All these wonderful tropical house plant drawings are from the book with a rather lengthy title. ” New and rare beautiful-leaved plants: containing illustrations and descriptions of the most ornamental-foliage plants not hitherto noticed in any work on the subject.”
The book was written by Shirley Hibberd and Benjamin Fawcett in 1870. I wrongly assumed Shirley was a woman because of the name.
After research, I found out that Shirley was originally a male name. However, its use in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Shirley (1849) established it as a female name.
Shirley Hibberd was one of the most popular and successful gardening writers of the Victorian era. He was a best-selling editor of three gardening magazines, including Amateur Gardening. The only nineteenth-century gardening magazine still being published today.
Benjamin Fawcett was one of the best nineteenth-century woodblock color printers.
The Beauty of Tropical Plant Leaves
This book was a new direction in Victorian horticulture by focusing on the beauty of leaves. The preface talks about the new recognition of the beauty of house plant leaves. It also discusses that the passion of cultivating fine foliage plants may be new but it is not a transient one.
The author expected the house plant leaves in the book to be just as interesting in 50 years’ time.
It’s 150 years since this book was published. The house plant drawings are just as beautiful, interesting and relevant today. Any of these wonderful tropical plant leaf prints would look fabulous framed and fit in with many current interior trends.
Shirley wrote that the plant drawings picked for this book was based on the intrinsic beauty of the leaved plants. Rather than the horticultural fashions of the day.
He went on to write that leaves can be just as beautiful as flowers. Leaves have the advantage of being permanent and ordinary were flowers are more or less temporary and extraordinary.
Beautiful leaves will not elbow flowering plants aside but will enhance their beauty by contrast, and enrich the harmony in which they play so conspicuous a part.
On Pictureboxblue there are collections of, woodland vintage botanicals, beautiful palm tree illustrations of leaves and botanical leaves from the forest. This is the first collection of indoor plant leaf illustrations.
The Vintage House Plant Drawings
Click on the title above the house plant drawing you want, a higher resolution image will open as a new tab in your browser. The drawing can then be printed or saved to your devices’ hard drive.
Online print shops that can print high-quality prints of these images on specialist art paper. If printing at home, I recommend going into the printers’ advance menu and choosing the highest possible print option. I also suggest using a high-quality printer paper such as Matt photo paper.
House Plant Leaf Drawings
First, there is a collection of colorful tropical leaf prints of house plants from the book above. The next section will include black and white drawings of some of these house plants in pots.
A beautiful painting of the variegated leaf of the Musa Vittata plant. More commonly known as “The Wise Men’s Banana”.
The plant is best grown in greenhouses or orangeries. It needs a mean temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, plenty of water and humidity
Saxifraga fortunei is a species of flowering plant native to China, Japan and Korea. Growing to just 40 cm (16 in) tall and broad, it is a shade-loving herbaceous perennial with large round fleshy leaves.
The plant was first introduced to Britain from Japan in 1863 by Mr Robert Fortune. That is probably where the plant got its name from.
Begonia’s are native to subtropical and tropical climates. However, they are commonly grown indoors as ornamental house plants in cooler climates.
This particular Begonia is native to Mexico. The young leaves of this house plant are a bright carmine or deep pinky red. As they mature they acquire a deep green colour overlayed with deep brown or blackish reticulations.
The margin of the leaf is clothed with pale rosy hairs in the manner of a light fringe.
This indoor plant is also known as the “Blood-veined Leaved Eranthemum“.
The leaf drawing also includes illustrations of another similar blood-veined plant Hypoestus Sanguinolenta.
Maranta’s are a group of plants native to Central, South America and the West Indies. Maranta was named for Bartolomeo Maranta, an Italian physician and botanist of the sixteenth century.
This particular species of Maranta is actually known as Bermuda Arrowroot. As well as being a decorative indoor plant, it has a commercial value. Arrowroot is an edible starch that is turned into a flour in the Caribean.
Dieffenbachia is a plant with straight stem, simple and alternate leaves containing white spots and flecks, making it attractive as indoor foliage. They are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance of shade.
Its English names, dumb cane and mother-in-law’s tongue refer to the poisoning effect of the leaves, which can cause a temporary inability to speak.
Dieffenbachia was named by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, director of the Botanical Gardens in Vienna, to honor his head gardener Joseph Dieffenbach (1796–1863).
Caladium Mirabile is a native of Brazil and the hot humid valley of the Amazon. This is an indoor plant is also known as Heart of Jesus or Elephant Ears. Due to its large heart-shaped leaves.
The leaves can grow up to one or two feet in length and about half as much in breadth.
The book has a cute rhyme about two things to keep in mind when caring for this house plant. One is: If dust-dry, they must die. The second is: If quite forgotten, they are soon rotten.
A pretty, dwarf, creeping, plant native to tropical South America. These herbaceous indoor plants are grown for their colorful, velvety, ornamental foliages.
Now more commonly known as Fittonia albivenis or nerve plant or mosaic plant. A herbaceous plant, it is notable for its dark green foliage with strongly contrasting white veins.
Sir Daniel Cooper’s Hibiscus. This beautiful leafed plant when in bloom is crowned with gorgeous flowers.
A tea made from hibiscus flowers is known by many names around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is known for its red colour, tart flavour, and vitamin C content.
The second species of Caladium house plant drawings in this collection.
This indoor plant leaf is actually Japanese Maize.
Shirley describes the popularity of this plant as follows: “The variegated Japanese Maize may be regarded as a cheap substitute for this famous Arundo, and it may be considered the best poor man’s sub-tropical plant in cultivation.”
Alocasia’s are typically grown as pot plants, but a better way is to grow the plants permanently in the controlled conditions of a greenhouse.
They need good lighting if inside the house. The plant should be cared for as any other tropical plant with a weekly cleaning of the leaves and frequent fine water misting without leaving the plants wet.
The cover of the book features a potted silhouette of this popular house plant.
“The leaves are broadly ovate_oblong: the grand-color dark green, traversed with zigzag lines of white which remind the beholder of a delicate pattern in mosaic.“
Peperomia argyreia, also known as watermelon begonia. The house plant is not closely related to either watermelons or begonias. The plant’s nickname relates to the shape, markings and texture of the leaves.
Smilax plants originate from the temperate and subtropical regions of Asia and the Americas. “The leaves are simple and undivided usually ovate and strongly ribbed.”
This plant was bought back from South America in 1866 and has beautiful flowers when in bloom.
Also known as Consul Schiller’s Butterfy Orchid. It is a moth orchid native to the Phillipines.
Sanchezia is cultivated as ornamental house plants because they have large, colorful bracts and flowers, and sometimes even colorful leaves. The group of plants Sanchezia is named after J. Sanchez who was a professor of botany at Cadiz.
Pelargoniums are extremely popular garden plants, grown as tropical house plants and bedding plants in temperate regions. They have a long flowering period, with flowers mostly in purple, red and orange, or white.
Potted House Plant Prints
A collection of beautiful back and white prints of some of the tropical leaf plants in their original pots. Some of these victorian pots are just as beautiful as the plants in them.
Click on the title above the potted plant to get a high resolution print.
This potted tropical house plant is actually displayed in a hanging pot.
This is a very grand and ornate Victorian pot with figurines and animals engraved into the stand.
This particular dwarf tropical house plant is displayed in a cloche, which helps with humidity.
This is a small and very plain pot for such a large tropical leaf indoor plant.
When in bloom, I bet this potted plant looks stunning.
I hope you enjoyed these wonderful Victorian prints of tropical house plants.