When we started the business in 1990, conservatories were all the rage. Everyone wanted one or had one and everyone had been lead to believe that they were great places to grow plants in. Not entirely true. They're hot and dry and breeding grounds for every imaginable bug. A friend once likened it to trying to grow plants in a tandoori oven. Since then, sanity has returned and everyone now accepts that growing plants in conservatories is a challenge. Greenhouses are wetter and better ventilated but still quite a challenge. The average conservatory contains furniture, cushions and magazines and they don't go well with the humid atmosphere that most plants need. One of the biggest conservatory manufactures used to have a beautiful photo for their advertising campaign of the interior of one of their buildings containing a Persian rug, a cello and a music stand under a parlour palm. Very misleading.

To start with it was difficult. We tried to dispense good and useful advice but we were a bit of a lone voice and probably sounded negative. We could hardly deny such accusations. Slowly, the truth dawned, the demand subsided and now, nearly 30 years later, the subject rarely even gets mentioned. If it does, we'll suggest learning about biological control and using some of the plants we've learned are best adapted to the less than ideal conditions found in the average conservatory. Under 'Plants' on the menu on the home page there are lots of categories - including suggested plants for conservatories.

Trying to grow a plant in a pot is hard enough. Stick it in a hot dry building and it gets worse. By about 2005, heating greenhouses had become officially looney so we immediately dropped some of the more exotic plants we used to do for conservatories (despite their lack of suitability) such as Daturas,Tibouchinas and Bougainvillias. This meant the remaining choice was more frost hardy and one of our useful ideas is : try it in the conservatory and if it hates it, at least you'll be able to bung it in the garden. Also, just giving a plant a spell outside for the summer could relieve the stress. Plants that would survive with little water (Cacti or Agave) or plants that lived in water (Papyrus) were always the top of the list because they weren't going to suffer from the kind of capricious watering afforded by most human beings.

Also, biological control (essential) and good husbandry were recommended. It was all at variance with what the adverts for conservatories implied.

Features Hardiness rating

Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.

Conservatories Green

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