Housed in a classic Redfern terrace, this store stocks a mix of pre-1950s furniture and collectibles alongside freshly cut flowers, plants and the odd taxidermy deer head. It caters to plant lovers living in the inner city with too little or too much light and next to no outdoor space.
Best plants for indoors: “Fiddle figs, rhipsalis (cactus mistletoe), rubber plants, cissus varieties, hoyas, orchids and bromeliads,” says owner of Seasonal Concepts, Ken Wallis. “Also look for those that are low maintenance with decorative foliage so they are architecturally interesting.”
How to keep them alive: “Designate the carer! Who will water? Who will feed it? And never think that more is better. Plants can be overwatered, overfed and cooked in too much sun,” says Wallis.
Mistakes to avoid: “Too much, too little, too late! Or any combination of these effects.”
Terrace Outdoor Living
“Any tropical, deep-shade-loving plants tend to work best indoors,” says Bianca Moore, who alongside stylist Paul Joseph Hopper runs this garden design shop. “Ferns and broad-leaved plants work well, especially in the bathroom where the humidity is good. Where the air is drier, such as an office, choose hardier varieties.”
How to keep them alive: “The key to success is to watch the water,” says Moore. Most plants like to be kept on the slightly moist side, but it’s a fine line and all varieties are different, so it’s best to ask lots of questions when you purchase. If you travel, invest in a self-watering pot.”
Next indoor plant trend: “Fiddle leaf figs are one of the most on-trend plants, and a lot of the ’70s era houseplants, such as monstera (Swiss cheese plant) and ficus robusta (rubber plants), have become super popular again. Scindapsis (devil’s ivy) are virtually indestructible and can be trained to climb or hang.”
Where to put them: “Plants are fantastic when you don’t have much space, like on top of bookcases and kitchen cabinets. If you have the space, invest in something substantial and make a feature of it. Plants look great when you cluster them together using plant stands to give different heights. This is also great to help with humidity, which most indoor plants suffer from a lack of.”
The fail-safe for serial indoor plant killers, these miniature aquascapes (underwater gardens) were imagined by Alastair Smith and Kris Robinson. Both have backgrounds in science and engineering. Each micropond is a tiny living aquatic ecosystem that reflects the fragile balance found in nature. They thrive under fluorescent light so are perfect for the office, and you can even (carefully) introduce freshwater shrimp into them.
Which plants work best: “The range of plants we use in microponds are completely aquatic and spend their entire life cycle underwater,” says Smith. “They include rotala, echinodorus and cryptocoryne species.”
How to keep it alive: “Once established they stay clean by themselves and all you need to do is trim the plants back every so often. If they are moved around too much they can never adjust and won't look their best. The worst thing you can do to a micropond is leave it on a hot sunny windowsill. Direct sunlight will overheat the water and kill everything,” says Smith.
Online only: www.microponds.com.au
At Garden Life you’ll find a range of reliable performers, from striking minimalist succulents and cacti, to lush tropical plants with big foliage. It also has a reputation for unique accessories, such as hand-thrown Moroccan terracotta and antique Turkish urns.
Best plants for indoors: “Try a Zanzibar gem, or the sansevieria stuckyi (snake plant), which has a bizarre leaf, shaped like an elephant’s tusk.”
Mistakes to avoid: “The most common mistake is for people to leave them to dry out,” says Garden Life’s owner, Richard Unsworth. “It’s then hard to water a dry plant – and sometimes the best thing to do is soak it in a bucket. Also, re-pot your plants into bigger plastic pots if you want them to grow bigger.”
Where to put them: “Good scale is important in any design. If your plant is going on the floor, make sure it is big. Use plants on shelves or furniture so you can see them. Allow them to trail down, or to sit next to objects and books to create a composition. See what resonates with you – there are no rules – use the plants you love!”
High Swan Dive
Worth the hike to Newcastle, High Swan Dive has a beautiful collection of artist-made ceramics, books and interesting plants. Co-owner Jesse Neale advises finding plants from the understory layer of rainforests, such as philodendrons, monstera, spathiphyllums (peace lily), palms, ferns, rhipsalis and hoyas.
Mistakes to avoid: “The biggest mistake people make is picking a spot in their house that looks empty or unusable, then trying to force the wrong plant to live there,” says Neale. “Cacti do not typically like dark corners next to a TV, and fiddle leaf figs don't tend to enjoy a blaring hot, west-facing balcony.”
How to keep it alive: “Research your plant and try to mimic its natural habitat. Master the art of understanding the difference between damp soil and really-soaking-wet soil, as most indoor plants prefer the former. Also, if your plant is looking a little bit sad, don't give it a holiday by dumping it out in full sun! This will only encourage its little plant soul to make a dash for that gleaming place in the clouds, unencumbered by the white ceiling it has been staring at for the last six months.”
Next indoor plant trend: “Our predication for the next 'it' plant is rhaphidophora tetrasperma (also known as mini monstera or philodendron piccolo),” says Neale. “It's a really nice trailing species from South East Asia with 10cm–5cm-long montsera-like leaves.”