Recently I read one of those “5 surprising habits of happy people” type articles, and one of the five “happy habits” was keeping plants in your home. No real surprises there, of course. Plants are good for your physical and psychological health: they filter and purify the air inside your home, they give you something (low maintenance) to care for, and they make your home look and feel lovely!
I know the trend is all for succulents and and their cacti cousins these days but, actually, most succulents need full sunlight, or at least more sunlight than the average room can give them. They are happiest outdoors. But there are plenty of other plants that love the partial-shade atmosphere you can give them in your home. They will survive and thrive, and help make you happy in the process.
I've taken the camera for a walk around my house and here are seven of my favourite indoor plants. So far I have failed to kill them which is an excellent indication of their hardiness!
↑↑ Fittonia: It has stunning, patterned leaves and gorgeous green “blooms.” It grows gently and sways and thickens beautifully. I have a couple of these, one propped up on an upturned cup inside a tall, narrow vase; and the other in a repurposed stationery holder beside my bed, to make the air sweet for me as I sleep. Where to put it: grow in a warm, humid position with indirect light
↑↑ Super Atom: This plant has glossy, lovely, fat leaves. Do you remember the old “elephant ear” plants we all had around the house when we were kids? Imagine a miniature version with leaves in the same shape, but without the “shredded” look of the elephant ears. That’s not describing it very well. Just look at the photograph above (it’s the one in the apricot planter). Where to put it: ideal for well-lit areas indoors
↑↑ Magic Bean: (It's the one on the right, in the gold pot). How great is the name of this plant! I love it when people who name plants have imaginations and childhoods and they combine the two for the joy of the rest of us. Also, the bean-like thingumies at the base of this plant that clearly gave it its name are quirky and pretty and fun! The rest of the plant is like a rainforest canopy, if you happen to be the size of an elf or fairy. Where to put it: tolerates low, filtered light OR full sun
↑↑ Zanzibar Gem: I love the look of this baby. It’s so glossy and dramatic it doesn’t quite look real. Sometimes when Scout is playing she likes to pretend she’s going to “The Lost City,” and I think when she gets there she will find lots of Zanzibar Gems. Apparently, this plant also “thrives on neglect” when grown indoors, and is almost impossible to kill. Where to put it: just about anywhere. It will tolerate low light and cope when you forget to water it (I don't have a pretty pot for mine yet so it's just on the floor)
↑↑ Sago Palm: Beautiful little fronds curl out from the centre of this palm, a bit like a fern. I like how compact and “designed” it looks, quite classy and predictable (at least my little one is). On the other hand, according to my mother (who knows pretty much everything there is to know about plants) the leaves can be toxic so keep it up high if you have babies in the house. Mine is on the hearth. Where to put it: tolerates low light
↑↑ Air plants: There are about a million different types of air plants (ok 650), so describing them is pretty tricky. I have some spiked ones and some fluffy ones and a weird curly one (in the little yellow pot next to the Super Atom above) and some clumps of moss. They look pretty in terrariums, and in decorative dishes, vases... just about anything! People say they don’t need watering but you do have to look after them. I give mine a bath by submerging them in water for an hour once a week, and mist them if the weather is particularly hot or dry. Where to put them: a bright room but not in direct sunlight
↑↑ Parlor Palm: The name of this plant is instantly old-school to me. It reeks (the name, not the plant) of Great-Aunt-So-And-So’s sitting room, complete with Iced VoVos and proper teacups in saucers and ceramic ducks on the walls. It’s also graceful and frond-y and looks pretty just about anywhere you choose to place it. Where to put it: anywhere you like, except direct sunlight. Tolerates low-light areas
Some tips about keeping house plants
* If you keep the plants in the plastic pots they come in, that will give you a much wider choice of "pretty pots" to display them in - you don't have to worry about drainage or anything like that. You just slip the plastic pot inside the bigger, pretty one. That also lets you change your mind as many times as you like. If your pretty pot is cloth or porous like some of mine, line it with a plastic bag so it won't be ruined by any moisture
* Rather than walking around the house with a watering can, once a week I take all my plants to the bath or out onto the balcony and give them a big drink together. That way all the water can drain away without risking my floors and furniture. Once the dripping has subsided, just pop them back into their pretty pots
* When I bring each plant back from its bath I try to rotate it around so that different leaves are facing the light. That way it will grow evenly.
* The weekly bath is pretty much all I do for my plants. Apparently some will benefit from liquid fertiliser or something, and I really should read up on that but, generally, if my plants can’t survive with just a watering and a bit of rotation, I don’t have them in the house. I’m busy!
How about you? Are you a plant person? What do you like to grow and what are your top tips?