Pantone – the almighty authority on colour – have recently announced their colour of the year for 2017. It is called “greenery” and is described as “a refreshing and revitalising shade … symbolic of new beginnings.” After months spent indoors with the windows firmly shut, it’s exactly the kind of colour we all need right now. What better way to invest in the trend than with a pot of actual greenery …
Words | Nell Card
The presence of an indoor plant – be it delicate and free-flowing, or bold, shiny and structured – can transform a lifeless room. Aside from their aesthetic value, houseplants really do improve your home environment. Provided you give them the minimal care and attention they deserve, they will release oxygen, suppress mould spores and airborne bacteria and filter out man-made pollutants.
To help you navigate the jungle that is the houseplant market, we have identified four key trends and asked a panel of industry experts to reveal the houseplant they’ve been preening …
Succulents: Climbing the Ladder
What are they: Spiky, structured succulents are omnipresent right now. They come in a multitude of shapes and colours, from dusty mauve to deep emerald green. They are characterised by their thick, fleshy leaves which act as water reserves.
How to display them: All avid gardeners will tell you to group plants in odd numbers. Pot in miniature terracotta pots in groups of three or five. If you have an empty corner, they also look great lined up along the rungs of a vintage step ladder.
How to keep them alive: These plants grow in desert conditions, where the soil is very free-draining, so make sure they are displayed in a pot with a hole in the bottom, and mist it once every two weeks – even less in the winter. Keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid discolouring or scorching the leaves.
Terrariums: Garden in a Bottle
What are they: The low-maintenance, high-impact member of the houseplant family, a terrarium is essentially a miniature garden in a glass container. A cluster of small-leaved, slow-growing plants such as succulents, small ferns and miniature palms are dug into a bed of gravel or small pebbles and houseplant compost and largely left to their own devices.
How to display them: Terrariums make excellent DIY-projects (scroll down for details of our workshop), giving you complete creative control over the finished aesthetic. For a contemporary version, invest in a geometric copper and glass container. For something more understated, an oversized apothecary bottle will make a stunning centrepiece. Just avoid multicoloured aquarium gravel, and you can’t go far wrong …
How to keep them alive: Position out of direct sunlight and preen every so often. The glass container replicates the hot and humid environment these plants know and love, virtually illuminating the need for watering. Mist occasionally and if the enclosure gathers condensation, remove the lid for a day or two to allow air to circulate.
Kokedama: The New Hanging Basket
What are they: A Japanese trend (the name translates literally as “moss ball”), these are spheres of living greenery comprising of delicate, free-ranging plants springing from a moss-wrapped nucleus.
How to display them: These green globes can be sedentary, but we prefer to see them suspended by string above head height, which will require a ceiling hook, or sturdy ‘S’ hook attached to the edge of a high shelf. A modern hanging basket, if you will.
How to keep them alive: Like most houseplants, kokedama like to be hung out of direct sunlight and given a good soaking once a week during growing season. Drain thoroughly before rehanging to avoid drip-damage.
Cacti: An Architectural Statement
What are they: Mean-looking and architectural in aesthetic, the cactus has kept up with many decades of interior trends. Native to the desert and savannah situations, they are hardy by nature, requiring dry air, a hot temperature, bright sunshine and low moisture.
How to display them: Depending on your space, you can incorporate miniature cacti into a succulent display or opt for scratching-post sized specimens. Make sure you display a range of heights and girths and cluster in odd numbers. We think they look especially tough in vintage terracotta or natural seagrass baskets.
How to keep them alive: Position in a sunny spot all year round. Desert cacti like to rest in the winter, so allow the compost to virtually dry out between (infrequent) watering. Water from April onwards, allowing excess water to drain away and make sure they get plenty of fresh air after a stuffy season indoors.
Industry Experts’ Favourite Houseplants
Angela Maynard, founder, Botany
“One of my favourite plants is the purple Oxalis Triangularis (picture by @katebe), which looks great in an understated ceramic planter or antique terracotta pot, which let the plant do the talking. This looks perfect in the living room, so you can enjoy it all day. The leaves follow the light so they look different everyday. Position in full sun, water only when the soil is completely dry and, when potting on, use a mix of sand and compost to make the soil more free-draining.”
Jack Sheldon, florist, Grace and Thorn
“If I had to narrow it down and choose just one houseplant, it would be the Kentia Palm. They have a 1920s Regency vibe about them that I believe all rooms need. It will look good in anything from simple weathered terracotta to modern concrete. Simply water once a week and stand in indirect sunlight.”
Terri and Katie, co-founders, Worm London
“Our favourite is the Fiddle Leaf Fig. It is interesting, sturdy, easy to manage and creates a beautiful shape. The green is dark and it’s so exciting to see a new leaf grow. It is a statement plant, so it looks good on its own in a beautiful but plain pot, on a table plinth or just on the floor. Like most plants it likes bright, indirect sunlight. The top of the soil needs to be wet so watering once a week is usually sufficient. We would fertilise it a few times during growing season and repot in when it grows too big for its boots. Also it’s important to keep the leaves dust-free: we wipe the leaves with a wet cloth so it can absorb all the light that it needs.”
John Tebbs, founder, The Garden Edit
“Top of my list is the Begonia Rex, or Painted Leaf Begonia. There are a multitude of hybrids with crazy leaf colour and pattern. They have something of a 70s vibe – I remember my grandfather had them – but they are really starting to be noticed again now. They really bring to life the object and surroundings they are placed in and are relatively easy to maintain. They are happiest in a light place, out of direct sunlight. A regular level of watering should be maintained – they don’t like to be over watered, or they will rot. Also they are fond of humid conditions, but not direct misting.”
• For more inspirational images, browse our houseplants board on Pinterest.