Discover the World With Houseplants From Around the Globe

Patricia Sá

Published on
Discover the World With Houseplants From Around the Globe

The world of plants is a vast one. From the vibrant and colorful foliage of the Croton plant, all the way to the purifying abilities of the Devil’s Ivy, each and every plant has its unique characteristics depending on its natural habitat. While some of them might come from jungle regions where the sunlight is filtered through a canopy of trees or the scorching hot desert planes where humidity is nowhere to be found, others need a fair balance of sunshine and water to survive.

Whether you’re a #crazyplantparent on Instagram, a traveler that enjoys discovering new greenery on each trip, or just a wannabe green-thumbed apartment gardener like myself, this article might be just up your alley. Today I’m writing to you about one of the things that brings me the most joy, houseplants—yes, plant mom over here. These leafy companions are usually a go-to purchase to brighten up any home, and might I add, they do make for the perfect piece of decor to a previously empty coffee table. 

But there’s more to houseplants than being ornamental. Just like much of what’s out there in nature, we can actually learn a lesson or two from these vases of botanical delight. Houseplants can teach us patience, to not rush what shouldn’t be rushed, and to take in every moment because change is always around the corner. How many of you have woken up to find that your Monkey leaf Monstera got a yellow leaf overnight, to then realize two new ones sprouted as well? 

They can also teach us kindness for something other than ourselves. To care for another life without asking for anything in return. Many houseplants' way of giving back is to purify the air from toxins in our homes. Pretty neat right?

With them, they carry the ability to give us a sense of a greater out there beyond our four walls. They’re a living depiction of the unique and diverse world that surrounds us, giving us that craving to travel and learn just a bit more about foreign terrains, climates and beliefs. If your travel plans have been put on hold and you feel like you want to get to know a bit more than your ordinary succulents in your home office, here are some remarkable houseplants from all around the world.

Chinese Evergreen 

The Chinese Evergreen, also known as the Aglaonema, is a Southeast Asian native. Most commonly found in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, it thrives in tropical rainforests where the levels of humidity and temperatures are high and there is filtered sunlight. Its name, Aglaonema, has its origins in the Greek words aglos (shinning) and nema (thread), a reference to its stunning marked leaves. Besides being a very decorative houseplant, it’s known for its air-purifying properties and resilience, turning into the ideal companion for those who aren’t very well familiarized with plants but want to feel like they are. 

Snake Plant in Vase

Snake Plant by @andreccsa 

Snake plant

If you were scrolling down a “Top 10 Most Enduring Plants” list, the Snake plant, or Sansevieria, would surely be one of the first candidates. This houseplant is easily adaptable to a great variety of climates and it can be left alone for several weeks but still look as fresh as when you’ve watered it. Due to its long and sharp leaves and long-lasting life, it’s commonly known as the Mother-in-law’s tongue. You get the similarity, right?

As a southern and central Africa native, Sansevieria was actually first cultivated in China and seen as a powerful houseplant due to a very unique belief. The Chinese believed that whoever grew a snake plant would be bestowed with virtues from the Eight Gods: prosperity, beauty, art, health, strength, intelligence, long life, and poetry. This houseplant was also one of the plants handpicked by NASA in 1987 to undergo a study on how plants could be used to purify the air and disperse the “sick building syndrome.”

zz plant in white vase at home

ZZ Plant by Unsplash

ZZ Plant

Ah, the infamous Zanzibar Gem—or as many of you might have heard it being called, the ZZ Plant. This houseplant is the silent star of any Instagram #plantstyling post, and it’s sure to catch your eye on social media and in real life. Known as the eternity plant, it bears wide, waxy, dark green leaves that reflect sunlight and brighten any room.

This emerald palm has been around for centuries. Native to most drought-prone areas in Africa, it thrives in outdoor spaces. Traveling back a few decades, Dutch nurseries that were established in South Africa noticed this plant’s propagating potential and started distributing it all around the world in 1996.

@muchosucho _ Monstera.png

Monstera Plant by @muchosucho 

Monstera Deliciosa

As you might have noticed by now, houseplants don’t usually have the most appealing names, and the Monstera is not an exception. Originally from the Araceae family, its name comes from the Latin word “abnormal” due to its odd-looking leaves. But make no mistake, the name hasn’t halted its popularity at all. Native to the rainforests of Central America, especially Colombia and South Mexico, the Monstera’s roots have different uses. Besides being used to make rope and basket weaving, they can be taken to treat arthritis and snake bites. 

As a proud owner of heart-shaped, glossy, and leathery leaves, it’s a houseplant that you respect. While indoor Monsteras can grow about two feet high, in the wild they can go for dozens of feet tall. And those characteristic holes in its leaves? They exist to help the plant thrive in rainforests and endure the harsh weather changes.

The most popular variety of this plant is the Monstera Deliciosa, or Mexican Breadfruit due to the edible fruit it grows—which has notes of banana, mango, and pineapple. Fruiting is quite uncommon in houseplants, so if you’re the proud owner of a Monstera, make her feel special.

Growing Spider Plant

Spider Plant by @be.leafing 

Spider plant

Let me introduce you to a spider you don’t need to fear. This little guy is among the most popular and easiest to grow houseplants, and even if you’re not a big fan of this crawly name, you can also get to know him as the airplane plant. Native from South Africa, it has endured for centuries, remaining as popular as it was generations ago.

As an indoor houseplant, it will live happily in any division you chose—bathroom, bedroom, office, you name it. Even if you decide to keep it in a hanging pot, trust me, it will gladly thrive there. Being known as one of the most resistant houseplants, it can endure long periods of time without water, and if you’re the proud parent of a mature snake plant, you’ll see small white flowers blooming from its leaves. The hardest challenge associated with this plant will definitely be choosing over the 200 species in its family!

Holding Coffee Plant

Coffee Plant by @davidwetshisplants 

Coffee Plant

Coffee, some can’t live without it and others can’t stand it. The Coffee Plant, or Coffee Arabica, is a compact, glossy green-leafed plant that can grow quite a bit in their natural habitat and even indoors, if you chose not to trim and prune them. Native to Ethiopia, this houseplant will start blooming small white flowers in the spring, followed by half-inch berries that slowly but surely darken from a green tone to the brownish pods we all know. If you’re considering getting one for your home, keep in mind that it might take you a few years and some caffeinated headaches until your plant sprouts flowers and beans.

Patricia Sá
Lisbon, Portugal
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