree of atmospheric humidity, so frequent misting with a fine spray is essential here.
This also necessary for the Stephanotis floribunda (Madagascar Jasmine) which, given the right conditions, can grow into a robust, trailing plant, which deliciously scented star-shaped flowers. If even the smallest amount of sun and daylight fails to penetrate the hall or stairway, then one or more plant-lights are an absolute necessity.
There are various types of lamps available for different purposes. Moreover, some plants can tolerate relatively little light, others even prefer shadow or semi-twilight. Examples of such are the Schefflera, Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant), Cissus, Sanseviera, Cyrtomium (Holy Fern) and green Hedera.
Authors: A. C. Muller-Idzerda, Elisabeth de Lestrieux, Jonneke Krans