Houseplants have made their way into the hearts and homes of humans across the globe. But they haven’t always been domesticated (as you can probably tell by the monstrous climbing abilities of monsteras). Depending on where you live, it isn't difficult to find our typical houseplants in the wild.
Our leafy friends have been around for much longer than we humans have, giving them the advantage of 99,700,000 more years on the planet! Safe to say they managed just swell on their own without us. And, in some cases, they still do!
Many houseplants are still thriving in the wild with uncapped potential that’s truly awesome to see. As great as they look in our homes, it’s a wonderful experience to see them thriving in their natural habitat – and one that I got to experience for myself on a recent trip to Costa Rica.
If, like me, you geek out on all things plant and would love the opportunity to see your favorite houseplants in their earthy environments, this blog is for you!
Houseplants in the Wild: A brief history
Our leafy friends have a long and varied history that is thought to start with ancient civilization. While Ancient Egyptian civilians started to grow both ornamental and fruiting plants in decorative containers, Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated laurel trees in earthenware vases.
Despite early origins, the enthusiasm for growing houseplants didn’t really kick in until the 17th century when it became the in-thing for explorers to collect exotic plants and display them in big, fancy greenhouses taking center-stage in their stately gardens. Like most things in life, cultivating houseplants was a symbol of status and wealth.
Now accessible for all to enjoy, houseplants have become a staple in many modern homes, helping to bring a touch of class, sophistication, and peace to any urban environment.
Where to Find the Top 5 Most Popular Houseplants in the Wild
It’s incredibly cool to spot one of your favorite houseplants in the wild and let your imagination ponder over how the plant has changed over time. Houseplants that originated in the wild include:
Begonias are known for their large, pendulous flowers and marked foliage. Although different begonias like different conditions, almost all begonias prefer moist, subtropical, and tropical moist climates like those in South and Central America, Africa, and southern Asia.
Ferns are among the most commonly found houseplants in the wild, growing in woods, alongside trails, and up steep rockfaces. With hundreds of varieties, ferns can be found across the world with 37 of the most common fern species distributed across the United Kingdom and others growing in the more tropical climates at high elevations near mountain ranges and volcanoes.
Despite its tolerance and hardiness in a variety of environments, the philodendron originates in the tropical jungles of the Americas and the West Indies. Here, the philodendron can spread its roots and grow to huge heights.
The pothos plant is a vining plant that grows long aerial roots to attach itself to trees and branches. Although the most popular strains are native to India, China, Japan, Australia, and Indonesia, the Golden pothos grows wild only in Florida and the E. pinnatum is found primarily in Southeast Asia and New Guinea.
The snake plant, more commonly known as the mother-in-law’s tongue, is native to tropical West Africa although wild snake plants can also be found in the Congo, Florida, and Hawaii thanks to the hot climate.
The snake plant is one of the most durable houseplants with the potential to withstand stupendous levels of neglect, drought, and low light.
Monsteras have reclaimed the limelight as the houseplant of choice in recent years and are found in hundreds of homes worldwide.
Their original habitat, however, is within the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico and South America where it is capable of growing up to 70ft tall and producing its own edible fruit. The monstera is also mildly invading other tropical areas including Costa Rica, Hawaii, Seychelles, and the Society Islands.
Houseplants in the wild
As former wildlings, it’s no surprise that houseplants can be tricky to care for. After all, they’re used to caring for themselves, not depending on you to create the perfect environment for growth. Yet, with the right care and attention, you can transform your home into your very own urban wilderness with monsteras, snake plants, pothos, ferns, and philodendrons galore.
Find out how to propagate and grow your houseplants like a true pro with our Plant Propagation 101 blog.