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September 22, 2019 – Published in Design & Decor Autumn 2019 issue

The foliage trend

​​Words Rachel Balzan Demajo – Interior designer at SAKS

Houseplants add so much life and beauty to a space. Not only do they bring the outside in, but they also contribute to a host of health benefits as well. In this article we look at the best indoor plants for health as well as ideas and creative themes to showcase your indoor plant collection. Naturally the more daylight one has in their space, the better the plants will thrive. So houses with large glass windows and corners, should really embark on this indoor house trend, and go beyond the traditional singular plant in a pot. We are now looking at eclectic collections of different species, mixed with interesting potterware, brass and ceramic or unusual pots. Whether these are floor mounted, or ceiling hung, the room takes on a new jungle like fever, dissipating any negative energy and radiating a life source of positive and radiant energy. After all plants are alive, so in a psychological sense they even provide company and social interest.

An all white interior, provides a breezy beach vibe, which lends itself well to a thriving collection of greens such as a dramatically sweeping fiddleleaf fig tree, mother-in-laws tongue, cactuses, jade, aloe and various other succulents. Adding a tropical touch to a space is also a very fashionable way of introducing indoor house plants. The bird of paradise and its similar variants add an exotic colour and scale to the room.

The patterned Calathea, the shade-loving Peace Lily and, larger plants such as the Kentia Palm or Dracaena Fragrans make for a statement piece in a larger space.

If you want to be a bit more on trend with houseplants,  cacti and succulents are the way to go. These are easy-going plants and a good way to master collecting plants whilst also providing for visual interest, texture and colour.

We are seeing a revival of retro plants. The demand for succulents also shows no sign of slowing down and it looks as though it’s a trend that is here to stay no matter what the season is, and it’s easy to see why.

As a low-maintenance houseplant, succulents and terrariums are pretty easy to care for and look fantastic in groups. They can instantly change the look and feel of a room, from industrial chic to jungle inspired bold botanicals.

Rather than dwarfing a small space with a huge plant, add multiple small succulents or cacti in nice pots to a windowsill or ledge.

If you’ve got lots of stairs or shelving in a bathroom look at ways you can hang plants from these or make the most of balcony space by adding windowsill planters.

While the health benefits of plant-based diets are well documented, we also know that plants can also help improve your health just by being in your home!

A NASA experiment found that certain indoor plants can improve the air quality in a home by absorbing chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde from the air. The research found that a number of different houseplants could act as natural air filters.

Additionally, a study has shown that being in an environment with plants can help reduce stress and improve blood pressure and heart rate.

Here’s our list of 10 great indoor plants to improve the air quality in your house or apartment.
1. Golden Pothos

A very common houseplant, pothos are known for being exceptionally hardy, and are difficult to kill. While pothos isn’t the most powerful air-purifying plant, its ease of care means that you can grow this one in your house even if you lack a green thumb. Like other plants, pothos has air-purifying qualities as well, so if you’re looking to get the benefits of houseplants but aren’t so good at keeping them alive, this one is a great start!
2. English Ivy

You might think of ivy as an outdoor plant that adds rustic charm to old buildings. But when you keep ivy indoors, it can help purify the air in your home. English ivy is especially good for absorbing mold in the air, according to Allergy and Air. This plant loves bright light and slightly dry soil, so put it somewhere sunny!
3. Boston Fern

Boston ferns are known for being easy to care for, and they’re also a powerhouse for purifying the air in your home. Boston ferns ranked in NASA’s list of air-purifying plants for their ability to remove compounds like formaldehyde, plastics, or cigarette smoke from the air. These compounds are absorbed by the fern’s leaves and turned into materials that the plant can use.


4. Peace Lily

Peace lily is another plant that NASA found to be great for absorbing compounds in the air. It’s renowned for its ability to break down compounds like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene. Peace lilies, sometimes called “closet plants,” don’t thrive in direct sunlight. Put your peace lily somewhere where it can get indirect light and give you all the benefits of clean air. This is a great apartment plant for anyone who doesn’t get a lot of natural light.
5. Aloe Vera

You might already know about the health benefits of aloe vera for skin, but the plant itself is also great for purifying air. It works to absorb airborne compounds from paint or cleaning agents, and you can also have it handy for treating your sunburn!
6. Snake Plant

Snake plants absorb CO2 and convert it into oxygen. They’re a great plant to place in your bedroom because they’ll improve the air quality as you sleep. Snake plants also work to remove xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air in your home.
7. Rubber Plant

Looking for a slightly larger plant to make your air cleaner? Rubber plants can take a lot of neglect, so they’re not as difficult to care for as some other plants. Their large leaves absorb more material from the air, which is then converted either into nutrients for the plant or compounds for the soil.
8. Gerbera


Gerbera daisy was found by NASA to be the most effective plant in removing benzene from the air. Similar to snake plants, gerbera daisies are known for their ability to absorb airborne compounds and produce oxygen at night.
9. Azalea


Azaleas, in addition to being a pretty flower to add colour to your home, can help improve indoor air by absorbing formaldehyde. Just be sure to keep your azaleas misted, as they prefer a humid environment and moist soil.
10. Mass Cane


This plant ranked number one in NASA’s tests for removing formadehyde. Also called a corn plant, mass cane is a popular plant for sprucing up an office or home. It’s a slow-growing, low maintenance option for those who want to have a plant that both looks nice in their home, and make the air cleaner at the same time.
Happy planting! Contact your favourite designer to help you make the most of this foliage trend.

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