For the keen plant enthusiast, an orangery or conservatory provides another dimension in gardening. A wide variety of species thrive in these conditions and tender and exotic plants can be nurtured and appreciated.
Most plants seem to be much happier growing in a humid environment rather than a dry one. Hot and dry conditions will favour pests such as the dreaded whitefly and red spider mite.
The frequency and amount of watering is the key regulator of humidity. Try standing your potted plants on a tray or saucer of damp gravel to increase the local humidity. An occasional spray with water may also benefit the plants.
Asarina: This is one of the few trailing plants which are suitable for sunny conservatories, although really inhospitable conditions will favour red spider mite. Lovely pink tubular flowers appear in each leaf axle from spring until autumn. Long trailing stems bear soft, heart shaped leaves. Tolerates low winter temperatures.
Bougainvillea: These popular plants will bring back memories of Mediterranean holidays for many people. Fast growing, woody stems bear very colorful ‘flowers’ in the summer and autumn. (Bright papery bracts surround 3 small white true flowers.) They flower best with scorching sun. These plants are really climbers, but the less vigorous varieties can also be grown in hanging baskets.
Callistemon: Commonly known as the Bottlebrush plant, because of the bottlebrush shaped flowers. Mostly red, there is also a yellow variety. Summer flowering, fast growing, lax stems with grayish-green evergreen leaves. Almost hardy.
Jasminum: Lots of varieties, all of which like lots of sunlight and are not troubled by
pests and diseases. Usually white, starry flowers and glossy evergreen foliage. All are
suitable for a cool conservatory except J Sambac, which is best kept above 5ºC.
J. Azoricum – Lax stems which may be trained to bear scented white flowers from Spring to Autumn.
J. Polyanthemum – The well known Winter Jasmine, usually sold on hoops. If you keep it for a few years, the vigorous climbing stems will soon romp away and be quite a sight when covered in flowers.
J. Sambac – Wonderful, large, waxy white heavily scented flowers throughout the Summer. Large rounded leaves on lax stems.
Morning glory: One of the fastest growing plants. Related to Bindweed, with similar leaves and large, royal blue flowers throughout the summer and autumn. Absolutely stunning, and very easy to grow. Cut back to a few inches from the base for the winter. Take cuttings to use outside in the summer.
Musa (banana plants): They need lots of water, and in very hot, dry conditions they can be prone to red spider mite. Most of the bananas like warm winter conditions.
Palms: Architectural plants. The Pony Tail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is particularly splendid, with a large swollen base, and ‘pony tail’ of long strap like leaves. Other examples are the prehistoric Cycas revolute – a wonderful rosette of tough leaves, Phoenix roebellinii – a tall slender stem with a rosette of leaves at the top, Chamerops excelsa – the fan palm; and Washingtonia filifera – notable for the threads which cover the leaves.
Pandorea jasminoides: Relatively fast growing, but never reaches an unmanageable size. Dark glossy green, or variegated jasmine like foliage. Evergreen. Pure white, white with a pink throat, or pink, tubular flowers are produced during the summer. Needs lots of light to flower well.
Pelargoniums (geraniums): An incredible range of different varieties with bright flowers and interesting foliage. Will tolerate lots of sun and quite dry compost. Attractive all year. Can tolerate very cold winter conditions if kept dry.
Cassia corymbosa: A member of the pea family, with masses of bright yellow flowers throughout the summer. Large pinnate leaves and very fast growing. Tolerates cool winter conditions and is not prone to pests. Does need good ventilation.
Correa: Called the Australian fuchsia because it has small rounded leaves, and masses of tubular flowers in the autumn and winter. Requires only a frost free position and is not prone to pests.
Euphorbia milii: A slow growing shrub, with succulent and very thorny stems. Red or white flowers all year if the light is good enough. Suitable for a conservatory or sunny windowsill. Not prone to pests.
Plumbago capensis: Probably the best conservatory plant available. The whole bush is smothered in clusters of phlox like flowers throughout summer. The most popular colour is a beautiful sky blue, but there is also a lovely pure white variety. Leaves are semi evergreen (depends on temperature). The bush grows very rapidly, easily reaching 3m, but can be pruned hard. Suitable for any frost free conservatory, also a wonderful patio plant in warm summers. Very rarely troubled by pests. They need plenty of water in summer.
Podranea ricasoliana: Rather like a pale pink campsis, with trumpet shaped flowers in clusters at the end of the stems in late summer. Incredibly rampant growth with pinnate leaves. Needs full sun.
Senecio confusus: Orange, large daisy flowers all summer. Stephanotis floribunda: Leathery, glossy leaves intertwining stems. Clusters of very fragrant, waxy white flowers in summer.
Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise): This is a well known plant which will create a very exotic atmosphere. Tough, grey paddle shaped leaves form a clump. Mature plants flower a couple of times each year, producing bright orange/purple bird like flowers.
Succulents: There are lots of succulent plants which are specially adapted to hot conditions and erratic watering. Sedum morganianum is a particularly fun plant which has masses of overlapping, succulent leaves on trailing stems, earning the common names of donkey’s tails.
Thunbergia grandiflora: A much admired plant, but unfortunately only really suitable for conservatories with a minimum temperature of about 5ºC in winter (preferably even warmer). Very fast growing, with large, evergreen, lance shaped leaves. Clusters of wonderful, large, streptocarpus like sky blue flowers through the summer.
Most of these will survive in a reasonably bright conservatory with a minimum of 5ºC. Some may need slightly warmer conditions.
December – April (depending on temperature). Very vigorous intertwining, evergreen, growth (can be pruned). White scented flowers.
December – March. Bright yellow, flared tubular flowers, sweetly scented. Delicate, evergreen foliage.
December – January. Deep salmon pink tubular flowers. Shrub with lax stems which can be trained. Min 2ºC.
Most of year, including winter. Pendant flowers, red sepals surround yellow petals. Lax stems can be trained.
January – February. Scented white flowers. Not always easy to flower. Evergreen silvery foliage,lax stems.
Early summer. Very vigorous growth. Stunning orange, tubular flowers. Only suitable for large, warm conservatories. Difficult.
May – July. Attractive evergreen foliage, moderately vigorous, scented white flowers. Frost free. T. j. variegatum (creamy leaves), These are similar to T. jasminioides, but slower growing. T. majus (larger flowers & leaves).
On and off throughout spring – autumn. Fairly fast growth, can be pruned. Needs full sun. Colourful, papery bracts.
Passiflora empress eugenie:
Spring – autumn. Evergreen. Very reliable. Large pale pink/blue flowers
Passiflora amethyst & violaceae:
Spring – autumn. Amethyst and violet flowers. respectively. Very reliable and free flowering.
Spring – autumn. Large, pink flowers on mature plants. Vigorous growth. Not as free flowering as the above. Prefers cool conditions.
Plumbago capensis (blue & white):
June – autumn. One of the best conservatory plants. A lax shrub with clusters of phlox-like flowers.
Summer. Large, bright orange, daisy flowers. Fast growing, dense foliage.
Summer. Blue butterfly flowers. Very lax growth which can be trained.
Mid – late summer. Very rampant relative of bindweed, beautiful deep blue flowers. Cut back each winter.
Spring – autumn. White, fragrant flowers. Lance shaped, ever-green leaves.
Spring – autumn (can flower at any time). Large blue flowers. Very rampant. Large, evergreen, lance shaped leaves.
Thunbergia gregorii: Spring – autumn. Bright orange, tubular flowers. Mid green, medium sized leaves.
Thunbergia mysorensis: Spring – autumn. Curious shaped yellow flowers with red rims. Lance shaped evergreen leaves.
Jasminum azoricum: May – November. Moderately fast growth. Some scented flowers all through summer rather than one big show.
Jasminum sambac: May – November. Glossy, evergreen leaves, not too rampant. Needs tying in. Highly scented, waxy flowers.
Jasminum grandiflorum de grasse: Summer. Large, white scented flowers.
Jasminum odoratissimum: Summer. Yellow scented flowers.
Hibbertia scandens: Sporadically spring – autumn. Yellow Hypericum- like flowers. Dense evergreen foliage, fast growing.
Citrus: Another idea would be to train a Citrus plant, such as Lemon Lunario on a trellis on the wall. Flowers in spring, fruit follows, ripening in winter.
Stephanotis floribunda: Summer. Leathery green or cream variegated leaves. Waxy, white, highly scented flowers.
Plumbago: Summer. Hardy plant. Flowers range from pale blue to a much darker variety. a scrambling shrub, best tied in as a climber or grown in a pot.
Datura: Summer. The blooms are fragrant and particularly so at night. Most flowers are white but they may also be yellow, purple, lavender and red.
Mandevilla amabilis: Summer. Lovely large pink flowers. Likes full sun. ‘Alice Pont’ Very prone to pests.
Gloriosa rothschildiana: Summer. A climbing lily, dormant in winter. Bright pink petals with yellow edges.
Bignonia capreolata: Summer. Vigorous climber. Reddish-orange, tubular-bell shaped flowers in late summer.
Hoya carnosa: Late summer. Clusters of waxy, star-shaped flowers. Scented at night. Very easy. Evergreen.
Podranea ricasoliana: Late summer. Extremely vigorous. Rather like a campsis, but flowers are pale pink and slightly scented.
Clerodendron thompsonii: September. White calyces surround deep scarlet flowers. Deep green, evergreen foliage. Best kept warm and humid.
Tetrastigma voinierianum: Grown for the striking soft, chestnut like foliage. Very rampant.
Rhoicissus ‘Ellen Danica’: Grape ivy. Not particularly unusual, but lovely foliage and easy to grow.
The selection below gives you a few ideas of easy to grow plants that are reliable and little trouble with regard to pests and diseases.
Abutilon: Very free flowering, but can attract whitefly indoors in summer.
Asystasia: Vigorous, evergreen growth. Foxglove like flowers in May.
Begonias: Winter flowering ‘foliage’ types. Cane types are usually free flowering spring – autumn. No pests.
Bougainvillea: Wonderful, colourful, papery flowers from spring – autumn. Tolerate full sun. Climber.
Cassia corymbosa: Masses of yellow flowers all summer. Very fast growing. No pests.
Citrus calamondin: The easiest Citrus to start with. Miniature orange fruit on a compact bush.
Citrus lemon: Strong growth. Plenty of large scented flowers and delicious ‘Four Seasons’ fruit.
Clivia miniata: Very tolerant of neglect. Leathery strap like leaves. Clusters of orange, funnel-shaped flowers.
Correa: Full sun, cold tolerant, no pests, winter flowering, very easy.
Gesneriads: (Streptocarpus. Also trailing Columnea and Aeschynanthus). Warmth, and good light without strong sun.
Hibbertia scandens: Dense cover. Climbing stems. Yellow, hypericum like flowers spring - autumn.
Hoya carnosa: Indestructible. Waxy flowers in late summer. Evergreen climber.
Ipomea learii: Morning glory. Royal blue flowers all summer. Very fast growing. Can get whitefly.
Jasmines: Various types, all excellent for sunny conservatory. Summer or white flowering. Scented flowers.
Justicia carnea: Bright pink plumes in late summer. Lovely foliage.
Nerium oleander: Flowers all summer.
Passiflora empress eugenie: An exotic hybrid climber with spectacular large pink, white and blue flowers.
Phalaenopsis violacea: Fragrant and mostly violet. Early spring - summer.
Phalaenopsis orchids: Unbelievably easy as long as they are kept warm. Flowers last for up to six months.
Plumbago capensis: Vigorous, free flowering, full sun, no pests. Summer (blue & white) flowering.
Trachelospermum: Scented flowers in May. Easy. A lovely climber.
Jasminoides: Fragrant, adaptable shrubs tolerant of sun or semi-shade. Seasonal bloomer.
Orangeries and conservatories are a very popular choice for extending homes and with them comes a unique space that brings the outside in.
If you are looking to transform your home, contact us for more information.
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