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Michael Madjus is photographed in the living room of his Toronto home, on Jan. 8, 2019.JENNIFER ROBERTS/The Globe and Mail

Michael Madjus’s plants have an Instagram following nearly 5,000 strong. Madjus, as @houseofhortus, posts images of his Monsteras adansonii and deliciosa, as well as general views of his Toronto living room, positively overgrown with an assortment of plants, leafy, spiked and flowering. “Over time, I collected, and as I collected, the plants also grew. Eventually, it became an indoor jungle,” says Madjus, marketing director of DesignTO, a festival he describes as “where art and design meet,” with exhibitions and events that blanket Toronto for two weeks in cold January.

Turns out there’s a thriving community of plant lovers online (Madjus calls it “plantstagram”), where novice green thumbs proffer carefully composed and filtered photos, but also seek out advice. “So, yes, it’s a hyper-curated world, but at the same time, it’s real enough that people acknowledge not all plants survive,” says Madjus (see hashtag #plantfailfriday for grim proof) and ask for tips on battling bugs, rot or the ravages of dry winter air. “It’s a space where people are very friendly and accommodating and helpful,” he says.

The growing conditions are just right in Madjus’s living room, an addition to the house he shares with a friend in west Toronto. A skylight above and sliding door in back provide ample light from all round. Wood panelling and brick-wall finishes create a “homey” feel, with artworks and design objects on display. The crow-shaped coat hanger was a gift from a friend vacationing in Europe. “She thought of us; said our space felt like a European cabin. We decided to hang it on the wood panelling.” The brick-mounted clock is by Madjus, formerly an industrial designer, his “take on the black forest cuckoo clock, but modernized.” There are sketches, prints and paintings by artists Joel, Dionne Simpson and Linda Martinello.

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“My roommate is an art curator, and with my background in merchandising and design, we really try to support Canadian artists and designers,” Madjus says. The Umbra Bolo planter by Simone Ferkul was created for the 2017 DesignTO festival and chosen by a panel of judges to be put into production. It’s one of Madjus’s favourites. A pot and barrel by Canadian ceramicist Alissa Coe (she also gave him his 20-year-old cactus) are used as a planter and stand.

When plants are a major feature of a space, planters and pots become de facto decor items. Madjus likes combining vessels by local designers with the standard terracotta variety, purchased from Home Depot and IKEA. “It’s really nice and warming,” he says of the burnt-sienna hue. “For a while, I was putting plants in white pots, but it was looking a little too sterile.” Today, the space is anything but – more verdant than box hedge-tidy – with even the television getting swallowed up by the green stuff. “It’s a little bit of a struggle to watch, but we also don’t like the look of this black hole in the space,” he says.

Madjus doesn’t mind the plant invasion – he welcomes it – even if it infringes upon certain activities. “Some of the plants on the coffee table are getting a little high, so at times it can be a bit difficult. We’ll have to move them, so they don’t impede conversation,” he says. A vine, affectionately called “Rapunzel,” cascades long tendrils along the sofa, which guests must brush aside (or risk getting swallowed by) in order to take a seat. “They make for funny and awkward situations,” he says. “I feel like there’s humour in our space. These days, it’s always good to have a little bit of humour.”

Get the look

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Bolo planter, $50 at Umbra (

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Ingibjorg Hanna Large Krummi Crow coat hanger, US$42 at Huset (

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Crowns by Alissa Coe, $550 at Mjölk (

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“I Swear By It” by Joel, $250 at Art Interiors (

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Ingefära plant pot with saucer, $4.99 at IKEA (

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