Updated: Aug 13, 2020
In recent years, you have likely seen a huge increase of indoor tropical plants used in home decor and room styling. But what houseplants are these design gurus using and are they placing them properly for the plants well-being? Hint: that big gorgeous Boston Fern with the sun streaming in on it from a bright west facing window isn't going to live long there.
In this blog post we are going to explore what large houseplants you should consider for your space, and give you all the knowledge you need to avoid the mistakes that these design professionals make.
1. Yucca guatemalensis 'Yucca Cane Plant'
These gorgeous upright growing tropical plants have been a household staple for many decades. Popularized in the 50's - 60's these, these houseplants have the signature Palm Springs Mid-Century vibe that has been on trend for the past few years.They also have the added advantage of being an extremely easy houseplant to look after! Use them in corners or as visual room dividers to delineate spaces.
Light: The Yucca Cane Plant loves a very bright indirect light, meaning a south or west window with a shear curtain to diffuse the light. Direct light may burn their leathery leaves. They can tolerate slightly lower light conditions, but will grow very slowly and may be vulnerable to over watering.
Water: Yucca Cane Plants are quite drought tolerant and should only be watered 1-2 weeks during the growing season, and less during the winter/dormant season. Only water your Yucca Cane plant when the top half of the soil is dry. This means that you will have to use your finger to test the soil right up to your knuckles to feel for moisture. Make sure your pot has drainage and empty your tray of water run off to prevent root rot.
Soil: Yucca Cane Plants should have well draining soil to avoid root rot, however the soil should be heavy enough to support the upright growth and heavy canes. Our helpful staff can help your choose the right soil for your Yucca Cane Plant.
Fertilizer: Yucca's of all varieties that grow in the wild grow in poor soil conditions which are rocky, sandy and contain very little nutrients. This is something you are going to have to mimic in your home for your Yucca Cane Plant. Fertilize your plant once at the beginning of the growing season with a liquid houseplant fertilizer like Schultz and then once mid way through the growing season. That's all. If you are repotting your Yucca Cane using bagged potting soil like ProMix, just be aware that these soils have plenty of nutrients in them already.
2. Spathiphyllum 'Peace Lily'
Peace Lilies are a dark homeowners dream. These luscious flowering houseplants are perfect for dark rooms and corners, but also for beginner indoor gardeners due to their forgiving nature. They are also the only plant on this list which produce flowers on a very regular basis. Their cobra-like white flowers are elegant and plentiful.
Peace Lilies are actually in the Araceae family of plants, known as aroids which also contain Anthuriums, Philodendron & Pothos. It should be noted that Peace Lilies are not pet friendly, particularly cats who love to graze of your houseplants. You can purchase Peace Lilies from small 4" pot size all the way to 3 foot tall plants at Amsterdam making them very accessible for all budgets. Due to their leafy growing habits, plan to give your plant plenty of room to grow 360 degrees around it as they typically top out at about 3-4 feet in height, but are around 2-3 feet around. This makes them excellent corner filling plants in homes and offices.
Light: Peace Lilies are tolerant of lower light conditions; however, they grow best in moderate indirect lighting. If your Peace Lily develops brown spots on its leaves, this is likely due to sunburn.
Water: Peace Lilies need to be kept moderately moist all the times, but not soggy. When you water your Peace Lily and it has a drain hole with a tray, be sure to always pour away the excess water to prevent stagnant water from sitting on the roots. Soggy roots will inevitably lead to yellowing, drooping leaves. If you miss watering your plant, Peace Lilies aren't afraid to tell you with a mass of drooping leaves - it's pretty dramatic. But don't fret, give your plant a nice deep watering and you will see them perk up within a few hours. If you are continually tardy with watering though, your plant will develop unsightly brown tips.
Soil: Peace Lilies are fairly forgiving with soil types, so we recommend a good quality indoor potting soil such as the ProMix Premium Potting Mix which will provide a great balance of peat and drainage.
Fertilizer: Use an all-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer like Schultz Houseplant Fertilizer weekly throughout the growing season to promote growth and flowering. Discontinue fertilizing during the winter while the plant is dormant.
3. Sansevieria trifasciata 'Snake Plant'
If you are looking for the ultimate 'set it and forget it' plant, look no further. Snake Plants are the beginners plant of choice due to their hardy nature. They are also my personal favourites for dark rooms or narrow walkways due to their compact upright nature. These plants look stunning either grouped in 3's in a corner, or as a single statement in a raised pot in a pot stand to fill a space vertically.
Light: Snake Plants require medium to low light conditions for best growth and maintenance of their colour. I placed one in a high-light area and had its gorgeous variegated colouration fade drastically in the sun.
Soil: Snake Plants prefer well draining soil which is light in peat moss and high in sand content. For this purpose we recommend the ProMix Cactus and Succulent potting soil which has a wonderful ratio of moisture retention and drainage elements. Avoid packing in and compacting the soil around the plant when repotting.
Water: As mentioned above, Snake Plants prefer well draining soil because they do not like soggy roots. Allow your plants soil to dry out completely between watering - about every 2 weeks should be suffice. In the winter you can reduce your watering greatly to about once a month.
Fertilizer: During the growing season use a Cactus fertilizer at half-strength. Schultz Cactus Fertilizer is a liquid and therefore allows for easy dilution. Do not fertilize during the winter at all.
4. Ficus benjamina 'Weeping fig', 'Benjamin fig'
If you are looking for a classic and traditional looking accent plant, look no further than the Benjamina. With their slightly weeping nature and propensity to be grown in a standard form, these indoor plants have a wonderful topiary style. You may find these with single trunks or in a decorative braided trunk style. For ease of care, I like the single trunks. These plants grow to 4-6 ft indoors; however, I have seen them grow larger in optimal conditions.
Light: The Benjamina prefers bright indirect light with a little direct morning light for best growth. This plant is a true butter zone plant, so finding it the perfectly lighting conditions the first time is important. Watch your space throughout the day before bringing your plant home to determine the best possible light for it.
Soil: Benjamina like rich but well draining soil. Again, the ProMix Premium Potting Soil is a great choice for this as it is a soil with great drainage properties and yet some moisture retention qualities.
Water: Create a consistent watering schedule for your Benjamina to prevent leaf loss. In their native habitats these plants grow in well draining soils but with consistent and frequent tropical rains, so try and recreate that in your care schedule.
Fertilizer: Benjamina are heavy feeders during the growing season, so use a water soluble fertilizer and use when watering. The Schultz Liquid Houseplant Fertilizer comes in two sizes, so we recommend the larger as you will need it.
Leaf Loss: Ficus benjamina are notoriously bad for leaf loss due to changes in their
environment. Things that lead to leaf loss are: drafts/cool rooms, inconsistent watering, too much fertilizer, too little fertilizer, dense soil, wet soil, too much light, too little light. Even just bringing your plant home in the car will shock it to a certain extent and for this reason I say do not panic when (not if) your Benjamina sheds leaves. The best way to help your plant is to have the ideal spot picked out from the very beginning and create a regular watering schedule and stick to it from day one. Do not move your plant around trying to find the perfect spot, it will just make it worse. Once the plant has settled into its space, the plant will recover and grow new leaves.
5. Ficus lyrata 'Fiddle Leaf Ficus'
The Fiddle Leaf Ficus has been the darling of the interior design world for the better part of 5 years now and is still going strong. Noted for its enormous leathery leaves, this striking plant can come in a variety of forms from growers - standard trees, smaller shrubs and large bushes. There is even a small option called Little Miss Sunshine perfect for tabletops.
Light: Fiddle Leaf Ficus like bright diffuse light with a small amount of direct morning light or light from an East facing window. Low light conditions may lead to stunted growth or even leaf loss.
Soil: Fiddle Leaf Ficus, like most Ficus like rich but well draining soil. Again, the ProMix Premium Potting Soil is a great choice for this as it is a soil with great drainage properties and yet some moisture retention qualities.
Water: Like its cousin the Benjamina, Fiddle Leaf Ficus prefer regular watering schedules which keep them moist, but not sitting in soil. It is important to strike a good balance between enough and too much water because too much one way or the other will result in leaf loss. You may want to consider a soil Moisture Meter to gauge and monitor the wetness of the soil to develop a schedule.
Fertilizer: Fiddle Leaf Ficus are not as heavy feeders as Benjamina, so we recommend that you use the Schultz Liquid Houseplant fertilizer half strength throughout the growing season.
Common Problems: Fiddle Leaf Ficus may develop spots or marks on their leaves which are usually due to mechanical damage (aka damage which being moved or transported). They will not recover on those leaves and until the leaf is shed, the spots will remain. Other common issues are fertilizer salts building up in the soil resulting in brown edges of your plant (I have also heard this about heavily chlorinated water). So we recommend that once a month you water (no fertilizer) your plant heavily to flush out the salts that have built up in the soil. For this reason we recommend that you only plant your Ficus's in pots with drain holes.
So that wraps up our blog post for this week! Do you have a favourite large tropical houseplant? Share with us in the comments section, we would love to hear from you!
Cheers - Heather Youl, Digital Media Manager