Indoor Plants: Starting an Affair with Mother Nature


An Indoor Garden.

Sansevieria trifasciata accentuates architecture

“A four-year-old boy was once instructed by his kindergarten teacher to draw an apple. Immediately, he asked his teacher “Which type of apple?” “A red one,” the teacher answered to which the boy then said, “Okay, but should I draw an iPod or iPhone?”

Like the four-year-old kid, we too are getting more engrossed with technology day by day that we don’t realize that we are slowly distancing ourselves from the very things that keeps us breathing, Mother Nature. But is it always about being an “eco-warrior” to really have that relationship with plants and greenery?
Frankly, you don’t always need to be in the outdoors to care for plants. Step back in and look at the bare artificial walls of your home or office space where you would most likely spend most of your time within. There are plants that are designed for the indoors or shady areas. These plants tend to be hardier and can tolerate low light environment.



Natural Blessings

Double-potting adds design and make it easier to care for plants

Desmond Ho, Managing Director of Terra Garden shares that benefits are really aplenty having these green blessings of nature in your indoor spaces. For one, it is a boost aesthetically to your surroundings.

Case for example, the sansevieria trifasciata, a pretty popular indoor plant which accentuates architecture and color because of its greenish-yellowish shades and shape of its leaves.
“The witty part is that it is more commonly known as Mother-in-law’s tongue due to its sharp tongue-shaped leaves, quite a conversation starter too if you think about it,” jokes Desmond who has over 15 years experience in tropical horticulture.

Apart from being ornamental items, plants also have a psychological effect on human beings. We as humans are part of nature and it is not unusual to experience a bond towards it. Greens are generally a soothing sight, calming your mind and making you feel more relaxed. Put this in an office scenario and you may even boost productivity.

Not neglecting as well the mutual pact we have with plants. They recycle the air we breathe making it part and parcel of our very existence. The thicker the foliage we have around us, the better the air quality.


Try growing a plant in a terrarium

Greening your Thumb
Alright, so we know what plants can do to our homes and our lives. But the common thought then comes to mind straightaway is “No, I don’t have the time to care for these plants,” or “I don’t have a ‘green thumb’ so any plant will simply die under my care.”

In truth, ‘green thumb’ is really just an expression and is not even close to anything scientific. It is really all about how well you know your plants, just like how well you know your pet and what it needs to live. If you have the knowledge of what your plant needs, caring for one is easy.

A tip for beginners of the green movement at home is to not try to be too adventurous.
“Start off with a single pot of plant and get to know it well first,” says Desmond.


Go creative with old household items

Learn about its behavior, what kind of environment it requires and so on. Google is really a good source of information if you need to learn more. Besides, potted plants are whole lot simpler to care for compared to a garden.

It is important to point out some common mistakes people make. The young urban working citizens in particular, are usually at work during the weekdays and in that time their plants at home are left in a dark environment only putting them in the sun during the weekends. This may seem good enough, but in reality it is like feeding your pet only once a week.



Make sure your plants get enough sunlight.


Desmond Ho is the founder and Managing Director of Terra Garden, which created the Neo Nusantara concept of gardens, a garden that truly embodies the Malaysian culture. For more information on how you can design your own Malaysian garden call +6, email to info@terragarden.com.my or visit

Worse is when people do not understand why the plant is wilting. They then either water it more or put more fertilizer, which then kills the plant either by drowning it or killing its roots. An additional fact is that indoor plants are even more prone to drowning because of its shady and humid environment.

“There are really simple solutions to it,” shares Desmond, who created the Neo Nusantara concept gardens – sometimes known as the Malaysian garden. One way is to have two sets of potted plants. Leave one on the balcony or somewhere where there is sunlight, and the other, in your home where you can enjoy them. Every once a week, switch its position so all the plants get enough sunlight.

Another method is to group your plants together in a semi-shaded area throughout the week. This not only makes watering the plants easier, but the transpiration process that takes place is also enjoyed by the surrounding plants, creating a more humid environment. And when weekend comes, arrange it back into your home where you can sit back and enjoy the company of your leafy friends.

A technique known as double-potting could also be really useful as a decorative method or simply to make it easier moving the plants around without dirtying your home. Or if you’re in for more of a creative treat, you can replace the pot with a terrarium.

Plants are really wonderful gifts to us. It is only when we do not know enough about them that it seems more like a chore rather than an enjoyment. Indoor plants are a great way to cultivate that affair with Mother Nature as it is easy to care for and perfect for those who spend most of their time out of the sun.


Datuk Arpah opens the first MAPEX of 2012