The 1960s: the era of the three-martini lunch, nonstop cigarette smoking, go-go boots, and beautiful houseplants. Today, even a decade after the Mad Men series originally aired, the frenzy for 1960s furniture, decor, fashion, and of course, houseplants is still buzzing.
I’m wildly mad about Mad Men. If you don’t love the show Mad Men, we can’t be friends.
When the series ended, I was devastated, even having watched it 4 times over. Needless to say, I am always looking for ways to feed my addiction to this amazing AMC drama, and rounding up popular 1960s houseplants as seen in the show has me satiated.
Set in the early 1960s, nearly every Mad Men scene is meticulously filled with objects from an era rich with contemporary ideas. Matthew Weiner and his production designer Dan Bishop, and set decorator Claudette Diduleven even got the houseplants right!
Just as with all fashions and styles, trends seem to fade in and out. The houseplants that seem to be popular today aren’t necessarily what was popular back in the day. But retro things always seem to make a comeback, including some of the popular houseplants from the 1960s.
The Houseplants Seen in Mad Men Never Go Out of Style
These are some of my favorite houseplants popularized in the 1960s that embody the sleek, simplicity, and understated sexiness of the beloved Sterling Cooper Headquarters.
- Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant, fruit salad plant)
- Spider Plants (Airplane Plant, Spider Ivy, St. Bernard’s lily)
- Philodendron Imperial Green (Philodendron erubescens)
- Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
- Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum, Devil’s Ivy)
- Rubber Plant (Ficus elastic)
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata, Mother In-Law’s Tongue, Saint George’s sword)
- Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane, Leopard Lily)
- Umbrella Tree (Schefflera Actinophylla or Octopus Tree)
Many beautiful plants popularized in the 1960s were most likely in our homes when we were kids – still learning to appreciate houseplants. AMC’s Mad Men is one of the best television dramas ever and these popular mid-century modern houseplants will bring all the glamour and drama of Mad Men right into your home.
Monstera Deliciosa’s have surged in popularity recently amongst millennials. But in reality, they have been popular with multiple generations of plant lovers. Young Monstera’s don’t look all that unique, but they form into beautiful room centerpieces as they begin to grow and mature. Keep in mind that Monstera’s can be a bit more finicky than some of our other retro plants.
Find the right spot in the living room with a balance of sun and shade. Water moderately and evenly. Probably about once a week once its roots are set in its pot. Buy Yours: HERE
Spider plants have been around our houses for decades. Probably due to their adaptability and low maintenance lifestyle. If you can really think back to your childhood, you can probably even picture one or two of these somewhere around your house. As seen on the patio at Megan Draper’s bungalow in Laurel Canyon, Spider Plants are great for plant newbies and folks looking to add some easy greenery around the home or office. Buy Yours: HERE
Philodendron Imperial Green
Imperial Green Philodendron is a classic plant that became popular back in the 60s. The Philodendron genus contains hundreds of species of beautiful foliage plants.
Philodendron Imperial Green has large, stiff, glossy-green leaves that fan out from a central stem. This non-vining philodendron is widely available, inexpensive, and looks fantastic as seen at Sterling Cooper Headquarters. Being a tropical plant, the Philodendron Imperial Green needs bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and moderate humidity. Buy Yours: HERE
Chinese Evergreens were a hugely popular household plant in the ’60s and ’70s and made quite the comeback in the last decade amongst a younger plant lover population. Part of that popularity is the wildness that seems to radiate from such a full foliage plant. Ferns always remind me of exciting movies such as Jurassic Park and even the lovely Ewok planet of Endor from Star Wars.
Chinese Evergreens have lush foliage with variegated leaves. They do well in a warm environment with high humidity and indirect sunlight. If your house seems to run a bit dry, try misting the leaves every once in a while. Buy Yours: HERE
The Pothos is another great beginner plant that began its rise to fame back in the ’60s. It’s a great plant for newbies as it requires infrequent watering and is comfortable in low-light rooms. This makes it the ideal plant for adding some greenery to an office or a dorm room. This is the plant to give to your friend who is known to forget about plant-care.
The Snake Plant is an exceptionally durable plant and relatively easy to grow. They are drought resistant and can thrive in almost all lighting conditions, including low-light or direct sun. Its choice of lighting would be steady indirect light with a bit of direct sun.
You can quickly propagate snake plants when repotting or by taking new shoots that emerge from the soil. These plants have been around urban homes for quite a long time and are often the most challenging plant in a room. Buy Yours: HERE
A native of the forests of Taiwan, Schefflera arboricola can get 26 to 30 feet tall outdoors, though it will generally top out at 8 to 10 feet tall indoors. Ours is in our sunroom and is about 6 ft tall. Umbrella Plants do best in bright indirect light. There are Dwarf Umbrella Plants and Bonsai varieties available for those who do not want something so big.
There was an Umbrella Plant in the presentation room in Mad Men. Buy Yours: HERE
How to Choose the Right Plants for Your Home
It can be a difficult decision when you are trying to pick out a new houseplant to bring home. You want the newcomer to fit in not only with your current plants but with the overall décor and style of your home.
Luckily, the different plants listed above all have their roots going back to the 1960s for a reason. They are all relatively easy to place in just about everyone’s living space. They have survived the fashion changes for decades and will probably still be in our homes in another 60 years.