Plant an indoor foliage display

Do it:

Jun, Jul, Aug, Mar, Apr, May, Dec, Jan, Feb, Sep, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

one hour

At its best:

Jun, Jul, Aug, Mar, Apr, May, Dec, Jan, Feb, Sep, Oct, Nov

It's easy to create a colourful indoor display by combining house plants with attractive, lush foliage in an ornamental container. The plants will look good all year round and are easy to care for.

Start by choosing a container in your favourite colour, or one that matches your home décor, then select foliage plants to complement it. Choose small house plants in 7cm or 9cm pots, as they are cheap and widely available in garden centres, and they won’t outgrow the container too quickly. 

Suitable foliage plants include: earth star (Cryptanthus bivittatus), emerald ripple (Peperomia caperata), false aralia (Schefflera elegantissima), parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans), polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum), mosaic plant (Fittonia albivenis) and spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

You can also add a few flowering plants, such as peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), African violet (Saintpaulia), flaming Katy (Kalanchoe) or Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), although they won’t last as long as the foliage plants.

After three or four months, lift and separate the plants and repot into their own containers. This will allow them to grow healthily without competing with one another. As the display is a temporary arrangement, you can easily combine plants with different care requirements without causing them harm.

You will need

Ornamental pot or bowl

Horticultural grit

Multi-purpose, peat-free compost

Glass pebbles or gravel

Selection of foliage plants

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Many containers for use indoors don’t have drainage holes in the bottom, so add a 10cm-deep layer of grit to provide drainage. If your pot does have a hole, then cover it with crocks.

Fill the container with compost until it’s about two-thirds full. Arrange the plants in the container while still in their pots, as this will give you the chance to optimise your design.

Start by planting the tallest specimen (here a palm) at the back of the container. If the display is to be viewed from all sides - perhaps set on a table - then place the tallest plant in the centre.

Gradually add the remaining plants, teasing out their roots as you do. Fill any gaps with compost and firm around each rootball so no pockets of air remain. 

Water carefully, then cover the surface of the compost with gravel or ornamental glass pebbles in a complementary colour. Move the display into position and water whenever the compost feels dry.

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