As the UK's first 'jungle hotel suites' are opened, Hannah Stephenson finds out how to turn your own living spaces into leafy havens.
Three designers have come together to show how people can create a horticultural haven in their homes, using tropical flora and fauna.
Award-winning biophilic designer and architect Oliver Heath, This Morning’s ‘Mr Plant Geek’ Michael Perry and Nik Southern, creative designer and founder of innovative plant and florist shop Grace & Thorn, have transformed three hotel suites into urban jungles where guests can stay, in an initiative from the The Joy Of Plants (thejoyofplants.co.uk) and Leman Locke hotel in London.
The buzzword is ‘biophilia’ – the technique of incorporating plants and other natural elements in our homes to reconnect with nature. Each of the suites has been adorned with carefully selected houseplants to help boost productivity, ignite passion, and bring peace and tranquillity.
So, what can we do to create our own biophilic design at home?
Perk up your productive space
Heath has created a productivity suite adorned with Boston ferns, peace lilies and snake plants – all renowned for their productivity-inducing properties.
Feathery-leaved Boston ferns create a natural jungle look and inject instant energy with their powerful air-purifying properties, while snake plants, native to tropical West Africa, produce sword-like foliage bringing a raw edginess to any environment.
Their distinctive leaves are said to provide protective energies to shield negative Chi, while they also have air-purifying properties. Studies have found they can also help remove toxins such as formaldehyde from the environment.
Heath says: “Research suggests that a combination of sheltered spaces, access to nature and species-rich spaces will create the most restorative environment for a stressed individual, so the tucked-away sofa with a lot of plant fringing is the perfect opportunity for relaxation. Boston ferns and dwarf mountain palms introduce lots of natural movement, which has been shown to help us relax and restore focus.”
Create a cascading canopy in the bedroom
Southern has created a botanical canopy over the bed, in a heady romantic respite. Imagine enjoying the intimacy that will cocoon you and your partner in a lush green blend of cascading plants.
Signature bedroom plants she uses include Anthurium ‘Black Love’ (Anthurium hybrid), a black-to-dark chocolate-flowering variety which is low-maintenance, and Epipremnum ‘Marble Queen’, an easy-care variety with green and white marbled trailing foliage which creates a romantic vibe.
Southern says: “It might seem ambitious to create a canopy in your own home but there are plenty of hacks to make something similar. You could hang a traditional pulley clothes airer to the ceiling and attach plants with vines such as devil’s ivy and strings of hearts to create a dramatic canopy. Make sure you choose the right planters that will prevent water leaking below.”
Alternatively, create a living love seat in her design in your sofa area, using banana plants and rubber tree plants to create a cosy, intimate area in an open-plan room, she suggests.
Escape to your urban jungle spa room
Perry, aka Mr Plant Geek, has packed his suite with tropical plants, creating an oasis of calm in the city, showing that people can enjoy a forest-bathing experience at home.
His design features houseplants such as bromeliads and a variety of monsteras (Swiss cheese plant), from deliciosa to obliqua, while in the bathroom there’s a dedicated plant meditation space and a clean sleep zone containing the world’s most air-purifying plants.
He says to create a spa room, ideally you want to have the feeling of being completely surrounded by plants. Calming ferns, helxine and fittonia offer jungle vibes while bromeliads punctuate the setting with colour.
Perry says: “Suction pots allow you to easily hang plants from wall surfaces, without creating any fixings and are incredibly versatile. Bromeliads are used to rainforest conditions and thrive in bathroom environments – a quick spritz of water every few days is all the moisture they need.”
He also advises using ferns in low light level rooms but avoid using succulents and cacti in spa rooms, as they prefer a drier environment.
And don’t forget that any potted plants will need drainage, so put in a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot and keep a check on watering.
The indoor plant jungle hotel will be open for bookings until November 10, 2019. To book your stay, email firstname.lastname@example.org.