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2017 Best Nine (Instagram)

I wanted to start by saying Happy New Year and thank you for reading HPH in 2017! I’ve been blown away by the support and positivity of the online plant community over this last six months (when I started posting). Here’s to a plant filled  2018! 

/ At home with my houseplants / 

I thought that January 1st was the ideal time to talk about plant collections, as many of us  have an ever-growing green part of our homes. Seeing the ‘2017 Best Nine’ I shared on Instagram (abovemade me think about the size of my collection and what I have learned over the year about caring for a number of plants.

2017 was definitely the year that my plant collection grew in a big way, up to this point I had been more focused on sourcing the furniture and storage for my rented apartment. I collect vintage Ercol and G-Plan mid century furniture, which often means waiting a while to find pieces that are exactly right, and also an element of renovation or cleaning before getting them settled in. I’m going to be sharing more of my home with you in 2018, as I’m really interested in exploring the interface between houseplants and interiors.

I have a passion for interiors and once the bigger decisions had been made regarding furniture, I was ready to add some more green touches to my space. I’d brought my plant collection with me from my previous apartment, but this space was much bigger. Of course, that meant plenty more room for plants! As many of you will know, when you move somewhere, it takes a while to settle into a space and understand how the light travels around it throughout the day. Also, it’s important to familiarise yourself with things like temperatures and any potential draughts or extreme bright spots.

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In my apartment, my west-facing living room is the darkest room that I have plants in (my hall which has no windows, would probably just about suit an aspidistra, but nothing else). My big monstera lives near the window and is the main focus of the room, and I cluster some smaller plants on my G-Plan Astro coffee table as that gets nice afternoon light. A 2017 acquisition was this John Lewis ladder bookshelf, which I had been lusting after for years. It’s proved to be great for more easy going small plants like my spider platelets, but from this part of the room back it does get darker. My aspidistra lives at the back of this room, I must remember to photograph it for you in it’s newer location.

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One thing you plant enthusiasts will notice is that I don’t have any windowsills to act as plant shelves! The apartment only has single glazed wooden sash windows (it’s a listed building) and whilst they are beautiful, they have been in place since the 1930’s and are old and draughty. Therefore, I have to make use of all surfaces as potential places for plants. My coffee table often gets pretty full when it’s winter as the plants like to huddle together here. Probably the only advantage of not having windowsills is that they don’t get a draught from this distance.

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This year, I’ve really understood that most plants don’t like my kitchen very much! It’s east facing and get’s the morning sun but light levels drop quite a lot as the afternoon comes around. My umbrella plant manages ok here, as well as my peace lily and dracaena marginata. I’ve also found an often unused spot on top of my kitchen cupboards, that suits my blue star fern and kalanchoe blosfeldiana.

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The office is where things get properly planty, due to the beautiful south facing bay window! It gets amazing daylight which means that my work space is also shared with a plentiful assortment of plants. I use my large desk as a bit of a propagation station, and my plants that enjoy higher light levels sit here too. Aside from the obvious advantage of lots of light, I’m happiest with this room because it has the most surface space for plant groupings, as the photographs (below) show.

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My bedroom is dual aspect, with south and west facing windows. I’m still finishing off styling this room, and am in need of some more surface space, but for the time being, I use my G-Plan dressing table to keep some clusters of plants huddled together. My ficus lyrata bambino also lives in a planter in this room, getting good light from the two directions (below).

As someone who appreciates modernist design, I am always thinking of ways to display plants that suit my mid century styled apartment. This year, I have invested in some planters (like the one below), which blur the line between useful plant pot, and stylish furniture piece. Most of my furniture has these raised legs, so these planters fit in seamlessly. I love searching for interesting plant pots and think they can make all the difference in contemporary plant display.

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/ Making mindful plant purchases / 

To conclude this post, I thought I would share some advice about making more sensible plant purchases. This year, I want to be more mindful about the plants that like living in my apartment, instead of those that I *want* to live there. I would recommend making a wishlist of plants, but before dashing off to the garden centre, give some thought as to where you might have room for them. Most importantly, also consider if they would be suited to where you have in mind! It’s one thing to buy a few plant pots that are the wrong size, but to waste money on plants that just won’t be happy is always disappointing and can  be avoided. I am trying to make smarter plant purchases and (am working at) learning to try not to get too carried away with plants that look amazing in the nursery or garden centre, that just won’t stand the test of time.

Something that made me come to this realisation was when I was so pleased to get my hands on senecio rowleyanus – string of pearls, this summer. After a few months in my living room however, with not enough light from being hung up too high, they got a bad case of spider mites and died a death. I’ve been trying to rescue what I can, but this experience definitely taught me to not put plants where they are not suited!

Finally, I would like to make the point that plants shouldn’t be thought of as props, but instead seen as organic parts of our living spaces. Plant styling in it’s most successful manifestation can properly bring a living space to life.

Thanks for reading!

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Posted by:Laura / House Plant House

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