As one Well+Good writer recently put it, “When you water your plants, they water you back,” and boy, oh boy did we find out how true that was this year. Tending for ever-growing plant collections became a sanity-saving act of self-care in 2020, especially as many of us were forced to spend more time inside the decidedly unnatural four walls of our homes than ever before. “I’ve always found taking care of plants therapeutic,” says plant and interior stylist Hilton Carter. “It’s my way of connecting with myself and thinking about what’s truly important. I’ve been inspired to see so many other people turn to taking care of plants and awakening their green thumbs as a method to add a bit of joy this year.”
This symbiotic relationship isn’t going anywhere in the new year, either, according to Well+Good’s 2021 predictions. “Unlike what happened in the early ’80s where plants fell out of fashion, everyone is more aware of the benefits of greenery indoors and have found many more creative ways to tie them into the indoor space,” Carter says. Below, the ultimate insider when it comes to all things green and grown from the ground shares his predictions for which specific plants, and plant trends, will grow in 2021.
For the recent Salon St-Germain—the first of a new virtual event series from St-Germain elderflower liqueur that enlists artists, experts, and bartenders to share ideas—Carter was asked to elevate holiday decor using (what else?) plants. He chose to go with Juniper topiaries for their whimsical vibe. “After guests saw how I brought topiaries in at Salon St-Germain, Juniper topiaries will be on the list [for 2021],” he says.
Indeed, topiaries offer a creative outlet other plants may not; you can have your very own Edward Scissorhands moment shaping them in whichever which way you like. Then, when you’re allowed to have people in your home again, they’ll be impressed or terrified by your work, depending on what you’ve done. Either way, it’ll make for a better topic of conversation than the pandemic, amirite?
Juniper topiaries are relatively easy to care for, too, as they require infrequent watering; however, though they do need a good amount of light, so be sure to place yours somewhere sunny. Can’t keep a plant alive to save your life? You can buy faux ones—like the one pictured here—too.
Shop now: Faux Floor Juniper Topiary in Pot, $92
2. Staghorn fern
Carter predicts that this particular fern varietal, which used to be quite rare but has recently gained in popularity, will be ubiquitous in 2021—especially given it can double as filler for wall whitespace. “The Staghorn fern is a plant that can be mounted on board, so it’s the perfect plant to hang like a work of art,” says Carter. Staghorn ferns prefer medium-to-bright indirect natural light, lots of moisture and humidity, and a comfy 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shop now: Large wall-mounted staghorn fern, $55
3. Spindle Palm
“The spindle palm is a beautiful tropical plant that can really transform a space and make it feel more lush,” Carter says. It’s native to Madagascar (though yours will likely be grown much closer to home), is slow-growing, and should eventually reach about six feet tall (it gets much taller outside, when not potted, as pictured!). It likes bright natural light but can tolerate less-than-tropical amounts of sun, and like the Staghorn it, too, prefers moderate temps.
Shop now: Spindle palm, $18
4. Ficus Audrey
This super low-maintenance plant, which somewhat resembles the popular rubber plant, is also on Carter’s radar for 2021. “The Ficus Audrey is a wonderful tree-like plant that grows large and can instantly blur the line of indoor/outdoor,” says Carter. If you’re looking for a somewhat substantial statement plant that doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease (and can handle a smidge of neglect) the Audrey could be your perfect plant pick.
Shop now: Ficus Audrey, $19
5. Biophilic design
“Biophilic design will be the two words you’ll hear over and over again in 2021,” says Carter. But, um, what the heck do they mean?
So, biophilic design is essentially the art of bringing nature indoors for the betterment of human health, and it’s motivated by a number of studies pointing to the mental health benefits of nature (like this one, this one, this one, and this one). Most simply, this means filling your home with plants, but there is a curation and, well, design element to it, too.
“While everyone will continue to bring more plants into their spaces, I believe people will also get a bit more picky about what they add to their collection,” says Carter. 2021, then, is all about making your lifeless pandemic bunker come alive—with intention. Haphazardly accumulated greenery will make way for more thoughtfully designed interior landscapes inspired by your own interactions with nature and artistry or, perhaps, the expertise of a plant interior designer like Carter.
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