Bring the outside in with these indoor foliage finds – real and faux.

It's a Jungle in Here

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: April 2016
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Indoor plants are a real mood booster, Melinda Walton says. “As my mother has always said, it’s planting happiness,” says Walton, co-owner with sister Christine Fortman of Berridge Nurseries in Phoenix. “That’s what we do in our gardens and that’s also what we do indoors.” 

There’s no doubt indoor plants give us a lift, both physically from their oxygenation and psychologically from their beauty. “It makes you cheery,” Walton says, adding that indoor plant purchases trend seasonally and spike as the temperature rises. “Usually when there’s not a lot that you can do outside, you start focusing inside... Fortunately, indoor plants have a long lifespan.”

If your thumb is more charcoal than emerald, fret not. The popularity and improved quality of faux plants – from hand-painted plastic to velvety felt iterations – mean even the most neglectful plant parent can have beautiful greenery all year long. 

“They’re not like your grandmother’s plastic fruit – you would never know they are fake,” says Jon Douglas, owner of Figs Home & Garden in Phoenix. Figs carries stunningly real-looking faux flowers and plants – all hand-painted, down to the shading on individual succulent pads. “With our plants, you don’t have to water them. You don’t have to care for them. All you have to do is love them and enjoy them,” Douglas says.

Artist Cole Franke calls herself a “felt florist” and crafts intricate assemblages of petals and leaves for The Felt Flower Shop, her online flower boutique. “Felt flowers are a great alternative to the real thing because you don’t have worry about them dying or having to deal with flower-related allergies,” Franke says. “They become perfect keepsakes because they can be cherished for years.”

Whether you invest in real or realistic plants, our sources agree that a cool container makes your plants pop. Ceramicist Jillian Schimmel primarily designs pieces for her Lafayette Avenue Ceramics line for kitchen use, but says her customers often repurpose them as planters.

“People are always coming up with interesting uses for containers,” Schimmel says. “I’m originally from Philadelphia, and the desert landscape was really what drew me to the Southwest – especially the succulents and cacti. I love how Lafayette Avenue Ceramics can be used to house such precious little gems.”

Berridge Nurseries

4647 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

602-952-8080,
berridgenursery.com

“Don’t be afraid of the indoor plants because they can last many, many years,” co-owner Melinda Walton says of the greenhouse plants Berridge stocks and educates their customers about. “We help people pick the right plant for the right place.” Inquire for pricing.

Figs Home & Garden

4501 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix

602-279-1443,
figshomeandgarden.net

These faux succulents (starting at $6.50) are arranged in an antique sewing box from Beijing, one of many containers owner Jon Douglas directly imports from Asia, Europe and Indonesia. “Sometimes it’s nice to do a little fluffing in the container, either with a little Spanish moss or the burlap bags we have to elevate it,” he says. “Another good tip is you can use clean cat litter or [dry, uncooked] rice or beans or any type of grain to weigh down the pot.”

Lafayette Avenue Ceramics

Check website for shop and market locations.

lafayetteavenueceramics.com

“Indoor plants bring fresh oxygen into the home or office and they can brighten up your living space,” ceramicist Jillian Schimmel says. “Adding indigenous plants in a locally made container can really highlight your love for your desert home. The containers say as much about the person as the plant does; it’s a way to further express your individuality.” This piece was designed to be a citrus juicer ($65), but “it can double as a teapot, a pitcher and now a succulent planter.”

The Felt Flower Shop

thefeltflowershop.etsy.com

“I really wanted to create an alternative to fresh flowers that was modern and a bit whimsical,” felt florist Cole Franke says of her creations, which range from $8 to $250. “I get most of my inspiration from just being outside, whether it be exploring nature or just strolling through the colorful Garfield neighborhood that we call home.”