The smallest room in the house needn’t be the most boring. In fact, many people feel that the bathroom and cloakroom are the most revered spaces of any home. Let's look at bathroom environments to see which plants can survive in rooms that sometimes get hot and steamy.
Sanctuary is all about privacy and refuge. It’s general practice to close a bathroom door when you are using the space, especially if there are visitors in the house. It’s perfectly acceptable to close the door and be alone, whereas this might seem to be rather odd in any other room. This area in the home therefore becomes a space of thought, peace, tranquillity and retreat. You don’t need to justify the amount of time you spend in here – in fact it would be rude of someone to ask why you took so long!
Doesn't the staghorn fern in this bathroom (above) look amazing?
It stands to reason, therefore, that bathrooms and cloakrooms make excellent subjects for experimental, creative design when it comes to decoration. Many people adorn their smallest room with feature walls, jazzy wallpaper or interesting flooring. Others devise a theme for their rooms – a particular period of time, perhaps, or maybe a library, a forest or jungle.
Step forward indoor plants! There are several varieties that lend themselves to set-making. Bathrooms, however, need a certain type of plant that can cope with the extra moisture and humidity. They need to be able to deal with light levels that might be lower than most rooms, because windows often have opaque glass. Plants can transform any space, but several houseplants in a small room will create a giant impact.
What’s more, suitable plants can actually help prevent the growth of mould and mildew, which is a common problem in humid rooms where adequate ventilation isn’t always provided. They can also absorb toxins, soak up some of the moisture and help to purify the air. Some plants have also been credited with being able to neutralise bacteria.
Try these moisture-loving beauties
Here are some suggestions for plants suitable for bathrooms, cloakrooms and even indoor swimming pool areas, should you be lucky enough to have one of those!
- Indoor ferns: One of the most popular is Nephrolepis exaltata (photo above), otherwise known as a sword or Boston fern. There are several different cultivars, but the one you are likely to find most often is N. ‘Green Lady’. It’s a lush, tropical, elegant plant that can grow to a maximum size of about 100cm x 100cm – although it’s very easy to contain the size by keeping it in a smaller pot. These originate from tropical regions such as Africa and Central America where they grow in swamps or hanging from trees as epiphytes. They are easy to keep provided you water from below rather than from above. The graceful fronds love damp air and this plant will absorb moisture, thus drying out your bathroom a little faster after a shower or bath.
- Asplenium ferns (pictured above), often called bird’s nest fern, are also well-suited to bathrooms, where they revel in the damp environment. Their foliage is evergreen and glossy and there are a few different varieties, some with crested tips to the foliage. So easy to keep, provided they don’t receive too much direct sunlight, the bathroom can be their haven.
- Moving away from ferns, there’s the extraordinary spider plant family, or Chlorophytum (pictured above). These have been around for decades but are more popular now than ever before. It’s not surprising when you investigate their nature. They can act as a hanging plant, cascading from a shelf, a cabinet or windowsill or dangling from a hanging basket, and need very little in the way of pampering. They love a bathroom position where they absorb humidity and purify the air too. There’s more than one variety now – some have extra colourful leaves and others have curly foliage.
- Next, there is the Calathea family, which hails from the tropical rainforest region of South Africa. The foliage of Calatheas is second to none, with many different forms. All have the appearance of perfection that looks too good to be true! Some are green and cream, whilst others have marks of scarlet, pink and purple, with magenta tones underneath the leaves. They carry common names such as ‘rattlesnake’ and ‘gecko’ because of the exotic markings.
- If you want a larger plant that can be trained to climb up a support or trail from a cabinet, consider Philodendron and Scindapsus (pictured above). These are house plants that come in many different forms, most of them being vine-like. All love the moist air that can often be present in a bathroom and they have superb air-cleaning and moisture-absorbing capabilities which will keep the atmosphere healthy.
- For a swimming pool area, you might want something that will spread out a little. Nothing does this better than an indoor palm tree. Areca palms like space to stretch their graceful fronds and, provided they have a fair amount of light, they can tolerate humid air magnificently.
Enjoy making your place of sanctuary into a plant-filled haven. It’s now perfectly understood that house plants are good for you, so you’ll benefit from better health and wellbeing as well as improving your indoor environment.