The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, October 6, 2002
Garden Life

Mass effect enhances plants’ unique features
Satish Narula

IT is the judicious use and placement of plants that gives one garden an edge over the others. Go to any nursery and you will find that most people buy the same species of plants. Even then some gardens are different from others. Strategic placement of plants and proper upkeep is what makes them distinct.

Placement in groups not only enhances the beauty of indoor plants but also helps them to acclimatise better
Placement in groups not only enhances the beauty of indoor plants but also helps them to acclimatise better

There are a few important factors in horticulture that, if kept in mind, can altogether change the look of a garden. A plant with some unique feature like unusual foliage, stem, shape or flowers etc, may lend a distinct touch but only when it is grown in isolation. It can either be grown in a pot or in the garden at a strategic point where it catches immediate attention. Sometimes plants become the focal point of a garden if kept separately, but when kept in a group, they lose their uniqueness.

Another major aspect of plant display is the mass effect. Imagine a wide and long bed full of flowers of the same or different species. A shrub full of flowers or a climber in full bloom represent the mass effect. If a few more shrubs of the same species are put together it will enhance the mass effect. But this effect is not confined only to ornamental flowering plants or shrubs. Who can ignore the beauty of a fully laden peach, plum, pear or litchi tree. Even while flowering, these trees are a wonderful sight to enjoy.


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The beauty of ornamental indoor plants is also enhanced when they are placed in groups. The mass effect also produces a sense of coziness in them and they show marked improvement in the microclimate. Since there are many indoor plants that have foliage of varied hues, when grouped together they look great. Included in this category are crotons, aphelandra (also called zebra plant), caladium of various sprays, monstera (with glaring white variegation), dracaenas with foliage of various kinds, dieffenbachias and marantas. Even the money plant called marble queen is amazingly variegated with white spots.

Such plants, when placed in groups, need a shady spot and a good syringing (sprinkling) of water. personally speaking, except for two handfuls of vermiculture compost per pot, I never give these plants anything extra the whole year round.

The parts of the garden which are deprived of direct sunlight, especially under two adjoining fruit trees, is one of the best spots to grow crotons. Usually, when we buy crotons from a nursery they have colourful foliage but within a few days, the colours fade and the leaves also fall one by one. These plants usually come from places like Bangalore, where they perform very well. Under our climatic conditions they do not respond as well. However, when such plants are grown at locations as suggested above they may initially shed their leaves but soon new leaves emerge that are rich in colour.

The plants grown in the soil under a tree do not shed leaves even during winter. People have often experimented by putting the plants in the soil along

with the pots. After winter, such pots are again extracted from the soil. No leaf shedding takes place in these cases.