Growing plants inside can be every bit as challenging as tending your garden but is just as rewarding. It’s time to rediscover indoor plants. Plants have a few basic needs. They must receive light to photosynthesise and produce energy. Plus, they must have water, they must have nutrients, and many must have soil to anchor their roots in.
Within these boundaries, there are vast areas of difference. A desert cactus comes from a completely different world to a tropical plant. Yet, you can get both to grow in your house, possibly even next door to each other.
Plants grown in a pot are almost entirely reliant on you for all their water and food needs, while an indoor plant also relies on you for how much and what kind of light it receives. So how do we try to keep our long-term houseguests happy? In this post, I show you exactly how to pick plants that will thrive in every room of your home. So, what are the best house plants? This guide also includes lots of advice on where to place them, watering and general care. Let’s dive right in!
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Indoor House Plants
House plants may once have had a dusty, old-fashioned reputation, but they are very much back in style. Not only can they look modern and chic, but we’re also discovering the benefits of growing indoor plants. Greenery in our homes can make us feel calmer and increase our sense of wellbeing. Houseplants also help to purify the air by removing the toxins given off by furniture, cleaning products and electrical goods. This is especially useful at this time of year when we keep windows closed. Houseplants can remove up to 87% of the toxins in a room in 24 hours Click To Tweet. You might think that house plants are hard to keep alive and healthy, but if you choose the right ones for the right spots and give them the growing conditions they like, they’re straightforward to care for. Use this guide to find plants that will thrive in every room of your home, making a welcome addition to your life.
The Eight Best Indoor Plants to Purify the Air in Your Home
- Snake Plant
- ZZ Plant
- Spider Plant
- Rubber Tree
- Bird’s Nest Fern
- Peace Lily
#SleepHack: Pop a snake plant in your room to boost your bedroom’s night-time air quality. Unlike most other plants, which release carbon dioxide at night, this one continues to absorb it and release pure oxygen. It also filters out toxins.
The Well Jar: Biophilia is spreading in the workplace. But before you panic-dash to the doctor or call the police, this is neither an illness nor something disgraced TV presenters are accused of; it’s our need to be near nature. Those who work among nature report a 15% higher level of wellbeing and creativity; and cutting-edge companies have cottoned on. Amazon’s new meeting rooms house 400 different species of plant, and Apple is planting 8000 trees at its California campus. Bring this to your own desk with a pothos plant. It can survive in air-conditioning, grow in a jar, and absorb toxins. Plus, it’s hardy. So even you can’t kill it!
What are the Best House Plants?
Verdant vs variegated: Peace Lily and Wandering Jew
Where: With their attractive foliage, these plants are great for brightening up areas away from windows, such as hallways or corners, as they can cope with less light than other houseplants. They like to stay out of the direct sun, and need to keep reasonably warm; ideally, the temperature shouldn’t drop below 10 to 12 degrees centigrade. Also, keep them away from any cold draughts.
Watering: Water regularly in summer, but don’t let them sit in water. Keep them on the dry side over winter, allowing the compost to dry out between waterings. During spring and summer, feed every three weeks with a houseplant fertiliser.
TLC: All of these like to have their leaves misted regularly.
Moving on up: These slow-growing plants are happy to stay in the same pot for several years.
Hot, Bright Windowsill
Stylish and easy to care for: Watch Chain Plant, Mixed Cacti, and Trumpet Jade
Where: Desert cacti and succulents are perfect for window sills where the sun comes in for part of the day. They love dry air and can cope with direct sunlight; conditions that wouldn’t suit many other houseplants. They need as much light as possible, so place them on a bright windowsill.
Watering: The easiest way to kill succulents is by overwatering. Never leave them standing in water and always let the compost dry out between waterings; push your finger down into the compost to check. In winter, water less frequently, allowing the compost to dry out completely before watering. Try not to wet the plants, as they’re prone to rot.
TLC: Water monthly with a cacti feed in spring and summer.
Moving on up: In spring, move any pot-bound plants into a container that’s a little wider. Use a specialist cacti compost.
Shady and Humid
Lush, lacy leaves: Delta Maidenhair Fern
Where: Indoor ferns are perfect for bathrooms and shady kitchens, as they like high humidity and some shade. Keep them away from windows and radiators, as cold draughts and hot, dry air will cause the leaves to go brown and wither.
Watering: They need moist, free-draining soil, so water every week or so. Water the compost directly and allow the water to drain away. Use a weak liquid houseplant feed every couple of weeks.
TLC: Fill a saucer with gravel or small pebbles and top up with water. Place the pot on top, making sure it’s base isn’t submerged in the water. This raises the humidity around the plant.
Moving On Up: Ferns should be happy in the same pot for a year or two. Repot in spring if roots are growing out of the base. Use a container just a couple of centimetres bigger, and fill with houseplant compost.
Bright and Warm
Year-round flowers: Moth Orchid
Where: Moth orchids are prolific and spectacular flowerers. They need a slightly tricky balance of lots of light but not direct sun. In winter, particularly they need plenty of light to encourage flowering. Place on or near a north-, east- or west-facing window, avoiding draughts and fluctuating temperatures.
Watering: Water into the top of the pot and let it drain away before placing back in the outer container. Do this frequently to keep the free-draining compost just moist. Lightly spray the foliage but never leave standing in water. Use orchid feed in spring and summer if a plant doesn’t flower.
TLC: If a plant doesn’t flower for several months, move it to a cooler spot for a few weeks.
Moving on up: Repot every two years or so when the bark compost is breaking down. Choose a pot that’s just large enough to fit the rootball and use orchid compost. Moth orchid roots benefit from light, so a clear container is best, with an outer glass pot. Moth orchids are epiphytic (growing on trees) so the roots are not covered by soil in nature.
Delicate flowers for months: Cape Primrose
Where: Wild cape primroses grow in dappled wooded valleys and ravines in South Africa. The flowers are almost orchid-like. To grow them indoors, they need bright light but not the hot sun; an east- or west-facing windowsill is ideal.
Watering: It’s important not to overwater, so wait until the compost feels dry and don’t let the plant sit in water. Take care not to splash the leaves as this can cause brown marks. Feed every couple of weeks with a high potash fertiliser, such as liquid tomato feed, at a quarter of the recommended dilution. In winter, water less and don’t feed.
TLC: Older leaves naturally turn brown at the top. Remove the unsightly tip or the whole leaf at the base with secateurs.
Moving on up: Transfer into a slightly larger part each spring; not too big though, as these plants flower more when somewhat pot-bound. Use houseplant compost and add some perlite to improve drainage.
Tackling Pests and Problems
- Greenfly and blackfly/aphids are best blasted off with water from the tap.
- Powdery mildew is often caused by dryness and not enough air circulation.
- Mealybug can be destroyed by dabbing with a paintbrush dipped in alcohol. Heavily infested plants should be composted.
- Red spider mite thrives in a dry atmosphere, so mist the leaves regularly and use a biological control.
- Scale has a waxy shell and clings to the plant. Destroy with alcohol or biological control.
- Grey mould is often caused by too much humidity in winter. Cut off infected leaves and bin.
- Whitefly are tiny white, moth-like creatures that suck sap. The biological control Encarsia is effective.
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