Indoor plants are trending globally. Social media is abuzz with plants! Locally, our dramatic drought has had an unexpected additional effect: locals have turned to indoor plants to green their homes and offices. So we have an eager new eager-to-learn generation of new plant lovers. Most of these eager new greenies are uninformed, as the last time indoor plants were in fashion was in the
A useful approach for advising on choosing and caring for indoor plants, is to consider where the plant comes from and how it grows in its natural environment, and then try to mimic that. Many of the trending plants are fussy, so care instructions need to accompany the new foster child…
And most in demand are Tall Plants , so we look at three tall plants …
Indigenous to West Africa, the Fiddle Leaf Fig grows in dense tropical rain forest. It is the interior designer’s favourite accent plant – if say a decent 2m tall (Heibel & De Give, 2015: 65) – sadly, not yet available locally as they are still growing…! A very desirable plant for its violin shaped leaves, its striking irregularity, and because they prefer tender loving care. A happy Ficus lyrata is an indication of an observant & caring plant owner! Once settled and happy, a mature plant is easy to care for and grows satisfyingly fast. They like a brightly lit position, and can tolerate morning sun (Langan & Vidal, 2017: 118). They need to dry out completely before watering, prefer less water in winter & don’t like being moved. They can take 15 years to reach maturity (Koster & Sibley, 2017: 118). Watchpoint: Overwatering leads to brown blotches on the leaves and can be fatal…
This is the best choice now for an instant tree-like feel indoors! Indigenous to South Africa, this tall sculptural plant grows dauntingly huge in an open garden, but usually only 2-3m when potted (Letseli: 2002 in PlantzAfrica.com; Pepler, 2009: 97). Also called the (Natal) Wild Banana, this is the plant of choice of The Terrace at The Mount Nelson Hotel – it brings the tropics indoors! Easy to grow in semi-shade or high light, it is water-wise, loves humidity and likes a lot of compost (Heibel & De Give, 2015:196). Watchpoint: Root system is powerful, so make sure that you have a large enough pot.
A perennial favorite, a large exotic delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa) is an imposing presence in a room. Inclined to send out roots looking for branches to hang on to (as it normally grows in trees). It is a fast grower, loves rich well-draining soil, humidity (spray regularly, or place on a pebble bed with water – Langan & Vidal, 2017: 196) and less water in winter. Don’t overwater. Plants of up to 1m are obtainable, but they are fast growers and you will soon have an imposing plant. Watchpoint: It needs space – and staking, pruning & tying to encourage upward growth (Claffey, 2015: 178). Also of interest is that not all delicious monsters are the same, they don’t all grow large, so make sure that you don’t have a smaller variety… so buy big!
All plants help to clean the air, some even actively get rid of toxins in the atmosphere, so there are hidden advantages to going green indoors. Besides just the happy feeling that an indoor jungle gives you! In return, spray and dust the leaves, feed regularly with an organic or natural plant food, and shine the leaves with milk & water once a month.
Claffey, B. 2015. Indoor Green: Living with Plants. Australia: Thames & Hudson
Heibel, T & De Give, T. 2015. Rooted in Design: Sprout Home’s guide to creative indoor planting. New York: Ten Speed Press
Koster, M & Sibley, E. 2017. Urban Botanics: An indoor plant guide for gardeners. London: Aurum Press
Langan, A & Vidal, J. 2017. Plant Style: How to greenify your space. Australia: Thames & Hudson
Letsela, M. 2002. http://pza.sanbi.org/strelitzia-nicolai (as accessed 21/07/2018)
Pepler, D. 2009. Immergroen: Stories oor plante. Cape Town: Human & Roussouw