Deep plant thoughts. How to build the perfect houseplant collection.
Updated: Aug 17
Finding the perfect plant for your home can be a little intimidating, there are literally thousands of possibilities. But don't fear, here are a few basics to think on before you start building your very own indoor green oasis.
A quick question... what do you want your plant to do for you?
health- Plants can improve oxygen levels and air flow in your home, decreasing contaminates and pollutants commonly found indoors. They can boost your mood, improve your outlook and aid in recovery (http://pistilsnursery.com/health-benefits-of-houseplants/). Specific plants can help with specific problems, so do a little research before you buy if you have particular issues, otherwise any houseplant will add to your general good health.
looks - Plant material is an essential ingredient in building your dream home. It can add texture, colour and form to a room, match any decor, plus add warmth and a feeling of completion to the space (https://www.decor8blog.com/blog/2016/09/20/6-ways-decorate-plants-urban-jungle-book-review). Plants can reflect your taste and personality (are you unique and quirky like a bromeliad? low-key and interesting like a stand of cacti? or upscale and elegant like a sleek collection of succulents in concrete planters? https://www.simplemost.com/plant-parents-obsessed-houseplants/) Plants can even create an outstanding focal point (think instagram gold, like a wall of climbing peperomia!).
conditions - Choose a few spots where you might want to add a plant, then do a quick survey: what kind of light is in the space? what's the quality of light? and does it change throughout the day? Then choose the right plant for the right place (oxalis or begonia for a shady corner that gets filtered light vs. an architectural cactus in a bright sunny window). Also take into account size (leafy fiddle leaf fig vs. wee cactus) As for placement, don't forget to go vertical and fill air/wall space too (think wall vases, hanging planters and tall containers).
maintenance - What kind of time will you have to care for a plant? how involved do you want that care to be? (ie. choose air plants if you're run off your feet, ferny terrariums for a bit of work or maybe a bonsai tree if want to contemplate life while you prune and shape branches). Take into account how much experience you have with plant care, are you a serial plant killer? or a green thumb? (try air plants or succulents if you're a beginner and then gradually work your way up to something more involved https://www.gardenista.com/garden-design-101/house-plants-growing-care-guide/). And don't be too precious, houseplants can be very resilient and forgiving. I feel like it's better to take a chance, rather than worrying so much about a purchase that you leave the store empty handed. And if all your effort fail, consider temporary options that can be changed out every few months (green walls, moss displays and bulbs can all add colour to your life for a short time and then be replaced).
cost - How much cash do you want to spend? Do you want an urban jungle? (ie lush tropical philodendrons), or a carefully curated collection? (like unique succulents from around the globe) Consider whether you want to stick to common beauties like spider and snake plants for cost effective large displays, or maybe spend a bit more for singular rarities, like your very own bodhi tree!
Now that you've taken a moment to gauge things, don't forget follow your heart and be creative. Why not pick a few rare beauties to anchor your collection (think architectural stunners that will last a lifetime) and then experiment with the rest? I love the idea of purchasing a really special pot (a tiny geometric cement planter or maybe an eye-catching ceramic pot in moroccan blue!) and switching out the materials from time to time. As small plants get bigger, move them along, replacing them with new ones to maintain something of the original design. Or, try experimenting with different scale, sizes, textures and colours in unique combinations. Plants are living things, they grow and change constantly and do have a natural lifespan, so be adaptable and accept that some plants may be temporary while others will last long-term (with the right care). Have fun, and don't worry if you're not an expert, with a few basics you can build the urban jungle of your dreams!
-Sara-Jane & Alicia at simpleleafdesign.com
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