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How to select and care for houseplants

In CategoryLorna Sinnamon
ByLorna Sinnamon

House plants in the home not only add to the overall look and feel of your home they can also have many benefits that we might not realise.

Choosing plants.

There is a lot of choice in garden centres  and supermarkets so how can you choose the right plant for you and your space. Here are few questions to ask yourself when selecting a plant.


Do I want the plant to look good all year round?

Chose foliage plants if you are looking for a year round display, plants such as ferns and palms do well. If you are looking for something just to bring a little colour for a short period orchids and bromeliads are easily available.


How much time do I have to look after my plants?

If you live a busy 24/7 lifestyle easy care is a must, Mother in laws tongue and succulents are good choices.


Where will the plant be placed?

Think about what room it is for, somewhere with high humidity like a bathroom would suit a croton, where as a shady room would be ideal for the double z plant.


What do plants need?

Plants have 6 basic requirements, and if you get these all in balance then your plant will thrive.








If your plant starts to look poorly you should check you are getting these right first.


Plants for a specific purpose.

Purifying air,

Plants are natural air purifiers and can absorb chemicals from the air such as formaldehyde and benzene that are released from things like paint, cigarettes and solvents.

Some of the top air purifying plants are

Mother in laws tongue

Peace lily

Spider plants


Reduce stress

Many studies show that if you have plants on or near your desk at work can reduce stress and improve productivity, some have even shown that they can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory problems.


Aid sleep

Certain plants in your bedroom such as Jasmine and Lavender can have a gentle soothing effect at bedtime.


Improve mood and wellbeing

Plants stimulate all our senses with bright flowers, colourful foliage, beautiful scent and velvety leaves, a plant creates an inviting and welcoming space to be in, looking after nurturing your plants and watching them grow can be very rewarding.


Caring for your plants.

Watering there is no rule for watering  house plants, some like lots others like hardly any and this is where most people go wrong, you want to see your plant grow so you water and water and then end up with a dead plant, this is where it is important that you do a little research and look at how the plant would grow naturally and try to adapt your watering schedule accordingly, a desert plant like a cactus should not need more than a few spoons of water through the summer and virtually nothing over winter.


Feeding, It’s always good to give your plants a little boost especially over their growing period of spring and summer, but don’t over do it, too much can burn the plant as it will not be able to process the nutrients quick enough, every couple of weeks is usually enough but always follow the directions.


Position, make sure your plant is in the right position most houseplants dislike direct sunlight but they all require some natural light so rooms without windows and hallways can be challenging for plants. Think about temperature too, most house plants require an even constant temperature, central heating and air conditioning blasting on a plant can have a negative effect. Make sure your plants have enough space to grow if they are constantly being brushed by people and pets the leaves can become damaged and unsightly.

Cleaning and dusting, it is really important to keep your plants clean and dust free,plants have small pores on their leaves that they ‘breathe’ through so it’s important to keep these clear,  and is simply done with a damp lint free cloth, it’s an activity that is often neglected but very satisfying to do.


Growing Media, make sure that your plants are growing in the correct type of soil, a succulent such as a money plant will need a free draining compost and will rot away if planted in a water retaining multi purpose type compost, again a little research will help you find the right mix. Hydroponic ways of growing are becoming popular and this has a lot of benefits of being able to know the amount of water and nutrients your plants are receiving, as they are grown without soil they are much cleaner.


Now that you have been looking after your house plants and they are growing you could be faced with the problem that they are getting too big, it’s really easy to pot them on into larger pots, or you may want to think about dividing them up into smaller plants that you will be able to pass on to friends and family.

If you’re feeling adventurous you may want to start propagating your favourite house plants, Geraniums for example can be grown easily from cuttings that can be taken in spring and by summer you will have an established plant, Mother in laws tongue can be propagated by cutting off the tip and placing that in a  pot of loose compost, begonia rex, can be propagated by leaf cutting, with a tradescantia you can cut off the shoots and leave these in a glass of water for a couple of weeks until they sprout roots which can then be transplanted into pots, the spider plant and probably the easiest of all produces little plantlets than can be easily removed  placed in a pot and then grown on.


All you really need to get started with your house plants is a little knowledge, a little time for their care and some patience, remember there will be casualties along the way but that may be because they are just not suited to the environment and not through anything you are doing wrong, try again with a different plant.


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