A grouped flowering display.

Grouped Flowering Displays

Most flowering plants look best when they are massed together in a group, either with identical plants or with an assortment of different varieties that all require the same growing conditions. There are several aesthetic points to consider when grouping flower­ing plants together: the color of the flowers; the shape and form of the flowers; the size of the con­tainer; and the room setting.

Color is one of the most significant features of flowering plants, and this is particularly important indoors whore you want to create splashes of brilliant color in lifeless living rooms. Your choice of color will usually be influenced by personal taste and this means the style or decor of your room. In general, cool, subtle color harmonies — blues, pinks, mauves, and whites — are easier to live with than vibrant, clashing colors — reds, yellows, and oranges — which tend to dominate or overpower. Even so, the latter are particularly useful in winter when light levels are low and a rigorous treatment is needed to lift an otherwise dull room.

When planning a grouped arrangement, try to choose plants that complement each other in form as well as in color, rather than picking several plants that compete for attention and spoil the potential harmony. In general, smaller plants ben­efit from being massed together in a group, while those with large flower heads are best displayed as single specimens.

Lilies, gerberas, sunflowers, and orchids all have dramatic-looking flowers which can frequently overwhelm and detract from the quieter charms of small flowers. These plants are best displayed on their own in single pots or grouped with similar varieties. Some will need dis­creet staking to keep them growing in a good shape, but even this must be done with care, or it will detract from the beauty of the flowers.

The size and shape of the container is another important factor when combining flowering plants. Not only must it match the scale of the plants, but it must also harmonize with the flowers. Some peo­ple think that white containers are a safe choice for displaying indoor plants, but unless your scheme incorporates a lot of white flowers, they can often look very stark when set against healthy looking plants. A safer choice is green or terracotta, which tends to look good with most color schemes and never dominates. If you have a group of attractive containers t rat are all roughly the same size, try painting them in different colors and displaying them in a row along a shelf or work surface.

When creating an arrangement that relies on flower power alone, it is important that you keep your plants in tip-top condition. Keep in mind that most flowering plants are grown in nurseries in a controlled environment and that very few thrive in the arid atmosphere of centrally heated or air-con­ditioned homes. If the leaves show signs of scorch marks or he buds or flowers fall off prematurely, this is a sure sign that your plants are not receiving enough humidity.

Most flowering plants need feeding throughout their flowering season to keep them going for as long as possible and constant deadheading will also encourage an additional show of flowers. The same applies to leaves. It is pointless to concentrate your attention on growing- spectacular flowering plants if the leaves are yel­lowing through neglect. Nothing will induce them to turn green again, so remove any that have become discolored immediately.

While many flowering plants are considered as short-term investments and thrown away after flowering, some can be encouraged to flower again the following year if they are given a rest period when watering is reduced. If you don’t like the idea of throwing away your plants and have a cool spare room where you can care for them during the win­ter.