With the rise in popularity of house plants over the last few years, it’s difficult to even remember what life was like with just the one sad plastic faux from IKEA plonked on a windowsill. Even faux plants have come a long way since then.
The benefits of owning real life house plants can not be beaten though. They give us all of the biophilc feels that the faux’s simply cannot. The health and wellbeing benefits from keeping living plants are endless too; when used in a bedroom they can lower your blood pressure and help you to sleep better, and having a house plant on your desk can improve concentration and even increase your levels productivity.
“What about those of us that just don’t have the time to care for house plants but still want to feel connected to nature?”
Our house plants are probably one of the things that I get asked the most about on my Instagram account, second only to the garden of course. I’m not going to lie to you, they are a big commitment, especially during a hot summer like the one we’ve just had. You feel like you’re constantly watering them and on an ongoing death patrol, as some of the needier plants (yes Boston ferns, I’m looking at you), will wilt and die the minute your back’s turned.
I’m lucky enough to be able to work part time now, along with looking after our son Finn, but if I was working full time and out of the house all day I would not be able to keep on top of maintaining the home jungle that I’ve created. That’s not to say that the self confessed grim reapers of all house plants can not reap the benefits of having real plants in their homes though.
“You don’t need to give up on house plants all together, you just need to find the right ones for you.”
To help, I’ve compiled a list of five of the most indestructible house plants that I’ve found over the last three years of adding to our plant collection – saving you the time and the £££’s as plants can be pricy. They’re a great starting point if you’re new to caring for house plants or just too busy to waste time on flakey ferns.
So here they are :
- 1 ) The sanservaria, otherwise known as ‘Snake Plant‘ or ‘Mother-In-Law’s Tongue’ is incredibly hardy and can thrive quite happily on neglect. Similarly to Aloe Vera plants, they release oxygen at night making them a great choice for the bedroom. They can survive with prolonged periods of minimal sunlight so they’re perfect for rooms with limited natural light. They’re super easy to propagate too – just snip off one of the leaves, pop it into some soil and off it grows.
- 2) Monstera plants are adaptable to almost all light conditions, and are somewhat drought tolerant. They will tell you when they’re not happy, which isn’t very often. Yellow leaves are an indication of overwatering or insufficient natural light. Brown, crispy leaves, unsurprisingly, mean they’re thirsty and need more moisture. If you repot them in a pot around 20cm bigger every spring they will continue to produce new leaves and mature into a large, statement plant with beautiful curvaceous leaves, boosting all of those health benefits associated with being visually connected to nature. Their leaves do tend to grow outwards so if you have a smaller space and you want them to grow tall instead of wide, you can attach the stalks to a cane with some florist wire.
- 3) The Spider Plant is one of the most generous of house plants and will continuously offer you free baby plants for life. You can just pick off the babies, put them in water for a couple of days and then stick them into some soil once their roots start to develop. A Spider Plant was one of the first houseplants that I bought for our home, and that very plant has produced at least six plant babies that are all thriving in the many varying conditions of our house; from direct sun to dark shady corners. Water your Spider Plant when the top 2-inches of soil are dry (which will vary depending on the position and the time of year) and it will be happy as Larry.
- 4) ‘Devils Ivy‘ or ‘Money Plants‘ are lush, leafy climbers – our house is full of them. They’re infamous for their rapid growth and tolerance of low light. They’re a very cost effective way to create the impact of a green wall without the hefty price tag, and the time commitments involved with maintaining them. We’ve used them as climbers in our kitchen and also as hanging plants that wrap around our wooden beams. It’s taken five plants, and two years of growth for us to achieve the feeling of being completely immersed in nature in our garden room. It’s almost like sitting underneath a veranda, which is exactly the feeling we wanted to create. They’re also really easy to propagate and will increase the levels of moisture and humidity in dry environments – elevating symptoms such as dry itchy eyes and irritated sinuses caused by allergies.
- 5) Aspidistra Elatior as they’re scientifically known or ‘Cast Iron Plants‘ – a nickname they’ve earned from being virtually indestructible, are tolerant of minimal natural light. We’ve had one on our dark landing for a couple of years now. It’ll forgive irregular watering and add that tropical feel to even the darkest of spaces. If you can’t keep this guy alive then it’s time to admit defeat and go faux.
All house plants will love you if you keep their leaves free from dust and give them the occasional mist. I like to give my son an old paint brush and a spray bottle and get him to work…it’s about time he started to earn his keep, and getting children involved in caring for plants is a great way to develop their caring and nurturing skills while giving them a little bit of responsibility around the house.
If you’re still struggling with reading your plants signals, there are great moisture meters on the market that you can stick into the soil and see if they are lacking or drowning in moisture. They might help you to pinpoint the issue if you’re suffering from a bad case of flaccid fiddle leaf, but they won’t help you to keep on top of the watering, so set a reminder on your phone if you need to.
All house plants will come with care instructions but the main rule of thumb is to water them once a week, if you stick your finger into the soil and it feels dry then water it. Poor water until you start to see it trickle out of the bottom of the pot and then stop so that you don’t flood the roots.
Most plants like to be positioned close to natural light, but not in direct sun.
I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love you to let me know in the comments if you have taken your first steps into becoming plant parents and hopefully your confidence will continue to grow along with your collection.
For more plant care tips and advice on how to introduce biophilic design principles into your home or workspace, you can read Marianna’s new book ‘At Home with Nature‘.