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Across the world and across all interior design styles and themes, house greens have literally planted their position as the new design and décor must-haves. While plants were excellent companions through the lockdowns, their care is no longer a top priority in our lives as we return to offices. But that shouldn’t hamper your dreams of becoming a plant parent, we’ve turned to the experts to curate a list of low-maintenance greens that are high on style.
Mumbai-based Tina Mehta and Kerman Chowna started a boutique business selling exotic plants in 2021 with a line-up of stylish stalks and stems in equally trendy pots and planters. They founded Cocojungle with a background in branding and landscape architecture respectively and spend much of their time researching the latest houseplants and trees on the best-of-charts. Their savvy is on display on their website that boasts of creations like “Piña Colada”, a bromeliad (the plant is a close cousin of the pineapple) in a sunflower yellow ceramic pot and the “One Night In Bangkok”, a slender Ficus Alii in a black-and-white planter with a matching white stand (or what they like to call a “plant heel”).
For this guide, they pick 8 of their favourite house plants and trees. But before we get to them, here are Tina and Kerman’s three top tips to keep your plants in tip-top shape too:
1. All plants love a good “sunny break”. This means that no matter the kind of house plant you choose from this list, take it out for a day in the sun by placing it out on the balcony or window—maybe even outside your home or apartment for at least a couple of hours, once a month. Make sure you rotate plants frequently so all of the parts receive adequate light.
2. Never place a plant in the way of a direct AC draft, they will start to deteriorate. Plants are generally averse to air-conditioned spaces—especially tropical plants that thrive in humidity. But if you simply can’t get them access to fresh air and light, at least make sure they get some outdoor time to thaw and recover.
3. According to Tina and Kerman, most plants on this list don’t like to be fussed over and even thrive on neglect—especially when it comes to their watering needs. Water and spray them by doing a little research on how wet they like the soil, whether their leaves require misting and so on. In exchange, these greens will offer you the happiest relationship – one where both you and your plant babies can grow.
The monstera is literally the plant that’s been there, done that but we simply couldn’t leave it out of our list because of its ongoing popularity. Also known as the Swiss Cheese plant, thanks to the eyelets or holes that puncture its oversized leaves. The glossy, heart-shaped leaves add a glamorous, if edgy touch to home décor. The sculptural plant’s leaves can grow considerably in size with extra perforations once they get going. You can get them in a bunch of sizes too—starting from about 1-to-5 feet. The ladies at Cocojungle recommend pairing monsteras with equally stylish planters in raw clay and handmade ceramics. Tina and Kerman add that their tropical nature makes them easy to maintain as long as they get enough sunlight.
TLC Tip: It is important to note that filtered shade is better for these tropical plants that originally grow below the canopy of large trees in rainforests. A couple of hours in direct sunlight works once in a while but they’ll be happy and prosperous in a brightly lit spot by a window.
Image courtesy, Olga Navarro/ shutterstock
Image courtesy, Anna81/ shutterstock
Ornamental bromeliads are closely related to pineapples but come in a myriad of different sizes, styles and colours. They grow naturally in a bouquet-style arrangement with leaves forming a rosette pattern, making them perfect to place on tabletops, floors and windowsills. According to the Cocojungle founders, bromeliads with narrow, long leaves have been making appearances in design and home décor blogs across the globe and they’re the breakout stars to watch out for this year.
TLC Tip: Bromeliads are never too thirsty—they are actually used to draught conditions and enjoy moist but never soggy soil. So if you skip watering them once in a while, they really won’t mind. Watering them twice a week is ideal.
The rubber plant is making a strong comeback. Tina and Kerman believe it’s in tune with the revival of ’70s style décor. Since they are native to India, they can grow to great heights and flourish in urban settings too. Rubber plant and rubber tree leaves are oblong, rich and waxy with emerald-hued with gradients of colour that range from coral pink to deep burgundy—perfect to break the monotony of all the other greens that make up the indoor plant landscape. Shorter rubber plants placed on stylish gold or brass stands make quite the statement while taller trees are great alternatives to the usual clusters of indoor palms.
TLC Tip: Wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth and clear off the dust occasionally so the plant can breathe easy and absorb better air and light.
Image courtesy, Pornpan Sangkarat/ shutterstock
Image courtesy, Razumhelen/ shutterstock
Move over indoor palms, there’s a new stalk in town and it’s tall, dark and handsome. With towering, slender stems (easily up to 5 feet) and long, spiky leaves that form a palm-like canopy they can stand proud on their own or offer a variation in height amongst a cluster of house plants—all while making a stylish statement. Tina says the coloramas are becoming a fast favourite in Mumbai with equally great feedback. She says the plant is especially hardly and adjusts surprisingly well even in low-light environments—either set against the living room sofa or in hallways and corridors.
TLC Tip: Pluck out any dry leaves as they appear and don’t be afraid to prune the top branches.
Another retro shrub that’s making its way back into modern interiors, the zebra grass plant almost resembles an old-fashioned, shaggy hairdo. It’s also known as the spider plant but Tina and Kerman believe it’s high time they lose the bad rap that comes with the creepy name. It’s long and slender leaves (in green or green-and-white stripes) are droopy, growing in a rosette formation, like a high ponytail. According to Cocojungle, the plants grow incredibly fast and also propagate like bunnies even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. They look great on hanging baskets or in stylish bowl-shaped planters on tabletops and consoles.
TLC Tip: Since zebra grass grows in a cascading fashion, they are better suited to hanging containers, tall shelves or plant stands to ensure sure the leaves don’t get crushed.
Image courtesy, EP photo/ shutterstock
Image courtesy, Clotilde Boudet/ shutterstock
The brassia tree’s sculptural form makes it a unique choice as an indoor tree. Multiple, skinny branches grow tall and hold glossy, bright green leaves in a circular, slightly droopy formation, resembling an umbrella. According to Cocojungle founders, it’s wispy and enchanting look has made it a popular house plant since the Victorian Era. Available from anywhere between 4 feet to 8 feet, they enjoy living next to a window and when watered correctly once a week, you’ll be rewarded with crowns of new leaves and branches frequently.
TLC Tip: The umbrella plant seriously doesn’t like to be overwatered so its leaves are drooping more than usual, adjust the amount of water. The leaves however, do enjoy a bit of misting every now and then.
While aloe vera isn’t edgy or stylish in the most conventional sense, pairing the plant with a zingy planter in a contrasting colour like bright blue can really make a statement. It’s gaining popularity all over the world, in part because of the wellness and self-care movement. With the temperaturs soaring, it helps to have aloe vera’s soothing and healing gel at hand for sun-damaged skin.
TLC Tip: Always harvest the outermost leaf of the rosette—in whole by cutting it from the base. The more you prune it, the fuller it grows.
Image courtesy, Chase Charaba/ unsplash
Image courtesy, M GI/ shutterstock
This tall shrub may be the hardiest of all greens on our list. It does extremely well in salty air conditions and can withstand an onslaught of sea winds. The oleander’s delicate, crepe-like flowers bloom in a variety of colours and are a great addition to outdoor decks in tall skyscrapers. According to Tina and Kerman, the oleander loves a sunny balcony in all seasons and unlike other plants, it doesn’t even need to be moved indoors in the monsoons. Some other plants that are suited to higher floors in tall buildings include frangipani, crinum lily, spider lily, phoenix palm and pandanus.
TLC Tip: Oleander loves the sun so it really does belong in an outdoor section of a home. Since it grows quite tall, it doubles up as a privacy screen too.
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