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Why do houseplants like bathrooms?
The natural environments for most houseplants are the tropics and subtropical regions. The main reason why plants from these areas are well suited to life indoors is the lack of seasonal variation found inside buildings. Temperature, day length and light levels vary very little over the course of a year, and this near constant environment suits tropical plants well.
Over half of the houseplants we sell have their natural origins in the really warm and really humid rainforests of Asia, Australia and South America - much like the climate of a bathroom, and we have 68 plants in our range that are ideal for this environment. Here, we highlight 15 of the best.
Perfect atmosphere for plants
Modern bathrooms are more than utilitarian spaces for personal hygiene. They are often luxurious environments designed with pleasure in mind, and where all the senses can be stimulated at the same time. In fact, they are probably the most truly biophilic spaces in the home.
The atmosphere from a steamy shower or warm bath, together with the sounds of running water, the smells of soaps and lotions and the touch of warm water can be further enhanced by the sights of lush plants and flowers which combine to create a sense of real comfort and relaxation.
As well as the atmosphere created in the mind, all that warm water creates a humid and buoyant environment for plants, which will keep them healthy and allow them to thrive - just as long as you choose the right ones.
Bathroom environment factors to consider
As well as being humid spaces, bathrooms are sometimes small and sometimes poorly lit. In many modern homes, especially flats, bathrooms may not have windows so there is a risk that when they are not in use, the rooms can be totally dark. However, if you leave the lights on all the time, you will be wasting valuable energy, and be running the extractor all day - which is both noisy and likely to wear it out quickly.
Even bathrooms with windows are not always well lit - the windows are likely to have frosted glass, or some form of screening, and the window is also often quite small.
Another factor to consider is floor space. At least 5 square metres of the floor space in your bathroom are going to be occupied by the fixtures and fittings, which are pretty much immovable. This means that you don’t have as many options to rearrange stuff to accommodate your plants as you would in other rooms in your home.
To create a really lush experience in the bathroom, it is a good idea to have your plants visible from all angles, whether standing at a basin, under a shower or relaxing in a nice warm bath. In some ways, this mimics the structure of the rainforest, where you will find plants in layers from the smallest ground cover plants all the way to huge forest trees and palms, often with epiphytes hitching a ride among the branches.
Whilst having massive trees indoors is impractical, it is certainly possible to recreate some of the lower tiers of a jungle to ensure that there are plants wherever you look.
What plants should I display in the bathroom?
With floor space at a premium, tall plants that don't spread too far will be a good choice. Good examples would include upright plants such as the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata), Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) or the especially architectural Dinner Plate Aralia ( Polyscias balfouriana ‘Fabian’).
Windowsills, shelves and the tops of cabinets are an obvious place for indoor plants in the bathroom, and this is also a good opportunity for colour and patterns in the foliage. Anthurium andreanum (the Flamingo flower, or Tail plant) has striking bright red blooms that last for weeks, and are constantly replenished. They tolerate quite dark conditions, but look great on a windowsill where the light almost makes the spathes glow. Another fantastic plant for darker areas, and one which oozes serenity and calm, is the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii).
Species in the Marantaceae family (such as Calathea species and Ctenanthe species) are typified by their patterned foliage, which add an air of exoticism to the bathroom. Not only that, but their preference for humidity makes them ideal candidates for use in steamy environments.
Other colourful plants to consider for shelves are the Begonias (which look great when viewed from above) and trailing plants such as the Four-Coloured Spiderwort (which are ideal for placing on higher shelves or on tops of cabinets).
Texture is also important, and the feathery fronds of ferns add both drama and delicacy. Good examples include the Miniature Tree Fern (Blechnum gibbum), Golden Serpent Fern (Phlebodium aureum) and the Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’).
Moving up a layer, hanging plants occupy no useful surfaces at all, and they give you a green view when lying in the bath. There are lots of reasons to have hanging plants, particularly as they look great! As well as some of the small plants in the foli8 kokedama-style collection, another great bathroom plant is the Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera).
Very many of these smaller plants, such as some ferns and the mistletoe cactus, are epiphytes in their wild environments. This means that they live among the branches of larger trees and get much of the water from humidity in the air in the form of water droplets and water vapour. This means that, despite them thriving in humid conditions, they do not need watering too often.
Don’t forget the plant pots
Having the right pots for your bathroom plants is, of course, very important. Ceramics are ideal and will suit any environment, but you might also wish to consider something more unusual, such as our Traverse flexible pot or the Mistral plant basket. We also have hanging pots from the Gable range that look stunning and will be ideal for a variety of hanging and trailing plants.
Need some more plant inspiration? See all of our recommended bathroom plants or get style envy in our new lookbook.
By Kenneth Freeman