Kentia palms make an ideal indoor plant as they are slow-growing and are tolerant of low light and low humidity.
Kentia palms make an ideal indoor plant as they are slow-growing and are tolerant of low light and low humidity. Necip Yanmaz

Bring the outdoors in by using suitable Aussie natives

I love growing indoor plants, and have quite a collection going.

I've consulted lots of lists of the best plants for indoors and I've noticed there are very few Australian native plants included.

The obvious exception is the kentia palm (Howea fosteriana), endemic to Lord Howe Island, which has been a popular plant for interior use in Europe and the United States since the 1870s.

Its graceful, arching fronds were featured in the palm courts of fancy hotels such as The Ritz in London.

Queen Victoria is said to have been particularly fond of kentia palms, cultivating them in all of her homes and instructing that they should be placed around her coffin as she lay in state.

I checked a photograph and there indeed is at least one magnificent specimen of a kentia palm in clear view.

This royal favour, coupled with the fact that they were quite expensive to buy, made them quite a status symbol for those who could afford them.

Fortunately, they are readily available now and are very affordable. They are fairly slow-growing and tolerant of low light and low humidity, making them an ideal indoor plant.

Other native palms are also suitable, especially the walking stick palm (Linospadix monostachya), as well as the bangalow and alexander palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana and A. alexandrae). Perhaps, because they are much faster growing than the kentia palm, they may not be as long-lasting indoors as a kentia.

The native cordylines are another option, especially Cordyline peteolaris, C. stricta and C. rubra. These have lovely strappy green leaves on woody stems, with sprays of pretty flowers in spring/early summer, followed by small flowers.

Native ferns, including asplenium species such as bird's nest ferns, and the maiden hair (Adiantum hispidulum) are also worth a try.

Rainforest trees start their lives in the shade on the forest floor, so I think lots of these could be suitable for growing indoors. I've had a young brown pine (Prumnopitys ladei) in my lounge room for the past six months or so and it seems to be doing well.

Young bunya pines (Araucaria bidwillii) are also lovely indoor specimens.

They can be pruned, which prolongs their time as an indoor or patio plant.

These do grow into large trees, though, so if you want to plant one out when its time as an indoor plant is done, make sure you put it somewhere where its mature size won't be a problem.

Remember there is no such thing in the natural world as an indoor plant, there are just some plants that will tolerate being indoors better than others.

As a general rule, the best native plants for indoors are going to be those that are happy to grow in low-light situations.

So think about the plants that grow in the lower levels of the rainforests, and start there. I expect them to have a greater chance of success indoors than plants that normally grow in open, sunny situations.


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