In my line of work it’s an occupational hazard I know, but it doesn’t stop my poor husband despairing… every possible surface in our house is crammed with house plants. I adore them, they are my year round love. Where urbanisation means so many of us live without a garden, house plants mean the inside of your house can be a riot of greenery. It’s a trend I wholeheartedly hope is here to stay.
Most house plants are at home in the wild in tropical rain forests, so are used to not only heat, but high humidity. This doesn’t mean water, water, water, though – humidity around the leaves is not the same as soaking roots. The demise of so many house plants is dry air and erratic watering, so set yourself up a watering and misting schedule. This is especially important in the winter months when we have our heating on 24/7; radiators dry out our air no end.
Don’t let this intimidate you though, a jug and an old spray bottle is all you need. Mist the leaves of your plants regularly with filtered or rain water (there’s so much bleach residually in our tap water, you’ll do much better with some that’s had it removed).
I have got into the habit of flitting about giving everyone a spritz as I wait for the kettle to boil. Your plants will love you for it and will reward you with lovely lush foliage. Next, fill your jug with that same filtered or rain and water your pot until it flows out of the bottom of the pot, roughly once a week. You’ll know when they need a drink if a finger inserted into the soil feels dry up to your knuckle.
Whatever you do though, don’t let your plant sit in a tray of excess water, all you’ll do is rot the roots, which is another common cause of death for houseplants. A great way to avoid this is to fill your plant saucer with pebbles. This means the bottom of your pot sits above any runoff, and then said runoff can evaporate slowly, adding to the humidity levels around your plant, so it’s a win, win idea. There’s a plant for every room, regardless of light levels, just make sure that your new pal isn’t bathed in strong direct sunlight all day long, or you’ll be looking at scorched leaves.
No one likes sunburn, not even plants.
If you’re at a loss about where to start, social media is awash with hashtags for you to get your teeth into (#plantsofinstagram has 1,172,356 posts for instance). Beautifully posed plant ‘shelfies’ are all there for you to drool at, inspiring your first of many new plant babies.
Here are a few of my own personal favourite plants that are not only beautiful, but low maintenance too.
Pilea glaucophylla and she’s happy to see ya! The beautiful reddish stems are a lovely contrast to the teeny clusters of leaves. A slowly trailing plant that looks great on a shelf where it can hang right out. It likes to be more moist than some, so a little drink a couple of times a week will keep her happy.
Deiffenbachia or, to use its common name, Dumb Cane is anything but daft. If you get its situation sussed this will be a rewarding and quick growing plant. It has these gorgeous green/white leaves and I think is one of the prettiest foliage plants you can get. Pop it in a nice indirect sunlit spot and it’ll give you a good show in no time.
Dypsis lutescen, often called the Arecea Palm or the Butterfly Palm, is native to Madagascar and, in my experience, is one of the easiest house plants to grow.
It’s a joy to watch its graceful new leaves unfurl, and throw beautiful shadows with the sun shining through its delicate canopy. It’s one of the best house plants for purifying air too, according to a study by none other than NASA!
A fairly bright room without direct sunlight is advised. Not enough light will slow growth while too much sun can scorch leaves. Allow the top soil to become dry between watering and don’t overwater. Overwatering is the quickest way to kill one of these babies, especially if the soil does not drain too well.
Fittonia verschaffelti (this variety is called argyroneura ‘Silver Threads’). Often called a Nerve or Mosaic plant is a good one for a slightly darker room, it likes a bit of shade and plenty of moisture, just not wet. It’s very easy to look after and I just can’t get enough of its leaves that look like little maps.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa. This mad looking monkey tailed thing is another absolute favourite of mine. It’s actually part of the cactus family, but likes moist soil – unlike its spiky cousins. Easy to propagate at home, they like a good burst of morning sun then a shady afternoon – absolutely no strong hot light, so keep away from the windows. If you’re very very lucky you might be gifted with some sweet smelling flowers too.
Sanseveria aka the Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s Tongue is the best die-hard house plant. It’s one of the toughest plants you can find. Incredibly hard to kill, and happy in most light situations (none of that direct south facing light for these babies). I have mine in a hallway with no windows and she’s doing really well. They’re not fussy about water (give them a drink every two to six weeks depending on how dry your home is) and air flow (so can do well in stuffy old offices). Another great air purifier according to NASA, it’s a good shout for a bedroom corner too.
So there you have it, there really is no excuse not to get yourself a new little plant baby for your house, they’re the perfect antidote to a sad looking corner and are so easy to love. If you’re still too worried about getting the right one for you, gardeners like me are only too happy to consult on, source and even maintain them for you; have a look at my Instagram @bearodgergardens for some ideas.