Houseplants Will Blossom at Chelsea Flower Show 2020

Published on November 22nd 2019
Selection of houseplants
World-renowned, glamorous and quintessentially British — this can only be the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show and it is back with even bigger and better displays next year.
Described as a truly unique and unforgettable day out, the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be returning next May and bringing with it the all new House Plant Studios.
Designers and stylists will recreate certain rooms within a house from bathrooms to kitchens by dressing them with houseplants to reflect the increasing trend and diversity of indoor plants.
A dining room table
According to The Flowers & Plants Association, the UK’s flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion and people regularly spend £60-£100 per year on cut flowers and indoor plants.
Rob Sterling, who has been a horticultural advisor at RHS for seven years, claims aesthetics, health benefits and technological advances are behind the rising trend in houseplants. “People can have very stark houses and houseplants are a way to soften that,” he explains, “[we] are increasingly living in very small closed units [such as] flats in cities where there isn’t very much green around and [indoor plants are] a way of bringing the outside inside.
“People are focussing on plants because they benefit not only wellbeing, but you [become] more relaxed when in the presence of plants and they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
A close up of a flower
Rob says aquascaping — the process of growing plants in a tank of water — is also becoming very popular which is changing our ability to grow plants.
Among the most on-trend indoor plants are orchids including Phalaenopsis, which has previously been voted the world’s most popular plant, in addition to large specimen plants such as Dracaenas which can make a great feature within a room and small plants which are able to fit inside terrariums.
“Plants which are good at removing toxins are Chlorophytum and Nephrolepis ferns. They are trendy at the moment simply because they are health-giving,” adds Rob.
As a member of the RHS Orchid Committee, he grows a range of these at home as well as foliage plants and cacti. Rob claims Philodendron, Monstera (cheese plant), Christina and some non-flowering plants are all reasonably tolerant of low light.
“For a sunnier room, some specimen cacti are obvious choices or plants such as Strelitzia (paradise plants), banana plants and Alocasia and Colocasia [as they] will grow in bright conditions,” adds Rob.
A group of people sitting at a table with a plate of food
However, he warns the environmental conditions within the house dictate what plant is suitable for each room. He recommends growing solo Calatheas on gravel trays as they prefer higher humidity.
“Radiators can be very damaging to plants, particularly in winter,” he says, “not only is the air very dry around radiators, they reduce the humidity. The heat radiated will increase the speed at which the plants foliage loses moisture and, consequently, you can end up with foliage scorching and going brown at the tips. It is not a good idea to place a plant either on the floor in front of a radiator or above it where the heat rises.”
Factors which can put-off many owning houseplants are the concern that they will attract insects and that they are high maintenance.
The fungus gnat is an insect most likely to be attracted to indoor plants due to peat-based or peat-substitute compost, but controlling the watering of plants can reduce infestations, explains Rob.
“The plant compost doesn’t need to be kept wet or moist all of the time; you can allow the top surface of the soil, down to the top inch in larger pots, to become dry before watering again and that controls the gnats finding the soil attractive.”
A vase of flowers on a plant
For those after a low maintenance, trouble-free and pest-resistant plants, he suggests keeping Philodendron, Monstera, Phalaenopsis Orchid and cacti. Cacti require no watering from November to February. Sansevieria are easy to grow and are very good at removing pollutants.
RHS’ House Plant Studios hope to promote the benefits of indoor plants and provide visitors with inspiration for their own indoor space. They will then be judged by an RHS committee.
A table topped with lots of furniture and vase of flowers on a plant
While Chelsea’s iconic Show Gardens, created by some of the world’s best-known designers as well as emerging talent, will provide a feast for the eyes, visitors should expect lots of other newness for 2020 including new Garden category ‘Urban Gardens’ which will reflect urban landscapes from around the world. Floristry has also been given a makeover for 2020 with a single, dedicated area. In recognition of Hillier Nurseries exhibiting for its 75th year, the nursery will be creating an exhibit in the heart of the Great Pavilion. Meanwhile, RHS are celebrating a decade of the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year competition with a special display of the winners from the last 10 years.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s grounds in London has been home to the annual Chelsea Flower Show since 1913.
Highlights from the 2019 Show included the Back to Nature Garden designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge which saw landscape architects Andrée Davies and Adam White bring a woodland scene to life to demonstrate enjoying the great outdoors, the D-Day 75 Garden which featured a life-size stone statue of D-Day veteran Bill Pendell MM in addition to a commemorative display in memory of nurseryman and leading rose breeder David Austin who passed away in 2018.
The Show will return between 19 - 23 May 2020. Tickets are on sale now.
A vase of flowers sits in front of a window

Rob’s top tips for caring for houseplants

  • Don’t treat a houseplant like an ornament — provide it with the conditions it needs to survive.
  • Research the conditions a plant needs before purchasing.
  • Remove plants from the room if using chemicals to kill insects.
  • Don’t place plants right next to windows.
  • If plants are sick, provide stable watering periods and light and reasonably high humidity — feeding can be detrimental.
  • Don’t overfeed them during winter.

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