From the health benefits like improved air quality to a desire to be closer to nature, right through to pure aesthetics, turning your home into an indoor jungle has taken root as a top interior trend for the last five years. But unless you’re a budding horticultural enthusiast, getting to know your fiddle leaf figs from your variegated monstera can be enough to turn you off getting started with houseplants.
Instead of skipping straight to artificial greenery, follow our seven tips, and you’ll be on your way to a fully-fledged green thumb in no time!
1. What kind of plant parent are you?
Are you a neglectful plant parent that won’t keep up with the demanding daily watering needs of plants like the delicate maidenhair fern, or simply won’t have the time? Before hitting the gardening centre, look at your indoor plant history. If you’re relatively new to the houseplant game, it’s often best to start your collection with hardy, lower-maintenance indoor plants like the Sansevieria (also known as a snake plant). Once you’ve aced those and proven yourself a doting plant parent, work your way up to more challenging additions like a string of pearls or Boston fern.
Ready to grow your plant babe collection? Try a monthly plant subscription or gift one to a friend.
2. Let the light in
We all remember learning about photosynthesis in school biology, don’t we? While all plants need sunlight to survive, some will love bathing in direct sunlight, while others prefer more muted exposure. It’s best to think about the location you’re buying a plant for first and choose something appropriate, rather than falling in love with a lush aloe vera only to realise it won’t survive in your windowless bathroom.
3. Pot talk
The pot itself and the potting mix can play a huge role in whether your houseplant thrives or falls flat. There are plenty of cute and wallet-friendly options when it comes to pot aesthetics; however, most plants need good drainage, so either select something that comes with drainage holes and a saucer, or you may need to use a plastic pot liner to stop your plant babe from drowning.
When it comes to potting mix, the options can be overwhelming – from specialised blends with pumice and composted bark to slow-release fertilisers included and even plant-specific soils. Choose a good general indoor potting mix, and don’t overthink it.
4. Water well
Over-watering and under-watering are the most common issues faced by newbie plant parents. So how often should you water your indoor plants? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer because all plants have different needs (just like us), but there is a simple way to find out. To test if there’s enough moisture in the soil, plunge your index finger in (up to your second knuckle) and see if it comes out dry or damp. If it’s dry, it’s time to water; if it’s moist, leave it for now and repeat in a week. If you want to take the guesswork out, invest in a moisture metre and wonder no more!
When you’ve had enough of splashing water all over your desk, vanity or shelf, invest in a specialised indoor watering can. They look good on your shelf and are perfect for delivering water just where it’s needed.
5. Don’t forget the food
While houseplants can survive without feeding, it’s the secret to those enviable lush and healthy plants that shoot up quickly. Although water is their main source of goodness and soil provides other nutrients, small pots can mean the soil soon becomes depleted – particularly over the peak growing seasons of spring and summer. It’s during this time that specialised indoor plant fertiliser should be added – and only during every second watering.
6. Plants, not pests
Often overlooked as a plant parent’s responsibility until they arise, unwanted insects like scale and mealy bugs are a real threat. To keep them in check, give leaves an occasional wipe with a soft damp cloth (water only), and spray with specialised insect control solutions when necessary. It’s best to quickly get on top of any pests before they spread throughout your indoor jungle.
7. Houseplants with a twist
If you need your indoor plants to work harder, shift your selection to herbs like basil, mint, oregano, chives and even spring onions. You’ll get all the benefits of standard indoor houseplants and be able to eat them too!
And if your green thumb’s not entirely up to scratch, remember you can always fake it – while you won’t get the air-purifying qualities of the real deal, artificial plants can deliver aesthetics in spades.
Let the jungle in!
Adorning your home with soothing indoor greenery doesn’t need to be complicated. Start simply, grow your confidence, and then grow your collection.