If you’ve read our interview with Bloombox Club, you’ll hopefully be near enough experts on house plants; taking care of them, keeping them alive, and the benefits of having them in your home.
Once you’re in the full swing of looking after your green friends, it’ll be time to take the next step – styling them! Who better to ask than journalist, author and creator of Instagram account, noughticulture, Alice Vincent?
Here we uncover her learning and discuss Alice’s top tips for styling plants in the home.
A simple question to begin with, but what’s your favourite plant?
That’s like trying to pick a favourite book or favourite child! It’s so hard, and often changes with the season.
If I had to pick a favourite outdoor plant though it would have to be the Sweet Pea. This is because of their sentimental value – both my grandmother and mother grew them! My favourite indoor plant would have to be the maidenhair fern (I’ve even got this tattooed on my arm!)
What is your top tip for growing plants indoors?
Don’t start with thinking about where a plant would look good in your home. Start by thinking where this plant came from. (this applies to all plants – be they indoors, decorative, outdoors or edible!). If you know where the plant comes from, you can recreate their natural environment as closely as possible.
As an example, a fern comes from forest/woodland areas, so they can deal with a lot of shade and moisture. Ferns are therefore very happy in bathrooms – they get a lovely mist every time you have a shower! Contrarily, a cactus comes from the desert, so they will enjoy bright light and warm areas, and not too much water.
What would you advise for those growing edible plants?
Edible and herb plants like as much light as they can get! They are annual plants (a plant that sprouts flowers, bears fruit and goes to seed all in one year) so they have to do a lot of growing in a short space of time.
However, the number one mistake I see when people grow edible plants is that people over-water them!
Similar to sticking a knife in a cake to test if it’s ready, you can stick your finger in the soil to see if the plant needs water. If you can feel moisture/your finger comes out with soil on it, then you don’t need to water it!
How do you style those places that are good for plants to live but aren’t necessarily stylish?
Personally, I think plants look better-placed closer together. As an example from my own home, I have an ugly bathroom that is humid with a light at one end. I’m therefore going to get a shelf under the window and I’m going to fill it with trailing plants and different types of ferns – both of which will be happy oxidising in this environment and will make a great bathroom feature!
Alternatively, if you’ve got a bare and brightly-lit corner you should try supersizing the plant! Trends are moving towards having large statement plants rather than having lots of little ones at the moment. For big house plants, I’d recommend going for one large ficus plant, aa kentia palm or fiddle leaf fig tree.
Style-wise, I’d recommend either grouping plants together to give a layered indoor flower bed feel, or go just supersized for a more independent statement look.
What do you think is the most versatile plant that would suit any kind of home?
Golden Pothos (otherwise known as Devil’s Ivy) is relatively unkillable as they will put up with very low light levels. As long as you don’t over water them (I water mine once every 3 weeks) they don’t need much food or repotting in them. – they adapt well to the space they’re in: Put them in a dark corner and they’ll grow slowly, or put them in a sunny spot and they will elegantly tumble over things! They are a great versatile plant that quickly make a space look stylish.
What plants would you recommend for people who have a busy schedule / forgetful?
Well, there are a lot of plants that don’t need much water which aren’t just cactuses.
If you’re very busy or forgetful I’d recommend sansevieria (the “snake plant”) or Aspidistra (the “cast iron plant”) or something like a Kentia Palm – as long as you don’t expose them to too much bright light and you give them a dust every once in a while, they’re pretty easy to look after. You only need to water them when you remember really! They are extremely tolerant and are wonderfully dramatic-looking too.
Do you have any go-to places where you get inspiration for styling your plants?
Definitely the Botanical gardens! Although these are styled in a landscape garden way, they are a great place to go to learn about plants in their natural environment.
If you’re lucky enough to go to a tropical country, then this can also be a great source of inspiration. You may suddenly notice that your tiny houseplants are huge and beautiful in their natural environment, and will so encourage you to ask why! Are my conditions similar at home?
My biggest overall inspiration comes from seeing plants when they are happy. Unfortunately ‘stylish plants’ on Instagram and Pinterest aren’t always happy. They may look great on a sunny windowsill, but they may die quickly as a result – so styling becomes redundant!
Do you think there’s a point when a house becomes too much of a jungle?
This is difficult to answer! Peoples homes are so personal to their taste. You could compare this to someone who loves cats and has a lot of cat ornaments, or someone who has an obscene amount of books. It’s totally down to personal taste. If it makes you happy, do whatever you want to do. Have as many plants as you like!
Personally, I’d say I have enough plants to keep me occupied more than the average, but I’m not an indoor jungle type.
What do you look for when you’re photographing plants for your Instagram? Do you have a camera?
I actually use my (somewhat broken!) iPhone which is OK. I’ve toyed with the notion of getting a camera as it’s tempting to emulate those with SLRs and beautiful photos. However, I’ve always come from a place of relative simplicity and the whole point behind my somewhat cryptic instagram handle is that I had no knowledge of horticulture (hence “noughticulture”!). I’m first to admit I’ve come from a place of inexperience and “happy accidents” and my photographs feel authentic like that.
However, I do have some tips:
- Use natural light instead of electric light
- Try to avoid taking photos of green and lush places in the middle of a very sunny day (everything will either be overexposed or too shadowy)
- Give your plants some space in a photo
- If in doubt, hold something up against a white wall
- To showcasing a plant’s growth I will hold it up with my hand. This will give it a sense of perspective and will make it more of a portrait.
Alice Vincent is a Telegraph journalist, a published author and owner of @noughticulture instagram, Becoming a foliage fan all started when she moved into the urban jungle of London – Alice made it her mission to fill her balcony space with a burst of plant life. Like many of us, she felt that much of the gardening information online/in books was using terminology way beyond her understanding. It also usually assumed she had a big garden, and lots of time and money to throw at it! Hence she set up her instagram account for growing house plants.
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