Growing houseplants has never been more popular and with an ever-increasing range of exciting plants now readily available it’s easy to see why.
Inspired by a new wave of houseplant horticulturalists, many of us are attempting to create our own Instagram-able interiorscapes that make plants – and lots of them – an integral part of how we decorate our homes.
Yet, growing houseplants is hard. Homes are not always hospitable places for plants to grow and low light-levels, low-humidity and fluctuating temperatures only serve to make the challenge even harder.
Luckily, we have a Gift Shop stocked full with suitable plants and the Garden Team are on hand with all the advice you need to make the most of your new botanical bounty. Follow these few basic principles and you’ll have happy houseplants all year round.
Right Plant, Right Place
Your home will have many different growing environments within it, all depending upon how big your windows are or which way they face, and how often you turn on the central heating.
South and west facing windows will get the most sun and will provide lots of bright, direct light. These are ideal conditions for sun-loving cacti and succulents like Echeveria or Agave.
Conversely, north and east facing windows get less sun so should be used for things which prefer indirect light such as spider plants, African violets or the brilliantly holey swiss cheese plant.
Really dark corners away from windows altogether should be reserved for tough-as-old-boots plants. Try the cast iron plant, ivy or the Indian rubber tree for spots where almost nothing else will grow.
Radiators produce lots of dry, inconsistent heat and should really be avoided where possible. Likewise, positions in a draft, such as opposite a front or back door, that will leave plants exposed to regular blasts of cold air.
Bathrooms, however, are usually nice and warm and humid, so are ideal for moisture loving plants like ferns and clubmosses that need humid air to thrive. The Boston fern is a popular, easy-to-grow favorite, or you could try the epiphytic staghorn fern for something really special.
Keep it Simple Stupid
Garden centres are filled with all manner of weird and wonderful items to satisfy the booming interest in growing plants at home, from terrariums to antique style misters.
But there’s still no substitute for well grown plants and you won’t need any expensive equipment you can’t find in your garden shed already.
Ostentatious pots and accessories can detract from the plant itself. Keep it simple and make an impact with healthy, specimen plants displayed in a way that suit their preferred growing conditions and needs.
Thriller, Filler, Spiller
Grouping plants together, either in a single or separate pots, is a great way to give your houseplant collection that WOW factor.
Remember to pair plants together that enjoy growing in the same conditions and use the thriller, filler, spiller principal to ensure the display appears balanced and considered.
Thrillers should be tall, architectural plants with good evergreen structure like the Madagascan dragon tree, or have colourful spectacular flowers like the bird of paradise.
Fillers are shorter and frothier in appearance giving good, solid year-round coverage and filling the spaces around your taller, focal-point plant. Spider plants, peperomias and begonias will do a good job at this.
Spillers live at the edges of pots, tumbling and trailing down the sides. Consider the heart-leafed Philodendron, or the wax plant which produces clusters of highly-scented, white star-shaped flowers from late-spring all they way through until autumn.
Tender Love and Care
As with all plants watering is key; too little and your plants will wilt, too much and their roots will rot.
As a rule of thumb water freely whilst your plant is in full growth through the spring and summer, giving them a drink when the surface of the compost starts to dry out – about once or twice a week.
Water less frequently in the winter – about once every one or two weeks from November to February will usually do the trick.
Cacti and succulents will need less and tropical species may need more, whilst humidity lovers like orchids and air plants will need spraying with water on a daily basis.
Feeding is important too, especially if your plants are left in the same pot for long periods of time. Feed every couple of weeks with a balanced feed for plants where lush-green foliage is desired, and a low-nitrogen feed for cacti, succulents and orchids.
Finally, you should keep checking your plants for common, indoor pests like aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects. If you check regularly, most infestations will be easily picked off by hand, but for those that aren’t, spray several times with a weak dilution of water and washing-up liquid.