Ornamental Plants and Flowers: Why should you Swipe Right on them?
Ornamental plants are a valuable addition to a landscape. The indoor ornamental plants can tackle indoor pollutants whereas the outdoor ornamental plants add to the grandeur of the outdoor ambiance. These plants can be used as specimen displays, cut flowers or for any decorative purpose in landscape or garden.
A major segment of horticulture, the cultivation of ornamental plants is called floriculture. The main purpose of ornamental plants is to add to the beauty of the décor and enhance it by a few notches.
Ornamental Plants Features
The aesthetic features of these plants could be the foliage, leaves, the textures, scent, flowers, stem, bark or anything that makes them a unique addition to your house. For instance, people find the prominent thorns of cactus quite exotic and worthy of a centrepiece for their home. Similarly, Rosa sericea or winged thorn rose is very popular among interior decorators and homemakers for their beautiful thorns that stand out!
The term ‘ornamental plant’ is used loosely as a garden plant in horticulture. However, it isn’t much precise as there are many plants that are grown indoors, look beautiful and have several benefits. Besides, this term also does a grave injustice to the fact that the ornamental plants are much more than display purpose. These plants have both ornamental and functional benefits. In fact, they give you the best of both worlds. They look attractive as well as offer value in one way or another.
There is a range of ornamental plants that are a keystone of gardening. These are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours and acclimatize quite easily to a range of climate, gardening needs, and landscapes. For instance, there are ornamental plants that are very popular for their showy deciduous foliage that changes colour with each season. The foliage is orange initially and then, turns red and eventually yellow before falling off in autumn. Sometimes they are loved for evergreen green foliage that stays green throughout the year. It could be their pointy needle-like leaves with contrast margin that look strikingly beautiful against the backdrop or maybe it is their exotic and distinctive leaves with a silver border that make them a popular choice.
If not for foliage, some ornamental plants are coveted for their large and showy ornamental flowers that are evergreen and bloom throughout the years. The blooms of ornamental plants could be subtle or have distinctive colours that can give a colour palette a run for the money. The fragrance of blooms can also be one of the features that make them a worthy addition to the landscape.
Ornamental flowers & plants Varieties
Ornamental plants are much more than visually appealing plants. There are many sides to them that are not discussed enough. No matter, where you place at-hanging at a window, in a flower bed or into a hedge or planted in the garden- the ornamental plants beautify the ambience and soften the harsh lines of the architectural surrounding. Colourful ornamental flowers burst in a refreshing break from the mundane of brown and green of a landscape. The concrete foundation, the rigid line of furniture and the dull front yard come alive the splendid beauty of these ornamental plants. The hedges of privets and shrubs expertly conceal the concrete corners.
Let’s talk about the importance of ornamental plants to the ecosystem and how ornamental plants roll in a range of benefits to the ecosystem and landscape, besides being a visual treat to the sore eyes.
- The ornamental plants strike a balance between birds and insects. These plants usually have pest-repellant properties and thus, they prevent the pests from spreading. An ornamental shrub at a fence or a herb at a kitchen sill works like a charm to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
- Some of the indoor houseplants are approved by NASA for their air-purifying properties. These plants remove volatile organic compounds from the indoor environment such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene. Many houseplants can remove tobacco smoke from indoors too. Plants like a spider plant, rubber plant and peace lily are easy to maintain yet very powerful to remove the toxic compounds from your home. According to NASA, you just need 18 plants to purify the air in a 1,800 square feet space! Read them about here.
- The indoor houseplants are an integral part of Feng Shui. According to this ancient science of Chinese geomancy, the drooping leaves, beautiful colour patterns and shiny foliage bring calming vibes to your living space.
- Some ornamental plants bring a natural vibe to an aquarium, are flavouring agents in many recipes, used as cosmetic and for stress-relief.
- Many plants are quite popular for their distinctive aroma and are used to make home-made DIY perfume. Lavender can calm your senses and can be turned into a perfume, which can be applied to when needed. Similarly, roses and mint can be used for a number of culinary purposes and for their fragrance. The essence of citronella plant is used in many incense sticks and roll-on perfumes that ward off insects, mosquitoes and flies. Apart from citronella’s lemon-like fragrance, the fuzzy ageratum’s subtle fragrance also doubles up as mosquito repellant. Citronella or ageratum is planted in the flower beds to prevent the onslaught of outdoor pests from entering the garden and house.
- Ever wondered what does the beauty of ornamental plants accomplish? With high-rise buildings and encroachment of “planned” cities, the wildlife remained highly unplanned. The beautiful blooms of ornamental plants attract bees and butterflies, which in turn, help in the propagation and pollination of these flowers. The berry plants attract birds and small animals like squirrels – the integral part of a garden. Plants like coast angelica, pipevine, twinberry, purple coneflower and hawthorn provide food for hummingbirds, domestic sparrow and bees.
Here’s a detailed low down on ornamental plants and their types. Have a look!
Trees are usually meant for the utilitarian purpose such as to provide fruits, shelter to birds and passers-by. But roadside plants that you see along a highway or an expressway are mainly amenity trees or ornamental trees, which do it all. These have a positive impact on biodiversity as well.
Yes, you read it right! Ornamental grasses are true grasses that are grown for ornamental purposes. These grass-like plants are usually herbaceous perennials or can be evergreen variety too. They have parallel veins and narrow leaves. Some of them may have woody tissues. These grasses are very popular in some countries to layout the front yard. These grasses make for a visual delight with their strikingly similar texture, colour, and linear form. These have higher hardiness quotient and are quite resilient to colder temperatures in the winter season. The grasses can grow in a column of reeds or in towering clusters of up to 6-inch. These are easy to maintain and no-fuss plants. However, they might need a little pruning to make way for new foliage.
These shrubs are usually planted for a decorative border alongside the fence. Such ornamental shrubs are evergreen and stand tall. These could be flowering or non-flowering types and feature beautiful, striking foliage that stands out against the backdrop. Even if the flowers are dead or if the shrub is non-flowering, the foliage is enough to add an aesthetic delight to your garden.
These ornamental herbs are cultivated for their healing, therapeutic and aromatic properties. These are mainly kitchen herbs and have pleasant fragrances. Some of them such as rosemary, lavender, sage, and mint are very common and in fact, a household name.
Ornamental Annual Flowers
These showy and large flowers have a single blooming season. These annual flowers are easy to grow and add a dash of colour and splendid beauty to a garden.
Ornamental Perennial Flowers
The ornamental perennials are the plants that go through a periodical phase of blooming every year. While the striking foliage remains a constant, the flowering happens yearly for a certain period of time. The flowers wilt and die, only to come back later next year.
The ornamental bulbs add a short-lived yet splendid colour burst to a garden. Apt for summer and spring climate, these bulbs have gorgeous flowers that are perfect for every landscape. Tulips, daffodils and onion plants are some of the examples of ornamental varieties of the bulbs. The plants grow from bulbs, which need to be dug as the winter approaches. You can store these bulbs and replant them again in the spring season for blooms.
Conifers are among the most popular evergreen trees or shrubs. They remain green throughout the year, irrespective of the weather. Some of the very common varieties of cedar are fir, cedar, and juniper.
Besides these, bonsai, cacti and succulents are also considered to be succulent plants. The term ‘ornamental plants’ is not definitive as well. Sometimes, a plant that is a weed in a part of a continent can be treated as ornamental in another. A crop with spectacular foliage such as runner beans, globe artichokes and ruby chard might be nurtured for its beauty in another. For instance, you may grow lavender as a kitchen herb but on a commercial level, it is grown as a crop to extract lavender oil.
Cacti and Succulents
The cacti and succulents are hardy breeds in plants that are short and can be easily cultivated indoors- both in home and office. The bonsai, bamboos and ferns have adapted quite brilliantly to modern habitation and ambient temperatures. These can be found in potted in soil or in small containers on a table. On average, there are more than 15,000 species of cactus in the world and all of them have adapted the wide diversity of habitats they are potted in.
The succulent plants to are highly specialised to get used to the new habitat. The plants have thick and fleshy leaves that retain moisture inside- which makes them a non-maintenance indoor plant. The succulents can preserve moisture in a dry, highly air-conditioned atmosphere. The waxy coating on leaves also preserves water. Such adaptations to the habitat make these plants a popular choice for both offices and homes. These succulents also help in removing toxins and indoor pollutants.
Cultivation of Ornamental Plants
Many ornamental plants are no-maintenance plants. However, some of them require special care including special fertilization, watering, mulching and pruning. If you have a bedside of shrubs and annual perennials, they might need pest control too. If that’s too much, you can consider low-maintenance ornamental plants to beautify the landscapes that are cost-effective and require fewer efforts. Similarly, if you have bonsai and topiary, they will need regular pruning to maintain its structure and if you don’t, they might lose their ornamental value.
Here are some common examples of ornamental plants:
The golden tree is a native to India and is the state flower of Kerala. Apart from adding to the beauty of your garden, this tree has multiple therapeutic benefits that we have covered here. The Gulmohar or flame tree is the most common flowering tree in India, which has several medicinal benefits but looks splendid with its orange-red flowers and fern-like leaves.
One of the prettiest trees in India, it is called flamboyant tree for its flagrant display of flowers. Similarly, fishtail palm is a flowering palm that can be seen along the roadside or the Australian pine tree, the most common seashore tree with cone-like fruits. While adding to the beauty of seaside, it prevents the windbreak. Indian mast tree or the false Ashoka tree is planted in gardens across the country. It looks beautiful and reduces noise pollution!
Other examples of ornamental trees include pear, cheery, apple and lilac. Most of the ornamental trees are deciduous, implying that they shed their leaves in winter and as the spring comes, the trees also get a new lease of life.
Bottlebrush is a medium-size woody plant, which is now cultivated in India as an ornamental plant. Weeping fig is originally a tree but now is cultivated for its bonsai value and is a preferred choice for an indoor ornamental plant in many offices and home.
Like Kurinji flowers, a bamboo flower is monocarpic. However, a lucky bamboo plant has become an exotic addition to a landscape. It is one of the most searched gifts online as well. It is also recommended by the Feng Shui experts and NASA for its air-purifying qualities. Among the most common perennial flowering plants are roses, tulips, daffodils, marigold, petunia, bougainvillea, and lilies. Duranta erecta or the white sky flower doubles up as a hedge plant and cultivated as an ornamental plant.
Some examples of ornamental shrubs are heath, lilac, barberry and camellia. Some maple and dogwood varieties, as well as low-growing deciduous conifers such as holly and juniper, are considered to be a shrub.
As stated above, ornamental grasses are evergreen and some examples of them are fountain grass, sedge, blue fescue, bamboo, meadow foxtail and papyrus. Some of the ornamental herbs are thyme, basil, rosemary and lime.
Why indoor plants are a must for your home and office?
A study by Rutgers University has established that besides pepping up the dull corner of living space, indoor plants can absorb greenhouse gases, eliminate common yet toxic pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde and improves the general well-being of your home. In a household, these pollutants are more common than you think. These are found in your cosmetics and cleaning supplies. Besides these airborne toxins, the indoor ornamental plants can remove germs and dust in the air. The areas and corners with poor ventilation and the windows that you rarely open are plagued with these toxic pollutants. With potted indoor plants, you can steer clear of such air contaminants such as pollen, bacteria and mouldsin a cost-effective manner.
Another study by the University of Exeter proves that adding a plant to a home office or a workplace’s bare décor can increase productivity by more than 15 per cent. The attention span of college students was also noted to be improved in the presence of plants. If you are a creative person, surround yourself with plants to experience the burst of creative juices in you! The plants facilitate a natural environment, which lets you feel at ease and stimulates your mind.
Having plants in the surrounding improves the calmness in people and improve the sense of general well-being in them. The presence of plants has also been told to increase the healing in patients. People who have been around the plants heal faster and register better as well as quicker response towards medicines.
These plants can also assist in the mental recovery process of a patient. As per the American Horticulture Association, indoor plants help the patients to stay calm and stress-free. The plants relax your mind and wipe away your indoor air of microbes and pollutants.
NASA terms these indoor ornamental plants, “Nature’s Life Support System” for their virtues! Some of the indoor plants that you can plant at home, enhance the air quality and beautify the décor are:
- Garden Mum
Pollutants removed: Ammonia, benzene, xylene and formaldehyde
- Spider Plant
Pollutants removed: Xylene and formaldehyde
Pollutants removed: Xylene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene
- Ficus / Weeping Fig
Pollutants removed: Benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
- Peace Lily
Pollutants removed: Benzene, ammonia, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
- Snake Plant
Pollutants removed: Benzene, xylene trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
- Bamboo Palm
Pollutants removed: Benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
- Boston Fern
Pollutants removed: Xylene and formaldehyde
- Aloe Vera
Pollutants removed: Formaldehyde
Find the perfect indoor and outdoor ornamental plant for your home! Beautify your home and give your home the sparkly, clean feeling!