Wild interiors

In Wild Interiors, best-selling author Hilton Carter showcases 12 homes around the world that demonstrate the versatility of decorating with plants. In this extract, he takes readers room by room, profiling the indoor plants that are most suited to each: those that can live happily in the indirect light of an entryway, thrive in the tropical humidity of bathrooms and the erratic heat changes of kitchens and those that will make a statement in the living room.

The owners of this home have literally rolled out the red carpet and offered their guests a seat...
The owners of this home have literally rolled out the red carpet and offered their guests a seat to take off their shoes, next to with a snake plant and a rubber plant. Their small couch is only 1.2m from the front door, making it possible for the snake plant to receive the medium to low light it needs. PHOTOS: HILTON CARTER
ENTRYWAYS

First impressions can be hard. You never really get a second chance at showing your best self, so why not go all the way from the start. I think the same is important for the entryway of your home. When it comes to rolling out the red carpet, have a plant lead the way. But, not every plant is ideal for being on your welcoming committee. Entryway plants have to deal with changing temperatures that come with opening the front door, as well as constantly being brushed when visitors walk by. Here, I suggest sturdier green friends like snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) or rubber plants (Ficus elastica). Both of these plants have the ability to withstand heavy foot traffic and can also handle brief changes in temperature.

ENTRYWAY PLANTS

Plants you should think about for your entryway. —

Plant: Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata). Light: Bright indirect to low light. Water: Let the soil dry out completely before watering. Water once every three to four weeks.

Plant: ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). Light: Bright indirect to low light. Water: Let the soil dry out completely before watering. Water once every three to four weeks.

Plant: Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans Massangeana). Light: Bright indirect to dappled light. Water: Let the soil dry out completely before watering.

Plant: Rubber plant (Ficus elastica). Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

Plant: Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia). Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

In the Baltimore living room of Megan Hipsley and Justin Temple, the "statement plant" could...
In the Baltimore living room of Megan Hipsley and Justin Temple, the "statement plant" could either be the large bird of paradise (Strelitzia) or the large Monstera deliciosa. What makes the silky bird of paradise with its paddle-shaped leaves the perfect fit for a living room is that its foliage tends to grow tall and long. Place it higher in the space and out of the way so you can live among plants without them being a burden.
LIVING ROOMS

The perfect spot for plants in the home has always been the living room. I mean, how do you think it got the name, "living room"? In most homes, this room is where you have the largest windows, which means the best light. So, it’s here that you’ll probably let your green thumb go wild and have the most plants. Also, in most homes, the living room is the first room you or your guests will enter, so creating a warm welcome is always, well... welcome. Making a good first impression starts with a good "statement plant." Let this plant set the tone of your room and, better yet, the home. For me, it’s the room where I branch out the most. You know how they say, "Go big or go home"? Well, I like to say, "Go big and go home, with a new plant friend"!

LIVING ROOM PLANTS

Plants you should think about for your living room. —

Plant: Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). Light: Bright indirect light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

Plant: Rubber plant (Ficus elastica). Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

Plant: Horsehead philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum). Light: Bright indirect to dappled light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

Plant: Marble queen pothos (Epipremnum aureum). Light: Bright indirect to low light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

Plant: Council tree (Ficus altissima). Light: Bright indirect light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry.

At her home in Toronto, Canada, Wendy Lau uses the windowsill and shelves in the 
...
At her home in Toronto, Canada, Wendy Lau uses the windowsill and shelves in the kitchen to house her small plant babies. A boxwood tree (Buxus sempervirens) sits directly next to the sink, ready for the almost daily watering it needs to stay well maintained.
KITCHENS

I am often asked why I don’t have plants in my kitchen or bathroom, and the answer is quite simple: I don’t have any windows in those rooms. Honestly, I’m a bit envious of those that do, because they can be the perfect spaces for plants that like humidity and moist soil. Planting in the kitchen has its benefits because when you’re cooking, humidity is created, keeping the plants that love this type of environment thriving. It also helps that there is water close at hand so when you have a plant in this room, you’re often reminded to water it and doing so is fairly convenient.

KITCHEN PLANTS

Plants you should think about for your kitchen. —

Plant: Taro (Colocasia esculenta). Light: Bright indirect light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely, but be careful not to over-water, and do not let the bottom roots become waterlogged.

Plant: Lemon buttons (Nephrolepis cordifolia). Light: Indirect to medium light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely. Mist weekly.

Plant: Air plant (Tillandsia). Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: Submerge in lukewarm water for five minutes and turn air plant cup down to allow it to dry fully before placing back in it’s spot. Mist weekly.

Plant: Jade plant (Crassula ovata) Light: Full sun to bright indirect light. Water: When the top 5cm of soil is completely dry. Once winter hits, water less.

Plant: Kangaroo fern (Microsorum diversifolium) Light: Indirect to medium light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely. Mist weekly.

In Wendy Lau’s Toronto home, a green Tradescantia zebrina finds the perfect spot in the bathroom...
In Wendy Lau’s Toronto home, a green Tradescantia zebrina finds the perfect spot in the bathroom to hang out. As the shower is fixed in place and the stream of water falls straight down, the soil of the plant only picks up the moisture in the room and does not get direct watering from the shower head.
BATHROOMS

When plants come to live in the bathroom, they benefit from the higher levels of humidity. If your bathroom has a window, any fern, Calathea, orchid, air plant (Tillandsia), Tradescantia zebrina, and many others would love it. These plants thrive in humid climates, and because hot showers are taken at least once a day in most homes, these plants will be living their best lives. Bearing in mind that this is also a place where people like their privacy, your windows are probably covered or have frosted glass, but no fear — these plants are also used to bright to low light situations. So, if it’s privacy you need, but you also want to have greenery in this room, try letting a sheer curtain filter light in, or use foliage to create a living curtain. A trailing Maranta or macho fern (Nephrolepis biserrata Macho) hanging in a bathroom window would do the trick. Just imagine how tranquil your bath sessions would become when surrounded by greenery. All you’d need would be a few candles, some essential oils, and you’re living the art of self-care. Speaking of self-care, given that this is one of the rooms where we show off our birthday suits the most, you might want to stay away from bringing in cacti for obvious reasons — like the fact that they hold a thousand little knives but also because they won’t do well in the humid air.

BATHROOM PLANTS

Plants you should think about for your bathroom. —

Plant: Rattlesnake plant (Calathea lancifolia) Light: Medium to low light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely.

Plant: Asparagus fern (Asparagus setaceus) Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely.

Plant: Air plant (Tillandsia) Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: Submerge in lukewarm water for about five minutes, and turn air plant cup down to allow it to dry fully before placing back in it’s spot.

Plant: Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) Light: Bright indirect to medium light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely.

Plant: Triostar (Stromanthe sanguinea) Light: Indirect to medium light. Water: Keep the top of the soil evenly moist. Never let it dry out completely.

THE BOOK

The Otago Daily Times has two copies of Wild Interiors, by Hilton Carter (published by CICO Books and distributed by Bookreps NZ), to give away. To enter the draw, email playtime@odt.co.nz with your name and day-time phone number in the body of the email and "Wild Interiors" in the subject line by Thursday.

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