Every apartment, every home deserves an indoor tree. Well, at least that's what I think. They give you so much more than just the beauty and earthy colors of nature. Their architectural structure alone makes them majestic, commanding attention. Planted in a beautiful pot, be it ornate or minimalist, next to a complementary chair or sofa, a window and you've just created a dramatic, living vignette.
There really are many plants that can be grown as trees, some with ease, others with a little more attention. While I have a fondness for them, especially the fishtail palm tree which does require close attention, I'm only listing my top three for easy care. Even a brown thumb can have success with them. The key is to know how and when to water, provide sufficient lighting and the right soil.
- Fiddle Leaf Tree, Ficus Lyrata
- Schefflera Tree, Schefflera actinophylla
- Weeping Fig also known as Ficus Tree, Ficus benjamina
The Fiddle Leaf Tree
A large leafy tree having originated from western Africa, the fiddle leaf tree demands a lot of space. However, you can buy it in a smaller size and as it grows larger prune and train the top to take a horizontal shape. You will also need to re-pot to keep the root system from compacting in the soil. What I like best regarding its care is that you just give it a good watering 3-4 weeks at a time. It does require natural lighting which can be supported with artificial lighting.
Quick tip care for fiddle leaf tree: Bright indirect light year-round; keep evenly moist (sign of over watering will be drooping leaves) moderate temperature and humidity; and pot in any good potting mixture. See the next paragraph for links to more details.
In a December 2013, Erin Boyle wrote an excellent post on Considering the Fiddle Leaf Treeand kindly refers the reader to a post by Michelle Slattala with 10 tips for The Fig and I: Tips for Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. Both are excellent articles that I've chosen to only extol the beauty of the tree in images. In short, as stated above, watering and lighting are key. Space can be an issue for apartment owners, but as you can see, direction for the top of the fiddle leaf tree can be altered.
The Weeping Fig
It's a very popular houseplant in bonsais, small house plants--and trees of which it can grow up to 10 feet. It's a slow grower. So depending upon your patience and budget, get the largest or next to the largest size for a tree. Much admired for it's weeping branches and single truck, at any size and variety, this fig is easily maintained--with one exception. It doesn't like to be moved around, especially where lighting is concerned, and will drop its leaves. However, new leaves will grow back.
Quick tip care: bright light; water heavily and allow to dry out a bit before the next watering; moderate to high humidity; moderate temperature; and good drainage. Fertilize about once a month.
Also called the umbrella tree is native to Australia and the pacific islands. Although it can grow 10-15 feet, dwarf sizes, even bonsai sizes are available. This is a really beautiful plant. The more popular smaller sizes can also be found with variegated leaves in deep yellow and green, as well as cream and green. It likes an acidic, sandy loam soil; will tolerate shade but grows best in dappled sunlight. More details on caring for a schefflera can be found on Gardening Know How.
Quick tip care for schefflera: Requires bright light but not direct sunlight; water thoroughly but allow top inch of soil to dry out between watering; average humidity and temperature; plant in a peat moss-based potting mix; and fertilize monthly but dilute a liquid fertilizer by half.
These are what I call classic trees found in most nurseries and garden centers. They're very popular because of their ease of care--most of all because one can be very successful in growing, even those with 'brown' thumbs.
So the real question is how do you make a statement with commonly used indoor trees? Here are my suggestions:
- Get the right container for your decor. If your decor is modern, minimalist or even contemporary, consider a shiny chrome-look, a solid black or even deep brown. If your style is, again, contemporary or traditional, look at solid colored containers in glazed or non-glazed pots (or plastic that look like clay pots) in dark or light colors that compliment your decor. If casual, shabby or cottage chic or even eclectic you can still fall back on the ones I suggest for traditional. But another consideration would be placing the container in a very large basket.
- Placement is critical. Let it be a focal point or secondary focal point. If you are fortunate and have high walls, let it take the stage of a corner near a window. Let light reflect on it.
- Do dust the leaves periodically and even occasionally polish them. What a chore you say! The tree will love you for your efforts and smile upon you with its beauty.
- This one is really optional. Add small plants at the feet of the tree but do this with care because the presentation can quickly become busy. Frankly, the right tree can stand on its own.
Having said all that, I must confess, I do not have an indoor tree. I live in a tree top apartment with a large screened in porch that looks out to an Eastern redbud, wax myrtles, pine trees and a maple. On the other side of my apartment, the windows look out to the tree tops of crape myrtles. Still, I'm in search or perhaps I should say trying to decide on which indoor tree and where can I put it. You could say, I'm a tree lover-hugger!