This article has been written by Rachel McLeod for Planting Works.
For the love of houseplants
My early memories of house plants go right back to the giant Swiss Cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa) in the lounge at my Grandparents terraced house, which took over most of the wall behind the sofa. I guess today you’d call it a “living wall” which it certainly was. They loved everything about gardening and growing produce which was also evident in their small but tightly packed backed garden and equally thriving allotment. Houseplants have come in and out of favour over the years and are still loathed by some through memories of 70’s Aspidistras and ever multiplying spider plants. Today there’s definitely an increased popularity of our green house friends. Look in your local garden centre and you’ll see a wonderful selection of houseplants. Take a peek at Instagram #houseplants #houseplantsofinstagram and you will see just how popular they have become.
Not only do they look good but they also come with a vast array of benefits. Air purifying and toxin removing are important benefits especially during our current “stay at home” times. Growing and nurturing plants can also help to improve our mental wellbeing by bringing us back in touch with nature. Houseplants brighten up indoor spaces and add interest to our decor.
There are many wonderful varieties of planters, shelves and even ready made “living walls” available to buy. You can even have a houseplant subscription through companies such as Bloombox and Canopy plants. For new house plant owners, you can go for a starter package from companies such as The Little Botanical and Thompson and Morgan. Plants are specially selected as “easy care” and arrive with pots and full instructions on how to look after them.
When considering which plants to buy you need to think about where they will be living. All plants need a source of light to thrive but not necessarily full sunlight. You can put plants on window sills and existing furniture such as bookcases, shelves and sideboards, making sure that you use a mat underneath the plant so as not to cause any damage. All plants come with a care label which will also tell you when they need to be fed (don’t panic it’s usually only once or twice a year by putting a couple of drops of feed in with their usual water). There are also more sophisticated devices for looking after your plants such as drip feeders and moisture meters but initially checking on the dryness of the soil with your finger should be sufficient. The biggest problem with keeping houseplants is lack of water or overwatering and so it is best to check the care instructions.
My own houseplant family started with a couple of succulents and a “Mother in Law’s tongue” (senseviera trifasciata) and has rapidly increased in size to include a gorgeous “string of hearts” (ceroepegia woodii), a peace lily and a prayer plant (Calathea). I’ve had a few disasters along the way and sometimes there is an element of trial and error in looking after houseplants. If they look green and healthy then you must be doing something right. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a bloom or new leaf shoot on plants. During the warmer summer months I even take my plants outside as table decorations and to give them a much needed boost of warmth and some light rain.
Keeping houseplants is definitely worth a try and as you get more confident with your horticultural skills who knows which exotic plants you may progress on to keeping and you will never look back once you start.