Tall indoor plants that make an impact are an integral part of a modern interior scheme. Alongside, statement indoor trees, tall plants have become a big interior design trend, with many designers incorporating them into room schemes from the outset. Rather than leaving them as an afterthought for the homeowner or resident.
'Plants, particularly tall ones, can add much needed verticality to a space that might otherwise feel less gracious in height,' says interior designer Sheena Murphy, co-founder of New York and London-based design studio, Nune. 'Plus they can enhance already tall ceilings.'
When it comes to an indoor garden, the important thing to consider when placing them in small spaces is the extent of visual weight they add. 'I'd be inclined to go for something a little wispier or fine in smaller spaces,' Sheena adds. 'Whereas, typically, larger rooms can carry heavier, fuller bodied plants. Not only are many species great for interior air quality but they can also add pattern, shape and color to a space and are often less costly than putting framed art on a wall.'
5 tall plants that make an impact
1. Brachychiton rupestris
'We mix up the plants in our projects, depending on the requirements of the plant and what the space can tolerate,' continues Sheena Murphy at Nune. 'In a super minimal project we did in Brooklyn, we bought a very thin branched, minimal foliage tree to align with the airiness of the space it was inhabiting.'
As with many indoor trees , this is particularly romantic and beautiful. 'Something like a Brachychiton rupestris would be ideal in such a space because it typically has a gorgeously chunky base trunk but thins out and provides a super organic and sculptural canopy at eye level.'
When choosing a tall plant for a space, consider not only its current size and shape but how large the plant can grow indoors. Given a large enough pot, the Brachychiton rupestris can reach over 8' indoors. They are quite rare, but can be bought at Plant Desert.
2. Ficus Elastica (rubber plant)
'In cases where we are limited on width, we use more cylindrical shaped plants with height that don't take up too much horizontal space,' says Sheena.
'These tend to be a Draceaena fragrans burundi or a Ficus elastica, which is quite commonly used but practical because it is very grounding, can tolerate shade and is very easy to take care of.' One of the best low mainteance plants for indoor gardening, they basically manage themselves.
'A large plant can instantly create a “wow” factor, bringing drama and a touch of the outdoors to an interior,' says Hilton Carter, plant stylist, designer and author of Living Wild. 'If you place a 12-ft rubber tree in a corner of the living room or in the entryway, its impact is instant and its beauty can be admired from a distance.'
With the patent-leathery sheen of its leaves, Ficus elastica is also one of the best plants for a lush indoor garden, as it adds glossy texture as well as rich color and height.
3. Dracaena fragrans 'Burundi' (Corn plant)
'Dracaena fragrans 'Burundi' has a really nice dept of color, it's easy to maintain (very important!), has a beautiful organic shape and adds good presence to a room,' continues Sheena.
Also known as the corn plant, this popular species is loved for its ability to grow well and look good in most indoor environments - we often see them in indoor zen gardens as there is a peacefulness to them somehow. Although it's known as a low-light houseplant, Dracaena fragrans will grow faster in a sunny spot.
Its woody stem gives it the appearance of a small indoor tree, which is guaranteed to add impact to an empty corner.
4. Ficus umbellata (umbrella fig tree)
Larger rooms can take larger plants, so finding something suitable may be more of a challenge. A generous space may dwarf even a tall plant, so it's a balance between finding something big and beautiful enough that still has room to grow.
'For spaces with no limitations on height or width, I love something with a balanced density and larger scale or more interesting foliage like a Ficus umbellata or a beautiful but unusual Bulnesia arboria,' says Sheena. 'They are both absolute game-changers in a room.'
Choosing a Ficus umbellata with a single stem or a trained twisted trunk will add even more emphasis to its beautiful broad leaves - it's one of the best plants for a lush indoor garden. This plant can be susceptible to scorching, so place it in bright, indirect light. They're quite rare to buy buy can be found at Proven Winners.
5. Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig tree)
'I like to say that it only takes a single plant to change the atmosphere in a room,' says Hilton Carter. 'While my particular aesthetic is what some might describe as “all green everything,” I like styling minimalist spaces with one large pop of greenery.
'There’s something so calming about a single tree in a room. When you’re limiting the number of pieces in a space, it’s important to be selective. Let your theme or inspiration lead you in your decision making.
'The ever-trendy fiddle-leaf fig has made its way into many interiors, but for me it fits best in a boho chic room, where its glossy dark green leaves and elegant stance can add to the quirky, playful vibe associated with this style.'
Ficus lyrata can grow to around 5-ft indoors, and will suit a bright, airy room. Don't forget to dust its large leaves so it can photosynthesise properly.
Hilton's new book is out in Marchand is so worth pre-ordering. We've had an advance copy and every page is brimmming with inspiration for plants tall and small, and how to use them to create homes that make you happier. Can't wait until March? Try his other books for instant inspo, here.
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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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