Looking After House Plants
Keep your indoor
plants healthy and happy with our easy-to-follow growing
range of houseplants has been carefully selected to
ensure that there’s something for everyone. So,
whatever style you’re looking for, whatever the
conditions in your home, we’ve got the plant for
you. Below, we’ve got advice on making the right
plant choice, and ensuring that it thrives for years
First things first: apart from looking good, what do
you want from your houseplant?
Time: if you don’t have much to spare,
avoid plants that require daily care.
Try: spider plant, weeping fig, mother-in-law’s
tongue or false aralia for starters.
Health: some plants will clean the air of pollutants,
worth considering if you’re a city dweller.
Try: spider plant, weeping fig, rubber plant,
Permanence: do you want a burst of seasonal flowers
or a long-lasting foliage display?
Flowers, try: azaleas, chrysanthemums.
Dramatic foliage, try: king begonia, peacock
plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, Madagascar dragon
tree, devil’s ivy.
BEFORE deciding on a particular house plant it’s
important to fix on where you’re going to put
it, and what the conditions are in that spot. Consider:
Natural light: you’re spoilt for choice
with a bright spot, less so with a shady one.
For moderately shady spots, try: peacock plant.
Direct sun: this is to be avoided. The sun can
scorch leaves, and the heat will make the plant flop.
For a spot that receives some direct sun, try:
Chrysanthemums, good luck tree, mother-in-law’s
tongue, parasol plant.
Humidity: most plants are happy in moderately
humid conditions, but bathrooms can be damp; small,
centrally heated rooms can be very dry.
For your bathroom, try: peacock plant, spider
plant, good luck tree.
For a small, centrally heated room, try: mother-in-law’s
Draughts: avoid these: generally, plants benefit
from a steady, mild temperature.
Space: if limited, avoid plants with spikes or
dangling stems, choose varieties that have a compact
Try: azalea, chrysanthemum, king begonia, asparagus
AFTER your plant arrives let it settle in: it may lose
some leaves as it adjusts to conditions. If it has one
source of light, turn the plant regularly to prevent
it growing in only one direction. Occasionally wipe
its leaves with a damp cloth.
· Place your plant pot in a saucer to avoid staining
· Water the plant when the compost surface is no longer
moist – test it with your finger. NB. Some plants
require their compost to be kept moist but not soaking.
These are: azalea, chrysanthemum, peacock plant, spider
plant, umbrella plant, devil’s ivy.
· Most are happy to be watered from the top, but if
the pot is small, fill the saucer with water and let
the compost soak it up.
· Don’t let plants stand in water; if necessary,
tip away the excess from the saucer.
· Don’t overwater your plant.
· If your plant dries out and flops, submerge the entire
pot (but not the plant) in water and hold it there until
air bubbles cease from rising to the surface.
Like watering, you can under- and overfeed a plant so,
whether you choose a liquid or slow-release fertilizer,
make sure you follow the instructions on the packet.
You’ll probably need to repot your house plant
after two or three years. To find out whether it’s
time, take a look at the bottom of the pot: are roots
coming through the hole? If you’re still uncertain,
gently ease the plant out of its pot. Are the roots
beginning to appear through the compost? If the answer
to either of these questions is yes, here’s what
1. Buy a pot that’s one size bigger, and some
fresh house plant compost.
2. Pour a little compost into the base of the pot.
3. Ease your plant out of its original pot and place
it so that the rootball is about an inch below the top
of its new pot, adding more compost to the bottom if
4. Fill with compost, and tamp it down with your hand.
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com