Using plants to turn your flat into an urban jungle can really liven up your living space. Not only do plants filter the air, they also bring a great contrast to the concrete, brick and paint. An urban jungle gives you a place to escape to and recharge from the grind and grime of the city.
But how do you go about it? As a person who has involuntarily killed many plants in her life, I can tell you that it’s not just about finding some pretty plants and putting them on your window sill.
I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you that I’ve found very helpful for building my own urban jungle – a work constantly in progress.
Know your light
Do you have a lot of natural light coming through your windows? Is it morning sun or afternoon? Or does the sun never shine directly into your place? Does it get really hot in the summer or really cold in the winter?
You will need to know the conditions in your flat before you start looking into which plants you want to get.
When we first moved into our place in the spring, I immediately got some herbs to put on our balcony. What I didn’t know at the time was that the afternoon sun shines on our balcony without any trees or other buildings providing shade. So during the height of summer, it basically turns into a hot furnace of hell, which burned all my herbs to a crisp no matter how often I watered them.
Make a mental (or written if you like) map of your place and the different light conditions. This will help you choose which plants you want to buy for which space.
Know your plants
Now that you’ve mapped out your light conditions, you can start researching which plants you would like.
If you have a lot of direct sunlight, you want to make sure that your plants can take it. Some plants that are good with lots of direct sunlight and heat are banana trees, citrus trees, succulents, and cacti. After the herb incidence of 2014, my balcony now features only cacti and succulents.
If you have low light conditions or are looking for plants to put in darker rooms such as the bathroom, you want to make sure to choose plants that are happy without sunbathing all day long, such as Peace Lily (pictured below), Chinese Evergreen, Dracanaes or bamboo.
Use your space
Many people will buy a plant or two, put them on their window sill or a side table and that’s that. That’s totally fine if all you want is a bit of colour for decoration. However, if you want to create a proper urban jungle you want to look at all the spaces you have available in your flat.
There are many other spots that can benefit from a bit of green, such as book and TV shelves, fireplaces, open closets, and cupboards. Don’t be afraid to move around a few things to make room for a plant.
I live in a furnished flat, so there’s not much I can do about the furniture. We have this TV shelf with space for DVDs and other things around the TV. It’s not ugly, but it’s not something I would have bought for myself. Recently, I moved a bunch of DVDs from the top shelf to a box and put my Spider Plant there. Its green leaves are hanging over the shelf a lttile bit, and its making the room homier immediately.
Also don’t forget about the other rooms in your house, such as the bathroom and the kitchen. We might not initially think of putting a plant next to our bathtub but it can have a really striking effect and make your bathroom more inviting.
For bathrooms, make sure you choose a plant that can take high humidity.
Layer up that Urban Jungle
Group together plants of different heights and leave structure to give your room more dimension and a feeling of depth.
Hang plants from the ceiling
If you don’t have a lot of floor or shelf space you can also hang some plants from beams or directly from the ceiling. You can really get creative with these, using coconuts or hanging entire terrariums. However, you can to make sure that wherever your hanging your plant from can support the weight and that you can easily water your plant without ruining any furniture underneath.
You could, for example, choose plants that don’t need a lot of water like succulents, or those that can be watered with a spray bottle.
Don’t shy away from big plants
If you live in a small flat you might think that you don’t have the room for a big plant. I’d like you to reconsider that. Putting a big plant in your living room can have a huge impact on the feel of the room. Check your corner spaces, or maybe replace a little side table to make room for a big plant, and I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Don’t forget to water your plants 🙂
I hope this article has given you all the inspiration you need to turn your flat into a cool urban jungle. Once you’ve chosen the right plants for the right spaces, you’ll immediately start to feel the change in the room.
Don’t forget to write down the needs of your plants and make sure you stay on top of watering them.
TIP: If you live in a really hot and dry climate, use terracotta pots for plants that can’t take their soil drying out. Terracotta will store the water and help keep the plant’s soil moist for longer.
Think about adding some additional colour to your room with a cool print or poster.