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Indoor Gardens | On a Budget

Published on May 7th 2020
A close up of a flower
So you have realized that there are some fabulous plants that come out of Southeast Asia, but it will set you back a considerable amount to get one. This does not mean you don’t want an indoor jungle of your own. So how do you get lush, fast-growing plants that won’t break the piggy bank?
Try and compromise a little. Chances are that you can get a lush indoorscape faster by considering going local. Sticking with this principle, here are a few unique plants you might or might not recognize.
A close up of a green plant
Ficus pumila is often used in outdoor gardens, but this shingling plant is a beautiful indoor addition.


I have had enumerable questions on Fiddle Leaf Figs (a tree out of Cameroon retailing between ZAR500-800). Now trees on average are expensive, but why not try one of SA’s own 25 Ficus species instead? The Giant-leaved Fig (Ficus lutea) and Large-leaved Rock Fig (Ficus abutilifolia) have equally broad leaves (1), whilst the Mountain Rock Fig (Ficus glumosa) is reminiscent of Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis).

Giant-Leaved Fig

Ficus lutea


Ficus abutilifolia


Ficus glumosa

Banyan Fig

Ficus benghalensis

If you want to really count those coins then you can get a 1.5m Yellowwood tree for roughly ZAR100, or why not forgo that large palm and get the less expensive Melianthus major (quick-growing and staggeringly beautiful)?
Some others to consider are:
Gorgeous Blooms:
Proprietors: Grow Wild, Random Harvest,

Grow Wild Indigenous Plants

Grow Wild is a nursery specializing in the propagating of plants indigenous to Southern Africa. We grow a wide variety of trees, shrubs, groundcovers, bulbs and aloes. If what you want is not available at Grow Wild we will try and source for you. Some of the plants listed are not suitable for cold Highveld gardens. Our emphasis is on hardy Highveld plants which will survive periods of drought as well as harsh winter temperatures. The retail nursery at 102 Dunmaglass Road, Glenferness, Midrand is a tranquil environment under the canopy of indigenous trees, which is well stocked and has informative labeling. We also supply wholesale plants to landscapers, schools and municipalities.

Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery

A nursery complete with a tea room, walks, and reminders of the beautiful outdoors, as well as providing you with basic plants and garden tools.

Inheemse Bome

Inheemse Bome (Indigenous Trees) has been cultivating trees for the last ten years in the Roddeplaat area. Trees are cultivated in this colder region to enable trees to adapt to the cold climate and are thus able to grow and survive in colder regions. - We supply quality, from small to large, to the public, nurseries, mines, landscape architects, farmers etc. - We cultivate trees, also on a contract basis for example for special projects e.g. rehabilitation projects. - We deliver trees - commercial and industrial, private and on a sub-contract basis. - We give free advice on choice and placement/position of trees. You can be sure of our absolute dedication to delivering the best service and prices!

A close up of a flower
Some inexpensive creeping species such as Talinum caffrum (Porcupine root), form wrinkled tuberous roots resembling an elephants foot with yellow flowers.


Unfortunately, our local trailing succulents have gone viral which means so has their price tags. You might still be able to get your very own String of Pearls or -Bananas at bargain prices if you frequent the lesser-known nurseries in Worcester or Calitzdorp.
If you won’t be getting there any time soon, then here is a list of overlooked plants that have beautiful trailing habits:
Proprietors: Petal Faire Nursery, Fernkloof Nursery
A plant in a garden
Some indigenous Ficus and Rhoicissus species grow rapidly in semi-shade environments and are beautiful additions.


If you're a frequent flier or adventurer then you want your plants to survive the trip. Imported subtropical plants are rarely amenable to be left unattended for long periods and a plant sitter will rack up more expenses. Some plants will have doppelgängers in other genera that may be the less expensive choice.
A good example is Begonias which tend to want some tender love and care unlike its cost-effective alternative, Pelargoniums , that come in an equally diverse (17 000) number of shapes and sizes (2).
In addition they:
  • root extremely quickly in water,
  • have far wider variety of blooms than Begonias,
  • are waterwise and require very little care,
  • have leaves that are extremely varied in both shape and color,
  • are scented and can be used in candles/soap with some even being edible.
Some unique examples:
Other Doppelgängers:
- Zantedeschia albomaculata for Aroid lovers
- Crassula streyi vs. Peperomia verticillata
- Drimiopsis (African Hosta)
Proprietors: SA Bulb Company, Seeds for Africa, Random Harvest
For an interesting video on a South African Pelargonium collection that made it all the way to Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam) follow the link:

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The reason why indigenous subtropical species are often less expensive is because there are no import costs associated with them. They do not require heated greenhouses or specialized shipping. You can often order subtropical species from nurseries in SA's green belt (KZN, Durban, PE etc.) at a far reduced rate.
That all sounds very convenient, but which plants are still within a reasonable price range?
South Africa is home to a staggering array of ferns, not just the ever-popular Maidenhair Fern (a Drakensberg local) and Asparagus ferns (a Garden Route local), but also many many more (3). Chances are that a family member has them growing like a weed in their garden (go ask). You can create quite the jungle with just a few well-placed ferns.
Some local ferns:
Proprietors: Brommadness, Fernhaven, Natures Way Nursery
A few plants are rarely included in the international houseplant decor, but make the list for their interesting forms.
Here is a list of some to consider:
  • Oxalis tomentosa
  • Peperomia retusa var. retusa
A vase of flowers on a tree branch
Pelargonium sidoides comes in colors from light purple to black with silver foliage.


You will find that miniature gardens can be equally rewarding, especially if you are low on light. Why not start out with a bonsai or an orchid seedling collection? Instead of paying ZAR200 for a large Phalaenopsis, take your time and view the seedling packages available from the various online stores. You might even be able to get 2-4 orchids for the same price.
Proprietors: Orchidology, Plantae, Bonsai tree


Orchidology is a nursery focusing on growing and selling orchids, ferns and unusual plants. We're all about orchids. We share our knowledge of orchids through talks, demonstrations and advice. We are also actively involved in conservation efforts like Wild Orchids Southern Africa. We use technology and insight to grow orchids so that they flower their best for exhibitions and shows. Potted orchids include: Cymbidiums, Dendrobium Soft Cane Species and Hybrids, Oncidiums, Cattleya, Paphiopedilum.

Plantae Orchids

Plantae Orchids is a specialist nursery dedicated to the growing of orchids and rare & unusual plants. We offer a wide variety of orchid species and orchid hybrids with an emphasis on angraecoids, cattleyas, dendrobiums, oncidiinae phalaenopsis and vandas. Orchid plants can be purchased either at the nursery, at the various shows we attend countrywide or via mail order within South Africa. Our inventory features also exotic plants such as tillandsias and other bromeliads, carnivorous plants, hoyas, ornamental gingers as well as some rare trees and shrubs. We are able to present informative lectures and workshops. An informative monthly newsletter is circulated via e-mail with topical information on orchid growing and notices of shows and open days taking place in that month. You can subscribe to our newsletter by providing us with your details in the space allocated below to the right. The orchid and rare plant nursery is open by appointment as well as on the special open days listed. It would be a shame for you to drive out to the nursery and find we are away on delivery or attending a show. Please phone before you visit if it is not one of the open days listed on the website. Come and enjoy the peace and quiet of the bushveld on one of our open days. You would be able to view a wide range of orchids and other plants, our growing facilities and a variety of exotic cage birds. The garden keeps on expanding and here you would be able to see orchids and other epiphytes growing and flowering in the trees combined with a range of indigenous and exotic plants along the pathways. Wonderful scenery, a wide range of indigenous birds and trees will add to the magic of the visit!

A vase of flowers sitting on a bench in front of a building

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai Tree, based in the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa is an online store specializing in merchandise for bonsai artists, succulent and orchid enthusiasts, shrimp breeders and aquascapers. We also cater for many home gardening needs, florists and stock a range of agricultural grafting tools and consumables. Delivering daily across South Africa and the world to happy customers.


This is a golden oldy and the best way to build up a collection from scratch. The planting community generally lives by the saying "Pay it Forward". Most will help out any newcomers willing to trade cookies for plants. Have a gander at some of the past posts & remember to follow @CandideZA for any future swaps.


Super excited to be part of today's Candide plant swap @HappybyNature1 @wotalark


First plant swap of the year, and may there be many more! @Freddie_ellmann @marelize_nel, @And_Plant 🌿 It only takes one plant swap to get you hooked, welcome to the club Benro 😉 #plantswap #growyourown #plantparents


Excited about my #Hoya cutting propagation from slips swapped at @CandideZA Plant Swap yesterday.. hope what I've done is correct @Shani .. 🌱🧞‍♀️


Fabulous morning spent at @CandideZA hosted plant swap yesterday! Shani and Tessa from the Candide SA team are lovely and had such fun chatting to fellow Plant Geeks. They spoilt us with a pretty bag, poppy seeds and plant. Highly recommended! The Pink Geranium nursery in the Winelands is gorgeous and will HAVE to return for a coffee and plant brouse soon💚


What an absolutely incredible morning spent with fellow gardeners, plant lovers and green enthusiasts at our second ever #PlantSwap! A HUGE thank you to each and every person who spent the morning with us swapping plants and stories - we are so inspired and encouraged by your love and passion for gardening, plants and sharing. A very special shout out to @thepinkgeranium for the perfect plant-swap-setting, delicious coffee, beautiful surrounds and awesome service. If you haven't visited The Pink Geranium Nursery in Stellenbosch yet, you are seriously missing out! #CandidePlantSwap #PlantSwap #PlantNerds #ThePinkGeranium #CandideSACommunity @smallspacegardens1 @keegan-John @OhMyGarden @acker @MandaM @TheFoliageFiend @wotalark @Randall @.sue


We had such an incredible time with fellow gardeners, plant lovers and Candide community members at our thrid ever #PlantSwap! MASSIVE thank you to each and every person who spent the morning with us swapping plants and stories - we are so encouraged by your love and passion for gardening and sharing plants. A special shout out to @HappybyNature1 for a lovely setting with the backdrop of Table Mountain and delicious ice tea and muffins! #CandidePlantSwap #PlantSwap #HappyByNature #CandideZA #GardeningApp

Thank you for reading! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and don't be shy to share your favourite saving tips!
Peperomia on a tree
South Africa has its very own tiny Peperomia that can grow in environments similar to miniature orchids.
(1) Van Noort, S. & Rasplus, J.Y. (2020, May 1). Figs and fig wasps of the world. Figweb.
(2) Pollard, S. (2020, May 1). About the International Register of Pelargonium Cultivars. The International Register of Pelargonium Cultivars.
(3) Van Wilgen, B.W. (2013). Updated guide to southern Africa’s fern flora. S Afr J Sci, 109(7/8).

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