In this article, we will be discussing all the possible ways to display your houseplant in. When we buy houseplants, we do not often think about the containers we want to display them in.
You have many choices to what you can go for, and I have reviewed the 7 best pots you can have in your home, but there are alternatives that can be used to display your beautiful houseplants in.
This is the crux of this article, where the different types of container for houseplant will be discussed.
What follows are the many different ways you can display your houseplants in:
BULB POTS, BOWLS AND GLASSES
These are specially designed container to display your winter-spring flowering bulbs in, especially in the first few months of the year. Daffodils and tulips can be grown in bowls, but other bulbs can be grown in specially made pots and bulb glasses.
Small earthenware pots with holes in the side are great for small bulbs like crocuses. Hyacinths, on the other hand, can be grown in bulb glasses, where they will make an impress specimen.
You can also use wide and flat containers that can be used to produce a large display of flowers like hyacinth can form an impressive display.
WINE COOLERS AND HERB POTS
The narrow elegant shape of earthenware wine cooler makes an excellent home for daffodils and other types of bulbs, especially in the conservatories, where they benefit from being raised off the floor and set amidst other houseplants.
Herb pots with holes in the side can be used for small bulbs. They tend to be used for plants that have a limited life and carry their own food reserve like a bulb.
WALL MOUNTED PLANT HOLDER WIREFRAMES
These wall mounted plant holders are usually formed of wire, either coated or uncoated. The wire half baskets that are formed usually have space for a small plastic saucer to be placed under the pot that is used. Some wireframes do not have bases or saucer to hold the plant in, but instead, have a circular wire frame holding the pot in place.
This is only suitable only for use in conservatories, where water can drop down onto stone floors. The containers to some are unattractive, but you can use foliage plants that will trail all over them. The ideal plants to use include small-leaved and variegated ivies, Scindapisus aureus (Devil’s Ivy), Tradescantias and Zebrina pendula.
Other plants to consider include Asparagus densiforus (Asparagus Fern) that produces a cascade of wiry stems covered with small, mid-green leaves. Ficus pumila (Creeping Fig) and Saxifrage stolonifera (Mother of Thousands). Flowering plant-like Campanula isophylla and Columneas can be grown inside these wireframes.
INDOOR HANGING BASKETS
Outdoor hanging baskets are not suitable to be used indoor because their design will drip excess water over the ground beneath them. This does not stop them being used in stone-floored conservatories. The good news is that indoor hanging baskets are designed that include drip-trays so that they can be used indoors. Some indoor hanging baskets are formed of attractive macramé -work with a plant pot resting in a shallow, plastic saucer.
Other types use wickerwork baskets that are suspended from a ceiling or beam and have a drip tray present.
No matter what type of hanging basket that is used, you have to ensure that not to water them excessively, as this will cause the small drip tray to spill over. It is best to take the basket down and water it over the sink.
The best position to have indoor hanging baskets are away for walking areas unless you want to constantly bang your head and the annoyance this will bring. An arrangement that looks pleasing is to have climbing plant lifted from the floor level and the hanging basket suspended from the ceiling. The possibilities are near endless, as long as they can be reached and watered; they will give great pleasure.
MAKE SURE THE HOOK YOU USE IS SECURE
They can either be hooked on to a hook firmly screwed into a ceiling joist, or suspended from a bracket secured to a wall. Whatever method is used, the attachment to the ceiling or wall must be secure, so that it can take the weight of the hanging basket, the weight of the plant, compost and water must be considered. In the wall suspended baskets, the brackets must be long enough to allow the plant to stay well clear of the wall.
For baskets that can be seen from all sides, a single symmetrical cascading foliage plant can look stunning. Plants such as Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Whitmanii’ (Lace Fern) or Spathiphyllum wallisii. If the hanging basket is large, small-leaved trailing ivies can be set and planted at regular intervals around the sides, with a small flowering plant in the centre. You can use trailing varieties to cascade over the edge.
A specially designed hanging basket for orchids is called an Orchid basket and can be used to display your orchids in. They are similar to normal hanging baskets but have been specially designed for showing your hanging baskets in.
WALL MOUNTED HALF-BASKETS
These are similar to normal outdoor wire-framed hanging baskets but is cut in half vertically. It is designed to fit flat against a conservatory wall, where drips of water in the floor or wall does not matter, as no drip tray is present.
A better method of arranging wall-mounted plants is to use a plant holder that firmly hold pots along with their drip trays.
WARDIAN CASES, TERRARIUMS AND BOTTLES
These are attractive glass containers that offer an interesting and unusual way of displaying and growing houseplants. The idea is quite simple, you put plants in a closed, glass container so that the water that evaporates from the leaves will condense on the cool glass and then return back into the compost. The system is therefore self-sustaining.
It was first popularized by Dr N. Ward, when in the early 1840s whilst trying to pupate a hawk moth in a closed jar. What he noticed that at the same time the moth was pupating, a small fern also continued to grow in the same container and it did not die. He carried on subsequent experimentation and constructed miniature greenhouse in which a range of ferns and other small plants grow in.
Dr Ward was the pioneer, but his ideal has spread to include the use of many types of glass containers include bottles, chemical flasks, sweet jars, flagons and brandy snifters. Terrariums and fish tanks are also popular, where sheets of glass are used as covers. Ideally, the glass cover needs to be sloped, so that the water drops that reform does not fall onto the plants, causing them to rot.
It is best that the water drops that form, run down the sides and subsequently into the compost. Clear plastic material can be used as containers, but the moisture tends to remain as mists on the inside, obscuring the view of the plants. It is best, in my opinion, to stick with glass.
HOW TO CREATE A BOTTLE GARDEN
It is not difficult to create your own bottle garden, where plants in it can survive for decades without any additional water being added.
- First, you need to find a suitable container or jar, where the mouth opening has to be as wide as possible. You can use a narrow opening and the technique mentioned here will have to be adapted. Any container you buy must have a lid or top that will ensure that an air-tight seal is generated.
- You will then need to fill the bottle with small pebbles, enough to cover the bottom of the container. You can add more, but conservatively 1/5 of the height of the bottle will be quite sufficient. The pebbles will allow a reservoir for the water to accumulate in. The pebbles that you use, can be of any shape and design, and be coloured or not. Do not use pebbles that are too big, as they will not fit into the container.
- If you have a container with a narrow aperture, then you can use a funnel along with a 25cm diameter pipe. Place the pipe into the container so that it nearly reaches the bottom, and place a wide diameter funnel on top of the pipe. You can then add pebbles, whilst vibrating the whole pipe and funnel, as this will ensure that the pebbles enter the system in an orderly fashion and the pipe does not block.
- A thin layer of 2cm of activated charcoal can then be added, which can normally be bought from pet stores, on top of the pebbles. You can use the funnel and pipe combination once again if the opening is too small.
- On top of the charcoal and pebbles, add a 2cm layer of peat moss (again using the funnel and pipe if the aperture is too small). This will allow the water to be retained and nutrients to be supplied to the plants.
- On top of the peat moss, add another 3cm of houseplant compost to the container; normally or via the funnel and pipe. This will give the plant something to get the roots into.
- You will then need to place your plants in the container and if your container is too tall, you will need to use long tweezers, chopsticks, or a long piece of wire that has a loop at its end. First, you need to dig a small hole in the compost using your tool, so that the plant can be situated there.
- Place the plant on the loop end of the wire, and gently lower the plant into the hole in the compost, and wiggly it free, so the plant remains and the wire comes out. Do not plant too deep but at the right level. Do not plant too many plants as this will lead to overcrowding.
- You will then need to firm the compost around the plant. This can be achieved by using a bamboo cane with a cotton reel place at the bottom end. You will then need to gentle tap and firm the compost in the container using the cotton reel as a tampering tool.
- Once the plant has been planted and firmed, you will need to spray some water into the bottle to hydrate the plants.
- You can then clean the sides of the container using a stick with a small piece of cloth attached to it. This will complete the look.
- Finally, you can place the lid or top on the container, making sure it is sealed tightly.
Or you can buy one already made.
WHERE TO PLACE THE CONTAINER
Place the container in a fairly sunny location. If too much sun shines on your container, it will dry out too quickly, and conversely, if not enough sunshine is present, the plant will not live long. In bright light but away from direct sunshine is ideal.
If the inside of the container looks too wet, remove the lid for a day or two to allow it to dry out. If it looks too dry, remove the lid and spray a small amount of water in.
In this way, you will have a balanced, living, ecosystem, where the plants, soil and water live in harmony. Ideally, the ratio of available space and the plant should be 2/3 air to 1/3 pebbles, soil, charcoal and plants. This is to ensure that the plants have enough room to grow in.
CHOOSING WHICH PLANT TO GROW IN
What plants to grow must be done carefully, as they must be good neighbours to each other. Invasive plants will soon smother other plants, causing leaves to grow mould, and encouraging decay.
Do not use large-leaved or fast-growing plants, unless you have a large terrarium or where a glass container with a large opening that allows the plant to be trimmed back regularly. Narrow opening jars are best planted with slow-growing and hard-surfaced plants, which can be left for a long period of time.
Many small ferns can be safely used, some native to the UK, other from countries around the world. Ferns like Adiantum cuneatum (Maidenhair Fern). Athyrium filix-femina (Small Lady Fern), Cystopteris bulbifera (Bladder Fern), Polypodium vulgare (Common Polypody), Phyllitis scolopendrium (Hart’s Tongue Fern), Asplenium trichomanes (Maidenhair Splenwort) and Blechnum penna-marina. These can all be grown in bottles and terrariums, where the last two on the list is suitable for small containers.
PLANTS FOR LARGE TERRARIUMS
If you are fortunate enough to have a large terrarium then you can use Chlorophytum capense (Spider plant), whilst the plant is young but as it gets bigger it needs to be removed, This rules also apply to many other plants from small bromeliads, cordylines, Stromanthe amabilis, Fittonia verschaffeltii, Dracaena sanderiana, Pilea cadierei, and small palms in the early years, such as Chamaedorea elegans.
Houseplants with spreading leaves should be restricted and to remove them when the plants start to suffocate other plants. Selaginellas that have the structure of fern and the delicacy of moss, can act as a foil for other plants as it grows as a cover for the compost.
PLANTS FOR SMALL BOTTLES
For long term success, the plants need to be slow-growing and have leaves that do not mind too much water droplets forming on them. Plants include Neoregelia carolinae ‘Tricolor’, Cryptanthus acaulis, Cryptanthus bivittatus, Sansevieria hahnii, Codiaem variegatum pictum, Marantas, Peperomia magnoliifolia and Pilea cadierei.
PLANTS IN TROUGHS
These are invaluable for displaying plants with plastic being the preferred option, as it is waterproof easy to clean, long-lasting and inexpensive. The plastic has to be thick and not brittle. As it can come in several lengths but if you intend to move the trough when it is full of compost and plant, do not buy a long one, as it will break under the weight.
One 60cm long trough should be sufficient, and it can hold 3 to 4 plants at this length. The depth should be at least 15cm in order to cover the pot of the plants in, ensuring that there is a bottom layer of coarse gravel or shingle to help with watering and to keep out moist at the roots.
You have two options to use when planting in troughs. You can stand the houseplants pots on top of the gravel, which is very useful if you want to change the plants in the trough frequently. If you want a more long term display then you can add more compost in the posts, as this will keep the plants cool and moist, especially useful during summer where transpiration can be high.
OPTION 2 IS TO DIRECTLY PLANT IN THE TROUGH
Option 2 involves planting directly into the compost placed in the trough. It is not the best as there is no place for the water to escape, and over time the compost will lack air and can become spoiled. If you use this method it is best to drill drainage holes at the base and then place another, slightly larger container over it.
Any container can be used for the outer trough as long as it is waterproof. To use this technique you have to make sure that the plants are slow-growing and non-invasive. The best displays are met when you mix a long-lasting foliage plant with short-lived flowering plants.
If you are not into plastics, you can cover the inner container with an outer wooden container to give a better look, Ornate wooden troughs with long legs screwed into them make ideal homes for plastic troughs full of plants, as long as you keep them away from small children and animals playing near them and knocking them over.
You can use these stands in conjunction with hanging baskets so that you have plants at the top of the room and at the bottom of the room. This will form an attractive room divider.
PLANTING INDIRECTLY IN TROUGHS IS THE WAY TO GO
As long as the plants are not planted directly in the trough, there is no problem about mixing flowering and foliage plants, rapid growers and slow growers. This method allows the houseplants to be moved around every couple of weeks and can be created with only a few plants.
Small trailing plants such as ivies, Setcreaseas purpurea, Tradescantia, Zebrine and Fittonia can be allowed to cascade over the from the edge, whilst large foliage plants can grow in the centre. Only select more robust flowering plants in troughs such as Senecio, Chrysanthemums and Campanula isophylla.
LARGE FLOOR-LEVEL CONTAINERS
These are large, strong containers that will take a copious amount of compost to fill and grow plants in. These are essential if you want to grow two or more large houseplants in. The large containers do not have drainage holes as the plants are directly set into the compost in the container. To take the roots out of the water, a 5cm layer of coarse gravel, overlaid with moss peat and then compost is added on top of it.
Because of the heavyweight of the container, compost, gravel and plant you will need to make sure you place the container in its best growing position empty. You can then fill it with gravel compost and the plant.
If you are lucky enough to have concrete under your flooring then there will be no problems, but if like most homes you have chipboard or other types of wood, then a steel plate may be required under the carpet, as this will distribute the load over a larger area.
PLANT IN GROUPS
Groups of plants planted in large floor containers need to be of a mixture of sizes to create interest at all levels. Large, tall foliage plants combine well with smaller, upright foliage plants whilst trailing plants can be used to soften the edges of the container.
After a few years, one plant will become dominant becoming the main interest for many years to come. The other plants are only a temporary feature, a space filler to give interest during the early years. Anyway once the main plant grows to giant proportions and shades the compost in the container, not many plants will last more than a couple of weeks unless you provide some artificial lighting and extra feeding.
There are many combinations of plants that can be used in containers, as long as they have similar lighting, warmth and water requirements if they are to flourish over a long period of time.
THE FOLLOWING SUGGESTIONS ARE RECOMMENDED
The following suggestions go well together:
- Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig) and Fatsia japonica (False Castor Oil Plants), and Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-Law Tongue Plant) all go well together. With weeping fig bringing height, whilst Fatsia japonica brings interest at the front and mother-in-law tongue at the side. Looks great in a white container.
- Sansevieria trifasciata can be used again centrally at the base with Dracaena marginata providing an upright effect and Dieffenbachia maculata at the base to soften the whole design.
- Philodendron bipinnatifidum goes will with Chlorophytum.
- Ficus lyrata combines well with Dieffenbachia maculata.
- Fatsia japonica and Chlorophytum from a good partnership, where the leaf shapes and colour create plenty of interest.
In this article, we have discussed what can be used in the way to display your houseplants in, apart from the small and large pots you find everywhere.
There are, in fact, a number of different methods from bulb pots, wine cooler, wall mounted plant holder, indoor hanging baskets, Wardian cases, bottle and terrarium, troughs and large floor level containers.
You have so many choices to display your houseplants in and depending on what you are looking for. They all in their own way add beauty and distinction to your home, and you can use them in a location, where they will be at their best. Remember a houseplant in the right container will like twice as good as a houseplant in the wrong container.
Houseplants in bottles are such a great feature and they are not difficult to look after. They have been since Victorian times and are still relevant today.
If you have any question or comments that you need disparately want to answer on this topic, please do so in the comment box below.
Do bottle it.