The humble house plant is officially hip again with low maintenance statement greenery the envy of every budding interiors stylist. This week, Róisín Carabine from Northern Woman Magazine gives us the low down on the latest trends in home interiors.
Potted foliage is having a design moment right now, with plants of all shapes and sizes making an artful appearance indoors carefully placed on windowsills, skilfully arranged atop of a stack of books or trailing from shelves. The seventies spider plant is slowly crawling its way back inside together with more stylish botanicals that offer a bit of a twist on your usual greenery. Think leafy ferns, palms and oversized fiddle leaf figs. Aloe plants and tall specimen cacti. The latter is a firm favourite with Pinterest ‘fashion gardeners’ with hundreds of pins dedicated to its many varieties.
“Living greenery in the home is big news right now and social media is fuelling the trend with Instagram and Pinterest bursting with potted plant images and creative ways to display them,” says Chris Reid, director at Reid’s Florists, Belfast, who has noticed a sharp decline in the sale of artificial plants – last year’s go-to greens.
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Where once house plants where the province of an older generation who had the knowledge and time to tend to them, a younger, hipper crowd of twenty to thirty-somethings who aren’t particularly green-fingered are being charmed by their style impact. “This shift in buyers is reflected in the type of plants that are selling,” says Chris. “Succulents and cacti are our biggest sellers. They’re pretty hard to kill and require very little maintenance. Whilst they don’t mind being neglected in winter they will need more watering in summer. The ideal method is to stand the pots in a bowl of water up to soil level until saturated, then remove and allow them to drain freely.
“Yucca plants are growing in popularity too as is mother-in-law’s tongue (otherwise known as sanseveria), a tall, thick-leafed plant that looks like giant blades of grass. Our younger customers want simple structural plants that are green – nothing flowering – that sit well in minimal interiors,” says Chris. Richard Gray, horticultural manager at Dobbies, Lisburn has seen a surge in big foliage plants such as indoor palms, ferns and large Swiss cheese plants. Why have tiny cacti if your living space is big enough to accommodate a tree? He attributes the growing popularity in house plants to this year’s interiors trend for all things green and white. “One statement plant can make the same impact in a room as a painting or piece of art, only it’s a lot more cost effective,” says Richard. Plus, there’s the added satisfaction of nurturing it and watching it grow.
“Containers and pots are changing too. Sculptural white or single colour pots are in. And while terrariums where hugely popular in 2016, we’ve seen a move towards cluster collections of the same plant or different sized plants being used to make a design statement,” says Richard.
Three Ways with House Plants
Airplants on cork from Dobbies, £19.99; INDOOR GARDEN from Crowdyhouse.com, £137; Terrarium Starter Kit from Oakroomshop.co.uk, £19.99
Indoors gardens are contained so can be as big or as small as your capabilities or desire allows. For the more botanically adept, growing from seed offers new challenges in terms of design but also the amount of nurturing required. Ikea is all over this trend with its indoor hydroponic growing kits and cultivators which range from single tier units that fit atop a bedside table to multi-tiered units that make the most of vertical spaces.
“Growing vegetables and herbs indoors has really kicked off.” says Linzi Stewart, manager at Hillmount Garden Centre, Belfast, “and is being given extra momentum by kids persuading their parents to ‘grow their own’.” It can be as simple as a few microgreens and herbs on the windowsill to carefully curated displays of tomato plants, carrots, green beans and potatoes in wooden crates.
“Indoor living walls, or vertical gardens are also a growing trend,” says Linzi who has created some stunning displays for the city’s offices and events. “They look amazing but are difficult to achieve and you need the space as well as an interest in plants and their upkeep to make it work.” Again it’s Pinterest championing this trend with stunning stylised images of indoor moss walls and living walls of Golden Pothos plants. A quick and simple cheat’s take is to fix a wooden trellis to one wall and hang a variety of trailing potted plants from it.
While there’s no denying that our love of house plants is blooming, it’s not all style over substance. The young crop of ‘fashion gardeners’ may not initially be aware or even interested in the health benefits of plants and how they help purify the air, lower blood pressure, increase concentration and even reduce stress “but they are aware of how life enhancing being surrounded by greenery and nature is and how plants can make us feel happier,” says Chris.
Decorate with plants in six simple steps
1. Take the humble pot to new heights by arranging them vertically on a wall like a piece of art. For a greater impact choose pots of the same colour and material and use to display varieties of the same plant.
2. Be crafty with the types of containers you choose. Artfully arranged teacups and saucers, Campbell’s Tomato Soup tins and even jam jars can elevate your humble plant to a new dimension.
3. Clustering arrangements is huge on Pinterest. Why display one plant when you can decorate with a whole cluster of plants on windowsills, table tops and shelves?
4. For a stunning table centrepiece refresh, add an assortment of colourful cacti in a large shallow dish or goldfish-type glass bowl. Layered stand or stones will add even more interest.
5. If you’ve the space, make a style statement with a super tall tree in your living room. An oversized Fiddle Leaf can look fabulous in a hessian sack or heavy duty canvas bag.
6. “Displaying plants on wooden ladders in a bathroom can instantly give the space a sanctuary feel,” says Ikea stylist Carl Braganza. “Choose plants that thrive in a steamy environment and play with different textures, leaf shapes or trailing plants.”
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