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Be inspired every day with Living North
House plants
July 2016
Reading time 5 minutes

In this extract from her new book, Botanical Style, interiors stylist Selina Lake explores the renewed popularity of houseplants

And she picks her favourites.

Living with houseplants
Walk into a home filled with houseplants and you are bound to feel instantly more relaxed. Living plants clean the air, boost the oxygen levels and enhance any room they are in by lending it a fresh, organic style. After a gradual decline in popularity since their heyday in the 1970s, when plants were the must-have home accessory, the trend for houseplants has been revived and is steadily growing in fashionable circles. We’ve seen leafy green patterns trailing over everything from curtains to cushions, and vintage botanical prints and school charts being sought after at auctions and antiques fairs. The houseplant’s renewed popularity started with terrariums, those large glass domes in which plants can be displayed, and this lead to the introduction of succulents, air plants and even large tropical plants that only thrive indoors.

So how should we display all these wonderful plants? Back in the 1970s it was all about the hanging macramé plant holder, which is still a favourite today and perfect when you are creating a boho style or if you don’t have much surface space. For a more industrial arrangement, you could mix worn timber and metallic planters, and accessorise with laboratory-style bell jars and vintage bottles. In my own home I have a collection of different white pots, some ceramic and some enamel. I also like to use baskets and a few black-painted concrete plant pots. 

Foliage not flowers
Flowers have always been an easy go-to when you want to add life to a room, and foliage, despite its lack of blooms, can have a similar effect. Layer plants with different leaf shapes and textures and of varying heights on side tables, mantelpieces or shelves. Here, hearts on a string (Ceropegia woodii) trails over the edge of a side table and sits alongside a jasmine that has been trained into an oval shape. Tall berry stems emerge from a vintage lab bottle and hover over a shaggy mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis cassutha).

My five favourite house plants

Whether you’ve always had a few houseplants dotted around your home or you’re inspired by the crop of botanical images seen all over social media at the moment, I’m sure you have your favourites. Here are a few of mine.

1. Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana)
The beautiful kentia palm has been popular since Victorian times. It doesn’t need much care – just dust the leaves now and then to keep them looking glossy and lush.

2. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) 
A plant with interesting heart-shaped split leaves, which, space permitting, can grow super-tall. Mine is planted in a large pot, which I’ve put inside a seagrass basket and positioned next to my desk.

3. Mind-your-own-business (Soleirolia soleirolii) 
This dense, small-leafed plant comes in various shades of green. I pop them into galvanised pots and arrange them in groups on shelves.

4. Delta maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum)
Graceful, feathery maidenhair ferns make great houseplants. I have several in white ceramic pots dotted around our living room. These shade-loving plants can also be grown in large terrariums as they need high humidity and consistently moist soil.

5. Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
Another large-growing plant with tropical-looking leaves. It needs some space and a little misting every now and then when the air is dry.

Botanical Style, Selina Lake book cover

Botanical Style by Selina Lake, with photography by Rachel Whiting, is published by Ryland Peters & Small.

‘Layer plants with different leaf shapes and textures and of varying heights on side tables’

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