When the summer hits temperatures in a conservatory can spiral out of control. We look at ways to make it more habitable for plants and some climbers that love the heat.
Many conservatories are considered to be too hot and sunny for plants during the summer but this is normally quite untrue – it is simply a matter of choosing the correct plants.
The most important factor to consider when planting a sunny conservatory is the ventilation. If the doors and windows can be left open during the day, to bring cool fresh air into the conservatory, then a wide range of plants which tolerate the high light intensity can be grown.
Particularly good for these conditions are many climbers such as Bougainvillea and Jasmine. These also have the advantage of shading people and other plants below them, eliminating the need for blinds. Climbers can be grown up attractive supports such as trellises and obelisks, or they can be trained up the sides and into the roof simply with the aid of a piece of wire or string.
When growing climbers, it is worth bearing in mind that they will flower best on the stems that are growing horizontally or trailing down – this will often be the parts which have reached the roof of the conservatory and started to grow across the top. To encourage flowering lower down, it may be necessary to prune them repeatedly to encourage a fairly bushy shape with lots of side shoots.
Plants such as Jasmines, which flower on the new growth, can be pruned hard during the winter, and trimmed back again after each burst of flowers during the summer.
To provide some shade in the summer, but let in as much light as possible during the winter, why not grow deciduous climbers such as Bougainvillea. These are available in a tremendous range of bright colours. Alternatively, fast growing plants such as Ipomea learii (Morning Glory) and Passionflowers can be trimmed back hard during the winter to allow the light in again.
On the other hand, to cover up an unsightly brick wall or provide some privacy, you may require an evergreen screen. Ideal for this purpose would be many varieties of Jasmine, Hibbertia scandens, Dipladenia sanderii and Hoya carnosa.
Some of the best climbers for conservatories
Bougainvillea – Brightly coloured, papery ‘flowers’. Deciduous.
Jasmines – Wonderfully scented white flowers. Also notable for not being prone to pests.
Hoya carnosa – called the Wax Plant, has clusters of waxy star shaped flowers. Thrives on neglect!
Dipladenia sanderii – Lovely glossy evergreen leaves and pink trumpet flowers.
Mandevillea amabilis – Fabulous large, pink trumpet flowers.
Ipomea learii – called the Blue Dawn Flower, has large, deep blue saucer shaped flowers in summer.
Stephanotis floribunda – often called the Madagascar Jasmine, has heavily scented, waxy white flowers.
Passiflora: the well-known Passion Flower. Many varieties. P. amethyst or P. violacea, fast growing and free flowering.
P. citrina has delightful yellow flowers.