Episode 86: houseplant styling with Rob Stacewicz

Rob Stacewicz believes most houseplants far better planted en masse. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

Rob Stacewicz believes most houseplants far better planted en masse. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

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Rob’s air plants displayed on a dead twisted hazel. Photograph: Jane Perrone.

If your home is stuffed with houseplants in individual pots, this episode should make you think. Rob Stacewicz, a garden designer and master of horticulture, lives in a Victorian terraced home in south London that is stuffed with gorgeous houseplants, but most of them are planted in groups. He gives me a tour, and explains why planting more than one specimen in the same container really works. (You may remember Rob from the James Wong episodes, 55 and 56, and the live show, episode 70.)

Scroll down for notes of all the plants we discuss, plus photographs. If you want to hear more from Rob, you can hear about his experiments with aquascaping and more of his houseplants in An Extra Leaf 23 on my Patreon feed. Scroll down to find out how to become a patron of On The Ledge. You can visit Rob’s website here, follow him on Twitter as @RS_MCIHort and on Instagram as @robstacewicz (his garden design portfolia is @rs_gardendesign).

Air plant display (right)
A dead corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') that died in a client’s garden serves as a stand for a selection of air plants, including the sweetly-scented Tillandsia caerulea. The plants were sourced from Andy’s Air Plants.

Windowboxes on shelves (left)

The top trough contains (from left) Pilea libanensis, trailing Tradescantia zebrina (listen to my Tradescantia episode here), Peperomia angulata, Coryline terminalis, Vriesea fosteriana rubra. The blue pot is planted with Vriesea saundersii.

The bigger trough below contains herringbone plant (Maranta leuconeura var erythroneura), birds nest fern (Asplenium nidus), Philodendron scandens, trailing Peperomia prostrata (not my mystery plant Peperomia bangroana!), and an unidentified Rhipsalis.

Kentia palm container (below)

Underneath the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) bought from eBay for £30 is planted Vriesea hieroglyphica, Peperoma angulata and Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata). Planted alongside is a Calathea musaica (hear Paul Holt of N1 garden centre talk about this plant in episode 41).

Individually potted Begonias (below)

  • Begonia luxurians and Begonia carolineifolia plus another unidentified plant are placed on a stool.

  • Also on display here is a cycad called Macrozamia.

Strelitzia display (below)

Photograph: Rob Stacewicz.

Photograph: Rob Stacewicz.

Other plants we mention…

Interiors (non-plant) notes on Rob’s flat

  • The walls are painted in a Farrow & Ball paint called Vardo. (Sadly there is no shade called Potato Harvest…)

  • The growlight on the Kentia palm is an IKEA floor lamp fitted with an IKEA growbulb.

  • The lamp (see below) is a repurposed bottle garden from the seventies with a handmade lampshade.

  • If you’ve never heard of lava pots, here’s the skinny.

On The Ledge sowalong is coming!

I’ve decided that rather than deliver all the information for the On The Ledge sowalong in one episode, I am going to break it up into bite-sized advice and drop it into consecutive episodes to help you get your ducks in a row ready for sowing in the next few weeks. Coming up in episode 87 will be advice on where to get your seeds, and how to avoid a bad experience buying seeds. If you have any top tips or suggestions on where to buy, please let me know by emailing me! ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.

And don’t forget to share your sowing progress by posting the hashtag #otlsowalong on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Question of the week

Stacy wanted to know what to do about a Strelitzia reginae (aka bird of paradise) that has three plants in the same pot. I suggest removing the plant from its pot to assess what’s going on below the surface: if the plant is rootbound, with masses of roots circling the edge of the rootball, it’s time to repot anyway. It could be repotted as a clump, or the roots of each individual plant could be teased out and planted separately: it really depend on the look you are going for.

Want to ask me a question about your plant? Either way, tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.


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This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, An Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gorkana by Samuel Corwin and  Plantation by Jason Shaw. All tracks licensed under Creative Commons.

Logo design by Jacqueline Colley. Podcast editing by Joff Elphick.