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Creating a botanical look indoors makes a room feel calm and helps purify the air

EXPERT: Paul Harris scours local and international markets sourcing botanical decor and artwork for his botanical gift shop Pole Pole in the Woodstock Exchange. The shop is renowned for its air plants (Tillandsias).

Q I’d love a botanical look for my home, but how do I go about achieving this?

A Assess how much natural light there is to determine what type of plants to get – different plants need different amounts of light to survive. In a small apartment, I would suggest an accent plant like a bamboo palm or tree fern that stands a bit taller, placed in a corner, or if you have an open bit of wall to create a hanging display on either shelves, containers, or hanging baskets. I love the calming effect that a combination of green plants have, like delicious monsters, asparagus fern, various philodendrons, devil’s ivy, string of hearts or pearls.

Q What plants are best for people who don’t have green fingers?

A Most indoor plants are relatively easy to care for as long as they get natural light but not direct sun and regular amounts of water. Ferns need to be kept cool and air plants need moisture if the air is dry. A balcony that gets sun is ideal for cacti and succulents as they are incredibly sculptural looking and can go for long periods without water.

Q What are air plants? Is it true you don’t plant them in soil?

A They are the Tillandsia family and originate from Central and South America, although they can now be found in many warm, humid climates. They are also Epiphytes which means, yes, they do not require soil to grow in and absorb nutrients and water from air, mostly through their leaves. Their tiny root structure helps them to cling onto trees. They are known to purify our air by removing certain toxins. In dryer climates where there is not much humidity, they require a misting of water every couple of days and although you can bath them, it’s important to shake off any excess water afterwards. They like high light but not direct sunlight. There are hundreds of different varieties and we stock about 20 including a few varied Ionanthas, Xerographica, Argentea, Bulbosa, Cicinata, Juncea and more.

Q How can I best display air plants?

A Air plants can be displayed in multiple ways and are especially comfortable growing on natural surfaces like driftwood which can easily be mounted to a wall. You can attach the plant with wire, nylon line or even a plant glue. We also attach them to shells, pebbles and blocks of wood for an elegant and unusual display. Remember they still need to be watered when.


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