A Potted History of Indoor Plants

Plants have captivated man from time immemorial. Some of the earliest known records of indoor plants come from the artwork of ancient Egypt which depicts houseplants in urns and troughs.

During the epic exploration of the ‘New World’ in the 15th Century, Medieval European monarchs coveted exotic plants and would search far and wide to discover new species. They installed them proudly in their palaces, sheltered from the cold, unforgiving European Winter, unwittingly birthing an enduring culture of keeping indoor plants.

The trend later caught on in Victorian England, where the fashion for indoor plants developed to new heights. Ornamental glass houses were erected to keep increasingly delicate and rare plants like orchids which thrived on the abundant exposure to sunlight. Ardent lovers of nature, conservatories were used by the Victorians as places of leisure to sip tea and marvel at the heavens and natural world through the glass partitions. These early attempts at cultivating indoor plants have informed much of the knowledge we now possess on the care and maintenance of indoor plants.

Knowing where our indoor plants originally came from can be enormously helpful in providing for their unique needs. For example, did you know that the African violets we know so well come from mountains of Northern Tanzania where they flourished in the shadows of dense forest? Growing horizontally from the rock face, they are kept constantly damp because of water draining down the rock gradient. This explains the importance of good drainage in keeping African violets as indoor plants, and the difficulty of keeping them in upright pots!