If I could live in a lush tropical indoor jungle I would, oh how I would!
Lucky we live in the middle of an outdoor tropical forest! But this is our first Winter in our home and it has been cold, rainy, windy and rough. We can’t go outside and frolic amongst the trees like we want too, therefore we have to be content watching the forest through the icy winter condensation on our windows.
Whilst waiting for winter to be over and the ground to dry out I decided there was a need to introduce some ‘indoors nature’ by way of house
I am not great with houseplants as I find them to be quite needy and temperamental. It could be the type of plant I select or it’s more likely to be my laziness. Either way I have killed many plants of a more delicate nature (like maiden ferns) and even the odd cactus. Yes, cactus. Don’t laugh.
My green fingers are really only for outdoors food propagation where the sun and the rain do most of the work. But this winter has been depriving of the soul, so I opted to give this indoor nature thing another go.
There are many great things about houseplants:
they are quiet, need very little care
are a good education tool for children
look lovely in any interior
may or may not produce food
clean the air!
and scent the home
…and who doesn’t want that?
Houseplants, as well as an injection of nature into any interior, can support and enhance many looks. Think Modern-Boho-Gypsy-Romantic, or Minimalist-Scandi-Mid-Century, both work well on their own, but even better with a delicious array of houseplants.
Houseplants are so versatile you can accent your interior with a light peppering of plants, add a pop of green here and there, create a ‘WOW’ statement with a living wall, sectional, or corner jungle if you have lofty ceilings or light and bright airy spaces. False height can also be achieved through the sparse use of thin trunk, bushy top trees of mid range height or if you are brave full height. There is a primal instinct that is instantly calming and comforting about having plants. Given that I could never live in a multi-stacked concrete jungle.
A couple more things to note about houseplants is they may make the place seem alive and look on trend but many can be toxic to small humans and animals so choose both plant and position wisely. I like to hang or position my more delicate, or suspicious plants high out of reach, or contain them where curious little fingers can’t go poking about.
However, surprisingly and shockingly, MOST of the on-trend or classic beauties are on the baddie list. Check it out by clicking the image below.
In my case, I adore the very poisonous Lyrata Ficus aka Fiddle Leaf Fig for its huge paddle shaped leaves and the toxic classic Monsteria Deliciosa aka Fruit Salad and Swiss Cheese plant for their huge tropical leaves… I also love any sort of Rubber tree, any type of palm, the amazing elephant ear plant, Indoor dwarf citrus or fruit trees, whatever tree, tree, tree, ALL THE Trees. I love big plants and big trees indoors, especially if I can’t get outside to run about in the forest because the weather is shit.
It just so happens:
Our house is that habitat of a mini human (child) and a fur baby (cat)
Most if not all those wonderful dream trees/plants (see above) are toxic to the minis’.
Our house is too small to house a forest indoors
Our house is too cluttered to house a forest indoors
The forest I ‘want’ will be too expensive to acquire
I am the only green fingered soul in our dwelling and employ my skills on a part-time, somewhat casual basis…….
So it would be irresponsible of me to have any of the wonderful dream plants above. Therefore being a responsible parent, I settled on a smaller curated selection back in January 2018 to coincide with moving into our new home and they are still alive! Well, most of them. Some of them have prospered through my neglect and some not so much.
Introducing my houseplant
I have a few rare and nostalgic revivals, originally seen in abundance in the 1970’s. I say rare only because they are not a common go-to when you think “houseplants in a modern-day home”. They are also fairly difficult to find nowadays and not cheap when you find them. I brought a beautiful string of pearls for the new house the day we moved in, it was tiny and overwatered, with minimal new growth. The plant was in a beautiful big hanging minimalist style terrarium of blown glass and thick rope. The terrarium survived 2 days before being knocked off its shelf and smashing on the ground. Amidst the destruction I was able to save the main plant and all the broken bits hoping they would propagate, which the did with no trouble at all. I managed to create two thriving plants which I give a little drink in the kitchen sink maybe once every few weeks and I let the water drain out completely (much like caring for an Orchid). In addition to the pearls I found one tiny little heart and some moss. in the sweep up of dirt and glass. With a little encouragement and nice words I have managed to get it to grow into a single string of hearts. SUCCESS.
My prior experience with string of pearl plants is limited to systematically destroying each little pearl between my pudgy child fingers to the extreme delight of the popping sounds until the plant was completely decimated, and at the despair of my mother. Sorry Mum. I was certain my kiddy would be exactly the same (50% my genes, the odds are good) so to preempt this attack, I have cleverly hidden them in plain sight by placing both the thriving pearl plants into clear and mirrored vintage terrariums on the window sill. The kiddy has not even blinked at them.
Another ‘new favourite’ kiddy proof planting method is actually an old favourite way of hanging plants, not by Macrame [this time], but by the ancient and currently trending art of Kokedama. If you don’t know about Kokedama it is a form of Japanese garden art that is centuries old and tied into the practice of bonsai. The look is unique appearing both organic and natural, yet heavily manipulated and controlled at the same time.
I had a go at wrapping a Staghorn Fern. Instead of using dried sphagnum moss I used coconut fibre on the outside of my soil/leaves mix mainly to retain some moisture and nutrients. Staghorn are a parasitic plant, so unlike proper plants they are opportunistic eaters and prefer rotten leaves, Banana peels, Tea Bags and muck. Muck is not a technical term, but you get the gist. This Staghorn has been very temperamental and has had a few issues. I had it outside and it was too wet, too cold and too bright apparently that is the trifecta to make an unhappy plant. You can see this in the picture below by the ‘spotting’ on its leaves. Usually they are pretty hardy and require very little fuss. They just like the odd banana peel and they are happy. It came inside to hang over the bath out of mini’s reach and it is now enjoying a happy growth spurt with no ‘new’ blemishes appearing.
The only maintenance it needs is an occasional ‘meal’ and a drink. The best way to water a Kokedama is in a sink, or a bucket and leave it to absorb the water for a short while. Let the water drain through before hanging it again.
This is a dangerous time for child and plant see the curious little cherub in the pictures. Luckily no grief came to either that day. I probably water it once a month in the winter and you can monitor its needs by the look of vitality in its leaves during the summer months.
There is something quite alien about the look of Staghorn fern and they thrive in a somewhat damp, shady environment so they make perfect bathroom plants. They are also very versatile as they can be hung in Kokedama, a basket, a terrarium, mounted to a board, or in a traditional pot.
Next and a close favourite of mine is a ‘red heart’ arrow head plant. My version boasts a beutiful big leaf with a beautiful blush pink/taupe top with a pale green underside. Now, this one I didn’t realise until writing this post – is toxic – and I have it positioned within reach of the mini’s. I will need to move it as soon as possible because the cat likes to nibble on anything that looks like a plant. Literally, I nearly lost a flax/Reed lamp to her ‘covert’ eating habits. This plant like other arrow heads grow very compact when they are small and then start to branch out in sprawling vines when they mature. They have a beautiful soft romantic look and look amazing when they are hung high with the vines draped. Beware though, I often have to swat ‘pinchy fingers’ away when visitors are curious to check if it is real. They come in a variety of colours and the leaf shaped varies slightly between variations.
Nearing the end of this post I have to admit – Not every plant has made it – I ALSO have some epic disasters in the form of a Cactus named ‘Sugar’ who has been with me for many years – I think it is dead, I think it has been dead for years. But I am still hopeful as long as there is a bit of green on it. My other disasters are the productive food supply indoor kitchen plants – HERBS for short. They need more, or maybe less love and attention than I can provide. I tend to over water, heavily prune, have them in direct sunlight on a sill….. all sorts of wrong. However, to balance it out I do have a thriving and totally accidental pot of potatoes on a table on the deck under the watchful gaze of Buddha. So win some lose some. I am going to keep trying.