Now let me be honest, when it comes to the garden, I’m no Monty Don, and when it comes to the inside, well, I’m still not Monty Don.
But this doesn’t stop me having all the rooms in my house full of plants. Whenever the husband and I visit the garden centre or a DIY store, I often find myself coming home with an unplanned house plant or two under arm (much to the husband’s dissatisfaction).
I feel especially drawn to the tatty and half dead looking ones on the bargain shelf. I get this overwhelming feeling that I need to save them from the impending doom, otherwise known as the bin! I get a real sense of pride when I get them home, with all the good intentions of the horticultural version of Florence Nightingale, bringing them back from the brink. When in reality, I’m more Nurse Ratched! So, inevitably they soon end up on the compost heap. But does this stop me? Oh no!
As an interior designer, I love having a house full of plants. It fills me with so much joy and yes, ok, they look good on the gram, but that’s not the only benefit they bring into our homes. They make your house look and feel more homely, they can actually help purify the air around you, and if that’s not enough, they are proven to help lower your stress levels too. What’s not to love?!
Whether your home style is warm industrial or simply Scandi, there’s a plant and a watering can just for you.
My front room only gets a small amount of direct sun light during the day, so when it came to choosing plants, I went for a selection whose natural habitat is the forest floor so they will live quite happily with the low levels of light in the room.
Now for a lot of people, a low-lit room would probably have them running for the tin of brilliant white paint. But I decided to embrace the dark, I wanted this room to feel warm and cosy, that’s perfect for snuggling up with the family watching tv. The first thing I did was to expose the red brick work of the chimney breast, (not a fun job) this then set the colour pallet for the rest of the room.
I chose a rich green colour called poison by Zoffany for the walls, ceiling and woodwork, which contrasts beautifully with the other tones around the room. When it came to styling the room, I wanted to introduce rich fabrics, mixed warm metallics and all my favourite objects we’ve collected over the years. For me, house plants are that final flourish to any well styled room, but they do need regular watering, especially the low light loving verity, so imagine how excited I get when I can include the Haws cans and spritzers into my styling!
Gone are the days when watering cans were banished to the back of the cupboard only to come out when you suddenly remember to do the watering.
The Fazeley Flow can and Smethwick Spritzer are so beautifully made, they deserve to be out on display too. I love how they sit nestled into the green fern on top of my gold leaf cabinet. The copper colour compliments the dominant warm gold tones which, when put together with the green of the plants and walls, creates a warm harmonious feel to the room.
Like the front room, I wanted the kitchen to be a relaxed, warm, and inviting space styled with a mash up of different textures and a blend of old and new furniture, but unlike the front room, it has lots of windows, off white painted walls and a mixture of different metallic finishes. Now I know the idea of mixing up metals can seem a bit daunting but, hear me out.
Mixing metals can bring interest to the room, the different metals work together and help add depth which helps guide your eye around the room.
For example, the dominant brass tone of the taps and cupboard handles, and wall lights lead your eyes to the touches of copper on the pendent lights above the kitchen island, which then leads your eye down to the copper handle of The Fazeley can, which sits on the plant coved antique bureau. The cans main galvanised finish draws your eye to the silver finishes dotted around the room.
Now although the kitchen is a very light space, it is actually north facing and doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight, but this didn’t stop me filling with plants. Like the front room, I went for a range of forest floor shade-loving plants. The Kitchen is a much bigger space and I wanted to add more size, so I have four fiddle leaf fig plants which I planted altogether into one large pot, which sits opposite to a large rubber plant that I have put in the same style pot, and together they add drama and height to the room.
If you have a room with little light but want to introduce more plants here is my list of plants that will happily live with lower light levels and a few tips for how to care for them.
Now for me the Peace Lilly is like the Tom Hardy of the plant world, and by that, I mean it’s beauts to look at and it’s hard as nails! So, to keep on its good side just simply follow a few simple rules. Peace Lilies are shade loving so keep the soil moist but not over watered, give the leaves an occasional rub down with a damp cloth, and mist to keep them looking their best. Don’t put it into direct sunlight especially in the summer months as this could burn the leaves. One top tip: when the flowers have passed their best, simply snip the dead flower stem off, making sure to cut it low down to the base and it will keep re flowering for you.
If the peace lily is the Tom Hardy of the plant world, then the Devils Ivy is The Rock! This is one seriously hard plant, in fact it’s called the Devils Ivy because it’s so hard to kill! This plant looks great trailing down from a hanging pot, but if you give it something to climb up and through such as a metal stair bannister, it will be at its happiest. For the upkeep, just simply pop it in either a shady spot away from drafts, water regularly and give the leaves a good mist once in a while. Use supports to spread the climbing stems where you want, position them when young to avoid snapping them. Also, they are super easy to take cuttings from, just simply snip off a stem just above a leaf and pop it in water, within a few weeks you’ll have a new plant ready to pot up.
I absolutely love ferns and the Maidenhair Fern is probably my favourite of them all, (don’t tell the others!). I do have a bit of a confession to make though, I may have had a bit of an issue keeping these plants alive in the past! But after a quick bit of Googling, I soon discovered the issue was, well me! I was putting them in all the wrong places i.e. on a windowsill! Like most ferns, The Maidenhair comes from the forest floor so they love indirect light and damp conditions (I can’t imagine why they kept dying on my south facing windowsill!)
Here’s a few tips to help avoid making the same mistakes as me. To help keep your fern humid and the soil moist, put some small stones into the bottom of the pot and pour in a little water, then place your plant on top. Regularly mist the leaves and clear away any old fronds to keep it tidy and looking its best and it should live happily ever after.
The Spider Plant is one of those plants I remember so vividly from my childhood home; it was this huge plant hanging in the corner of the dining room, with all its little babies dangling down beneath it. (Fun fact: the spider plant got its name, because all the little baby plants hanging down look like little spiders dangling in their web.)
Unfortunately for our plant though, our cat would jump up and attack it on a daily basis desperately trying to get any babies plants that were dangling within its reach, this often ending with my mother chasing after it – the cat that is, not the plant! Unlike the other plants I’ve mentioned, the spider plant’s upkeep is a little different.
Water sparingly in the winter months, and make sure to let the top dry out before you water it again. If the tips of the leaves should turn brown it may be because it’s in a dry atmosphere so simply snip off the brown bits and mist the leaves regularly and it will be happy as Larry.
So, there you have it! a few tips from me and a bit of TLC from you, your plants should not only stay alive but hopefully thrive. And don’t forget when it come plants it’s all about the right location (not a south facing window!) and regular watering with your haws can and spritzer, and they will stay happy and healthy, and of course look good for the gram too.
Matthew Shaw, Interior Designer