I wanted to discuss plant trends today, and more specifically how over the last three years, the UK has fallen back in love with the Swiss Cheese plant. As social media arguably encourages plant collectors to discover the rare and unique, there is a lot to be said about the humble plants that form the basis of many of our collections.
Aside from the smaller plants that had previously sat comfortably on tables and windowsills, when we moved into our apartment three years ago, we traded windowsills for sash windows and more importantly, SPACE. If you are a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know I love design and collect mid century furniture. After a few months of designing the space and settling in, my attention (as it so often does) turned to plants. To compliment the mid century aesthetic, I wanted to have a plant that typified this era in my living space – and so began the hunt for a swiss cheese plant (monstera).
Writing this in 2018, the ‘hunt‘ for a monstera in the UK sounds mildly ridiculous. But in September 2015 when I was in the market for one, they were extremely hard to find! I looked in my usual garden centres and plant stockists to no avail. I hadn’t ordered any plants online before at this stage, but the only place I found one was on the RHS Plants for more than my budget would allow… who knew curtains and roller blinds were so expensive?!
Throughout this post I will intersperse the text with photos that share some progress photos of my monstera. The photo at the top of this post shows how it looks today.
Fast forward a few weeks and after having done my grocery shopping in Lidl one rainy October evening, amongst their often haphazard displays on the way out, I noticed some wrapped plants…you guessed it, there was my MONSTERA! I ran to my MINI, packed away the shopping and hot-footed it back to the stand to get one. I remember that those self service scanning tills had just opened and to my complete surprise, the barcode was coming up as ‘foliage plant’ (of course)…£5! I did the fifteen minute drive home with it strapped into my passenger seat like a new friend.
For a long while, I was telling anyone that would listen that monstera’s were £5 in LIDL (way before I had social media) and I continued to notice a complete lack of them anywhere for the next nine months or so. But around Summer 2016, I started to see them pop up – the first one I photographed was in Anthropologie (Regent Street store) and in & Other Stories too. Since this point, I have plotted a steady increase in monsteras per square metre! The demand for them must have been there and I suppose the most important thing to remember when it comes to plants is that they are living things that have to be grown – the turnaround isn’t as quick as fashion for example.
It got me thinking that by spring 2018, monstera’s had potentially reached saturation point here in the UK – I was seeing them everywhere! From not being able to find one a few years ago, to being able to pick one up whilst doing my weekly shop is quite a turnaround.
I think that the reason for their popularity is down to a number of factors:
- Houseplants in general have exploded in popularity over the last few years anyway.
- As popular as succulents and cacti are, the UK climate is not ideal for these sorts of plants (particularly in winter time). Foliage plants such as the monstera are much more able to cope with our climate indoors – making leafy greens a popular choice.
- They are a relatively easy going yet high impact plant – the main comment I get when people see my monstera in my living room is ‘…wow, I love those leaves!‘
- Because of the interesting and distinctive shape of the foliage, the plant looks great in the modern home. It’s plain green leaves are quite classic and work well with a number of interior design styles.
- Leading on from above, whilst the style of the monstera is adaptable, retro/ mid century styling is particularly ‘on trend‘ right now. ‘Retro’ everything seems to be de rigour at present, from clothes to lifestyle, to music, so why not plants?! I think that the monstera epitomises the 1970’s period extremely well, so is very popular paired with vintage teak furniture etc.
- Unlike some other houseplants, it is easy to trim and tie the monstera to fit the space you have – it can grow and adapt to your home space.
Out of all the plants I research, I still find their pricing one of the most erratic though. This spring the most affordable swiss cheese plant (SCP) was in Wilko for £6, there were SCP for £8 including a pot and stand in Tesco (which were in pretty bad condition I might add) and local independent plant sellers were selling different sizes from £15 up to £50. Garden centres though, particularly Wyevale fluctuate their prices quite drastically. I guess it’s due to sellers and shipments and availability, time of year and any potential pest problems from growers that affect these prices. Also, if these plants are deemed ‘popular’, stores might decide to raise their prices to make more profit. Something similar happened with pilea peperomioides a few years ago. If you see a particularly expensive monstera, I’d definitely hang on a while and compare a few places before purchasing!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I actually have two SCP and the other was bought from Wyevale for £14 in November 2017. I only really got it for that price as I had a loyalty card voucher for there so ended up paying £9. I saw some there a few weeks ago for massively inflated prices!
Another area I wanted to acknowledge is the growing range of ‘faux‘ plant options in garden centres – the two below (middle and right) were at wyevale for an eye-watering £75 and £140 respectively!! I understand fake plants are a different business to the real thing, but these didn’t even look very much like monstera’s in my opinion!
Moving swiftly on, I thought I’d end this post by showing another example of how the monstera has hit the mainstream by sharing a skirt I got from H&M a few months ago! Botanical textiles in interiors have been popular for a few seasons, but 2018 has seen a real rise in foliage themed threads – next time you are shopping see what you can spot (and send me a photo on Instagram!)
Hope you enjoyed this post,
Thanks for reading!