The Garden Spot with Hannah Scott: Bring the Outdoors In

By Hannah Scott April 23, 2013 03:32 PM
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The Garden Spot with Hannah Scott: Bring the Outdoors In

We often forget the interior of our homes when it comes to gardening. Sure, flower arrangements and a small plant here or there are included for aesthetics or even as a matter of air quality, but a great architectural tree or plant can bring focus to a room just like a beautiful painting would. There’s something about attention-grabbing greenery that ads good energy and a calmness to the space.

Make sure that the plant you choose is suited for the light in the room. Here are a few idea:


Interior decorators love the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) tree for it’s oversized leaf and dramatic addition to any room. This is one of the easiest ficuses to grow, so it’s great for beginners. It prefers moderate to bright light and water moderately, letting the soil dry slightly between waterings. Keep it away from drafts and heat sourses too. Looking for another variation? Try the Ficus maclellandii Amstel King or Allii. The Allii has long, slender leaves

Dwarf Citrus Tree

What could be sunnier than a citrus tree grown indoors. Choose a room with a lot of light, preferably a south facing window and away from any drafts or heating vents as citrus don’t do well with abrupt temperature changes. Make sure the pot has good drainage and is ample enough to cover the root ball.  In the spring you can slowly acclimate your citrus to the outdoors if you would like. Remember that indoors, pest control is paramount and best treated by the least toxic means available. Calamondin is a perfect indoor orange variety; Meyer lemons and kaffir limes do well too.


The classic Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana, has a long history of  indoor use (as early as the 1850′s in Europe) and is one of the most popular palms. With its slender trunk and a graceful crown of dark-green drooping fronds, it works in both a traditional and contemporary aesthetic. Water only when dry, it prefers well-drained soils, and make sure to fertilize once a year and replace spent soil when needed.

Similarly the King Maya palm also has that lush, classic palm look.

Chinese palm Rhapis multifida, aka the finger palm or the Rhapis humilis, aka the slender lady palm are also good indoors. With symmetrical, deeply dissected fan leaves arching out from thin, bamboo-like stems…nothing matches a palm’s refinement. The Pygme Date Palm Phoenix roebelenii has that classic palm tree look that can be grown in full sun or shade and is also a wonderful planter palm for indoors.

Banana Plant

While not necessarily a true tree, the banana plant is treated as one due to its sheer size. Designers love it thanks to its floppy, huge leaves that give a room an instant exotic or grand vibe. Almost structural, the numerous vertical stems of the banana plant make them perfect for narrow spaces or those where you want to direct the eye up.

Octopus Tree

Schefflera actinophylla–look for newer varieties that are more pest resistant such as varieties such as Amate, and Amate Soleil which is a bright chartreuse foliage that can add a pop of color to any room.  This plant does best in bright indirect sunlight in a soil that retains water yet drains well.  Fertilize every two weeks during the spring and summer and mist frequently with warm water to keep leaves clean.

What do you think? Will you be testing your green thumb and bringing one of these beauties into your home?