Cabin, no, I mean Jungle Fever! Part One

In August last year, I wrote a post about the 'new' it plants, which was basically my plant wish-list. I didn't actually own many of them back then, but I do now. Obviously. I mean what kind of interiors fashion victim would I be if I didn't rush out and buy them all? A failure, that's what, and I AM NOT A FAILURE.

Now that's off my chest, and there is a vague feeling of hope in the air, (a couple of blossoms on the odd tree, and the tulips in the garden are starting to pop up - that's good enough for me even if it is still freezing), I thought I'd give you an update on my current favourites, but a bit more in depth so you can get an idea of whether you're cut out to be a plant parent this year. Because in case you haven't heard yet, the indoor jungle look is in. BIG TIME.

Up until a few years ago, I considered myself to have a 'black thumb' - unable to keep a plant alive to save my life, and generally totally clueless with any form of greenery. But it occurred to me the other day that perhaps the reason I never used to be able to keep a plant alive was that I wasn't really interested. Every plant that came my way over a period of probably thirteen years - from seventeen when I moved out of home, til the end of my twenties, was dead within a month or two. But had I actually put any effort into keeping it alive? I think not. But the idea that I was 'no good with plants', stuck. So for the following decade I just ignored their existence, and up until a few years ago I owned just one lonely plant - a Jade plant (money plant), that has stayed with me through thick and thin, and came back from near death on several occasions. These days I'm quite sure of what it needs (very little!), it really just wants the right amount of light (not as much as you might think), and a good water every now and then. Figuring out how much water and how much light your plants need are the basics, and all you really need. Just 'listen' to your plant - if it's not looking happy think about the basics - position and water - would it like more or less direct light? Are you giving it too much water or not enough? That thing called the internet is also really very useful to find out what conditions they like best, and if they like a bit of plant food a few times a year. Honestly, it's not that hard.

Over the last two years I've slowly collected more plants as my belief that I can actually keep them alive has grown. I now have a small but slowly expanding collection of beautiful thriving plants that I'm really rather fond of. If I've jinxed that by writing this post I'll be quite devastated to lose any one of them.

Right then, I'm clearly feeling a bit rambly today, but the lecture is over - let's get down to business...

I'm including a bit of information about what receptacle each plant is in, because I've found it quite challenging finding affordable ones that look good (and leaving the plastic pots exposed is NOT an option!!) so this might give you a bit of inspiration. Think outside the box here - baskets are my go-to, I have them from Ikea and H&M and from my travels. Most of the time you can just leave a plant in the pot it came in, pop a plate underneath and put it in a basket. Remember, these plants are inside, so heavy, expensive planters are not necessary.


A fiddle leaf fig in designer Bianca Halls London home www.frenchforpineapple.com

Yes, I thought I'd start with every bloggers favourite. I bought mine in September last year, having missed out on the insanely cheap tree that I'd spotted just before going away on our summer holiday (I still regret not buying it), so when I saw a smaller plant a few weeks later I snapped it up...

Botanical Name: Ficus Lyrata
How much: £30, but expect to pay up to £600 if you have your heart set on a huge 4 metre tree.
How tall: 140cms
Where from: Angel Flowers in Islington, who always have a lovely selection of plants at really reasonable prices. Fiddle leaf figs aren't particularly easy to find in the UK, so if you can't get one locally, you can get a plant from here or a tree from here.
Care: So far so good. I did so much research on caring for one before I bought it, but honestly, didn't come up with much. The thing that stuck in my mind was consistency - they don't like being moved about, and they like a regular water. This may well be total nonsense, I'm no expert, but it seems to be working, so I don't move it, and I give it one cup of water once a week. On Wednesdays. Yes, Wednesday is watering day here at Hall HQ.
Where: It currently resides in my south facing bay window that gets loads of natural light. I may have to move it away from the window when summer hits as apparently too much direct sun could be a bad thing. I'm a bit nervous about that.
Receptacle: It's original plastic pot on a plate inside an Ikea basket.

A Ponytail Palm in designer Bianca Halls London home. www.frenchforpineapple.com

Don't you just love this pretty little thing? The Ponytail Palm is a sweet addition to any room, and so far, seems pretty unfussy too.

Botanical Name: Beaucarnea recurvata
How much: Around £20 I think.
How tall: 60cms
Where from: Angel Flowers in Islington again, but these are pretty easy to find, in plant shops and online.
Care: Super easy, needs very little water as it stores it in that chunky base. A little water every month or so in the winter and not much more in the summer.
Where: It lives on the hearth in our living room (it's not a working fireplace), and gets loads of natural light from the south facing bay window.
Receptacle: It came in a charcoal plastic pot that I don't mind despite its plasticness.

A paddle plant in a metal urn in designer Bianca Halls London Home www.biancahall.co.uk

I love my little paddle plant. When exposed to enough sunlight the leaves turn a beautiful pink colour, just like a happy blush. Bit like me really.

Botanical Name: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
How much: Around £10
How tall: 20cms
Where from: That Flower Shop at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. Love this little shop which also acts as the street entrance for one of my favourite places to dine and drink cocktails. These are widely available, so you shouldn't have any problem finding one.
Care: Pretty easy, though about a week after I first got it, it got really droopy and looked so unhappy. I thought it was because it wasn't getting enough sun, even though it was in the sunniest spot in the house, but it turned out that it's not like other succulents and they actually like quite a lot of water. Weird because I've read they don't like much water, not the case with mine though. Now I've figured that out, it's a happy, if a little crazy looking specimen again.
Where: It currently resides on our kitchen table where it gets lots of light, though it might move back up to my studio for a proper dose of heat in the summer to get those leaves nice and pink!
Receptacle: I got that fabulous little aged metal urn on Ebay. I'm definitely getting another one to put a Boston Fern in.


 A Snake Plant in designer Bianca Halls London Home www.frenchforpineapple.com

There's just something so cool and sculptural about the thick waxy leaves of a Snake Plant don't you think? And I love the yellow border and pattern on the leaves. They remind me of watermelon skin - I wonder if they're weirdly related...

Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
How much: £18
How tall: 60cms
Where from: Online from House of Plants
Care: Easy! I water it every now and then (once a month or less), and it doesn't really seem to mind where it lives, it's a slow grower, so you'd be forgiven for thinking it was fake, but mine is starting to grow a new leaf, so I know it's the real deal!
Where: Currently residing in our south facing bedroom away from the windows, so it gets lots of indirect light. I'll probably move it to a sunnier position in the summer.
Receptacle: Another basket from H&M.

Phew. That's it for part one of this post. There just aren't enough hours in the day at the moment (or enough sunlight to take decent pictures). Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss part two of this post next week including the ultimate indoor jungle plant!


The 'new' house plants every self-respecting interior obsessive must have!

I know the title is a tad dramatic, and yes, you've seen some of these loads already, BUT I do think that you will start seeing a few house plants popping up online, in the glossies, and yes, even in real life over the coming months, that you just might not have seen before. And I'm excited.

It's feeling decidedly Autumnal in the UK suddenly (Boo! I want more summer!), but let's not let that fact spoil our indoor plant fun. In fact, surely if we surround ourselves with plants that have a tropical feel, and pop the heating on, on the days when the sun graces us with a bit of shine, we can trick ourselves into believing it's still warm out there.  Maybe?

Yes? Let's give it a go then...

We already know that succulents are a 'thing', and that indoor plants have made a huge comeback over the last year or so, having been absent from the interiors hot list for quite some time, but what plants should you buy, once your little succulent collection is nearly complete? Or, god forbid, dead?
Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Ananas comosus chamaca / Ananas comosus variegatus - Dwarf Pineapple/Ivory Pineapple. I was stupidly excited (told you) when I saw these at Ikea the other week. I can't believe that I just didn't have the hands to buy a couple there and then. I'll definitely be making a trip back for some very soon. The Variegatus has a spiky/variegated leaf, the one pictured (Chamaca) doesn't.  They're both great. Instant sunshine in a pot, and a total no-brainer. Get one.

Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Zamioculcas zamifolia or Zamia furfuracea - That's a Zamia Plant to you and me, and also known as a Cardboard Plant, Jamaican Sago and ZZ Plant. It was complete and utter love at first sight for me when I recently saw one of these for the first time. Just beautiful.  I'll be tracking one of these sculptural beauties down pronto. Oops, just did - you can buy one here.


Image: Unknown via Pinterest

Cryptocereus anthonyanus (yes, really) - also known as a Ric Rac Cactus, Fishbone Cactus or Orchid Cactus. It's seemingly impossible to find a great image of one of these to show off it's beauty, so I'll post one once I've procured one, but trust me, these are stunning. I'm going to hang one in my kitchen, and pray it's warm enough for it as we venture into winter.

Image: Kindra Clineff (via countryliving.com)

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - This one is probably not new to you, but it's new to me. I've decided I need to stop being lazy and calling all succulents, 'succulents', and learn their names (even if I can't pronounce them). We need to know our Aloes and Agaves from our Echeverias and Crassulaceaes, which is the family that this lovely looking specimen falls in to. Commonly known as a Paddle Plant for obvious reasons, and it's totally on my list.

Fiddle Leaf Fig, and if you squint you can see a Zamia peeping out from behind it.
Image: Bianca Hall
And last, but most definitely not least, this one is probably not new to you - we all know and lust after the Fiddle Leaf Fig (or Ficus lyrata if you want to get technical). I actually gasped out loud at the beauty of the one above when I stumbled upon it, having never seen one in the flesh before. How does a plant or tree reach A-list celebrity status? By being incredibly beautiful and photogenic for a start. If ever there was an A-list plant, this is it. Why haven't I got one yet? Because they're not cheap, and I'm terrified of buying one and killing it. This won't stop me from ever getting one, it's Christmas soon after all. Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy discovered an online UK Fiddle Leaf Fig supplier and was kind enough to share back in March. She tells me that hers is doing really well, which fills me with hope for my future as the proud owner of one. Soon, very soon.