Our homes have become our sanctuaries over the past year, with many of us continuing to seek ways to improve our home environment, where we now spend most of our days. While many have turned to the expensive option of home improvements, one simple solution continues to grow in popularity, houseplants.
Not only do they make our homes seem trendier, but it seems we're finding that houseplants are good for our overall mood and wellbeing. From improving air quality to increasing our productivity as we work from home, houseplants are well and truly 'in'.
However, many of us have ‘horror stories’ involving houseplants. From pesky pests, to not being able to keep a plant alive beyond three days. But by understanding our green roommates a little more and by choosing those who have greater tolerance, we can all enjoy a healthy and harmonious home with our plants.
So Uswitch offers some top tips on how to look after your houseplants, and suggests which ones are best for your home.
We often kill our houseplants with kindness, over watering during the winter being the biggest killer. A top tip would be to use your finger as a gauge, when you push your finger into the pot, if it feels moist - don’t water. It’s easy to revive a dry plant, almost impossible to resurrect a sodden one.
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If you have struggled in the past then here is a list of houseplants that are more robust and will offer salvation.
1. Pothos plant (Epipremnum)
Truly one of the toughest and easy care houseplants. They prefer bright light, but adapt well to lower light levels too. Best placed on a shelf where the vines can fall freely. Water every 5 to 7 days and keep soil evenly moist.
(Height range: 30-38cm Space range: 30-61cm Lowest temperature: 16-27 degrees Celsius)
2. Mother in laws tongue (Sansevieria)
Sansevieria is a stress-free houseplant that seems to thrive on neglect! Will grow in just about any container. Allow soil to dry between watering.
(Height range: 46-91cm Space range: 0.6-0.9m Lowest temperature: 10-27 degrees celsius)
3. Spider plant (Chlorophytum)
Easy to grow plant that can thrive indoors or outdoors. Can grow in containers or a hanging basket. Best to allow soil to dry slightly between watering.
(Height range: 15-20cm Space range: 20-25cm Lowest temperature: -1-4 degrees celsius)
4. Aloe vera (Aloe)
An easy to care for and useful plant. It’s soothing gel is often used for medicinal purposes. The soil only requires watering once the soil dries and it should only need repotting once every two years.
(Height range: 20-61cm Space range: 30-61cm Lowest temperature: 10-27 degrees Celsius)
5. Money plant (Crassula)
A great plant for anyone wanting a low-maintenance plant or who is inexperienced with houseplants. Prefers a gritty soil that is allowed to dry out in between watering. In winter, water less frequently.
(Height range: 15-30cm Space range: 30-38cm Lowest temperature 10 - 27 degrees Celsius)
6. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
When the plants is thirsty it will make you aware by drooping its leaves in an obvious way. Once water, it will simply perk back up again. Allow soil to dry between watering.
(Height range: 0.3-0.9m Space range: 0.3 - 1.2m Lowest temperature: 10-27 degrees Celsius)
7. Ivy (Hedera)
An incredibly tough plant that will adapt to most conditions. It is best kept high on a shelf or hanging basket so its leaves can hang. Watering is only required once every 5-7 days.
(Height range: 15-20cm Space range: 23-30cm Lowest temperature: 16-27 degrees Celsius)
This low maintenance and vigorous plant enjoys being misted in summer with reduced watering in winter. Typically a watering once every 5-7 days will be adequate depending on light and temperature. Can handle being in all kinds of containers.
(Height range: 15-91cm Space range: 30-91cm Lowest temperature: 16-27 degrees Celsius)
9. Eternity plant (Zamioculcas)
Happy in low light and requires little attention. Will be fine in most containers and only needs watering once soil is dry.
(Height range: 30-61cm Space range: 46-61cm Lowest temperature: 10-27 degrees Celsius)
10. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra)
This is a reliable, easy-to-maintain, and slow growing plant for indoors and outdoors. Will adapt to most types of soils and enjoys room to spread.
(Height range: 30-51cm Space range: 0.3-0.9m Lowest temperature: -18--12 degrees Celsius)
Below we've ranked the best plants for each room of the house, and graded them on how 'green-fingered' you have to be to keep them (1 being the easiest to maintain, 5 being the hardest).
Our bathrooms often have higher levels of humidity and low light levels. Often a smaller room, look at utilising shelves and grow hanging plants amongst your toiletries to save floor space.
Sansevieria are evergreen perennials that can grow anywhere from eight inches to 12 feet high. Their sword-like leaves are approximately two feet long. The foliage is stiff, broad, and upright, in a dark green color variegated with white and yellow striping.
Kitchens are more often than not a bright and cooler space in our homes with high light levels; think sun lovers that aren’t thirsty. The plants that we choose need to be happy on a well-lit windowsill and tolerant of higher temperatures and humidity as we cook and much cooler at other times.
Like our living rooms, our bedrooms do not often enjoy vast amounts of natural light but are a warm, cosy space. Plants that are happy in our bedrooms often need to be the most tolerant of neglect as we are not taking much notice of them during the day. These plants are suited for infrequent watering and enjoy a warm, darker position in the house are:
One of the main things that houseplants crave and are often starved of is natural light. Living rooms can see little natural light so require a list of plants that are happier in darker rooms – think tropical rainforest, high humidity and shade tolerant, often with big leaves:
Hedera, commonly known as English ivy, is a vigorous and fast-growing, woody evergreen perennial that is primarily grown as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover.
Provide a consistent temperature as much as you can, avoiding plants near doorways, draughts and heat sources like radiators and open fires.
Humidity – misting plants daily or by placing your plants on a tray with gravel will allow surplus water to leave the roots and provides a little extra humidity.
Clean windows for maximum light and clean leaves for photosynthesis. Dust can settle on large leaves in particular so give the leaves a wipe with a damp cloth.
A well-insulated room avoids fluctuating temperatures which houseplants hate.
Behind your curtains can be very cold, bring houseplants out from behind curtains at night, not subjecting them to that cold pocket of air, just inside the window.
Some houseplants should be avoided due to their toxicity to pets/children, however in terms of balance and not wishing to alarm you, this danger only comes if the plants are eaten:
Hedera – moderate
Cactus – moderate
Aloe - mild
Crassula – mild
Epipremnum – mild
Asparagus – mild
We spoke to garden and plant expert Tom Brown who has being growing plants and nurturing gardens at work and at home for over 25 years. Currently working as the Head Gardener at the world renowned West Dean Gardens in West Sussex, he oversees over 100 acres, including many glasshouses full of tropical plants, most of which very familiar as our favourite houseplants. As well as his work at West Dean, Tom regularly writes for garden magazines, offers gardening advice on BBC Radio and judges at Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Tom is also a member of one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Plant Committees.