• Tom Burke

An Introduction to Houseplants

Updated: May 22


Houseplants are addictive...


Image: Amy Cole

Indoor houseplants are a growing trend amongst many. Working in a garden centre has allowed me to have an insight into the homes of the houseplants, and the type of care that they need.


Scientists say humans are more disconnected to nature than ever before, which may explain the rise of decorating our homes with them and caring for them. People find comfort in caring for something, and plants inside your house may act as a cheap alternative to a pet. It ought to be said that houseplants are addictive and before you know it your living space will be consumed with greenery.


Along with looking pretty in the corner of your room, houseplants actually have many physical and mental benefits. One of the main and most important benefits of owning houseplants is that they naturally purify the air in your living area, which has a side effect of massively improving your mood. It’s a win-win situation!


If you are going to have plants anywhere in your home, I highly recommend having them in your study or work area as they can increase your productivity. Plants also give your area a therapeutic vibe to relax in; having plants around can reduce stress and anxiety and relax your emotions. Additionally, they are shown to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression as they give you a motive and a sense of accomplishment and pride by looking after and caring for them.


So now you know that you need houseplants - but you also know that you will possibly kill them and you have no idea which ones are best for you - don’t worry, I got you.


Finding the perfect plant can be extremely intimidating as you can be faced with such a wide variety and selection. If you are looking to re-home some plants, definitely go and buy them in a shop rather than online, so that you can have a proper look at the plant and see if it fits your vibe. Another reason is to see if it is the right size (I’ve heard a few stories of online plants arriving and people not knowing how big/small it was going to be and being very surprised).


In terms of where to go, I recommend a garden centre because we can give you advice about how to keep the plant if you are clueless. I’m not an expert by any means, but I do love houseplants, so here are my top recommendations to get you hooked.

 

Herringbone Plant


This plant is beautiful and very popular; its red veins and bold greens really make it stand out.


The bright reds of the plant can fade easily if they are left in direct sunlight. If you do get this plant, in summer keep in a shadier area, however in winter move it to a slightly sunnier spot as it needs to stay warm.


They need to stay out of cold weather and stay at a minimum temperature of around 10°C.


For your watering, water it every week and make sure the compost is always damp. However, try to keep watering limited in winter as they can get damaged. Misting your plant is always a good idea to stop the leaves going brown and crispy.

 

Rattlesnake Plant


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The unusual shapes and deep purple with rich greens of this plant make it one to love. A humid and rich environment is crucial for this plant so try and replicate that if you can.


Like the herringbone, try to keep this out of direct sunlight as it can discolour its leaves. They do not like rapid temperature changes and so try to keep it warm and consistent and don’t let it get cold.


As mentioned, they like a humid area, so keep the soil damp and mist frequently. In winter lower your watering habits to just once every two weeks as they go into dormancy.


Repotting for this plant is important, but don’t worry as it's very simple. Every year at spring time your plant is likely to have outgrown it’s pot, and so you can divide the plant if you want to (simply separate the stems gently as needed) or just find a bigger pot.

 

Swiss Cheese Plant


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An absolute favourite for me! Heads up: you are going to need a lot of space for this one because they are known climbers. This means that you might need to additionally purchase a moss stick to support them. This is known to be one of the easiest plants to take on.


Although the plant loves the sun do not place it in direct sunlight as this can burn it.


Watering is very straightforward as well. In warmer months water thoroughly every week and in cooler months once every two to three weeks. Due its tropical nature, humidifying it is also a good idea.

 

Spider Plant


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Probably one of the most famous houseplants, the spider plant has been on the houseplant scene for years. Like all the others, keep out of direct sunlight as it discolours the leaves, but give it some indirect sunlight.


Once a week or twice a week watering will be okay for this plant but make sure there is good drainage. Misting is not needed as frequently but if you feel you need to do so then go ahead; it's not going to kill it!


If you wish to reproduce this plant, the flowers on the end of the stems will eventually start to root themselves and then you can re-pot it.

 

These plants are all super easy to maintain and keep alive, and they give you a gateway into the wider world of houseplants: a world you definitely want to be a part of.


If you want to become a pro in houseplants, The Little Book of Houseplants and Other Greenery by Emma Sibley is a must. Her book goes through every plant you could ever imagine and how to keep it alive and well.


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