Hartley Magazine

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Plants Do Wheelies Between Greenhouse and Home

Gardenias are classic candidates for the greenhouse to home migration.

One of the traditional benefits of a greenhouse is to supply your home with décor—particularly cut flowers—in the off seasons. This month, I’m talking to Nicholas Staddon, a garden expert with a deep knowledge of plants, and company spokesperson for Everde Growers, a nationwide wholesale company, that features a wide assortment of plants, from trees and tropicals, right down to succulents. Nicholas sees a greenhouse as the perfect starting place for large plants in home interior décor. His basic advice: “Let your plants migrate between greenhouse and indoors on a regular basis.”

Highly scented brugmansias can make a brief appearnace in the house, and then spend the rest of the winter in a cool greenhouse.

Here’s how his suggestion works. You grow single specimens in large containers in the greenhouse under optimal conditions—excellent light, heat, and humidity. Each one is placed on a set of sturdy wheels. My brand preference for wheels is Down Under. The largest (16- or 20-inches across) roll heavy containers easily with a brake for stability when parked.

Park them inside where you’d like a decorative accent, even if it’s not an ideal location for growing plants permanently. You don’t need to be as concerned with light or even heat conditions—although certain plants are more particular. For instance, positioning a Ficus benjimina near a blowing heat source or drafty window is not a good idea. But experiment to find out what works.

Repeat blooming Encore Azaleas can migrate from greenhouse to home and back again.

Then, when the plants show they’ve had enough indoors—a fading of foliage color or a lot of leaf drop might be indicators—you roll them back out to your greenhouse for a little rest and relaxation, and you bring in another. If you have a few stairs, a simple folding ramp, usually sold for wheelchair access, can help make a smooth transition.

Nicholas has many candidates for this rotation, including hellebores, which are not often thought of as houseplants. “Hellebores love to be grown in greenhouse,” he says. “When flowering, migrate them to a nice sunny window indoors. When they get tired, back they go.”

Of course, any of the citrus can grace your home with scent and bright fruit, and then return to the better conditions under glass.

Late-blooming brugmansias can finish flowering, sheltered in the greenhouse or as a large focal point indoors..

Large tropical-leafed plants are ideal for this décor journey. Here are a few of Nicholas’ suggestions to enhance your home—and greenhouse.

Bergenia cordifolia ‘Peppermint Patty’— Nicholas spotted this one while attending the FarWest Trade Show in Portland. “The leaves are the size of a cabbage,” he says. It’s evergreen, with serrated foliage. Spring brings sturdy pink flowers on pink stems that fade to green at the base.

Large pink flowers grace the thick ruffled leaves of Bergenia cordifolia ‘Peppermint Patty’.

Alocasia micho ‘Frydek Variegata’— “It tolerates low light indoors,” Nicholas notes. And the gray, green, and white variegation on each leaf is dramatic. “All have something different,” he says. It grows to three feet.

The dramatic variegation of Alocasia micho ‘Frydek Variegata’ makes a stunning focal point in the greenhouse or home. (Courtesy Nicholas Staddon)

Philodendron ‘Strawberry Shake’—Nicholas spotted this one in Florida at the Tropical Plant International Expo (TPIE). “This is one I’d never heard of before, but now it’s on the market because of tissue culture,” Nicholas says. Red burgundy color shows off a four-to five-foot plant.

At Florida’s TPIE, Philodendron ‘Strawberry Shake’ is mounted on driftwood. (Courtesy Nicholas Staddon)