It’s official. The 70s are having their moment. Well, at least when it comes to home décor and the plants we choose to spruce our spaces up with. In the last few years, we’ve seen the resurgence of cane and rattan furniture; macramé had a serious comeback with Etsy shops completely devoted to wall hangings and plant holders; and complementing the '70s vibes are plants that became popular in the groovy decade. We’re talking all of your grandparents’ favorite throwbacks—from spider plants to pothos and all the ferns in between. You know, the plants that stood tall in sunken living rooms, looming over that shag carpet, and wrapping their vines around natural wood shelving. But, why now?
Catherine Horwood, author of "Potted History: How Houseplants Took Over Our Homes," a book that tells the stories and history of our favorite houseplants, explains, “With so many people living in small apartments these days—without gardens or even balconies—houseplants are the perfect way to bring the outdoors indoors. We've all felt the importance of being in contact with nature and are far more aware of the health benefits as well. Improved technology means they are cheaper and then, of course, they offer the perfect social media images.”
Here are the seven plants that you need to complete the '70s vibe at home.
Perhaps the most common houseplant out there, the pothos comes in several different varieties. There’s the golden pothos, which has golden, yellow-green variegated leaves; 'Marble Queen' has lovely green and white variegated foliage; 'Neon' has all yellow leaves; 'Lime' has bright yellow-green leaves; and satin pothos has variegated dark green and silvery leaves. The pothos, which is often nicknamed “Devil’s Ivy,” is super easy to care for and also easy to propagate if you want to expand your plant collection. Place this beauty in a macramé plant holder or on a high shelf and let its vines do the talking.
Next up is the spider plant, which people who lived in the '70s will surely remember. This plant survives all (it’s really hard to kill), and it’s possible you have a family member who still has one from the '70s. So why did these attract people? “There was a lot of cane furniture around, and pine. All very natural and stripped back so having soft plants like ferns and spider plants fitted in with this really well,” Horwood explains. With '70s furniture trends making a comeback it’s no surprise that this houseplant is still popular.
When we’re talking about retro houseplants we can’t forget about the dear old ficus. This plant is tough and comes in several varieties. The ficus elastica, or rubber tree plant, may have been popular because of the attractive foliage it grew. Even the beloved fiddle-leaf fig of our time (Ficus lyrata) was having a moment in the '70s. It was the perfect plant to take over a corner of the room, with its gorgeous green foliage popping against wood paneled walls.
Perhaps the most lush of the '70s houseplant craze were ferns, which often garner a love-hate relationship with their owner. The big bushy leaves of the Boston fern (which was also extremely popular during Victorian times) took over living rooms and bathrooms. They weren’t the only ferns around, but perhaps the easiest to care for in the fern family. Those with a darker green thumb often tried their hand with the Maidenhair fern, another beauty that was popular in the '70s.
African violets may have become popular in the '70s because they brought the perfect pop of color into a room that would generally have the same tones throughout. While they’re considered a bit old fashioned these days and aren’t the easiest to care for, blooming houseplants are having a moment right now. People love the green foliage that a houseplant brings in but some want a burst of bright color too. The African violet is a great choice if you love flowers too.
While we know it as the Monstera plant, back in the '70s this icon was called the Swiss cheese plant because of the way its foliage split open. And while millennials will say they made it popular, these plants have been growing inside of people’s houses for years and years. The deep green, curling, glossy leaves were complementing cane instead of marble back then.
The snake plant is another oldie-but-goodie in the plant world. This retro plant has never really left the spotlight as it’s so incredibly easy to care for—it’s resilient, requires little maintenance and can survive in low light. So why the pithy nickname "mother-in-law’s tongue"? It refers to the sharp and pointed tips of the leaves, which could symbolize the sharp tongue of a stereotyped mother-in-law.
Fern, Boston. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.