One of the key advantages of a conservatory is that it allows you to add a touch of the outside to your home’s interior. As a kind of halfway house between the garden and the indoors, there is the extra light provided by the conservatory’s glass walls and ceiling, and there is also the opportunity for bringing more colour into your home.
The very origin of conservatories is as structures designed to provide conditions for exotic plants that would otherwise perish in the cold climate of northern Europe, and thanks to today’s glazing techniques it is possible to provide plants with an ambient temperature that is perfectly stable all year round. As a result, there are many possible choices for plants that will thrive in the comfortable environment of a modern home conservatory.
Exactly which plants you choose, and how well they flourish, will depend on what you plan to use your conservatory for and how you choose to furnish it. The average ambient temperature you select for your conservatory, and whether it is north or south facing, will also dictate the kind of plants that will do best.
Choosing plants for cooler conservatories
If your conservatory is north facing, and if you do not intend to use it as a an extra living area or dining room filled with furniture and soft furnishings, it is possible to create the perfect environment for many exotic plants as well as vegetable plants. Maintaining a minimum temperature of ten degrees celsius all year round, and preferably with solar controlled glass in the roof that will deflect the sun’s strongest summer rays, should allow you to create an environment that is perfect for growing colourful plant varieties like brugmansias and tibouchinas. Aspidistras and succulents can do well in this kind of environment.
Conservatories that maintain temperatures slightly cooler than the rest of the house, and do not experience too much direct sunlight, are also good for growing vegetable plants and herbs. Basil and other kinds of herbs can do very well, placed on the windowsill that a conservatory’s dwarf all provides. Aubergines and other vegetables can flourish too, provided they are in adequately sized planters.
Choosing plants for warmer conservatories
If you intend to use your conservatory very much as a living space in your home, and if it is south facing, then you need to be more careful about the plants you choose to place in there. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of possibilities.
Cacti and yucca plants are a natural choice for any warm and dry conservatory, even one that includes large furniture items and soft furnishings. Likewise, palms, aloes and bourgainvilleas and even fruit and olive trees can all flourish.
However, it pays to be vigilant, as these can grow very quickly and will need plenty of pruning. But don’t worry, plants like these respond well to being regularly cut back. In terms of design, it pays to be adventurous, and use a mix of small and tall plants, to give the conservatory a pleasingly natural aesthetic – full of colour and life.