If you have used Pinterest then you’re probably aware (either completely or subconsciously) that indoor plants are a massively growing trend. They are becoming an essential aspect of interior design and styling and when you see house plants used as part of home decor it’s easy to see why. We are completely predisposed to liking the appearance of plants and that is, in part, as a result of the benefits we gain from them.
Plants are good for you both physically and mentally. This is a scientifically proven truth that, let’s face it, we all knew already. Indoor plants purify the air in our homes which can become slightly toxic with plastics, furniture, paint and detergents among some of the things that emit harmful substances. We also benefit from the increased level of humidity a plant provides, which helps with dry skin and sore throats.
The mental benefits are largely as a result of the physical ones. We feel less anxious if we know we are healthier. The increase in oxygen also helps to reduce anxiety.
There is a whole post just on the subject of the health benefits from plants, but the main aim of this one is to introduce the best plants for the job, both visually and through their health benefits.
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Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)
I start with this plant because it is my favourite, and the first we bought for our current home. It is obvious why these plants are popular, with their large, structural leaves and the fact that they are very difficult to maltreat. IKEA have even brought out a poster in celebration of the plant that you can see in my post 12 IKEA products you don’t need to hack.
The Monstera Deliciosa is more beneficial to mental wellbeing than physical and that is down to it’s aesthetics. The size of the plant helps give an instant visual impact and this can grow as big as you want it to, dependent on pot size. That being said, they do still do a decent job of improving air quality, just not as good as some of the others on this list.
This plant only needs watering every week. If you put your finger in to the soil and the first inch is dry, water it! They don’t need a lot of light, so they are good for darker rooms.
Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plant)
The Snake Plant is one of the best house plants you can buy to help purify the air so you might like to pair this with the Monstera, especially as it needs minimal light too. It also only needs feeding and watering every month; you should actually let the soil dry out between waterings. House plants are easy, right!?
The Snake Plant is ideal for a bedroom as it is able to convert CO2 to Oxygen at night (most plants do this during the day). If you can line up a few of these on your chest of drawers then you’ve got your own oxygen production site!
Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree)
This one has been an interior design favourite for a while, and it’s easy to see why. It has large, textured leaves and can grow quite tall, giving a bit of height structure to your interior (structuring your interior styling is something I will touch on in a later post). I’ve always loved the idea of having a tree indoors and this is an ideal plant to achieve that.
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a good producer of oxygen and adept at removing allergens from the air. It is another fairly low maintenance plant; water if the first inch of soil is dry. Use a fertiliser once a month unless it’s winter. They do need a fairly light position, although not direct sunlight.
Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens (Areca Palm)
Another quite dramatic, architectural plant; the Areca Palm is on a par with the Snake Plant when it comes to air purification. It is also an especially good humidifier. As demonstrated in the photo above, this plant would work well in a bathroom, overhanging the bath.
The Areca Palm is another low-light plant, but needs a little (seriously, only a teeny bit) more attention when it comes to watering. Make sure the soil is kept moist in Spring and Summer, but allow it to dry out between watering in Autumn and Winter. Use a time-release fertiliser once in the Spring.
When I think of succulents I generally imagine quite small plants either planted singularly in nice ceramic pots or in groupings of different varieties. These little guys are great for small spaces or a space-saving vertical garden. The fact that you can group several of them together within a small space gives you the ability to create variety which is just as aesthetically appealing as the plants themselves.
Succulents are probably the hardest of the lot to look after. This might not be the same as advice you’ve been given before, but ultimately it is to do with the fact that they are generally outdoor plants. For in-depth information on growing succulents indoors I would rather point you to Cassidy Tuttle at Succulents & Sunshine. She has a great website dedicated to the subject and you will definitely find the information you need there.
In short, growing Succulents indoors requires a lot of light, a careful watering program and the right, free draining containers. Also you need to use a Succulent and Cactus soil which you can get from your garden centre.
Visually, small Succulents work really well on your home office desk, on your kitchen worktop or on shelving as long as their requirements are met. If you do use them as small, individual plants then the health benefits from air purification will be minimal. Obviously if you create a vertical garden then this would be much better, but the visual stimulation will be a big factor in improving mental wellbeing.
The Snake Plant is actually within the Succulent family, I just singled it out for it’s looks and air purification abilities.
Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant)
I wouldn’t be surprised if most people have owned one of these at some point in their lives (whoops, there goes another…etc). I think the key to a Rubber Plant is really nurturing it to grow into a tree to create that lovely sculptural piece that will impress all those other people who threw theirs away a decade ago. In that respect it is similar to the Fiddle Leaf Fig, but much less expensive (shhh!).
Rubber plants are another of the air purifying avengers. It likes a bright position and, like most indoor plants, watering when the soil dries out a little. To keep up it’s usually quite rapid growth you need to re-pot it once the roots start to come out the bottom of the pot. You only need to increase the pot size by an inch or so.
If you give it a bit of love this plant will reward you with dark green charm for many years.
OK, I’ve made quite a general category here but the idea is that hanging plants can add a whole new dimension to your styling structure. Added to that the huge variety of plants you can use as hanging plants, there will be something that will work with your interior. My favourites are String of Pearls, English Ivy and Boston Fern but you could also go for a Pothos or Hoya Obovata.
You can also get creative with the hanging basket itself. Perhaps a glass or white ceramic bowl held up by a macramé plant hanger.
These plants all have slightly differing care requirements so I will outline them in list form for ease:
- String of Pearls: They are succulents so check out the advice given there. They do like bright areas best.
- English Ivy: Use the old one inch of dry soil technique. Fertilise monthly, except in Winter. They like well draining soil and bright areas.
- Boston Fern: Ferns like this like humidity, so this may work best in a bathroom. They like a bit of light and for the soil to be kept damp. Fertilise sparingly.
- Pothos: Very easy! They like a wide range of soils, light and watering so you’d be hard pushed to kill this plant. Just don’t completely forget about it!
- Hoya Obovata: This is quite hardy and will tolerate medium light. It likes to dry out between waterings. Fertilise monthly, except in Winter.
These prickly blighters seem to come in and out of fashion like nobody’s business. Right now there is a big upturn in popularity for them. Probably Pinterest related, yeah, definitely Pinterest related. Like Succulents, there is so much variety within the Cactus family and they offer amazingly structural additions to you decor. I really like larger Cactus plants for a bit of impact.
These plants are also similar to Succulents in that they will not give you so much of the air purifying benefits, they are another visually beneficial plant. People have even been known to befriend their Cactus (who would do such a thing!?).
I might actually write another post on the subject of Cactii as I believe they are so beneficial to mental wellbeing as well as your decor.
To look after your Cactus you need to be mindful of watering. Let the soil dry out between waterings and be aware that they do not need as much during the Winter. You should be using a special Cactus soil which you will be able to get from your garden centre. Fertilise sparingly and keep in a bright place, but not in direct sun if they are small.
Some General Advice
With all of these plants it is a good idea to do a bit of regular maintenance to keep there appearance spotless. Give the leaves a wipe down monthly to allow them to breathe, especially the larger-leafed ones. A misting spray of water is also a good idea, but don’t be too precious about it, just now and then. Keep an eye out for pests as these will quickly ruin your plant if left unchecked.
Some of these plants may not be suitable if you have pets or children that might, unexpectedly take a bite out of them (We’re parents, we know the deal!). Just check when you are buying your plants about this as it varies by varieties.
Get Stuck In!
I always think of indoor plants as the beginner’s garden. There are far fewer things that can go wrong indoors than outdoors and as long as you choose plants that are suitable as house plants then you should be fine.
This is your chance to be green fingered! Why not get stuck in and really make it one of your passions. Grow that Cactus from a tiddler to a titan! Impress your friends with the length of your String of Pearls!