Plants have an important role to play in interiors. They help create a harmonious atmosphere that is relaxing and reminds us that we are part of nature. In a commercial setting, they add a homely touch to an otherwise functional space. But it is their very colour that achieves so much of this atmosphere. Green is a particularly soothing colour. So the fantastic foliage of plants is what makes them such an important addition to any setting. Greenery is on trend so let’s explore some of the many exciting leaf shapes and patterns plants have to offer.
Fantastic foliage ideas
Ferns are an ancient plant that predates the dinosaurs. They come in a variety of leaf shapes from the incredibly light fronds of the maidenhair ferns to robust, drought- and shade- tolerant plants we associate with dense woodland.
The fronds of a fern are usually a playful mess, spilling out in random spreads. Because each frond is made up of multiple smaller leaves, ferns are great for allowing light to pass through them. You can also set them against a coloured wall for glimpses of the colour behind. Equally, they do well in pots with a contrasting colour or finish to the fronds.
Ferns make great hanging plants as shown in the terrariums of Vosegesparis’ blog article. But they are also great pot plants on a desk or plant stand. You can group ferns together or with other plants: combine ferns with mossy woodland plants to create a dense magical forest; or add them to a sub-tropical scheme evocative of humid jungles.
If a plant has a waxy leaf it usually means that it comes from drier climates where it has to conserve water. The waxy surface helps the plant to retain water in otherwise dry or hot conditions. A great variety of plants have this feature including the philodendron. Not to be confused with the monstera or cheese plants, philodendrons have large glossy leaves. They range from heart-like to spearhead in shape and are sometimes split-leaved (such as the variety picture as described in the best houseplant article from linternaute.com).
Anthuriums offer great waxy leaf foliage too. This red anthurium from Floresy features dark green glossy leaves with striking red veins running throughout each leaf.
Waxy and glossy leaved-plants add a rich and vibrant lushness to a scheme. Their shiny leaves are also quite tactile and invite people to stroke their smooth and generously sized leaves.
Variegation in leaves is when the leaf has more than on colour. Sometimes this is in the form of stripes like this zebra grass, which looks almost like porcupine quills arranged in a pot. Zebra grasses are a variety of miscanthus and can grow very large in dense clumps. Zebra grasses are from Eastern Asia and are very popular garden plants in Japan.
The variegation in leaves can also be a colour gradient from the centre of the leaf radiating outwards. Generally two-tone, colours include white and all shades of green plus a few less expected colours such as pinks and reds. Variegated white-green leaf of this Floresy artificial ficus tree shows this very typical variegation pattern. The darker green leaves have white edges that soften its overall shape. If you compare the variegated leaf with a solid leaf variety you can see the difference in the overall size impression it gives.
Crazy leaf shapes
Sansevieria is also known as snakes tongue or mother-in-law’s tongue. It is a popular plant for its upright spiky leaves. The leaves tick all the boxes: they have an interesting shape, they’re variegated and they are stripy! They are a commonly used architectural plant for indoors and outdoors, in residential and commercial settings. Floresy offers both a yellow-green sansevieria variety and a darker green leafed variety with a subtle stripe.
Spiky-leaved plants are popular because the structure of the plant has such contrast with more typical leaf-shaped leaves. Other spiky plant choices include yuccas, grasses and the softer but spiky-shaped leaves of palm trees. The kentia palm is a very popular tree for interiors, especially for the urban jungle trend.
Bonkers tillandsia is a family of evergreen plants that includes air plants. Their minimal root system means they can grow in the thinnest of soils and on other plants. These thinner leaf varieties come from wetter climates than their bigger-leaved cousins. All varieties can absorb water and nutrient through their leaves so can appear to literally survive on air. This display idea from Rodale’s Organic Life has a collection of air plants erected on wires above some equally beautiful pebbles.
Tillandsia air plants are displayed on wires above rocks.
The best thing about including plants with fantastic foliage into your decor is the huge variety of texture they add. Combine different types of plants with different leaf shapes and colours to create a fabulous display of fantastic foliage.