It’s been a funny old week this week. I know it’s been a difficult year but for some reason, this week hit hard. It was probably the combination of the clocks going back making the evenings darker, the continuous rain, our (3-week-old) car breaking down leaving us to walk in said rain that not even an umbrella could protect us from and no car for the half term. And on top of all that, it looks like we’re all going to be holed up in our homes for the foreseeable future.
At least we’ve seen the return of Strictly and I’ve rediscovered my love of beans on toast with cheese on top. Small mercies.
Anyway, where am I going with this? Oh yes, houseplants! As we are increasingly spending more time indoors, it got me thinking. What makes me happy in my home? What could I improve or do to make my home a sanctuary and a happy place to be during the long winter months?
I love the natural world, I love being outdoors in the countryside or woods so for me it has always got to be houseplants.
On last count I had more than 40 houseplants in my home and rising. I find houseplants a key element when designing a space, not only are they pretty to look at and help brighten your surroundings, they instantly help you to connect with nature. Houseplants can help bring wellbeing to any space, a corner of a room or a shelf!
There is also that nurturing element of houseplants which can be very beneficial to our mental health. Remembering to water them, finding out where their favourite space is and where they thrive and tending to them when they look a little unloved can help lower anxiety, improve attention and benefit your health and wellbeing. Think of how good you feel when you go out for that walk in the park. Like that, but on a smaller scale!
I often get asked what houseplants are best to have in the home so I thought I’d list a few of my favourites here
Easy to care for houseplants
- Spider plant. In my eyes, the easiest of easy plants to keep alive. My first houseplant was a spider plant and it came to me in the form of a “baby”, cut from the mothership and placed in a cup of water. From there it grew and grew. I’ve never managed to kill a spider plant, it can grow pretty much anywhere in the house from dark corners to bright sunlit spots and suffers from few problems. Other than being prolific at reproducing!
- Mother-In-Law’s tongue or Snake Plant. I have a few of these dotted around the house and as they grow so quickly, I’ve had to repot them several times. They come in a huge range of sizes and do not need frequent watering. Perfect for the person that always forgets.
- Peace lily. Another houseplant first for me. When we moved into our first home after moving back from Saudi Arabia, my Mum gave us a peace lily and she absolutely thrived on our kitchen windowsill (the peace lily that is, not my Mum). They love light and humidity and will often bounce back if you forget to water. Although, saying that, my peace lily is the only houseplant I’ve managed to kill! RIP Peace lily.
The Big beasties
- Monstera – the swiss cheese houseplant! It has huge glossy leaves and is a totally tropical houseplant, it derives from the jungle. The reason it has “holes” in its leaves is to let light filter through to the plants below it, a very considerate plant! I must admit, I’ve found our monstera a little hard to handle. It doesn’t like too much water, but does like a lot of light and I have since realised that putting it next to the radiator is a big no no. It likes moist areas so have moved it and started to spray it with water and have invested in a moss post to help it straighten up.
- Fiddle-leaf fig. I love my fiddle leaf fig! Its probably my favourite houseplant in our home and features a lot in my Instagram posts. I can’t tell you why exactly, I love the big leafy greenness of it and get really excited when it produces new leaves! It loves a sunny room, but not near a window (we have ours in our bay window but as we have a huge tree in our front garden, it never gets direct sunlight).It also likes being sprayed with water as it’s leaves are where it absorbs a lot of water.
- Fiddle-leaf fig tree – not to be confused with the fiddle-leaf fig! This is a fig but in tree form, the clue was probably in the name I absolutely love this houseplant but it is very costly. I also think it is quite difficult to look after from all the tales of woe I have seen on Instagram about it dropping its leaves and generally being unhappy. It needs a lot of water in the summer and also likes a bit of mist spray so it is probably similar to looking after a fiddle-leaf fig. It will be one of the first things I buy when we move house!! You can purchase them from www.patchplants.com
- Kentia palm – originally from Australia, I love how this palm gives a tropical vibe in my home. He has moved around my house consistently but has now found his happy place in the corner of our living room, away from the window. Again, he’s a hardy houseplant, I went through a stage of forgetting to water him but after cutting off the dead leaves and giving him a lot of attention, he is now back to his healthy self! Spraying water a few times a week and watering him once a week keeps me in his good books.
- Dracaena houseplant – my poor old dracaena houseplant sits next to my fiddle in the bay window so often gets overlooked. But it stands proud and nothing makes its leaves droop! In fact, it’s very good at telling me when I am overwatering, as its leaves tend to yellow or droop! It loves its spot in the window sill and is probably the least houseplant to grumble in the house.
The trailing houseplants
- Philodendron – another favourite of mine. There are hundreds of different varieties of philodendron, they can either be grown as a trailing houseplant or use a moss pole to let them grow upwards. What I love about this houseplant is the ability to trail it around a room, turning it into a beautiful biophilic corner! It’s easy to do using very small plastic hooks which you can purchase at command.com
- Hoya Carnosa compacta – it’s a bit of a mouthful but I love this houseplant as it is so unusual. It has beautiful compact curly foliage and as it’s a succulent vine, it is very easy to care for. It needs little watering and you can either have it in a hanging plant pot, or train it to grow up a hoop.
- String of pearls – another cascading succulent that is unusual and grows fast. It is also easy to propagate so you can produce many offspring from it. I actually have a faux string of pearls in my house but it’s another plant I am looking to purchase once we move house.
- Aloe vera – succulents are probably the easiest houseplants to look after. They do not need a lot of watering but also do not like the cold so keep them away from drafts. Aloe vera is famous for being able to soothe burns and has been used in countless beauty products so it really is a formidable houseplant.
- Cacti – when people think of cacti, they immediately think the wild west, cowboys and hot desert heat. But this plant is so versatile and comes in all shapes and sizes so is a great houseplant addition as a huge standalone piece or a mini cactus sat on a shelf. They are also extremely easy to look after with little watering needed and lots of sun (OK, maybe not that easy in rain drenched UK).
Where to buy?
It is so easy to purchase a houseplant these days, with all supermarkets selling them, garden centres and now an abundance of online plant shops. Some of my favourite places to buy plants are Lidl, patchplants.com, B&Q, Homebase, The Stem, milaplants.com and some amazing freebies from my Mum!!
So, go and purchase some houseplants! We may not be able to go outside as much but we can easily bring the outside in!