Lately, humble houseplants are garnering more attention than ever. Magazines are filled with fiddle leaf figs and Pinterest is brimming with do-it-yourself terrarium projects. Australian boutique owner and author Bree Claffey is fascinated with how plants can reduce stress, purify the air and connect communities. Bree’s Melbourne shop,
Mr Kitly, is stocked with stylish stands and self-watering pots made by local artisans (including her own dad). She even offers ‘Plant Consultations’! In her first book, , Bree explores our desire to bring the outdoors in and reveals the best houseplants to try in your own home. Indoor Green: Living With Plants
Fiddle leaf figs are one of the most popular houseplants right now. When choosing the right plant for your home it’s important to consider size, shape, texture and color, and to read the label to see if the plant’s needs match up with your home environment. Along with watering, fiddle leaf figs need regular misting and to have their leaves cleaned occasionally.
Care tip: “Once it finds a spot it likes, a good tip is not to move it,” says Bree.
This converted mattress factory in Melbourne houses a variety of rhipsalis and hoya, which both like bright light and a limited amount of water. On top of two colorful milk crates, an indoor elephant ear enjoys indirect sunlight.
Care tip: Elephant ears are tropical plants, so using a humidifier in your room is a good idea.
Devil’s ivy totem is a great plant to tuck in a corner, so long as it gets enough sunlight. It can be placed on a shelf where it will trail over, or can be taught to stand upright with a stake. “It’s one of the most versatile and forgiving plants,” notes Bree.
Care tip: “Brown spots on leaves indicate it is being kept too cold and over-watered. Vines with very long gaps between leaves usually lack adequate light,” says Bree.
A pony tail palm (
pictured on the left behind the chair) is one of the easiest indoor plants to care for because it can tolerate periods of neglect. It originates from the desert and can store water in the base of its trunk. Textile artist Shabd Simon-Alexander has a pony tail palm and plants of all sizes in her Brooklyn loft.
Care tip: “Over-watering is the number one way to kill pony tail palms,” says Bree. During hot, dry weather, water once every three weeks.
Shabd’s ficus alii leans over a pile of her textiles and needs sturdy support. Sunlight can also help your plants stand tall. “They just want to get as close to it as possible, so positioning and turning your pots regularly helps them stand up straight,”says Shabd.
Care tip: If you notice the leaves of your ficus alii dropping it may be too close to your heating or cooling vents, or you may be over-watering it.
Australian designers Mary and Grant Featherston’s home takes loving houseplants to a whole other level. Internal gardens are grown on different levels and wax plants climb a wall next to a small indoor pond.
Care tip: You can keep wax plants in the same pot for years because they don’t mind being root-bound.
The Featherston’s have a dining area overlooking their indoor pond. Ferns, creeping moss, fruit salad plants and calathea grow happily in the moist environment. The calathea’s variegated white leaves add graphic contrast to the green space.
Care tip: Calatheas like distilled water that’s been sitting out. Try watering them with leftover water from beside your bed in the morning.
Jewelry designer Anny Postolidis uses plant stands and hanging baskets to display houseplants at different heights in her Melbourne studio. Maidenhair and Boston ferns (
pictured on a stand and hanging from the ceiling here) are popular choices but can be a bit temperamental. “Water them every day with a full glass of water, and mist their leaves every few days,” suggests Anny.
Care tip: “If you want your Boston fern to keep growing bigger, re-pot it every one to two years in the spring,” says Bree.
If you have a houseplant (
like the fruit salad plant shown here) and are concerned about its roots growing out of the pot and looking unsightly, fear not. “Aerial roots are a sign of a happy and healthy plant,” says Bree.
Care tip: Putting a fruit salad plant on a high bookshelf allows the roots to hang freely.
The homeowners of this bathroom contemplated using botanical wallpaper in their bathroom, but they couldn’t decide on the right pattern. Instead they put a heartleaf philodendron at the bottom of one wall and six years later it’s climbed up the wall, forming a living wallpaper.
Care tip: “Yellow leaves are often the symptom of over-watering and brown edges may be a sign of scorch,” says Bree.
Author: Emily Evans
Indoor Green: Living with Plants by Mr Kitly’s Bree Claffey, Courtesy of Thames & Hudson