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During the Victorian era, homes became more extravagant and more full. As such, Victorians cultivated and, in some cases, hoarded houseplants. The hobby quickly went from a rare to a popular pastime, not just for the rich but also for the rising middle class. In addition, increased trade with the East brought an entirely new world of tropical plants to the Victorians. It’s as if the architects of the time started to build homes for houseplants specifically. Large windows, high ceilings, solariums, conservatories, and sunrooms all made keeping plants alive indoors not only possible but highly probable.
When decorating a Victorian home in a period style, you’d be remiss not to include multiple houseplants in your design. Notably, houseplants have gone in and out of fashion like any other design element. Unfortunately, these plants aren’t above novelty and trends. Some varieties have had longer lifespans, and some plants have come in and out of the public eye quickly, just like you’d see with wallpaper, tile, or paint colors.
Popular Victorian Plants
The plant species below are the ones you’d likely see if you took a time machine back to a home in 19th century New York or England. Luckily for us, we still have access to these old-fashioned houseplants to add back some of that old-world charm to our old homes.
Palm Chamaedorea Elegans is commonly known as Parlour Palm or Neanthe Bella. It is the most popular household palm because of its miniature bushy nature, which does not require too much space indoors. Its simple but attractive and delicate appearance can decorate the house with straight elegant shapes.
A beautiful Boston fern that is a great air purifier and is classified as non-shedding. How great as that! Excellent in hanging baskets. Although slightly slower growing, it is a little darker green, a little more symmetrical, and a little bit tougher. When grown correctly, this selection will produce less thatch which means less clean-up.
A jasmine plant is a great addition to a garden or a home. Jasmine, known for its beautiful flowers and shining leaves, can fill your house with a unique fragrance. Jasmine is basically a bushy shrub that releases fragrance at night. There are 200 species, mostly from Asia, Europe, and Africa. Jasmine is native to tropical and warm temperate regions.
Ivy, or as it is also known Hedera Helix, is a vigorous evergreen vine, widely used for the decoration of houses. Its dense dark to light green, sometimes variegated foliage on the thin stem can elegantly cascade from the hanging baskets down the shelf or wall.
Brazilian Philodendron, commonly known as Philodendron Scandens Brazil or Sweetheart Plant, is an ampelous plant, which can decorate the house with its gorgeous heart-shaped leaves. It seems like they are painted with a brush in yellow and lime green colors on the dark green foliage
Croton Petra is commonly known as Codiaeum Variegatum “Petra”, Miracle Bush, or Garden Croton. It is an evergreen magnificent houseplant with large variegated leaves which look impressive and picturesque. The plant is a great decoration for the house, where it can take its place on the floor somewhere near the window.
Cast Iron Plant is also known as Aspidistra Elatior. It is a nearly fuss-free, lush, leafy evergreen that will tolerate a range of growing conditions including heat, aridity, and dry shade. An easy-care houseplant for low-light situations.
Phalaenopsis aphrodite, colloquially known as aphrodite’s phalaenopsis or goddess of fertility, is an orchid species native to southeast Asia. It’s small in size but big in popularity. Sometimes referred to as teacup orchids or orchid minis, these small Phalaenopsis plants are perfect for any space.
This is an Heirloom Variety of Amaryllis lily, which is generally hardier than modern hybrids. This bulb variety is also much rarer. These heirloom blooms come from Older Gardens and can’t be bought in stores.