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We look at some suggestions amongst well

known conservatory plants which can go to make your ‘inside out' garden, more colourful this spring and summer

Above left: Brugmansia Reflet d'Octobre' known as Angels trumpets

Above right: Clivia miniata – a head turner of a conservatory plant

Your conservatory ‘shopping list’

Conservatories are often thought of as an extra room for the house – true, but so much more. It can be your ‘inside out’ garden too. You can enjoy the nearness of the garden but in comfort, and be surrounded by plants. What can you grow best in an average sized conservatory with a medium amount of heat?

Obviously the key to this is how much you heat your conservatory and what side of the house it faces. The experts say that north-facing conservatories work best for plants, although the conservatory may need more heating if we are to sit in it for long. South facing can be too hot for some plants and most people, but for both people and plants a south facing conservatory can work as long as you have blinds to pull across if the sunlight is too harsh.

A cooler conservatory or one that is not heated at all, will be more suited to foliage plants such as palms, and it can of course be used to over winter plants that would not survive outside – so move pelargoniums into a cool conservatory, cutting them back and taking a few cuttings.

Try these flowering plants for a warm conservatory

Natal Lily – Clivia miniata Stephanotis Begonia rex Angels Trumpets – Brugmansia, try ‘Twinflower Gold’ Bird of Paradise flower –Strelitzia reginae

...And for a cool conservatory (these can be moved outside in the summer)


Dwarf fan palm Olive trees Citrus trees Orchids such as Cymbidium or Onicidium

There’s a long list of plants which do well at a temperature of 15°C- 21°C in a heated conservatory, ranging from Clivias and sweet scented Brugmansias to a collection of succulents. A mixture of plants with contrasting foliage will give all year interest, with some flowering plants for areas of colour.

Clivias (C.miniata) are also known as the Natal Lily, and flower in spring. They have ten to 20 orange or red flowers borne on top of a tall stalk, surrounded by

Country Gardener

long strap like leaves. To get good results and repeat flowering every year, water moderately from spring until the autumn, and then only sparingly through the winter months until the flower stalk is up to about 10-15cm (4-6in) high.

Sponge the leaves occasionally and although the plant likes a bright light, it shouldn’t have direct sun in summer or the leaves will become scorched. It can be repotted after flowering, but not every year, and when you do this you can divide the plant up to make new ones, by pulling the plant apart (not cutting into it) and pot up in compost in pots that comfortably take the roots of each section.

Brugmansias (or Angels trumpets) used to be known as Datura, and are very striking plants, but may be too big for a small conservatory. They have large cream trumpet-shaped flowers, at least 10cm (six in) long and with large leaves to match. They grow rapidly in spring and summer – but be careful if there are children and pets about, as these plants and particularly their seeds, are poisonous.

Choose a pot that is large enough, such as a tub that is 45cm (18 in) in diameter or even larger. They come from Mexico where they grow up to about 15ft, but will reach 1.8m (6ft) in a container in this country.

When you are selecting your conservatory plants, go for some taller plants as a lot of small ones are not so eye-catching, and a climber or a large palm would add more interest. If you have the space, a bougainvillea with its deep punk papery bracts will make the conservatory more lush and dramatic, even reminding you of a Mediterranean holiday. If the conditions are right, and that includes using pots and containers that are large enough for the plants to grow comfortably, you will get good results especially if you group plants rather than dotting them around the room. Ventilation is very important, and don’t overwater, but mist plants regularly.


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