Which plants would be suitable for an unheated conservatory or porch? If you have a conservatory or porch that is heated only by the sun (i.e. no radiators or heating system), you will have to choose your plants carefully as it will get very cold in there in the winter months. There are some plants that will be happy here but some that will simply die off at the first cold spell. Likewise, there are some that will die off if left in direct sun during the summer months so first consider which plants you might like, then decide where to place them.
As the temperature will drop drastically during winter months, you will have to choose hardy houseplants for your conservatory. Some may need to be placed outside during the summer though, as the heat and sun may scorch them. Hardy plants are quite happy with a minimum temperature of around 7 degrees (C), so as long as temperatures don’t go much below that and they aren’t subjected to frost, they should do well.
Here are a few suggestions, but as always, check the plants needs, then consider where to place them.
1. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) – Cyclamen is a great choice for a cooler conservatory or porch (though make sure you place it outside during summer months). It’s a very popular houseplant due to its pretty flowers and heart-shaped leaves. It likes temperatures of 10-15 degrees (C) in winter. Keep it out of direct sunlight. Water well, ideally by standing in a saucer of water rather than watering from above as this can cause the leaves and flowers to rot. It enjoys humidity so mist leaves frequently or stand on a bed of pebbles and water. Feed once a week during active growth.
2. Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula) – This carnivorous plant traps insects that land on its leaves, then it slowly digests them. It’s a fascinating plant, often a conversational starter for visiting family or friends. It has the added bonus of keeping the number of flies in your home at a minimum. It likes to be kept moist, not soggy but just moist. Place it in a sunny spot, it even likes some direct sun, with temperatures from 6-21 degrees (C). It will be happy in an unheated conservatory, even during a cold winter. It doesn’t need fed as it gets all its nutrients from insects it catches.
3. Desert cacti/Prickly pear (Opuntia microdasys) – There are so many types of desert cacti, most would be suitable to a conservatory or porch. Their unusual shapes and spikes make them an interesting choice for your space. Prickly pear is a very unique shape with its green oval segments. Cacti hail from the desert, therefore like lots of sunlight. The desert gets very cold at night, therefore cacti are used to low night temperatures…perfect for an unheated conservatory. Water it moderately during summer and sparingly during winter (if it is very cold, make sure it doesn’t sit in water, soil should be kept dry). Feed once in spring and one in summer.
4. Hens and chicks (Echeveria derenbergii) – This interesting succulent is perfect for an unheated conservatory, it is happiest with lots of direct sunlight in summer and a cooler temperature in winter. Water it sparingly (it retains moisture in its leaves to cope with drought), always let the soil dry out completely between waterings. It is best to water it by placing pot in a saucer of water as any water that lodges on the fleshy leaves could cause rot. Feed one a month during active growth.
5. English ivy (Hedera helix) – There are many varieties of English ivy, some have green leaves, others have variegated leaves. Ideally they like cooler rooms but they can thrive in a variety of temperatures. You may need to place it outside during the summer if your conservatory gets very hot, but it will be perfectly happy in there in the cooler temperatures of winter. It prefers bright, indirect light. Water moderately in summer and sparingly in winter, and feed once a month in spring and once a month in summer.
These are just a few suggestions, there are lots of plants that would thrive in a conservatory that will be hot in summer and cold in winter. Research the needs of the plant before you purchase it and it should do well. Click here for more info on plants for a heated conservatory.
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