The complaint of greenhouse gardeners and it is universal is that our world is too full of a number of plants. We think that we are not looking for specialties but rather how, in the interest of sanity, to avoid them! Yet, many of us find ourselves attracted to certain plants to the point of excluding all others and when we join a plant society devoted to a favorite plant, the pleasure in our accomplishments knows no bounds.
As you experience the joys of gardening under glass, you may find that certain plants appeal irresistibly to you. You may be able to limit yourself to a half-dozen favorites, either because you admire them so much or because your gardening time is limited to a few weekend hours, and growing a compatible group gives you a lot of flowers with some time left to appreciate them.
Perhaps in time you will get more fun from a greenhouse devoted to one plant, as African-violets; or to one family of plants, as orchids or gesneriads; or to one class of plants, as cacti and succulents. Then in a few years you may turn with enthusiasm to quite different ones.
Begonias are unbelievably easy to grow, and you could soon fill a greenhouse with nothing but begonias because there are so many kinds of them, with great diversity of form, color, season, and culture. A greenhouse devoted to, or with a good-sized section for, cacti and other succulent plants can be a mighty interesting place, for what group includes such peculiar forms, such startling flowers?
Camellias are among the most exquisite of shrubs for greenhouse gardening, and while one or two tubs of them may content you for a while, you could give over almost your whole greenhouse to them, particularly if it is a glass-to-ground type. Geraniums could claim your undivided attention the year around: fancy and scented leaves, flowering giants and amusing miniatures, trailing ivy-leaved kinds for baskets, and elegant regal or Lady Washingtons. Perhaps you will fall in love with ballerina-like fuchsias, and want baskets and standards and pots of them all through your greenhouse.
Maybe you will start with African-violets, and become enthralled by the other members of the gesneriad family with its tremendous variations of flower and form, from big exuberant trailing columneas to what may be the tiniest plant in cultivation, Sinningia pusilla.
Bromeliads there are enough to keep a fancier happy for the rest of his gardening life; and the same can be said for ferns. Or maybe you are one who will find satisfaction in growing as many kinds of variegated foliage plants as you can, especially if you have a north-facing greenhouse.
Are you a good cook as well as a gardener? Then how about herbs? Maybe you will start with part of a bench of these, just to have them available for a gourmet touch, but can you stop there? Probably not, especially if you delve into their history, their language, and their ancient uses. Vegetables will hardly claim your attention throughout the year, unless you are mad for tomatoes-that-taste-like-tomatoes in winter. But if you grow vegetables outdoors, you will surely want to give many of them an indoor start in the greenhouse. Recommendations for the culture of the plants mentioned, and for many more, are in Part III of this site. As for orchids, they are my own particular hobby, and I devote the rest of this chapter to telling you of the fun I have with them.