The power of plants
Emily Smoor shows us how to bring the outdoors, inside
My favourite thing about this time of year (apart from a bare ankle) is watching nature revel in the warmth of summer. New life creeps out of the earth, buds open and trees are lush and green. A walk surrounded by nature feels good for the soul, so why wouldn’t we want to bring that feeling indoors?
It is not just the Earth Mothers amongst us who are advocates of the importance of plants either. NASA’s Clean Air Study is one of the many bodies of research proving the power of plants. Their findings show that certain common indoor plants, as well as being oxygenators, can act as ‘pollutant sponges’ removing toxic agents from the air. The study revealed that air cleaning could be accomplished with one plant per 100 square feet. So if your houseplant quota doesn't meet NASA’s requirements; my go-to list of low maintenance plants will help you to bring that outdoor feeling, inside.
Hard to Kill
CACTII, 'full of character and virtually carefree'
If you haven’t noticed the cactus trend, where have you been? This prickly family’s natural habitat is in desert-like conditions so they thrive on bright light and dry soil.
SANSEVIERA TRIFASCIATA, 'ideal for hallways'
Also known as Mother in Law’s Tongue, this is one of the few indoor plants that does well with very low light levels.
CRASSULA OVATA, 'a great option to get kids interested in plants'
This hardy exotic succulent, also known as a the Money Plant thanks to its fleshy coin-like leaves, is often used in Feng Shui to promote prosperity. They only require a little light and water. Broken leaves can be popped in soil and grown as cuttings.
YUKKA ELEPHANTIPES, 'good for small spaces'
This striking specimen is a great stand alone plant. Also known as the ‘Stick Yucca’ its tall, upright nature means that it works well in narrow areas where space is at a premium.
DID YOU KNOW?
House plants release very little or no pollen and are unlikely to trigger hayfever. In fact it is thought that they are beneficial to allergy sufferers thanks to their ability to remove pollutants.
There are more unusual ideas that add invaluable character and style to a space. Living walls have been all the rage in the luxury market but thanks to Dobbies, you can now recreate the look yourself. Their “Wonder Wall Living Wall Starter Kit’ (from £9.99) along with their online planting guide is everything you need to get started.
Ficus Microcarpa Ginseng
Often used for bonsai, just like their miniature cousins, the supersized versions are trained into interesting shapes, bringing that Eastern feeling of Zen into the home. Ikea, £70.
BEAUCARNEA RECURVATA - ELEPHANT'S FOOTS
This unusually shaped houseplant has a swollen lower trunk and slender neck which is topped with a plume like foliage. It is curiously beautiful but while it can survive with little care, it will do best with frequent watering. Available at Banks Florist, Stockbridge.
I just love the look of a mini lemon or orange tree. They bring a bit of Mediterranean glamour to a space. They take a bit more care but it’s about as close to the Med as Scotland is going to get.
If you have patience and are happy to do a bit of at home engineering, this vigorous climber can be trained to crawl along metres of wire around shelves, windows and across ceilings.
LIGHT IT UP
Uplighting plants is an easy way to bring atmosphere to a room. They create drama by throwing interesting shadows and give a relaxing soft light. Try Astro’s paintable ‘Marasino’ uplighter (around £50) for floor plants or go all out for the Buckland uplighter by Vaughan (£432). This gorgeous sculptural piece is ideal for lighting a hall console table and could pass for a piece of art during the day.
Most of our furniture, especially in living rooms and kitchens, stands around waist level, leaving vast areas of space. By introducing tall plants, you break up the space and unite otherwise stratified levels. Placing a hanging planter at height will draw the eye up. Trailing succulents such as Senecio Rowleyanus or String of Pearls require much lesscare than the thirsty ivy family. If watering at height isn’t your thing, Maxi Fleur does an excellent range of faux trailing succulents. They are incredibly realistic, and, at a height, no one will ever know.