The indoor gardener may have plants all around the house - even a light garden in the basement - and yet may have overlooked the one room likely to offer an environment especially conducive to plants: the bathroom.
It is usually warm, and the showering, shaving, and bathing that regularly take place there add moisture to the air which plants relish. And plants can make the room "come alive" even more than colorful towels, carpets or wallpaper.
Two other aspects of the bathroom environment to consider when plants are to be included in the decoration are space and light.
Many bathrooms, especially in apartments, are quite small. This doesn't rule out including plants in the decor. Previously unrecognized possibilities can be found by a determined gardener.
If floor space is too limited for a standing plant, trailing plants and ferns in wall baskets are suitable, and there is always the ceiling. Any air space where your head doesn't ordinarily go is a potential spot for a hanging plant. Walk through the typical morning bathroom ritual several times so as to be sure you don't hang a plant you will be constantly bumping into it.
Where space permits, hang plants on several different horizontal and vertical planes for pleasing effect and good air circulation around plants.
The amount and duration of light is a prime consideration when choosing greenery for the bathroom. In a situation with limited natural light from a window (or in a windowless bathroom) the solution may be simply to leave the lights on during waking hours and turn them off at night. Reflections from mirrors or mirror tiles will augment whatever light is available.
If you can concede some of your work space on counter tops or vanity, choose small to medium plants of a species that will tolerate low light, for instance miniature peperomia of fittonia. A single specimen of ivy topiary - a small-leaved ivy trained on a cone or spiral - will occupy little space but will add character to the vanity's mundane uses.
A shelf or two above the counter top, near the main source of illumination, will provide growing space for maranta, pilea or philodendrom. On other wall space a 6-inch-wide shelf with a strip fluorescent fixture will accommodate blooming plants such as African violets and episcias.
Hanging plants or plants on shelves or brackets at a window can serve as window screens, substituting for or supplementing curtains or shades, Be certain of your choice of plants for an uncurtained window; many foliage plants prefer filtered light.
Don't overlook the decorative value of unusual glass bottles for displaying plants that grow well in water, such as Chinese evergreen, wandering Jew, pothos, syngonium. Add a few grains of horticultural charcoal to the water in the bottle; change the water every other month; add a drop of fertilizer occasionally when feeding other plants.
The gardener still must give regular care according to the needs of chosen plants. Access to the shower makes it easty to keep plants spotless. Dusting powder in the air will settle on leaves; splashing from the wash bowl will spot foliage. These conditions detract from the beauty of the foliage and they also interfere with the natural functions of the leaves.
Avoid using aerosol sprays near the plants.
Incidentally, the bathroom is excellent temporary quarters for newly acquired plants, affording them a warm, humid atmosphere in which to adjust to the change from greenhouse conditions. A bright bathroom can be used as a sort of resort, a brief restorative treatment, for plants that are in dark and dry locations elsewhere in the house.
In addition to plants mentioned above, here is a partial list from which to choose in bringing greenery into your bathroom:
Aglaonema - Chinese evergreen; Asparagus sprengeri - asparagus ferns; Philodendron oxycardium; Pilea, various forms - artillery fern, 'Moon Valley', aluminium plant; Scindapsus - pothos, or devil's ivy; ferns - Boston fern varieties; brake fern - Pteris ensiformis; Japanese climbing fern, Lygodium scandents; bird's nest fern, Asplenium nidus.