With apartment, and small-space living, on the rise, so too is our passion for plants. Coincidence much? I think not! When surrounded by concrete, it makes sense that we yearn to reconnect with the natural world.
Melbourne-based architect, interior designer and plant cultivator Jason Chongue knows a thing or two about plants; especially when it comes to urban living. As one half of The Plant Society, an online social network for gardeners, he is committed to spreading the green word, and we caught up with him recently to get his top tips for creating a fabulous urban garden.
Keep it simple
Like so many things in design, less really is more; and this maxim is a good one to stick to when it comes to selecting plants for a small space. “When you have a small space try sticking to 3-5 types of plants and repeating them in your space. Too many varieties can make for a hectic garden whilst a curated selection can provide impact on mass,” says Jason.
While a large statement pot on the ground, or on a stand, is the most obvious choice when it comes to indoor plants, it pays to consider your home’s vertical space too. “Think vertically in small spaces. Take advantage of creepers or taller plants to give you that extra green,” says Jason. You can also use fishing wire to trail plants up a wall – Devil’s Ivy looks amazing when trained this way; both indoors and out.
How do you live?
Too often, people struggle to tend to their garden (and keep their plants alive) because they didn’t choose suitable varieties in the first place. “Make sure the plants you choose reflect your lifestyle. If you’re busy, try using low maintenance plants. On the other hand, if you’re like me and delve into the garden on a daily basis try plants that love that extra care,” says Jason.
Best indoor apartment plants
When it comes to the indoors, Jason’s all-time favourite plants include Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) which is great for low light, Fruit Salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) and the Umbrella tree (Schefflera amate) – we note the ever-present fiddle leaf fig didn’t make the cut!
“When indoors, don’t be afraid to be unique. Sway away from the regular plants you see in magazines or on social media and use plants that relate to your interior aesthetic and natural lighting levels. You don’t have to create a jungle with plants but instead pair them consciously with your interior finishes and materials,” says Jason.
Best balcony plants
Outdoors, Jason is a fan of citrus, Cascading Rosemary and roses. “Traditional I know but planted alongside other plants like Silver grass (Miscanthus) and Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum rubrum) they make for an interesting palette of texture and foliage,” says Jason.
As for balconies, Jason considers the harsh Australian climate first and foremost, and as such suggests arid, Mediterranean plants are the most practical choice. “On balconies I always think of the most intense conditions. Also, try incorporating plants that grow upright and then plants that cascade over the planters.”
Photography: Armelle Habib
Jason’s latest book GREEN, $32.99, published by Hardie Grant Books, would make a fabulous Christmas gift for plant lovers.