The past few decades have brought marked changes to our standard of housing. Small windows have been replaced by glass walls or picture windows across the width of the room and fireplaces and wood or coal stoves by central heating, governed and regulated by thermostats. The result is more sunlight indoors, higher temperatures kept at a set level in the winter months and a much drier atmosphere, often with a relative humidity of only 20 to 40 percent. These changes have naturally affected the selection of plants that can be grown in the modern household and therefore the choice offered by nurserymen.
The classic selections of azaleas, cyclamen and other plants that need considerable attention have been replaced by more suitable species. People today rarely have enough time (often both husband and wife work) to care for difficult plants. Furthermore, holidays are being increasingly spent in Travel, so a potted plant on the window-sill does not have much chance of surviving. Most important of all is the unsuitability from the aesthetic viewpoint of many of the traditional plants. The strict, boldly divided spaces of the modern home require a special arrangement of furnishings and ornaments, including plants. That is why the classic selection of plants must be supplemented by epiphytic species, climbers and bog plants. New opportunities are also afforded by terrariums, where it is possible to create pleasant conditions even for the most demanding plants with comparative ease.
If we want to grow plants successfully then we must give some thought to providing the conditions that will satisfy their basic needs and keep them happy. Plants grown indoors require approximately the same conditions as in their native environment. It is important that they be provided with suitable growing compost, temperature, amount of light, and moisture. It is comparatively easy to provide the proper compost and regulate its moisture, but it is far more difficult to regulate the other factors which often require fairly complex equipment.
One important thing that should not be forgotten, however, is that no factor acts independently of the others; all are interrelated. If, for instance, the light factor changes then it is necessary to adapt the temperature and watering accordingly. In general it may be said that there is a direct correlation between light and heat: if the intensity of light increases most plants require higher temperatures. Atmospheric moisture is often correlated with light indirectly. Here, too, temperature plays an important role. If the thermometer in a room with a temperature of n°C and relative humidity of 100 per cent registers a rise of 10°C, the relative humidity will decrease to a mere 55 per cent and vice versa, a 10°C drop in temperature will cause the relative humidity to increase by approximately 50 per cent. From this it is easy to understand how plants with entirely different requirements can grow in the same locality in the wild. In order to grow house plants successfully it is necessary to know not only their place of origin and the climatic conditions in which they grow in the wild, but also the type of situation they occupy in the wild.
The conditions of our homes are generally classed according to temperature into three categories: cool, semi-warm, and warm, characterized roughly by winter temperatures of 10 to 15°C, 15 to 20°C, and 20 or 30°C respectively. Very cold homes are now becoming a thing of the past.
The House Plants, or Indoor Plants, have become a necessity in the homes, but even in some homes these types of plant are also now finding a prominent place. It is less costly to decorate the interior of a room with live plants compared to flowers, which are becoming costlier day by day and besides they are to be replaced frequently. On the other hand, with little care, a well-chosen house plant will continue to decorate a room for a period of time. The initial investment may be comparatively high but it proves economical in the long run.
Though the fashion of growing house plants became universally popular during the past three or four decades, definitely it is not a new art. In the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Pakistan, and Rome it was not unusual to bring pot-grown or tub-grown plants inside a room for the purpose of decoration. In Europe, particularly in Britain, during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries it was a common practice for the well-to-do people to grow exotic house plants for interior decoration. But it is only in this century the practice of growing house plants has spread to millions of homes.
Man has lived in the company of plants since time immemorial. If we were to seek in the annals of history we would find plants playing their roles in man’s life from the very beginning. Many civilizations could not even have arisen without plants. Floral pattern can be found in dozens of primitive cultures, and there they are well established as a matter of pure aesthetics. In the life of mankind flowers have often figured as symbols. Even in our modern world one can find people living simply, close to nature, and it is interesting to note that, as a rule, they have a very sensitive feel for plants and flowers. Let us go back to cultivated flowers in the history of civilized mankind.
A tremendous number of plants are classified as ornamentals based on their decorative value and personal choices. There are seasonal flowering plants, foliage plants, lawn grasses, evergreens and deciduous shrubs and trees. Fruit trees grown in home gardens can also be selected for ornamental purposes.
Ornamental horticulture can play an important role in modification of domestic and urban environments and pollution control. Ornamental plants enhance our environment by providing aesthetic surroundings. Plants and turf also filter pollutants from water and help cleanse the air we breathe. Growing awareness of the importance of plants in the environment has increased the appreciation of the public and policy makers for ornamental horticulture.
The beauty of plants and the pleasure received are not physical quantities that can be measured or weighed. As we know that “a thing of beauty is joy for ever”. These are value judgments that vary with persons, places, traditions and cultures. Peoples of different cultures will have quite different opinions about what is beautiful and what is ugly. In ornamental horticulture, the elements of plant beauty are combined to enhance their utility for human use. Whether horticultural plants are encountered, their aesthetic value always takes superiority over economics. The aesthetic value of ornamental horticulture has been used to promote mental health and a mode of relaxation.
Ornamental plants beautify our surroundings both indoor and outdoor. Indoors like drawing rooms, bedrooms, veranda, and outdoors like universities, colleges, schools, public parks, offices and playing grounds etc.
For growing flowering plants, raising plants in pots, certain garden tools like secateurs, hedge shears, khurpa, plant lifer, mowers are required constantly. Hence, the money is earned by selling these items. Similarly pots are always in demand. Earlier-earthen-pots were dominating but now concrete and plastic pots are being manufactured and sold. Flowers are associated with mankind form the dawn of civilization. Flowers are used for various purposes in our day to day life like religious and social functions, wedding, interior decoration and self beautification. Saying it with flowers is very common and different flowers are used to convey the human feelings. Flowers commonly used for such purposes are: rose for love; pansy for thoughts; carnation (white) for women’s love; French marigold for jealousy/sorrow; African marigold for naughty minds; narcissus for self esteem; daffodil for regard; amaryllis for pride; iris for message; snap dragon for presumption; jasmine for amiability; lily for purity; stock for luxury; sweet pea for departure; etc.
Gardening in southern and eastern Asia also has a thousand-year-old tradition, particularly amongst the Japanese and Chinese. One would be hard put to find a single important poet, painter or architect for whom plants and flowers are not objects of prime concern. Further development of this tradition has yielded such aesthetic forms as the landscaped Japanese garden, the art of bonsai. What, however, do plants have to offer man living in the fast-paced world of today? First of all it is a well-known fact that a plant in the home provides a man who is separated from nature with the necessary contact with greenery. This psychological effect must not be underestimated. The modern urban interior is above all functional, and without flowers, which add supplementary color and form, it would be too severe. The importance of this effect for most of us is the feeling of relaxation, the easing of tension we feel when we go for a walk in the forest, for instance. Many species of plants secrete substances that destroy micro-organisms in their vicinity (this phenomenon is best known in the case of conifers and eucalypts, but occurs elsewhere, too). Plants also greatly reduce the amount of dust in the atmosphere, they act as humidifiers in a room, in other words moisten the air and make it easier to breathe.
Gardening has always been an art in the true sense of the word and it is a pity that we often lose sight of this fact in the fast-paced, commercially-oriented world we live in. Flowers will not only improve the look of your interior decor but will also benefit your physical and mental health.