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The Best Plants for a Conservatory: Sun-Loving Options for Garden Rooms

Imagine relaxing in your conservatory, surrounded by an array of vibrant, exotic plants for a conservatory. The sun streams in, casting dappled light on glossy leaves, and the air is heavy with the scent of blooming flowers. Sounds idyllic, right? But achieving this paradise-like setting requires careful consideration of the types of plants that will thrive in your conservatory’s unique conditions. From sun-loving tropical plants to sturdy succulents, this guide will help you navigate the world of conservatory plants and create a lush, flourishing garden room.

Short Summary

  • Choose the perfect conservatory plants based on light, temperature & humidity preferences

  • Add drama and colour with tropical plant options like Bird of Paradise & Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

  • Create a balanced display by mixing leaf shapes/sizes and utilizing vertical space + accessories/furniture

Choosing the Perfect Conservatory Plants

Choosing the perfect conservatory plants is like casting characters for a play. Each plant, with its unique attributes and needs, plays a role in setting the stage for a vibrant garden room. The most successful conservatory plant displays are those where each of the best conservatory plants not only survives but thrives, adding to the overall harmony of the garden room.

While some plants may be divas, requiring bright light and high temperatures, others may thrive in the supporting role, comfortably nestled in the shade of their taller counterparts. For example, the Yuccas, with their tough character, can stand alone in a heated or unheated conservatory and still shine, while the tender tropical plants like house plants may need the warmth of a heated conservatory to flourish.

It’s all about understanding the specific needs of each plant and creating an environment where they can thrive together.

Light Requirements

Just like us, plants need light to thrive. However, not all plants have the same light requirements. Understanding each plant’s sunlight requirements helps us give them the ideal spot in the conservatory. For instance, desert plants can bask in direct sunlight all day, while others, particularly some tropical plants, might prefer a little shade to protect them from scorching.

To ensure that all your conservatory plants get the right amount of light, consider installing artificial shades. These can help protect your plant displays from getting too much sun and can be particularly handy in a hot conservatory where the sun’s rays can be intense.

Temperature Tolerance

Just like each of us has a favourite season, plants too have their preferred temperature ranges. While most citrus plants may need fairly constant conditions, plants from semi-arid regions can handle the chill much better. Mediterranean species, for instance, like some seasonal variation, thrive as long as the conservatory temperature doesn’t dip below 10°C.

Tender tropical plants, on the other hand, need a minimum temperature of at least 15°C to thrive in a conservatory. And then there are the cool customers like the Pelargoniums, which can bask in bright light, and endure hot summers, and cool winters, as long as they don’t get too much water. It’s all about striking the right balance to ensure that each plant gets the temperature conditions it needs to thrive.

Humidity Preferences

Humidity – the amount of water vapour in the air – plays a crucial role in plant health. Some plants like it humid while others prefer drier air. Most tropical plants, for instance, hail from rainforests where the air is heavy with moisture. On the other hand, cacti and succulents, native to semi-arid regions, prefer warm and dry conditions.

Maintaining the right humidity levels is key to a thriving conservatory. In winter, it’s best to cut back on watering, especially if your conservatory isn’t heated, as most plants don’t grow much over winter and sitting in cold, wet soil can cause their roots to rot. To give your bright light plants some extra humidity, you can put pots on a dish of pebbles and water, or mist the leaves regularly.

A great tip for maintaining humidity is to use LECA (Light Expanded Clay Aggregate), tiny expanded clay pellets which can hold a lot of water. You can put plant pots on trays with LECA to allow moisture to evaporate around the leaves, creating a nice, humid atmosphere.

Tropical Plant Options for a Conservatory

Tropical plants, with their vibrant colours and lush foliage, are great choices for a conservatory. They bring a touch of the tropics to your home and transform your conservatory into a tropical paradise. And the best part is, they can thrive in conservatory conditions, making them an excellent choice for those looking to add a dash of drama and colour to their garden rooms.

From the eye-catching Bird of Paradise, with its big paddle-shaped leaves and bright orange and blue flowers, to the Rose of China, a tropical shrub with big, pretty flowers in shades of pink, red, and white, there are plenty of options to choose from, including those with purple flowers. Or consider the Mandevilla, a tropical vine with shiny green leaves and flowers in various shades of pink, red, and white. Each of these plants offers a unique aesthetic, adding to the overall harmony of your conservatory.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), with its big, eye-catching blue-green leaves and sky-blue flowers, is a striking addition to any conservatory. It’s bold foliage and exotic flowers that resemble the head of an exotic bird make it a remarkable centrepiece. The Bird of Paradise loves humidity, so setting it on a tray of pebbles or gravel with water will make it feel right at home.

A word of caution, though. The Bird of Paradise loves warmth and needs to stay above 10°C during winters. But with just a little care and attention, it can transform your conservatory into a tropical paradise with its stunning, bird-like flowers.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Rose of China)

For an extra splash of colour in your conservatory, consider the Rose of China (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). This tropical shrub is an evergreen delight, boasting big trumpet-shaped flowers in all sorts of colours, including:

  • White

  • Yellow

  • Red

  • Pink

Caring for the Rose of China is fairly straightforward. Here are some tips:

  • It loves a little bit of shade, especially when the sun is at its peak.

  • Keep the soil moist from spring to fall, and let the top dry out between waterings in winter.

  • To increase humidity, consider misting the plant or placing it on a tray of damp pebbles.

With regular feeding, your Rose of China will reward you with a show-stopping display of vibrant flowers.


If you’re looking for a plant that will climb and trail, adding vertical interest to your conservatory, look no further than Mandevilla. This tropical vine is a sight to behold with its shiny green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers in various shades of pink, red, and white.

Caring for Mandevilla is as easy as giving it plenty of sun, good soil, and a pot with a drainage hole. With just a bit of care, Mandevilla will reward you with a beautiful display of vibrant flowers and lush foliage, making it a fantastic candidate for your conservatory.

Succulents and Cacti for Conservatories

If you’re looking for the best plants that are both beautiful and low maintenance, succulents and cacti are your best bet. These hardy plants are native to deserts and can withstand extreme temperatures, making them perfect for an unheated conservatory. Moreover, their unique appearances, with varied shapes, sizes, and colours, make them a visually appealing choice for any garden room.

From the rosette-shaped Echeveria and the Jade Plant with its rounded, glossy leaves to the sun-loving Pincushion Cactus, there is a wide array of succulents and cacti to choose from. These plants not only add a touch of exotic allure to your conservatory but are also easy to care for, making them perfect for both novice and seasoned gardeners.


Echeveria, with its rosette-shaped leaves, is a popular choice among succulents. It comes in a variety of colors, ranging from:

  • green

  • burgundy

  • mauve

  • purple

This makes the glossy green foliage a vibrant addition to any conservatory.

While Echeveria loves bright light, it’s best to provide some shade during the harshest hours of the day to prevent leaf scorch. Echeveria is also a great plant for a hot conservatory as it can tolerate higher temperatures better than many other plants.

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

As you venture into the world of succulents, you’ll likely come across the Jade Plant (Crassula ovata). This plant is a popular choice for its:

  • smooth, rounded, glossy, egg-shaped leaves

  • thick, woody stems

  • evergreen nature

  • ability to last up to 100 years

These qualities make it a valuable addition to your conservatory, especially when considering a larger indoor feature bed.

Caring for a Jade Plant involves:

  • Providing it with bright, indirect sunlight

  • Watering it when the soil’s dry

  • Fertilizing it once a month during the growing season

  • Protecting it from extreme temperatures and drafts.

Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)

For a touch of the unusual, consider adding the Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria) to your conservatory. This tiny, squat plant, usually no taller than 6 inches, boasts a round or cylindrical shape, with bumps arranged in a spiral pattern and little, funnel-shaped flowers forming a halo around it.

The Pincushion Cactus:

  • Is a sun-lover, so be sure to place it in a spot where it can enjoy plenty of bright, indirect sunlight

  • Needs only a little water

  • Requires a dose of fertilizer once a month during the growing season to keep it happy

  • Should be protected from extreme temperatures

By following these care instructions, you’ll have a unique and attractive addition to your conservatory.

Citrus Trees for a Touch of the Tropics

Imagine the delight of picking a fresh lemon, orange, or lime right from your own conservatory. Citrus trees not only produce delicious fruits but also add a burst of colour and a delightful fragrance to your garden room. Plus, they’re pretty easy to take care of, making them a fantastic choice for both novice and seasoned gardeners alike.

Whether you prefer the tangy Lemon Tree (Citrus limon), the vibrant Orange Tree (Citrus sinensis), or the zesty Lime Tree (Citrus aurantifolia), these citrus trees are sure to bring a touch of the tropics to your conservatory. All they require is enough sunlight, water, and a little bit of fertilizer, and you’ll have a thriving citrus grove right in your conservatory.

Lemon Tree (Citrus limon)

The Lemon Tree (Citrus limon) is a versatile addition to your conservatory. Its features include:

  • Evergreen nature

  • Attractive foliage

  • Ability to produce fruit within a year

  • The sweet smell of its white blooms in spring and early summer

These qualities make it a popular choice, adding a refreshing fragrance to your conservatory.

Caring for a Lemon. Tree involves:

  • Providing it with bright, indirect sunlight

  • Regular waterings

  • Some fertilizing every now and then

  • Protecting it from frost and wind

By following these steps, you’ll have a flourishing lemon tree that not only looks good but also provides you with fresh lemons right from your conservatory.

Orange Tree (Citrus sinensis)

If you prefer something a bit sweeter, consider the Orange Tree (Citrus sinensis). This evergreen citrus tree is a joy to have in a conservatory, with its fragrant white flowers, glossy evergreen leaves, and juicy oranges.

The Orange Tree needs full sun, regular watering, and some fertilizing every now and then. And don’t forget to protect it from frost and wind. With just a bit of care, you’ll have a beautiful Orange Tree that not only adds a pop of colour to your conservatory but also provides you with fresh oranges.

Lime Tree (Citrus aurantifolia)

For a burst of zest, the Lime Tree (Citrus aurantifolia) is an excellent choice. This deciduous tree grows up to 40m tall and produces small, oval fruits with pointed tips. These little green gems add a vibrant splash of colour to your conservatory and are an excellent source of vitamin C.

Caring for a Lime tree involves planting it in a sunny spot and watering it regularly. Regular pruning will keep it in shape and help it grow. With the right care, your Lime Tree will be a vibrant and productive addition to your conservatory.

Creating a Balanced Conservatory Plant Display

Creating a balanced conservatory plant display is much like painting a picture. Each plant, with its unique shape, colour, and size, adds a stroke of beauty to the overall composition. It’s about creating a balance of colour, form, and texture, where every plant contributes to the overall harmony of the display.

When arranging your plants, consider varying the leaf shapes and sizes, utilizing the vertical space, and incorporating accessories and furniture. These elements not only add visual interest but also create a dynamic and engaging plant display, turning your conservatory into a living work of art.

Mixing Leaf Shapes and Sizes

Just like in a painting, contrast in a conservatory plant display can create visual interest. Mixing leaf shapes and sizes is one way to achieve this. Pairing a big, oval-shaped leaf of a Bird of Paradise with a tiny, lance-shaped leaf of a succulent, for example, can create an engaging contrast.

The key here is to experiment and have fun. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different plants. As long as their light and temperature needs are similar, they can coexist beautifully in your conservatory.

Utilising Vertical Space

In a conservatory, vertical space is often underutilised. However, it offers a fantastic opportunity to add depth and dimension to your plant display. Climbing plants like the Mandevilla or hanging plants like the String of Pearls can be used to draw the eye upwards and create a sense of height.

Tall plants like palms, ferns, and dracaenas are also great for maximising vertical space. You can also consider installing hooks or plant supports for your vining plants or placing them in pots on tall stands or shelves.

Incorporating Accessories and Furniture

Adding accessories and furniture to your conservatory can provide the finishing touches to your plant display. Planters, hanging baskets, and bird baths can add an extra layer of style, while functional furniture like seating or storage can enhance the usability of the space.

Rattan and cane furniture, for instance, are not only durable but also blend well with the natural vibe of a conservatory. Thoughtfully placed accessories and furniture can transform your conservatory from a simple plant room to an extra living space, perfect for relaxation or entertaining.


In conclusion, creating a thriving conservatory is all about understanding the specific needs of each plant and providing the right conditions for them to flourish. From the vibrant tropical plants to the sturdy succulents and cacti and the fragrant citrus trees, there is a diverse range of plants that can thrive in a conservatory. With the right selection of plants and thoughtful arrangement, you can create a balanced and harmonious plant display that not only adds beauty to your home but also serves as a relaxing haven where you can connect with nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

What plants can live in a conservatory?

Plants that are great for conservatories include Mandevilla, Bougainvillea, Hoya, Plumbago, Sarracenia, Lapageria, Strelitzia and Hymenocallis.

What plants for an unheated conservatory?

Go for plants from desert or Mediterranean regions like succulents and citrus if your conservatory is unheated. They can handle cooler winters and temperatures of up to 5°C at night.

Aim to keep the temperature above 10°C at night in winter for best results.

Can I grow citrus trees in my conservatory?

Yes, you can grow citrus trees like Lemon Tree, Orange Tree, and Lime Tree in your conservatory for a vibrant look and delightful aroma.

These trees will bring a splash of color and a sweet scent to your home. They are easy to care for and can be grown indoors or outdoors. With the right care, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.

How can I create a balanced plant display in my conservatory?

Mix leaf shapes and sizes, use vertical space, add accessories and furniture to create a balanced plant display for your conservatory.

Are succulents and cacti good options for my conservatory?

Yes, succulents and cacti are excellent choices for your conservatory as they require minimal care and can survive extreme temperatures.

They are also very attractive and can add a unique touch to any room. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can find something to fit any decor. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive.