From aloe vera to potted cacti, succulents (plants that store water in their leaves) are a Swede's secret weapon when it comes to planting additional style into their homes.
The plants have branched out widely, resulting in succulent icons appearing on everything from bedsheets to birthday cards found anywhere between London and New York, but Swedes have been seen to be pioneering in this trend. The nation's deep-rooted connection to the outside world and love of natural materials puts Swedes in pole position to be natural fans of bringing the outside inside – with succulents the logical choice.
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As Marie Blom Varhevaara, the owner of popular Stockholm-based florist Ginkgo notes: “Over the past four years since we opened this florist, we've seen sales of succulents go up hugely year-on-year – and over the past 12 months, we've seen the number of customers coming in to ask for succulents specifically increase by about 50 percent. It's definitely a trend on the rise in Sweden.”
With the famously inhospitable temperatures over the winter and the dark months requiring an injection of colour into Swedish homes, these hardy and low-maintenance plants fit the bill – though Stockholm-based florist Ellen Andhagen at Bladverket warns against the common misconception that these plants don't need sun.
“Succulents are undemanding in that they don't need much water, but there's a tendency to think that this also means they don't need much light, which is not the case. Ideally, the plants would be kept within two feet of a window in order that they can feel the benefits of the precious hours of sun we get here in Sweden, particularly over the colder months,” she told The Local.
Equally, as living in rented accommodation is common in Sweden, these easily-transportable potted partners are an ideal way to put your own creative touch on the little corner you temporarily call home – whether you'll be living there for three months or thirty years.
Placed in a terracotta pot or displayed more extravagantly, they're a quick way of personalizing your own space – and, if you decide to move, they can be taken with you, relatively fuss-free (though a word of warning from personal experience: watch out for any unexpected spikes when transporting innocuous-looking cacti).
With the Swedish concept of 'lagom' being widely spoken about as the 'hygge' of 2017, these understated plants reflect the country's 'just enough' ethos; needing a small amount of attention to keep them thriving and providing a subtle element of style to a room without being ostentatious.
Succulents are the 'lagom' of the interiors world – offering an element of sustainability and, unlike most other plants, producing oxygen even in the dark, to provide a breath of fresh air both day and night.
How to look after your succulents
The Local asked Blom Varhevaara at Ginkgo florist for her tips on how to look after your succulents throughout your home, whatever the weather outside:
– Water rarely: these plants only need to be watered every 14-21 days. If you think about their natural habitat (arid deserts, where moisture is scarce), their ability to go long periods of time without 'drinking' makes perfect sense.
– Their leaves hold onto water, so even if the soil feels dry they may have secret reserves of hydration available – let them dry in between waterings. When you do water, use a conservative amount – it's much better to under-hydrate than over-hydrate, topping up as required.
– The plants' skin holds the clue to whether they are dehydrated – if they look slightly wrinkled (like a raisin), it's time to hydrate them. Put them on a shallow plate of water overnight and they should perk up by the morning.
– You can grow your succulent collection for free – many succulents grow leaves which can be broken off and re-planted in a new pot to form a brand-new plant.
– A great place to place succulents is in the bedroom; as they release oxygen overnight, they act as natural air purifiers, which will allow you to breathe more easily while you sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.