House Plants: Fashion Do or Fashion Don’t?


I grew up in a home filled with houseplants.  In my lifetime I have seen homes with more houseplants than even I could live with, but mostly I have seen homes crying out for plants.  They seemed to go out of fashion in the 80s and 90s and when they cam back in, it was the general idea to use one or two large statement plants.

Rebel that I am, I have always filled my home with plants and am particularly prone to nursing along little bedraggled ones I have rescued from somewhere.  I bought a three leaved Clivia from a garage sale over 20 years ago.  I paid $.25 and faithfully nursed it along and carted it from move to move.  When my husband and I made a move up north to a colder climate he went ahead of me in March.  I sent the houseplants with him in the car as the moving vans will not take house plants and he had strict instructions to cart them all into the hotel room at night on his two day trip up to Dawson Creek.  He must have because I arrived a month later to happy plants and they would have died if left in the car overnight. A Clivia is a bit particular about the conditions it likes for blooming.  It wants bright natural light but not much heat and it likes to be a bit root bound.  I didn’t know these things initially and it took nearly 20 years for that Clivia to bloom.  I finally found the perfect spot for it after we renovated our house.  I left my husband the following year. He got the house so I left him the Clivia.  It didn’t seem right to deprive the Clivia of its happy place.


In my current apartment I don’t get a lot of natural light so I am finding what works and what doesn’t.  I also have a cat who eats plants.  I love her but this sorely tests my love. So many plants must be placed out of reach.

Elle Decor wants us to use houseplants in the same way we are adviced to decorate with neutrals have those damned “bright pops of colour”  To hell with that!  I’m not a minimalist.

image via Elle Decor

image via Elle Decor

image via Elle Decor

For tasteful people, the above images show how to use plants in decor.  They are decorative pieces, tall plants helping to establish a connection from floor to ceiling, letting the eye travel around the room without any jarring transitions.  To me this is like treating your children as decorative pieces.

image via

Yes, dramatic spaces certainly call for dramatic plants.

These next two images from apartment therapy  show the fiddle leaf fig (or ficus) which is currently featured in many design images I see.  I love it and I want one, but I have yet to spot one at my  local grocery store where I usually pick up houseplants.  While I do like thiese rooms, if they were mine there would be at least three more plants in the scene.



My own apartment is beige on beige with some white thrown in and popcorn ceilings.  I am doing my best to personalize it on a tight budget.  At first I thought this was my opportunity to try a white on white sort of scheme so I have some white painted furniture.  It didn’t last long-maybe a month or two.  I have plans to begin painting some of that white stuff this summer!  In my home house plants, books, fabric from thrift shops and found items that seemed useful or begging for an update, all accumulate and coexist.  My houseplants are learning to live in the dim lighting and with a little neglect.  One ficus is a little less than lush since it protested with a massive leaf drop after I moved it too often.  A once lushly blooming kalanchoe needs some deadheading.  I wish my cat would do that.

These are hastily taken photos of my home.  The flash came on but the colours stayed fairly true.  It is just too dark in my bedroom so I have yet to get any plants thriving in there.

Christmas cactus on top of kitchen cupboards where the cat can't eat it. It is recovering from some major chomping.

Babies being nursed along on top of my fridge

The ficus that protested.

My other, happier ficus.

Oh that hideous light fixture drives me insane! I'm working on that. The aloe vera plants are on the top shelf here, out of the cat's reach.

The corner where my peace lily resides is looking a bit country. There lily needs more height so I ask it daily if it will please grow some more. I need to get rid of the not-at -all thriving plant in the terra cotta pot and the kalanchoe needs deadheading.

There's one of the white cabinets that needs some serious colour! I am hoping to train this plant up the trellis and even onto the jute string that the lantern is hanging from. I wonder how many years that will take?

My one and only african violet is a bit swamped here but it's a real stunner when it blooms. The photo frames in the background are large multi-framed pieces I hauled home from the throw-away pile in our lobby. I'm not sure about them yet.

These photos represent about half the plants in my home but I don’t find it to be nearly enough.  I need more, larger, and less edible plants.  I need plants that can cope with low light conditions.  I wish I hadn’t left the clivia and the rubber tree with my ex.

image via

image via





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