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A simple guide to houseplants
  • Houseplants: what to choose and how to look after them

    It’s no coincidence that houseplants are one of the most popular housewarming gifts out there. Plants help make your house a home by helping it look better and feel better. No home should be without one.

    Why are plants good for us?

    Put quite simply, plants improve the air quality of our homes. People breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants do the opposite, which is why people and plants make the perfect housemates. Our green leafed friends also help to keep humidity to a healthy level, especially in modern homes which are often designed to keep air trapped inside.

    Plants also have a less scientific, but equally valid, reason for making us feel good. Having pot plants near us where we live and work has been proven to reduce stress levels and make us feel happier. That might be down to our human need to nurture things, or just that what looks great makes us feel great too. Whatever the reason, it’s worth spending a few pounds on a pot plant to find it.

    Houseplants: what to choose and how to look after them

    I’m no gardener, where should I start?

    Some houseplants are tricky, but the majority are very easy to look after – some even actively thrive on a bit of neglect. Even if they only last six months under your care, that’s still much better value than buying cut flowers every week.

    If you’re a houseplant novice the best place to start is with an Aspidistra. These upright plants, with big glossy leaves, have been popular in British homes since Victorian times. They have a reputation for being almost impossible to kill, so they’re a great place to start. They don’t like direct sunlight, which makes them an ideal way to brighten dark, dull corners of the home.

    Another great choice for the novice is a Yucca. This is a wonderfully architectural plant, with long branches and bright, spiky leaves. It’s very easy to care for – simply place in a sunny position and keep well-watered in summer.

    What’s the best plant for improving air quality?

    If you want to maximise the air-cleaning benefits of plants, then choose a Monstera (also known as a swiss cheese plant). These lush plants, with large leaves, will bring a hint of the rainforest to an ordinary home. They’re a classic, easy to grow houseplant that works perfectly with the trend for green, tropical interiors.

    Another great choice is the classic Parlour Palm, a bushy plant with lots of thin, feathery leaves. It’s a tough little plant that will work hard for you – improving the air quality, whilst withstanding a lot of neglect! It’s happy in light or shade, and needs only minimal watering.

    Houseplants: what to choose and how to look after them

    Be on-trend with a succulent  

    Succulents, like cacti, are designed to survive in hot, dry conditions. They store water in their leaves and stems, giving them a plump, exotic look. They’re generally more compact than big, leafy houseplants – which makes them perfect for small spaces. Choose on-trend concrete pots. 

    Although they store water in their leaves, they do still require watering in spring and summer. Always allow the soil in the pot to dry out between watering. Ease off the watering during autumn and winter to give your succulents a period a rest.

    Go retro with a hanging houseplant

    This is one trend lots of people were happy to leave behind in the 1970s. Well, it’s back and they’re everywhere. Choose a macramé plant hanger and a trailing houseplant ­– the classic spider plant is the perfect choice. It’s easy to care for – just keep out of direct sun and give it plenty of water in warmer weather. If you don’t want to hang your plant, try placing it on a high shelf and watch it grow downwards.

    Don’t be afraid to make friends with a plant – with just a tiny bit love they’ll give you so much joy in return!

     

     

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    • Nov 18, 2017

      Some great advice on plants

      — Denise Walton

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