I love having the odd houseplant scattered around, but traditionally I’ve never been very good at keeping plants alive. Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to get better at being a Plant Parent and at choosing a good fit for house plants that I can manage to look after. I thought it time to share my expertise and share the best tips I know for deciding on what type of plant will work for you.
1. Consider Your Space.
Consider where plants could feature in your home before anything else.
If you don’t get much natural light, choose low light plants. If you get lots, then think about leafier, succulent-type plants (especially if you have a conservatory – they love humidity). Homes with lots of windows are great for flowering bushes, like miniature rose plants and orchids – those without are more favourable for prayer plants and other leafy variations.
Temperature and space are other important factors! Make sure you have space for your plant to grow, and somewhere to move it to if it gets too big.
2. Check your Schedule.
If you’re away often, avoid high maintenence plants which need daily watering. Cacti, aloe vera and other succulents are really good choices. They are also famed for their air purification qualities, meaning they’re great for city homes!
If you’re forgetful, then perhaps a hardier critter is better suited to you – then work forwards from there. I started out with Basil (super hardy) and a couple of succulents, then introduced needier plants. My house is like the Royal Flower Show now.
In general I’d say if you’re not familiar with plants then still start small. They need much more care than just watering.
3. Get to Know your Plant.
Once you’ve decided on what to get then research that type of plant in detail. Read some forums, perhaps order a guidebook from the RHS or email them for more information. This will give you an in depth idea of what your plant needs, how to help it thrive and how to spot disaster signs. Things like pruning, re-potting and pest control are really important!
This research is also handy because some plants are bad for allergies, whilst others cannot be grown nearby one another – and many other unexpected oddities.
4. First time? Go Pro.
If you’ve never really cared for houseplants before, and want to start off on a good footing then I’d recommend getting your plant from a nursery or specialist garden center. Don’t get them from supermarkets – you won’t get the expertise, and often the soil quality isn’t great so the plants usually struggle to thrive. Buying from an expert might be a little more costly, but usually you end up with a far healthier plant and get to ask some questions with a chance of a proper answer!
Still not sure? Choose a Flowering Cactus. They’re easy to care for and I have (many times) successfully revived them from the dead. They need watering about once a fortnight (or whenever you remember) and mine blooms twice a year – sometimes a fiery, intense orange, other times a decadent, jewel-like purple. She’s due to bloom any day now.
Do you love to surround yourself with plants? What would you say is the best advice for home garden newbies?