Picture it: you’re lounging with a cuppa, cat in lap, and reading that book you’ve always meant to read—and all around you is vibrant greenery and lush, trailing vines. It’s your very own, very chic, indoor green space. An urban jungle* overgrown with understated cool. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen those cool hipster photos of rooms with lots of plants placed just casually enough to look cool, but not overbearing. Like this:
Still, you have the sneaking suspicion that if you tried to copy this look, you’d become known as that crazy plant hoarder down the street. Turns out that there is an “art” to the urban jungle, and we are going to share a few of our tips on how to get this look in your small house, apartment, or condo. But first, let’s talk plants.
Popular Plants for Urban Jungles
Choosing the right mixture of plant sizes and shapes for your space is the same as shopping for furnishings that look right together and suit the space. It requires a balance of height, width, texture, and color. And since space is limited, this may mean choosing fewer plants with more variety. Here are some popular plants to add to your new urban jungle.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
The Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is popular because of is large, elegantly shaped leaves. These plants are great when planted in a planter and placed in the corner of a room, on top of a bookshelf (a great choice for high and vaulted ceilings), or even in a sunny bathroom.
The good news about the pothos plant is that it’s both nice looking and low maintenance. In fact, they are available in varieties that range from the traditional golden pothos to the chartreuse beauty of the neon pothos. This plant can be shaped so that it’s bushy and full or unfurling as long, trailing vines perfect for hanging planters. Tolerant of low light conditions, the pothos plant doesn’t require a lot of watering (about once every 7-10 days), and will forgive you if you neglect it (they are the toughies of the plant world, and they bounce back beautifully—trust me). But even more importantly, they just look…good.
This succulent species aloe vera is a multi-functional plant. Not only does it provide a textural plant profile in a design, but you can snip off a leaf and use its gel to soothe sunburns and other skin-related irritations. These spiky plants look great when potted and styled as a table centerpiece, or added to a grouping of potted plants as an interesting contrast to more broad-leaf plants.
Along with succulents, the sansevieria is the poster child of modern plants, with its vertical, variegated stalks that look best jutting stylishly out of a decorative planter. These green beauties work great as a space divider when placed in a row, or as a single potted plant on a nightstand, bookcase, wall shelf, or coffee table.
Plant Placement is Everything
Just like the “natural look” is the result of hours contouring and highlighting with makeup, the “I just grabbed some houseplants and put them a few places, and they look amazing, no biggie” look is a studied art. There are a few things to consider, including:
The Plant’s Needs
Does the plant need to be outside in the sun, or by a sunny window—or can it thrive in a dark corner or a room with no windows? Does it need to be watered frequently, and therefore should be put it in an easy-to-reach place, or is it happy being watered once every 7-10 days? Does it have shallow roots, and can be planted in a low profile planter, or does its root system require a larger pot?
A Plant at Every Level
Just like in a natural jungle, where plants come at you from every angle, an urban jungle needs to be finessed so that it captures the eye with a balance of greenery. This means mixing it up: place trailing plants in hanging planters and air plants in terrariums that hang from the ceiling or a high point (a great way to add greenery to a small home, saving floor space by gardening vertically). Place smaller succulents in an artful arrangement of planters on wall shelves. Pepper plants around the home on mantels, windowsills, around the bathtub, in hallways, atop bookcases, on desks, plant stands, benches, behind couches—where there is a surface, try styling a plant on it. Play around with placement and see how it looks—only you can decide when your urban jungle is just right.
Bask in Your New Plant Paradise!
When you’re done creating your sweet new green space, don’t forget to take time to sit back and enjoy its air-purifying, stress-reducing effects. And if, while lounging on your indoor hammock, you spot a bare space that could use some spruce-ing up (see what I did there?) with an additional plant, don’t worry. An urban jungle, like a natural jungle, is made to grow and change over time. So sit back, relax among the ferns—there’s always tomorrow.
Want some browsing material while you lounge? Visit our site for products to help create or add to your urban jungle.
*The term “urban jungle” has been popularized by, and is often associated with, Urban Jungle Bloggers®, a community of plant-styling bloggers started by Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff. We at Windowbox.com use the term “urban jungle,” along with our original content, independently from this community and brand. However, some of their community’s photos (with credit) have been included in this post to serve as inspiration for our readers.