Over the course of the past two years, suddenly some of your friends and neighbours have become plant experts with jungle-like, Insta-worthy homes filled with indoor plants… seemingly overnight.
Perhaps, you, too, have jumped onto the bandwagon, because, why not?
After all, plants can purify the air, give our dull work-from-home (WFH) view some colour (they say to look at something green when your eyes feel tired or to relieve stress), and we learnt in school that during photosynthesis, a plant converts carbon dioxide into oxygen… all the better for us!
Some of us have even gone a step further, beautifying our homes with indoor plants akin to “rare Pokemons”. These hard-to-find species with uncommon variegation have reportedly fetched $40,000 for a rare and exotic philodendron houseplant, and asking prices on Carousell can go up to an eye-popping $88,000.
Benjamin Soh, the co-founder at The Botanical Assembly, one of the local businesses that specialises in these rare decorative house plants, weighs in on the trend.
“It all started when the government announced the circuit breaker. So we had our large group of white-collar workforce (with spending power) staying at home, with a lot of spare time and resources at their disposal.
Naturally they sought out things to do in their free time and most found themselves drawn to nature-related activities. With limited options and lots of time and resources, people took to keeping a pet companion and growing plants as a hobby.”
Of course, flexing those green fingers isn’t just limited to decorative houseplants or indoor plants. WFH has also spawned a new tribe of home cooks, who hone their newfound culinary skills with a dash of fresh-picked herbs and veggies from their own burgeoning garden of edibles in a bid to save money, go green and eat farm-to-table food. Even those without balconies or sufficient sunlight can have thriving seedlings, with the use of tech, such as grow lights.
Whatever your motivation, huzzah, you’re now a plant parent!
And if you’re looking for a new flat or apartment (most of us just can’t afford a landed home with a large garden in the backyard) to house your frond friends or your very first plant-friendly property, here are 7 home features that Benjamin recommends to look out for to support your green hobby.
1. Bigger is Better: Have or Create a Balcony Space
Yup, you guessed it. A balcony would be your plants’ best friend and, likely, the key feature of your new home. According to Benjamin, “plants need to be kept moist and be kept in a bright location”.
He adds, “The only place one can do so in an HDB environment without obstructing the corridor or walkway is having a balcony. If you’re gonna get a home with a balcony to expand your hobby, bigger is always better. And a roofless balcony would make more sense compared to one that has a roof because you get to grow your plants taller and larger!”
Look for homes with spacious balconies on PropertyGuru.
2. Sun Direction Singapore: Take Note of Where the Sunlight Streams In
Just like how we take note of the sun’s direction when buying a home, there are important sun directions to raise happy and healthy plants.
When consulted, Benjamin advised, “North, South, East, West facing windows all come with their perks and disadvantages. Depending on what plants the hobbyist intends to keep, these orientations can be suited to growing different plants. Also bear in mind, the sun shifts changing lighting conditions every half of the year but very gradually.”
- North south facing house: gets minimal exposure to direct sunlight, unless windows face south
- North east facing and south east facing house: rooms facing east get morning sun, generally house does not get afternoon sun
- East west facing house: expect hot, direct sunlight all day, all year around
- South west facing and north west facing house: gets exposed to late afternoon sun
So be a good plant parent and read up on the sun conditions your green babies need before choosing your home.
3. Plan for Well-Placed Water and Electrical Outlets
“Having water and electrical outlets near the vicinity of your plants has its advantage. You don’t wanna have to carry your 2L watering can to and fro for a big distance. Having an electrical source means you can also set up grow lights and an irrigation system if desired,” Benjamin advises.
When renovating our home, we can always install electrical points in areas we want to place our indoor plants. However, it could be much more difficult to create a waterpoint in your living room or other “dry” areas that don’t have the piping installed.
Case in point: The writer has only eight houseplants, but makes three trips to the kitchen or toilet to water them all every other day. As for electrical outlets, phone/laptop chargers for mobile devices, kitchen appliances and game consoles aside, there’s hardly any space on the multi-plugs left. Want grow lights? Forget about installing them.
How to Plan and Reduce Your Renovation Cost in Singapore?
Read more here.
4. Look for a Unit with ‘Extra’ Corridor Space
There’s always a unit with ‘extra’ corridor space to look out for, IYKYK. For example, you could look for a corner unit so you don’t end up obstructing the common walkway, and even gain ‘free’ space when doing so.
Benjamin agrees, “Having large corridors of a corner unit is a perk! Ventilation and upkeep would be easier compared to a living room.”
We do agree, because if you have a ton of plants, what could be an easier way to water them than simply hosing them down outside your home? You don’t have to worry about splashing water, dirtying your clean floor with soil, or slipping and falling on wet tile.
However, if you do install plants outside of your home, do make sure you don’t block key areas like the various risers, especially the one meant for fire-fighting.
And what about thieves going after your just-ripe cherry tomatoes or running away with your rare $1,000 variegated monstera?
“Keep bigger foliage plants outdoors. A thief won’t want to lug a 30kg pot of plant without getting spotted by your neighbour,” says Benjamin.
Look for a corner unit for sale on PropertyGuru now.
5. Windows are Winners: Let Light In
Just like eyes are the windows to your soul, windows let the light into your home. Sunlight and water are two of the most important things a plant needs to survive, and depriving a plant of either could cause it to suffer. Even low-light plants need some degree of sunlight to thrive, just like how air plants need to be pampered with moisture every now and then.
Benjamin agrees, “Large windows are a perk. Be it Philodendrons, Orchids or Cactuses, all require light of different levels. Growing a plant by a window compared to one grown under grow lights can differ greatly. After all, nothing can be compared to real sunlight.”
Do refer again to point two, because having a large window with no sun can also be fatal for your plants.
6. More Rooms, More Plants: Consider Dedicating an Entire Room to Plants (If You Have the Space)
Why buy a 5-room flat when you only need one bedroom? For your plants, of course!
“Convert your designated study room or extra room to a walk-in terrarium for extra space,” says Benjamin, who has been there, done that.
Warning: If you’re living with a housemate, partner or family, do discuss before converting one of the extra rooms to a potential plant nursery. If you live with your partner, maybe you could compromise with them: one room becomes a walk-in wardrobe, the other becomes your personal jungle.
7. Aim High (For Ceilings): Pay Attention to Your Vertical Space
“Height matters!” exclaims Benjamin, who says that getting one of those duplex or executive maisonette types would give you the vertical room to grow taller plants such as the Giant Bird of Paradise, Olive trees or rare Ficuses — all of them will fit in aesthetically.”
Or maybe you like hanging, trailing plants. For instance, loft units with higher ceilings allow you to hang them from a height that won’t cause your tall friends to bang their heads on the pots or get their hair tangled with leaves all the time they visit your home.
Browse all executive maisonettes for sale on PropertyGuru.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Plant!
While these features of a plant-friendly home are nice-to-haves, they’re not absolutely essential for ensuring the survival of plants in your home. You could always reverse engineer the process, and fill your home with low-light plants if the sunlight is not optimal; if you lack space, get smaller plants and so on.
Benefits of living close to nature such as cleaning the air, relieving stress and producing more oxygen aside, plants also encourage sustainable living. These include reducing your carbon footprint and grocery bill by harvesting veggies from your own edible garden, as well as turning food scraps into compost for your garden.
Having a plant is a good investment that could also bring out the best qualities of yourself, such as cultivating patience. Benjamin explains, “The hobby itself is immersive and a self-discovery journey. You can do all the right things about the lighting and the watering schedule, but the plant chooses how it wants to grow. To many, the hobby even teaches us the meaning of futility, surrender and acceptance in our daily lives! Besides all these, plants grow. Your initial investment of $X will multiply when the plant grows a new leaf! Probably better than investing in stocks?”
He shares more tips for serious plant parents, “Get a hygrometer (an instrument that measures the amount of water vapour); paint your home with washable waterproof paint, anti-fungal paint!
Make sure you don’t water your neighbours’ clothes while watering your plants! Consider setting up misting systems to increase the amount of moisture in the air that plants love.”
You might even want to consider giving your beau a useful houseplant for the upcoming Valentine’s Day instead of flowers that wilt mere days later. Or you could add plants in lucky spots in your home, according to feng shui. Alternatively, go one step further to search for not just a plant-friendly home but an eco-friendly home through our PropertyGuru Green Score rating system.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.