According to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, Australians are now spending 90 per cent of our time indoors. Given that prolonged periods of time spent indoors deprive us of precious fresh air, sunshine and being in the presence of nature, it comes as no surprise that large indoor plants are a trend that has endured season after season. Not only do indoor plants rebuild our connection with nature and the outdoors, there are myriad health and wellbeing benefits to filling your home with large indoor plants.
A study conducted by Plant Life Balance in conjunction with RMIT University and University of Melbourne found that filling your home with indoor plants can improve the quality of your air by 25 per cent, create feelings of relaxation, inspiration and positivity, and remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from your indoor environment.
The same study found that the size of your indoor plant is important when it comes to the plant’s ability to improve your home. The bigger the leaves, and the bigger the root system, the better.
Lauren Camilleri is an art director, indoor plant specialist and co-founder of online plant retailer Leaf Supply, and we asked her for advice on the 10 of the best large indoor lants, and how to care for them. Here are Lauren’s suggestions.
1. Sabre fig (Ficus alii)
The overwhelming popularity of the Fiddle leaf fig means some of the more unusual and interesting figs are sometimes overlooked. With long thin leaves reminiscent of an Australian native and a tough robust nature it’s high time Ficus longifolia enjoyed its moment in the spotlight. If you’re looking for an large indoor plant to create a statement in your space, look no further. It’s sure to be the next big thing. Care is fairly easy, bright indirect light and a good water about once a week should do the trick.
2. Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
With robust glossy leaves and the capacity to get nice and big, the Rubber plant is one strapping specimen. There’s no question that the large indoor plant is easy on the eye, but these guys are also pretty handy around the house. Those large glossy leaves mean this plant is all about getting down to business, and will purify your air of nasty toxins. Low maintenance is the Rubber plant’s MO, and they will even let a little neglect slide. Keep them thriving with some bright, indirect light and a good water once a week.
Pro tip: To add additional pattern and texture, opt for variegated specimens, such as the Tineke and the Lemon lime variety. Just keep in mind that to maintain the stunning patterning on the foliage, these guys have slightly higher light requirements.
3. Macho fern (Nephrolepsis biserrta 'Macho')
Also known as the giant sword fern, think of this guy like a Boston Fern on steroids. This large indoor plant has broad fronds grow outwards not dissimilarly to a Sideshow Bob hairstyle. It’s one of the easier and hardy ferns to care for due to the slightly sturdier foliage, definitely one for those of us who have been burnt by a Maidenhair fern in the past (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?). Humidity is key: a regular misting in addition to keeping the soil moist - but not soggy - is appreciated by the Macho fern. Bright dappled light like it would receive in its original rainforest home will help this fern thrive.
4. Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
With incredible paddle-shaped leaves that are gorgeous and glossy, this plant brings the jungle vibes. It thrives in bright light and can handle some full sun. With enough sunshine you may be rewarded with one of its spectacular blooms from which the Bird of Paradise gets its name. But even sans flora this is one heck of an large indoor plant.
5. Olive tree (Olea europaea)
Although more commonly thought of as an outdoor tree, in a spot that receives lots of bright light and direct sun an Olive tree can be an impressive large indoor plant. You’ll want to rotate the plant regularly so it grows evenly as it will naturally reach towards the light source. These guys can grow large indoors so opt for dwarf varieties if space is at a premium. Well-draining soil is important so ensure its pot has a drainage hole and water is allowed to drain freely.
6. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
One of our all time faves for those graphic, holey leaves, the Monstera is a fabulous large indoor plant. This green beauty can grow nice and big so make sure there’s plenty of room to allow it to stretch out. It will thrive in bright, indirect light and with a good water once the top layer of soil is dry. You’ll probably need to stake this one as it grows for extra support, and keep those gorgeous leaves dust free with a regular wipe down, but any work is well and truly worth the effort.
7. Kentia palm
Also endorsed as a fabulous large indoor plant by Flower Power Garden Centres, the Kentia palms are a particularly pretty large indoor plant option. Fairly slow-growing, this large indoor plant requires a bit of nurturing, but rewards you with beautifully sculptural foliage that makes a real statement in a space. With a little patience and the right attitude, the Kentia will grow to become one of your favourite large indoor plant pals too. When it comes to re-potting, these guys prefer to be left alone rather than moved from vessel to vessel. Soil should be very well draining to avoid root rot and bright, indirect light is best - although they are tolerant of slightly lower light conditions.
8. Schefflera (Umbrella Tree)
An often overlooked large indoor plant, the Schefflera - or Umbrella plant - is a hardy beauty that can grow into a beautiful indoor tree. Named for the Umbrella-like formation of the foliage, it’s easy to care for and can provide colour with some variegated options that can add pattern to your large indoor plant jungle. Bright, indirect light is best for this guy and be sure to rotate regularly to ensure even growth.
9. Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
This trailing piece of lushness may not be the first large indoor plant you think of when talking large plants but give it long enough and those tendrils can get some pretty good length on them. Heart-leaf philodendrons work well placed atop a plant stand and are perfect for cascading down bookshelves. Better yet, train them to trail across walls with small clear hooks for a beautiful green sculpture. The heart-shaped leaves unfurl in a beautiful copper hue but mature into a deep green. Again, bright indirect light is best as is a water once the top few cm of soil is dry, approximately once a week.
10. African milk thistle (Euphorbia trigona)
For those that like things on the prickly side and have a spot that receives lots of light and even some morning sun, the Euphorbia trigona is an awesome large indoor plant. With thin, spiky stems lined with rows of smaller leaves that grow like chandeliers from the main stem, these succulents are an exotic addition to your plant gang. Water deeply and allow water to drain away easily and ensure they are allowed to dry out before watering again. They can be re-potted once a year if you want to see it really grow. Fertilising every few months will also encourage growth.
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