From ferns and flowers to shoots and succulents, the trend for botanicals has never been more popular. Not just a style choice, plants also help to filter the air and reduce dust. We ask the experts to tell us how to bring the outside in.
“This seems to be one trend that feels like it’s here to stay”, says Pauline Coghlan, founder of online homewares store pelican story. Pointing to social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, Pauline says the “jungalow” style has seen a surge in the sale of vases and planters – with shoppers keen to bring botanicals into every corner of their homes. “As well as the primary reason of oxygen production and air purification, plants can lift a mood, as well as really lifting a space if styled in the correct way,” she adds.
For Cathryn Quail, founder of The Botanical Workshop in Hackney, London, the trend runs even deeper. “There’s a certain feeling one gets when entering a room that breathes with thriving greenery,” she says. “Plants offer a much needed break and provide us with a reconnection to nature. Tending to a plant also enables us to snatch a few moments away from our screens with something alive and tangible.”
Why the bathroom?
While most of us might already have plants in our kitchens or living rooms, adding botanicals to a bathroom can feel like a big step. “The bathroom is usually the simplest room in a house, and can be notoriously difficult to style due to the high levels of humidity, but this is where plants come in,” says Cathryn. “Many plants that have become hugely popular as houseplants originate from the dense tropics, making them ideal for bathrooms that mimic their natural environments. Bathrooms can also be quite small, but this allows you to be creative with the ways you display your plants.”
With such a dizzying amount of plants and flowers to choose from, getting started on a botanical bathroom can be a bit daunting. As ever, the best way to start is with something simple – and by asking for some expert advice from a professional florist. “Air plants, or tillandsia, are a great place to start as they are epiphytes, meaning they don’t require soil to grow, and take all they need by absorbing the moisture in the air through their leaves,” suggests Cathryn. “However, if alien-like air plants aren’t your cup of tea, the fishbone cactus, snake plant, cast iron plant, golden pothos and asparagus fern also thrive in humid conditions and are amenable to both higher and lower levels of light.”
Adding too many plants, too soon, is also going to cost you a lot of time taking care of them – so choosing the botanicals for your space is essential. As Pauline says: “This isn’t about competing with Kew Gardens! Start small, and research, research, research!”
With your first plant safely, and successfully, potted in your bathroom, it’s time to start growing your indoor garden. As with any interior design choice, planning for bigger changes means thinking carefully about height, light and space. The good news is that plants tend to help us out here by growing and evolving according to where we place them. “It’s incredible how these organisms are so versatile in creating different types of environments,” says Cathryn. “With the huge amount of diversity (even within each genus), we’re provided with endless possibilities to enrich space. Tall fanning palms create canopies of varying height, tropical plants bring vitality through shape, texture and colour and cacti and succulents offer strong architectural structures that boldly hold their own.”
Beyond the leaf
And it’s not just the plants that offer all the variety either, with a huge array of interior design accessories that can add a touch of botanical style without any watering needed. The Aqua Culture Vases by Kinto are a great example of how you can introduce a touch of green and a splash of colour by your bathroom sink, as well as appreciating the beauty of the entire plant, from root to tip.
“You can add hints of the jungalow style by introducing items such as toothbrush holders, soap dispensers and bathmats which have a leaf or plant design on them,” adds Pauline. “There is also a wide selection of floor and wall options out there, that will help bring the feeling of nature into your bathroom. Start by adding a clear glass shower divider to bring light into your shower space, use large natural material tiles, with a mix of rich green tropical plants placed near to the area.”
Things to avoid
It’s important to remember that not every plant will suit every bathroom – so it’s important to get as much expert advice as possible. “Sudden fluctuations in temperatures can really shock your plant, so try to avoid draughty windows, and in the winter, if your bathroom gets particularly cold, consider moving your plants to a warmer room and make sure you mist them regularly,” suggests Cathryn. “It’s also important to remember that your plant will still need watering and quite often humidity loving plants require more hydration than others.
“Light is so important, as without light your plants simply won’t grow. I always advise people to observe the room, and how the light falls at different times of the day. If you have a plant placed in a darker spot and it’s showing signs of distress, move it into a sunnier spot for a couple of hours. You should also be aware that a room that’s too hot can have a detrimental effect on your plant, particularly ferns whose delicate leave and fronds can crisp and brown very easily. Desert dwelling cacti and succulents are best kept out of bathrooms too as they’re adapted to survive in very arid conditions where water is scarce.”