Whether it’s falling in love with a greenery-filled home, are wanting to spruce up your space or the fact you just want to brighten up your work desk a little more, we all have our reasons for bringing indoor plants into our lives. Keeping them alive is another story!
If you weren’t born with a green thumb and have been prone to killing even the hardiest of cacti in the past, then you’ll be happy to hear that there is a way to keep plants in your home thriving.
“There are so many reasons for having plants in your home. Not only do they purify the air we breathe, but they also bring a sense of life indoors. When it comes to styling your home, plants make affordable pieces that evolve and ground themselves in your home,” says Jason Chongue, architect, interior designer and co-founder of The Plant Society.
So before you start introducing some new green friends into your home, read this guide first, on how to care for indoor plants.
What are the major considerations when it comes to what indoor plants to introduce into one’s home?
“If you are living in an apartment or small space, gardening in small spaces can instantly bring life to your urban environment. Before you head out to your local nursery it is important to plan.
My tips for small space gardening are:
- Observe the light on offer in the location you are wanting to grow your plants. Always think about the intensity and duration of the light on offer.
- Be honest with the amount of care and conditions the plants will receive. If you receive harsh lighting on a balcony, you may want to consider drought tolerant plants such as Olive tree (Olea europaea) and Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe).
- Try not to overcrowd small spaces with too many plant types. In small spaces choose two to five species and repeat these in your space.
- Play with texture. Use simple flat foliage with heavily textured fine foliage. Using plants like Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa) and Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis) can create interest and depth.
- Always cluster plants in odd numbers with a range of sizes and heights.”
How much light do indoor plants actually need?
“The amount of natural light each plant requires will be dependent on where the plant originated from. It is always good to research whether a plant naturally grows in an arid, tropical or even Mediterranean environment and try to match this with conditions in your home. If you find you don’t have similar conditions, it would be better to choose plants that will thrive in your conditions.”
“What are some of the easiest indoor plants to care for those who are beginners?
Indoor plants I’d recommend to those starting out I’ve nicknamed ‘Ice breaker’ plants. These are Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). These plants can adapt to a range of lighting levels and even teach you how to garden.”
What are some of the hardier plants to own if someone has not had much luck with keeping plants alive in the past?
“This will be dependent on the natural lighting conditions on hand but much like a beginner gardener try Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) indoors and if you’re wanting hardy plants for outdoors explore using cacti and succulents.”
What are some of the big mistakes people often make when it comes to caring for indoor plants?
“New plant enthusiasts often choose a plant purely on aesthetic rather than by the natural light they require. It is important to assess the natural light on offer in your space and select a plant accordingly. When it comes to plants, they all have different requirements, if you can best match the plant to the light conditions in your home then you will be off to a good start.
Secondly poor-quality potting mix can lead to a range of watering problems. Always use a premium grade potting mx so that your plants have a good balance and source of nutrients.”
What are the basics when it comes to keeping indoor plants alive and thriving?
“When it comes to indoor plants the best advice is to ensure you nurture your plants regularly. Choose a day of the week when you aren’t typically busy and spend this time checking the soil and foliage of all your plants. This will help you understand if they require watering or specific care. Make sure to also observe under the foliage to monitor any pests which might have made themselves at home.”
How can you tell when a plant needs watering and when to leave it alone?
“Make sure to water your plants regularly. The best way to check if your plants are ready for a water, is to use your finger to check that the top inch of soil mixture is dry before watering. If it feels dry, it’s time for a water.
In the warmer months your plants will require adequate watering to sustain them through the warmer weather. In the cooler months, your plants require less water. Make sure to ease up on watering, by watering less frequently.
Don’t allow your plants to sit in water as this can lead to root rot.”
How long do indoor plants generally last?
“With the right care, plants can outlive us. I’ve had many plants passed on to me and have many plants I started growing when I was 10. Some plants have a shorter life span however some plants can live long lives.”