Three Architectural Plants to Make your Room Zing

Decorating, How-To | | | Leave a comment

In The Unexpected Houseplant (Timber Press, 2012), longtime houseplant aficionado Tovah Martin shares her secrets for creating style with houseplants.

The book offers a fascinating glimpse at a home accent that many take for granted. Tovah’s writing and advice is wonderfully complemented by the gorgeous photos, taken by Kindra Clineff. Today, Tovah and Kindra share inspiration and photos from the book in the form of three truly special houseplants. Take it away, Tovah!

Want to live with green? Anyone can invite plants into their home to live happily ever after, no special thumb color required. Forging a lasting relationship with living plants is easier than you dreamed, and autumn is the time to do it. As the garden slips into slumber, your windows can go to work. But skip the dusty images of your grandmother’s houseplants. Here are some ideas for a trio of tony and trim plants that will do wonders for your home, no sweat.

Calla Lily 

Even before swinging into the serious business of producing outlandish funnel-shaped blossoms, a calla lily (Zantedeschia) looks smart. With arrow-shaped leaves on long, arching stems, the plant makes a strong statement from across the room. Add those jack-in-the-pulpit-like flowers to the picture, and who can resist? You’ll come across calla lilies everywhere — try the supermarket! Pair your newfound companion with a handsome terra cotta pot, and you’ve got the sort of look that you can live with. And finding the right spot shouldn’t be a challenge—the indirect sun of an east or west window is ideal. But be poised with the watering pot, because this plant is thirsty. Calla lilies are toxic, so keep them out of reach from children and pets.

Staghorn Fern

The polar opposite from boring, a staghorn fern (Platycerium might look like the sci-fi spin on a houseplant, but it is surprisingly easy to host in your home. Imagine antler-like arms jutting from a trophy-esque back plaque and you’ve got the picture. Because they’re adapted to growing on trees in their native jungles, staghorn ferns need no soil. You can tie the plant (try fishing line) to a slab of wood or let it engulf a wicker basket (that’s what happened with the fern shown here) and then let it do its thing. Since staghorns are ferns, they thrive in low light. Take the whole shebang outdoors, put it in the tub, or bring it to the sink for weekly drinks. And then sit back and admire its wacky ways.


Outrageous, but deceptively simple to grow, kalanchoes of all types make super housemates. And Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘Desert Rose’ is queen of the oddballs. Like a massive rosette of succulent leaves, the whole plant looks like a giant blossom unfolding. Add the perk of matte, steel gray leaves blushing to red at the tips and you’ve got a plant with panache. This kalanchoe speaks for itself. But fit it with a smart container for the ultimate package. Kalanchoes are succulents, so they should be watered sparingly—perfect for anyone who is otherwise engaged. Give the plant as much sunlight as you can muster to keep it svelte. Amazingly, kalanchoes are total no-brainers. Living with nature was never easier — or more fulfilling.

Source: All photographs copyright Kindra Clineff 

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