Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, houseplants in America were at a peak of popularity. The 1980’s reigned in the “me generation” that didn’t have time for living things. Dusty plastic ficus replaced macrame hangers and avocado trees. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, talk shows had the nation de-cluttering their homes and giving us permission to keep one plant- to be picked from a top 10 list of no-fuss, abuse-tolerant, air-cleaning, non-toxic foliage. And nearly every home gave the ubiquitous phalaenopsis “moth” orchid a shot.
Throughout the past decade big-box stores arrived in most communities and brought with them easily affordable indoor and outdoor hybrids and exotics, reviving an interest in gardening and DIY projects.
Which brings us to today- a great time to be an indoor plant enthusiast. Succulent gardens, air plants (Tillandsia species), and terrariums are in stock at every interior design store worth its salt. These plant choices encapsulate all the consumer trends over the past forty years. They are alive but easy to maintain. They look exotic and classy but at little cost. They are go-to choices for do-it-yourself indoor gardening projects without turning your living room into a gnat infested hippie grotto.
Here are two examples I assembled today with inexpensive plants purchased in big-box stores and a typical neighborhood garden center. The first is Victorian inspired glass table top conservatory filled with low-maintenance 4″ tropicals from Home Depot along with some collected driftwood and rocks. The plants cost $3.00 each.
The final photo shows a succulent garden, primarily Echeveria species, that were purchased at both Ikea and a locally-owned garden store. Echevaria come in such a diverse range of shapes, colors and sizes that they are a fool-proof choice for arranging a low-maintenance succulent garden. This mix of 2″ and 4″ plants ranged in price from $2.00 to $4.00. They are potted in an Espoma succulent mix and topped with bonsai gravel. In this case, the most expensive part of the project was the stone dish purchased from West Elm for approximately $30.