Let’s face it, no one had heard of a Fiddle Leaf fig until five years ago. Now - they’re everywhere. Along with Maidenhair ferns, Monsteras, and every kind of succulent known to man. Yep, you could say the indoor plant have made something of a comeback in recent years - but is that such a good thing? Our two interiors experts weigh in:
AGAINST: NEALE WHITAKER
“I am not a big fan of heaps and heaps of indoor plants. I think this is because I grew up in England in the 1970s, when it was very fashionable to have an indoor plant on every available surface, shelf and cupboard.
It was such an English thing - I think because we couldn’t spend much time outdoors because of the weather, so we tended to try to create a garden inside, all year round.
If you were posh, you had the conservatory, but most of us just had indoor plants littered everywhere - and my house was no exception. It’s left me pretty scarred, where indoor plants are concerned.
But having said all that - I’m coming around again.
I still don’t really like baskets that people hang from the ceiling with plants in them - that just smacks too much of the seventies - but I do have a very large covered deck at my place which is absolutely stuffed full of succulents and cycads and agaves. And to be honest, I would be very happy to have any one of those inside.
I think big, structural plants, and cacti, work well in fairly classic, structured environments. I think they can bring a really lovely modern twist to a room. And I think they work with that slightly ‘Moroccan’, ethnic feel that is running through interior design at the moment. I think they also work well with the Scandinavian aesthetic that is so popular with Australians too. So look - I am not anti pot plant, but I am not a big fan of Fiddle Leaf figs, simply because I do feel like we’ve see them absolutely everywhere. They are quite beautiful plants, but we have seen a bit too much of them of late.
Cacti get my tick - but they have to be big. My line is always - if in doubt, oversize. I use that line to apply to everything from sofas, to rugs and lamps. I am a big fan now of a big ‘statement’ plant. A great, huge floor-to-ceiling cactus, if you’re in an apartment, or a big oversized cycad. They can look really great.
FOR: ANDREW ARMSTRONG
Let me get this out of the way, I love Neale Whitaker. I love his point of view. I love his work and I genuinely cannot wait to hear his opinions during room reveals on The Block.
BUT I love indoor plants more and I mean seriously LOVE.
I’m sure we’re not going to come to blows over this, but seriously, I have never met anyone who has walked into my living room and shrieked that there were too many plants. Sporadically jaws may drop and I might have heard a sharp intake of breath on one or three occasions, but I like to believe that is because I have created a magical green space.
I’m not sure quite when I fell hard for ferns and zamioculas and wonderfully kitsch Swiss cheese plants but for at least the last fifteen years I have been sharing my flat with a cat and more than a hundred choice specimens.
Plants look great in stonking great clumps and clusters. They sing beautifully when placed next to windows and hung in bright corners. Sure it takes a bit of time each week to dust their fronds and tend to their thirsty roots but the happiness and oxygen they pour out is almost endless (and just think of the effect this is having on my skin).
My absolute favourite, the Tradescantia zebrine, is commonly known in the UK as the Wandering Jew plant, has deliciously extravagant purple and silver leaves and is famous for growing an inch a week (stop sniggering!). I have at least ten and I have given cuttings to nearly all of my friends.
Seriously, there isn’t anything more chic than the unsolicited offering of a healthy baby plant in a gorgeous hand-thrown clay pot.
Here comes the science bit: experimental studies have shown that indoor plants in homes and schools and hospitals can lower blood pressure, increase attentiveness, lower anxiety and improve emotional well-being.
That all sounds good to me. Mainly however, I just like having something beautiful to look at while I drink my wine.
I do hope Neale does come around.