Be creative with post-Christmas decorating

With the holiday decorations coming down at this time, the house may look a little bare. It is time to think about rearrangement of the indoor plants.

My watchword at this time is “group.” Where a few plants scattered around may look like a sparse display, grouping them in a display will have a much bigger impact. Collecting all the containers on the kitchen table, look them over for possibilities. You probably have all sizes, shapes and colors represented, with possibly some holiday gift plants rounding out the collection and lending some color and variety.

Choose a spot that receives sufficient light and will not be easily damaged by the occasional water spill, and start to build a display.

The anchor will be the largest plant you have, maybe a peace lily, a ficus tree or even a sanseveria (mother-in-law’s tongue). It doesn’t really matter what it is, but by virtue of its size, it has probably been around for a while and proved its longevity.

Then, cluster mid-sized plants around it. Vary their height with upended pots under some of the containers as necessary to lend interest, and some creeping or trailing greens will finish off the installation.

Watering will be easier here with all plants in one place, and the contrast of green, style and texture may be surprising.

It is possible to coordinate the containers one way or another. Re-potting them into similar terra cotta or ceramic pots would be nice but not really necessary. Existing pots can go inside larger ones, or simply wrap them with some leftover foil gift wrap. Or apply contact paper in a neutral color, or even paint them in matching shades of one color.

If you don’t want everything in one place, create several smaller arrangements of two or three plants in a small group in different rooms. Right now, I have my mandevilla up in my bedroom window while it recovers from the radical pruning it received when I had to cut it apart from the climbing rose. It is doing well, but looks lonely up there.

By mid-January, some of the geraniums in the basement will have started to leaf out and can be potted up and added to that window display.

My kitchen window sill is the place for small pots of herbs, just chives, parsley, rosemary and mint at the moment, ready for use as needed. They are not looking healthy, but are easily replaceable with those pots from the produce section in the grocery store when needed.

Grouping several plants in one large container makes an effective display. Plants grow better when they are grouped together, with a micro-climate produced with the moisture given off by one plant made available to its neighbors. The individual plants combine for a showy display.

One I like especially is several forms of begonia with leaves in shades of pink, green, silver and white that create an interplay of color.

For a temporary show, leave the plants in their individual pots and nestle them in moist peat.

For a longer-lasting dosplay, knock each one out of the container and group them in a common potting mix. Select a fairly deep container so the mixture does not dry too fast and be sure to include a layer of porous material to soak up any excess water

that drains to the bottom of the pot.

Use a few of these ideas, and you will not miss the Christmas decorations one bit.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at