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Large Leaf Houseplants

Published on May 4th 2019
A close up of a green plant

When it comes to structure and style, large leaf houseplants bring drama and flair by the gallon.

As I have already discussed the Swiss cheese plant and kentia palm in my article on Low Light Houseplants, they are not listed here but require the growing conditions listed below.
A banana tree with green leaves
The iconic Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) develops more leaf splits and perforations in brighter light.
With the exception of Strelitzia, all the plants on this list are from jungle understory environments. They prefer bright, indirect light to part shade, stable temperatures – ideally around 65°F – and regular watering, as big foliage loses water rapidly.
That said, avoid leaving plants stood in water for long periods and keep clear of draughts. In most cases, direct sunlight will bleach or scorch.
Where possible, keep humidity up with misting, especially as this will deter red spider mite. Also, keep an eye out for mealybug.

White bird of paradise

Known in Latin as Strelitzia nicolai.
With graceful arching stems and large, banana-like leaves, young specimens of the white bird of paradise make an effortless addition to a bright, airy atrium or hallway.
Mature plants grow huge. However, the plant is very slow-growing, so will be fine indoors.
Tolerant of drier conditions and will not flower indoors. For that, grow the original bird of paradise, S. reginae.
Buy Bird of Paradise here
A group of palm trees next to a flower pot
For a similar effect, you'll also occasionally see Heliconia and Ravenala for sale, but true banana 'palms' generally fail in the home.

Horsehead philodendron

Known in Latin as Philodendron bipinatidiffidum and Philodendron selloum.
With huge, deep green leaves that grow up to a metre in length and are divided into undulating lobes, there’s no missing this spectacular foliage plant.
The broken silhouette of this philodendron’s leaves helps prevent the plant from looking bulky, despite its size.
Tolerant of lower light levels, this is an excellent alternative to a Swiss cheese plant, particularly if you are looking a non-climbing plant.
A group of palm trees next to a tree
Seen here - the horsehead philodendron is very large, but the Xanadu philodendron is a compact alternative.

Crystal anthurium

Anthurium crystallinum
This bewitchingly beautiful plant may not have the great glossy flowers of its cousins, but its foliage more than makes up for it.
Large, broadly heart-shaped leaves are white-veined and velvety in texture, opening copper and maturing to dark green.
Not the easiest to care for, it likes part shade and high humidity along with careful watering to ensure it doesn’t get too dry (pictured, main image).
A close up of a garden
Alocasia x amazonica is an easier alternative to the crystal anthurium and is hugely popular at the moment.

Fiddle-leaf fig

Ficus lyrata
A favourite of offices and hotel lobbies, the fiddle-leaf fig is a close relative of the rubber plant and weeping fig but has a somewhat more contemporary feel to it.
The fiddle-shaped leaves are bright green with deep veining and a glossy finish. Plants can grow very tall, and the leaves are more than a foot in length.
Prefers a bright spot, though full sun through glass may scorch.
Buy Fiddle Leaf Fig here
A pile of green plants
The dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) is an elegant plant with broad, arching foliage on green, yellow and white shades.
Angel wings / Elephant ears
Caladium bicolor
Undoubtedly the most colourful of all large leaf foliage houseplants – and also one of the fussiest.
The leaves are gloriously large and bright and, unusually for a houseplant, caladium has a dormancy period in which it dies back to a tuber.
During the growing season, plants don’t like temperatures to drop below 65°F, and they need very bright light without direct sun, as this will frazzle the foliage. The stunning leaves are paper thin and require high humidity, achievable through misting and a gravel tray.
As the growing season ends, reduce watering and keep temperatures around 55° until all foliage dies back. Store in dry peat until spring.
A group of stuffed animals
Leaf sizes and colours vary, but there's no denying that the caladium is a flamboyant diva!

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