Tuesday, 16 June 2015

February 2015 - My indoor Jungle in the making

I love having plants inside!

They clean the air and they give any space a lived-in, homey kind of feel - and if you are rattling around a bit in a big house as we are, they soften hard lines and create bold decor statements with very little time or money!

Plants soften hard lines in our bathroom window
I do see the value of having indigenous plants in my garden and I understand the reasons for focusing on indigenous plants - I can't wait to get rid of the horrible syringas that are currently the only trees on our property other than a lone avocado tree. 

Pothos / Money Plant
(Epipremnum aureum)
Indigenous plants use less water, they are better for the indigenous insect population, they aren't invasive. I get all that. But, when it comes to fruit and veggies and herbs I make an exception. Indoor plants also get an exception ticket in my books, as I choose plants for their ability to clean the air and for their sculptural / decorative qualities. I also prefer low maintenance specimens for obvious reasons. 

Also, I'm still trying to figure out the names of the plants I already own - once I've figured that out I'll be able to find out whether they are indigenous or not, and make more informed decisions from there. I told you I'm not very good at this! I just grow things.

So in February I managed to repot all the plants I inherited from my dad's greenhouse as my folks have started a guest house on a property with a very different climate three hour's drive away. Fortunately some gorgeous terracotta pots came with the deal - so much excitement at not having to use plastic! 

(PS If anyone isn't sure what to buy me as a gift - a voucher to buy non-plastic pots, or a gift of some second hand unusually shaped pots and planters will send me soaring! That or a Bokashi setup... Or an unusual indoor plant... Or an heirloom seed voucher... Oi.)

So here is a picture of most of my plants post repotting:

  1. Rubber tree (Ficus elastica) grown from a cutting
  2. Wax Plant / Hoya Plant (Hoya carnosa)
  3. Rattlesnake plant (Calathea lancifolia)
  4. Coastal Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)
  5. Old Man's Beard / Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
  6. Various succulent starters
  7. Unidentified Fern
  8. Agave (Agave potatorum)
  9. Fish Bone Cactus, Zig-Zag Cactus? (Selenicereus? Epiphyllum? )
  10. Dracena Fragrans Victoriae 
  11. Unidentified Hanging Plant
  12. (see 9)
  13. A type of Coleus?
  14. Variegated Sisal / Variegated Sword Lily (Furcraea selloa var. marginata)
  15. Crassula (Plantarum Rariorum Horti Caesarei Schoenbrunnensis?) 
  16. Unidentified teeny tiny plant
  17. Unidentified little aloe-ish agave-ish thingamy

A Crassula adds a whimsical
touch to a bathroom window.
(By the way - if you can help identify any of these plants please comment below and I'll update the post!)

For the repotting I just mixed some of our garden sand with potting soil and worm castings from our worm farm and off we went. I probably wasn't conscientious enough about specific soil types for specific plants, and the proportions changed as I went along. I gave them all a good watering and put them in their designated places. I water them about once a week where required - but some require water a little more often, some require very little water at all. They have been positioned in various spots around the house, inside and out, and you'll recognise some of them in the other images on this page.

The balcony / conservatory from the outside

The balcony from the inside
So above our lounge area, we have a  glass-enclosed balcony that looks out over the pool and gets morning sun - so that is where I want to create a kind of indoor conservatory / jungle in an updated 70s style to match the house. (I'm collecting my inspiration on Pinterest here.)

Cabbage Tree / Kiepersol
(Cussonia spicata)
and Rubber Tree
(Ficus elastica)
We're still quite a way off from there, but I've included some images of the indoor plants that are looking reasonable at the moment. My biggest challenge is finding unusual and interesting pots and planters, and 'composing' the scene. I've got some ideas for hanging pots and planters as well - too many ideas perhaps! But all in good time...

The Cabbage Tree / Kiepersol in the image was found growing in one of the roof gutters at my mom-in-law's neighbour's house - so when the gutters were cleaned I was the first to pounce and adopt the poor thing.

The Rubber Tree next to it I grew from a cutting taken from my neighbour - which is why the leaves are cut. Cutting the leaves helps prevent excess water loss through transpiration while the plant is growing new roots. I just popped the stem in a bottle of water until it rooted then planted it in the soil. I know the bottle step isn't strictly necessary, but I love seeing the little roots grow! It did have two full grown leaves since repotting, but my youngest daughter felt that they were offending her sensitivities somehow and pulled them off.

Crassula ovata / Jade Plant
To be honest, I can't remember where I got the Jade Plant from - but they are truly lovely plants and it seems to be doing quite well in its spot on the balcony!

The image below is one of my favourite spots in the house. It is of the sideboard in the dining room. The weaving on the wall is off centre purely because I hung it on existing hooks, but I think it still works. This image includes items I've scrounged from second hand shops, my own fiber and ceramic art, very special gifts from friends and family and some air plants (Tillendsia). It makes my heart warm every time I see it! I'm always shifting items to get the right balance of shapes and surfaces and colours and textures. I don't think it will ever be just right but that's part of the fun.

Homegrown tomatoes!
Oh, and also in February, we harvested these gorgeous red tomatoes from our inherited tomato plant! Those cracks you can see happened because the plant had dried out a little and then got a good watering causing the fruit to expand faster than the skin could grow.

They still taste good though!

Please do follow or subscribe to the blog so you don't miss out on future posts. Our next installment is all about aquaponics and natural pools and the like. You don't want to miss it!


  1. Hi Leigh, I know that I should be commenting on the noble task of growing things but I am seeing your amazing house for the first time :D Am so pleased for you; you are blessed! Love, Brenda

  2. Lovely blog. I am busy setting up my very long awaited Urban Garden as well as my indoor kitchen herb garden. Nice to read about your journey here. P.S A Bokashi is on my wishlist too.

  3. Have alook at my green cave. I am so enjoying it http://thefevertreezululand.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-green-cave-in-making.html

  4. Love the way you write, Leigh. I think the photo is a bit small to identify some of your repotted plants. Or maybe the plants are still to small. I'm sure it will be much easier to identify once they are a bit bigger.

    1. Thanks so much Zet!
      About the image, if you click on it you will get a larger image :-) Let me know if you can help with any identifying!