Our Top Five Favourite House Plants for Autumn

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Photo by Paul Hopper for Terrace Outdoor Living

As they days grow shorter and the evenings turn cooler, the opportunity to bring the outdoors into your home is one to be relished with these beautiful and hardy indoor plants. Here is our pick of the top five house plants to green up your domestic space this autumn.

Monstera Deliciosa – Cheese Plant

At Terrace Outdoor Living we love this tropical beauty which is native to the rainforests of southern Central America. You’ve seen the monstera deliciosa in dozens of foyers and waiting rooms and hotels because it thrives indoors and looks gorgeous with its glossy, leathery, lobed leaves. If you’re a painter or a sketcher, just try to resist capturing the distinctive graphic beauty of its leaves – it begs to be drawn and photographed and is the plant that has launched a thousand Pinterest pinboards and Tumblr pages. There is just something about the graceful curve of those generous leaves and promise of balmy evenings and perfumed breezes that it seems to conjure. You’ll recognise the monstera deliciosa also as the subject of Matisse’s famous cutouts of 1950 and it was a constant companion of his in the studio.

Monstera deliciosa - detail from 'La Musique' by Henri Matisse, 1939

 La Gerbe 1953, Henri Matisse

Give your monstera plenty of light and room to spread, water weekly and keep those leaves dust-free with a damp cloth. It won’t be happy outside as the days get colder, so let it bring its touch of the tropics inside with you this autumn. We guarantee it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

A photograph of Lydia Delectorskaya taken by Henri Matisse, c. 1935

 Ficus Robusta – Rubber Plant

The clever and lovely ficus robusta plant is robust by name and robust by nature. Resistant to pests and diseases as well as careless owners, the hardy rubber plant has a high transpiration rate which increases the humidity of the room it’s in and has been classified as one of the best houseplants for cleaning the air.

Ficus robusta - rubber plant

Native to South Asia, it is, like our friend the monstera, happiest in warmer climes and won’t forgive you if you leave it outside on a frosty night. Keep the soil moist while it is growing and water about once a week during winter. Take it on a tour of your house to keep it truly happy – in the morning let it bask in eastern or western windows then move it south later in the day for a warm arvo nap.

 Again, like the monstera, it is unlikely to flower or fruit outside of its native environment but you may be lucky enough to receive some small yellow-green figs. You will most certainly become familiar with its sticky, milky white sap which is best kept away from pets and small children!

 Schefflera Amate – Umbrella Plant

 A relative to the dwarf umbrella, the schefflera actinophylla – specifically the amate variety - is identifiable for its distinctive splayed leaves resembling a pop-up umbrella or a hand with the fingers stretched out. Its lush, bold leaves are thick, long, broad and glossy and the amate makes for a generous and beautiful house plant. It needs some space to grow outward and upward though should stay under 10 foot tall. Bright light is a must but no direct, burning sun. Be wary over overwatering your amate because it does not like having wet feet – who does, especially in winter – and root rot will set in if the soil is not adequately drained.

Umbrella plant. Photo by Paul Hopper.

Rhipsalis – Mistletoe Cactus

Whenever we have rhipsalis featured in the shop at Terrace Outdoor Living, it always gets plenty of affection from customers – there’s something sweet and friendly about this low maintenance and charming epiphyte which comes in many varieties. Generally, they have lush green foliage that is made up of distinctive pencil-thin cylindrical succulent stems which drape down making them a perfect hanging plant – we especially like them in a bathroom setting.

Rhipsalis. Photo by Paul Hopper

Easy to grow from cuttings, the rhipsalis can be simply mounted on a piece of bark (remember, it’s used to growing in the crooks of trees in its native tropics) or in quality cacti potting mix and needs little water over the colder months. Unlike the rest of its cacti family, rhipsalis prefer semi shade to blazing sun and will tolerate some neglect – though you’ll want to do right by this one -  with its abundant “weeping” foliage, it’s just too pretty to forget about!

Brendan Moar's award-winning show garden at the Australia Garden Show, Sydney

Ceropegia Woodii – Chain of Hearts

With its heart-shaped leaves and trailing vine, the ceropegia is another of our favourite house plants to feature in a hanging basket or cascading down from a high shelf. Its pairs of “hearts” grow at about 3 inch intervals along the vine, and this rather sparse foliage contributes to the elegant look of the plant.

Chain of Hearts. Photo by Paul Hopper.

Oddly, trends being what they are, it seemed to go rather out of fashion after being very much the house plant du jour for many years. At Terrace Outdoor Living we think this is all the more reason to include it in your new season indoor collection! Draping and curling through autumnal light, it has a touch of romantic whimsy which we love.  Like the rhipsalis, it can look gorgeous in a bathroom and will grow well in partial shade - though the more sun you give it, the more you’ll start to see the beautiful marbled silver in the leaf.

From A House & Garden Book: Decorating with Plants by Marybeth Little Weston, 1978

If you’re forgetful, don’t fret – the ceropegia woodii does not like to be overwatered. It’s best to wait for the leaves to go a little soft and the soil dry, before you water it.

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If you need more inspiration or are feeling nervous about introducing plants into your home for the first time (or after a string of dried up and disheveled disappointments!), pop in to see us and we will happily impart all our houseplant-growing magic.

Image credits from top to bottom: ©Paul Hopper for Terrace Outdoor Living; detail from ‘La Musique’ by Henri Matisse, 1939; ‘La Gerbe’ by Henri Matisse, 1953; photograph of Lydia Delectorskaya taken by Henri Matisse in his studio, c. 1935; ©Paul Hopper; ©Paul Hopper; ©Paul Hopper; Brendan Moar's award-winning show garden at the Australia Garden Show, Sydney; ©Paul Hopper; from A House & Garden Book: Decorating with Plants by Marybeth Little Weston, 1978

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