by Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens
PHOTO CREDIT: KIM CORNELISON
It’s been a couple of years since turning our homes into a potted-plant jungle became a thing. When the pandemic drove us indoors, we filled our living spaces with trendy fiddle-leaf figs, straight-outta-the-70s spider plants, and easy-care snake plants. These houseplants reminded us of simpler times in the past, or exciting places we couldn’t travel to right then. With the pandemic dragging on, we’re still turning to that indoor jungle to provide comfort, beauty, and even a sense of companionship. “After two years of living in a pandemic, with canceled trips and overall burnout, creating a sanctuary in your own home is more important than ever,” says Jarema Osofsky, plant stylist, landscape designer, and owner of Dirt Queen NYC. Here’s what she and fellow plant experts Hilton Carter and Maryah Greene see trending with houseplants in 2022.
1. Oversized Statement Plants
Delicate little succulents in elf-size pots are cute, but this is the year for great big plants that make a bold botanical statement. We’re talking 8-foot-tall potted palms, 6-foot-tall bird of paradise, and Ficus Audrey that can grow into towering indoor trees. The reason for the big plant binge? We’re a few years into the houseplant trend, and we’ve gotten more confident about our plant-care skills, says Greene, a plant doctor, consultant, and founder of Brooklyn-based plant care and styling business Greene Piece. “There’s plenty of information out there and lots of experts to ask for help, so people aren’t shying away from big species,” she says.
2. Blooming Plants
We’ve got roomfuls of leafy-green tropicals. Now we’re adding in flowering plants, so we get more color. “Blooming plants tie us to nature, and we need that connection,” says Carter, who’s an author, plant specialist, stylist, and owner of a home with filled with more than 300 plants. The blooming houseplant of 2022, he says, is hoya and his favorite is variegated Hoya carnosa. Cue your ’70’s nostalgia, when hoyas were a staple houseplant, often dangling from a macrame plant hanger.
3. Plants with Colorful Leaves
Flowers aren’t the only way we’ll add color. We’re also going to be into fancy foliage, so plants with colorful leaves or textures will be hot commodities. Expect polka dot begonias to be a big deal, says Carter, and anything with variegated leaves. Watermelon peperomia will be a plant to have this year, he says, as well as ‘Birkin’ and ‘Congo Rojo’ philodendrons.Greene says rex begonias, darlings of the Victorian era, will be popular this year, too, because their purple, pink, and chartreuse leaves add so much color and texture. She sees calatheas having a moment, too.
4. Fabulous Ferns
Ferns have had fans from the Gilded Age to the Disco Era, so it’s no surprise they’re still a must-have plant in 2022. These nostalgic, textual plants are perfect for mixing into your grandmillennial decor scheme. Fern love will expand this year as we embrace more exotic varieties. “Staghorn ferns are very popular right now,” Carter says. “I’m hearing from a lot of people who want to know how to take care of them.” He recommends mounting staghorn ferns on a board, and hanging them on a wall to take your indoor jungle vertical. Australian tree ferns are also trending, Carter says. “They’re like a blend of tree and palm,” he says. “They bring a lot of texture to a room.”Ferns let you create an opulent, maximalist look in your house because you can put them everywhere, Osofsky says. Stash them on a shelf, hang them from the ceiling, or put a row of ferns on a windowsill. She says Boston ferns and kangaroo paw ferns will be popular. Foxtail ferns and asparagus ferns are two of Osofsky’s favorites, because while they are not true ferns, they look like ferns and are easier to care for.
5. Climbing Plants
You’ve got hanging plants with branches trailing down. This year, go to the next level with vining plants that climb up an indoor wall, staircase, or bookshelf. “I have a lot of climbing plants,” says Carter, who wrote a book called Wild At Home: How to Style and Care for Beautiful Plants ($21, Amazon) to expound on his design philosophy that you should make the interior of your house look like nature has crept in and reclaimed the space.
“I’ve got a hoya that sat next to a window in my kitchen for two months; and somehow one of the vines basically grew horizontal, found its way to a pendant lamp, and started wrapping itself around the light,” Carter says. “I just love how it did that. I like that they find their way up and find a place to attach. It feels so natural and calming.”
Osofsky is a fan of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, a vining plant that looks a lot like a mini Monstera at first glance; and Rhaphidophora decursiva, a giant climbing plant with leaves that can get as big as 40 inches long and 20 inches wide. Climbing philodendrons are good choices for training up a wall, as are hoyas, Carter says. Osofsky’s a hoya fan, too, and recommends letting Hoya obovata and Hoya australis climb along a wall or onto a shelf.
6. Ficuses That Are Not Fiddle-Leaf Figs
We may always love our temperamental fiddle-leaf figs, but they’ve become something of a houseplant cliché. It’s well past time to branch out and try some other plants in the ficus family. “People are looking for ficus plants that aren’t as tough to grow as fiddle leafs,” Greene says. Ficus Audrey, cousin to the fiddle-leaf fig, is a good alternative, say Carter and Greene. It’s a tree-like houseplant that can grow up to 50 feet tall indoors. Don’t have room for a plant that can grow four stories tall? Get a smaller Ficus Audrey and keep it trimmed; or go with the smaller Ficus triangularis, also called a sweetheart tree, which maxes out at 8 feet. And trend intersection alert: Ficus triangularis has variegated leaves, so you can bring a little more color to your indoor greenscape while breaking out of the fiddle-leaf rut.
7. Monsteras, Still
Just so you know, Monstera deliciosa (whose leaf is essentially the avatar for a tropical houseplant), isn’t going anywhere. “Monstera is still popular. I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” Carter says. “It reminds us of tropical environments where we’ve felt happy and carefree. Monstera reminds me of my honeymoon.” And who doesn’t need a dose of good vibes from their houseplants this year?