Gardening indoors in one way or another had been practiced for centuries but in the late 1800s the trend to bring nature inside became even more popular. Potted plants, freshly cut flowers from the garden and even trees made their way to the parlour and other areas of the home. They provided a touch of colour, scent and a link to the outdoors with the greenery from the trees.
By the late 19th century gardening indoors became important as the perception about the role of women in homes became more defined.
For women, caring for a garden equalled caring for a home. Nature provided these wonderful gifts of flowers and herbs which justified them to be brought indoors and they were well tended.
In England, conservatories provided just the place to grow and exhibit collections of plants. Whether in a prestigious area such as the conservatory, or in the garden itself, gardening was thought of as a suitable pastime for women to busy themselves. It gave them a sense of calm, order and productivity.
During the Edwardian period shade plants took a foothold and have continued to hold an interest today. Every home had a dimly lit area away from windows which allowed for plants that didn’t require a lot of light.
It was in this period that Dr. Ward invented the Wardian case which would be similar to a modern day terrarium. Small plants, ferns and orchids were visible through the glass walls as they flourished and some had a movable opening at the top for moisture control. The Wardian case was the highlight of Victorian drawing rooms.
A wardian case I found in a home decor store that was about $65By 1930, flower arranging became a prominent aspect to indoor gardening which was spear headed by Constance Spry.
In the 50s more houseplants were incorporated into the home than fresh cut flowers as they were cheaper and could last for years. Spider plants made their entrance here and were easily passed on to friends and neighbours with the ‘baby spiders’ they produced.
The late 90s saw bright, bold colours and large flowers like gerberas become the rage but this phase didn’t last long and women returned to the cottage garden flowers of their grandmothers.
Most important of all, is the ability of specific plants that can help purify the air. Noxious compounds found in particle board, plastics and synthetic materials can be fully or partially removed from the air by these plants. It therefore makes sense to have one or more Chinese evergreen, areca palm, bamboo palm, peace lily, spider plant, dracaena, or weeping fig throughout the house.
A house that is air tight or an office where the fresh air exchange is low can certainly benefit from the presence of indoor plants. Tests have shown that one potted plant per every one hundred square feet will refine the air in most homes or offices.