2019 Trend: Houseplants Are Back and Bigger than Ever
I remember looking through my Mammaw’s old Better Homes & Gardens magazines from the ’70s and ’80s and seeing homes like this:
And even business lobbies like this:
It felt less like people had built homes for themselves, and more like they’d carved out spaces to live in the jungle. In my early teens, I couldn’t imagine a house that chock-full of plants.
Fast forward 20 years, and all I can think about is houseplants. I own a home, and every blank wall or unused corner is just screaming for a living plant. My friends are a relatively small sample size, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that since they’re just as plant-crazy as I am, this is the next trend in home decor: houseplants. And I don’t mean just any old houseplants. In 2019, if you’re buying houseplants — the bigger, the better!
But here’s the thing: don’t just go with a ficus like your grandma did in the 70s. There are so many amazing varietals and strains of houseplants now (and even some outdoor plants that do great indoors). Let’s look at your options! We’ll go from smallest to largest (and in the interest of size, I skipped straight to the biggest ones I could find).
1-5 Foot Tall Houseplants
Also known as the Umbrella Tree, this indoor plant has independent, glossy leaves; a sturdy trunk; and very low needs as far as watering and pruning go. It’s really ok with being ignored and only watered when you feel like it. Most Schefflera come as seedlings or starters – they’re slow-growing, so it takes a couple years for them to start showing height.
Also known as rushfoil, Joseph’s coat, or variegated laurel, croton is super sun-friendly and easy to grow. In fact, the more bright sunlight a croton gets, the more colors its foliage will turn. They can sometimes scare new plant owners because they shed leaves when you bring them home, but with a little steady care, they’ll thrive. Crotons can reach about 3 feet and be propagated to form wide displays or be trained into a tall, spiral-shaped tree.
This hearty option comes in a wild variety of colors, shades, and patterns. There’s even a tricolor that looks like camo. Aglaonema is so easy it even will grow in darkened bedrooms and interior rooms. It can grow up to about 4 feet and gets very wide, so be sure to leave space around it to spread those beautiful leaves.
Part of the lily family, the aspidistra — or cast iron plant — is mostly green, lush leaves. They have spindly bases that don’t seem able to support the foliage above them but somehow manage it. And they’re super low-maintenance. Most aspidistras grow slowly, up to about 4 feet high.
I know you’re not supposed to play favorites, but this one is MY FAVORITE. Sometimes called the ZZ plant or the Zanzibar Gem, these beauties are a lush pop of green and gloss in any corner. (But nobody puts Baby in a corner!) ZZ’s are super low-maintenance, and as they send out new shoots, each shoot is spiraled into a curlicue that slowly unfolds.
While agave succulents do come in the teensy, desk-pot varieties, those are not the agave I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ones on the corner in Sonoma, CA that are five feet wide and just taller than me. Specifically, the parryi truncata – these beautiful, artichoke-like buds open up and build into a stunner of a houseplant. Kept in containers, they’ll stay smaller and more manageable, but still eye-catching. And being succulents, they take very little care.
6-10 Foot Tall Houseplants
Despite it’s rather vicious nicknames (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant), Sansevieria is incredibly versatile, pretty quick growing, and can be very surprising in color. It’s seen quite commonly in smaller pots, but I think it looks amazing in it’s more mature form, reaching 4 or 5 feet sometimes.
Commonly known as the Ti plant or cabbage palm, this dark beauty can grow into a proper tree if allowed the space and time. It’s almost always purple, but comes in shades of pink and red, and often with variegating (natural light-dark striping on the leaves). Most commonly seen outdoors, Ti plant actually does really well in a pot and can be just as happy indoors.
This plant is a bit elusive – it’s most commonly known as Natal Mahogany. It has a tree-like shape and central trunk, glossy green leaves, and an unusual rippled edge to each leaf. It looks a lot like a ficus, but is very different and actually prefers regular attention: watering, pruning, and repotting every year or two as it grows. While a lovely option for houseplants, the Natal Mahogany is probably the best bet for very avid gardeners who know what they’re about.
The money tree is a very common housewarming gift, so you’ve probably seen it in much smaller, countertop sizes. But given the right environment and some time, the money tree is actually a terrific indoor…well, tree. The most unique feature of this tree is its durability – it even tolerates being “braided” or “woven” as it grows.
Ok, fine – you caught me. I have TWO FAVORITES. Mostly, I love this one for its name and for those glorious, enormous leaves! Just look at them! It’s technically a philodendron – you know the spider plants that every office has sadly struggling on the receptionist’s desk? Yeah, somehow they’re in the same family as these gorgeous monsters. They’re super hardy and actually prefer to grow around a moss pole, which adds to their curious nature.
10+ Foot Tall Houseplants
Dracaena comes in a wild variety of shapes – some have twisted, bendy trunks topped with delicate fronds that look like they stepped straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Others, like the one above, are a little tidier. And still, others have a single, dense trunk and huge deep green fronds off the top. The only risk of having one of these guys in your house is them tipping over – apparently, they love to get so tall that they also can’t hold their heads up on their own!
Everyone knows this hearty stand-by as the fiddle leaf fig tree. And it’s my OTHER favorite. The broad waxy leaves shaped like a fiddle body, the dark trunk and stems against that muted green. They’re stately and also kinda whimsical the more you look at them. They can grow into enormous indoor trees, or can be propagated over and over to keep them trim and shapely (and more shrub-sized).
Here’s a fact: I dislike palms. In any form, something about how untidy and exuberant they are just bothers me. But! The fishtail palm is growing on me, so I included it for you palm-lovers. There’s a climbing variety that’s great for indoors, but I love these clusters of stalks and the fan-like leaves. They look like green goldfish tails. In Indonesia, they say they’re hands of the gods extending down to earth, offering help. Either way, this gentle giant is winning me over!
Do you have giant houseplants on your shopping list this year? Which ones have captured your imagination? Share them with us in the comments!