Growing leaf and flower plants inside our homes dates back to ancient times with the use of Roman loggias. It spread during the Renaissance when glass-makers were able to create large, bright windows.
In the 19th century, common rooms began to extensively harbor an even wider range of plants. Hosts tried to created various exotic atmospheres. Here are 6 exceptionally easy and beautiful houseplants with strong ornamental appeal.
Bring a touch of exotic to the apartment
Succulent plants offer an extraordinary range of shapes, colors, and blooms. Thus, small plump cacti contrast with tall candelabras, which again are markedly different from the tousled tuft of an elephant’s foot (Beaucarnea).
Yucca for indoor spaces
Yucca evokes the arid regions of Mexico. They’re versatile “shrubs” that demonstrate great robustness. For indoor spaces, two species are sold: Yucca elephantipes and Y. aloifolia, along with variegated or purple cultivars. The first, Y. elephantipes, has wide and cascading leaves and tends to branch out. It requires occasional trunk trimming to limit its height. The second, Yucca aloifolia, has slender, tapering, and rigid leaves along a single trunk. Beware, as Yuccas have sharp leaf tips, so place them away from high-traffic areas!
- They enjoy spending the summer outdoors (gradually acclimate them to sunlight) or in a well-ventilated and bright room.
- All these slow-growing plants require very light watering in winter and can tolerate temporary drought.
- In summer, add flower fertilizer every 15 days.
- Repot succulent plants when roots start protruding from the pot, or when they run around the entire root ball. Use well-draining cactus soil as a potting mix.
Zamioculcas for long-lasting greenery
The ZZ plant bears striking fern-like fronds, and each one lasts a very long time – up to a year! There are many different Zamioculcas to choose from, so we’ll only focus on one in particular: the black “Raven” variety. It grows about 2 feet tall (60+ cm) and the fleshy leaves turn blacker and blacker with time and bright light.
- This plant copes well with only being watered occasionally.
- Place it wherever you like: more light for more growth, less light for fewer fronds.
- Every couple years, tease the root ball out of its pot: if rootbound, either repot to a larger pot or split the plant into two smaller ones.
- Learn more about ZZ plant care
Tropical ambiance and lush foliage
Subtropical and tropical zones provide us with many plants that are tolerant of our dry indoor environments, such as Ficus and Anthurium. Their glossy, variegated foliage and unusual blooms create a pleasant impression of exotic lushness.
Ficus benjamina as an indoor plant
This giant of forests, reaches over 45 feet (15 meters) in height – in the wild! – and has a flexible structure and beautiful oval glossy leaves. It is one of the most favored plants to have made its way into our interiors. Enhance its ornamental aspect with specimens that have twisted or braided trunks. There are also cultivars with cream-variegated foliage like ‘Variegata,’ which brighten up darker corners of the room.
- In winter, place the pot in a very bright location, sheltered from direct sunlight but not too hot, at 55-60°F (12-15 °C), even (up to 70°F / 20 °C for variegated foliage). Keep the soil moist but not excessively wet.
- Create a warm and humid atmosphere in summer by misting the foliage and watering abundantly. If possible, take the plant outside to a partially shaded area in the garden.
- Fertilize from spring to the end of summer, once every 1 to 2 weeks.
- Repot annually in late April using humus-rich soil.
- For further information: how to properly care for ficus benjamina
Anthurium thrives as an indoor plant
Bright red spathes against dark green foliage: Anthurium has unmatched seductive power! This close relative of the arum produces tiny flowers clustered on a spike called a “spadix,” which emerges from a spectacular red, pink, or white spathe. This floriferous plant with abundant and persistent foliage makes a magnificent decorative element for the home. There are two main species:
- Anthurium andreanum hybrida features large, shiny, and veined spathes, along with medium-sized heart-shaped foliage. It blooms throughout the year.
- Anthurium scherzerianum hybrida, on the other hand, only blooms in spring. It has a more imposing silhouette, reaching 60 to 75 cm in height, with elongated, somewhat leathery leaves measuring 20 to 25 cm in length, in a matte green shade. Spathes display colors ranging from very elegant white to dark pink and red, sometimes speckled with white. This species requires a time of winter dormancy to promote flowering: place it at a temperature just below 60°F (16 °C) during winter.
- Place Anthurium in a bright and warm location, avoiding direct sunlight. Opt for a plastic pot so that soil temperature stays higher.
- Consistently water with lukewarm water. Mist foliage during the growth period without wetting the flower spathes, since water might stain them. If wet, gently wipe dry with a damp sponge. You can also place the pot on a bed of moist clay pebbles. In winter, wait for the surface of the pot to dry out before watering.
- Add half-strength liquid flower fertilizer every 15 days (except in winter).
Zen apartment ambiance
Clean lines, greenish tones for a soothing effect, these are the characteristics of plants like the dragon tree or peace lily. These low-maintenance plants can tolerate moderate to bright light. With slow growth, they can withstand neglect without showing any signs of withering!
Easy dragon trees – Dracaena
- Maintain constant but not excessive humidity.
- Fertilize weekly with flower fertilizer in summer, once a month in winter.
Peace lily – Spathiphyllum – in the apartment
This tropical Araceae has glossy foliage from which greenish to white inflorescences emerge, especially in spring and summer. Similar to Anthurium, it’s the bract surrounding the spike that creates the interest in flowering. This plant can measure between 20 cm and 60 cm depending on the variety and can live for many years.
- Place it closer to the window in winter and ensure the plant is kept above 16°C.
- In summer, place it above a tray filled with moist clay pebbles or mist the foliage.
- Fertilize with flower fertilizer from March to September every 2-3 weeks.
- For further information: Spathiphyllum: growing it right