The bold and the beautiful


Delicious monsters, philodendrons, alocasia, and other indoor tropical plants with large leaves never fail to make a statement, as well as being superb space fillers without making a room look fussy or cluttered.

Landscapers often use repetition, of colours or groups of plants to create a sense of harmony, and the same can be done with indoor plants. Just two or three plants (uneven numbers are best) spaced in such a way as to lead the eye from one to another, can have the same effect.

What’s important is that they need space, not just for good air circulation but for display. However, their good looks are not their only attribute. Here are some other reasons to bring in the ‘monsters’.


Air purifiers par excellence

Large Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum).
Large Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum).

Because of their large leaf mass, such plants are particularly effective as air purifiers. They improve indoor air quality and help remove toxins by emitting clean oxygen.

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), in particular were recognised for this in NASA’s Clean Air Study. Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’ is the largest peace lily varietal. It has lush deeply ribbed, bright green leaves almost 1m long and plants can grow up to 2m high.

Spathiphyllum is an easy to grow indoor plant that likes bright indirect light but will also do well in low to moderate light. It needs lightly moist soil but if it dries out and wilts, a good soak will rejuvenate it.



Calathea Orbifolia.

The colour green is known for its calming properties and indoor plants can help to create a more tranquil indoor space. They are also believed to improve concentration and productivity, so make space for them in your home office or bedroom as well.

Calathea Orbifolia (above) has enormous leaves, unlike other more compact calathea. The new leaves look like trumpets before they unfurl into cream and green striped leaves. The larger the pot, the more room it has to grow and it can become as sizeable plant, about 1m high with 30cm wide leaves.

It does best in a warm, humid room and should receive bright indirect light but no direct sunlight. They will tolerate medium light. Misting the leaves will provide the humidity they need. Keep the soil lightly moist but not soggy.


Budget beater

Delicious Monster leaves

While a large plant may seem expensive, it’s a lot more affordable than other décor accessories. Most large tropical plants can look beautiful for many years if given the correct basic care. A simple task like wiping off the leaves with a damp cloth every now and them will keep them looking good.

The name (Monstera deliciosa) is very apt. It has the biggest leaves of all the houseplants and they are extremely decorative. It is a low maintenance plant that likes bright indirect light but will tolerate lower light. It just won’t grow as fast. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist the leaves during hot, dry weather. Because the leaves are so eye catching, keep them clean and glossy by regularly wiping with a damp cloth.


Out of the ordinary

Alocasia Dragon Scale

Alocasia are known for their unusual and distinctive foliage that is a real showstopper. The leaves are either heart or arrowhead shaped, with veins that stand out, either dark green or silvery, in contrast to the rest of the leaf. These are stylish feature plants that can be relied upon to make a statement.

Alocasia ‘Dragon Scale’ (picture) has the largest leaves of the Dragon series and produces one massive leaf per stem. The leaves have a thick, puffy appearance and look as if they have been slightly inflated. Plants can grow up to two metres high. This plant likes plenty of bright indirect light and a humid environment, which can be achieved by spritzing the leaves regularly. Water when the soil is moderately dry.

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TEXT: Alice Coetzee