Plants are back in fashion and after years in the interiors wilderness, we’re embracing their many charms again. But they can be tricky souls and we get asked so much about plants and their care in the shop we thought we’d share our top 10 tips on the journal for houseplant heaven.
So, here are some suggestions which include our favourite, easy care options that will green up your space plus advice on caring for them - it's easier than you think!
1) First up- the essentials- all plants need water, warmth, light and food. Different plants do have different needs when it comes to the essentials. The most common reason for a plant dying is over-watering, not underwatering so go easy with the watering can. Roots sitting in water rot and this stops the plant taking in essential nutrients. Very few plants like extremes of temperature, generally a warm place is good but not full sun and out of cold draughts. And no plant can survive in the dark, so a window-less bathroom is a no-no. Food needs differ according to season and how long you’ve had the plant, more in (4) below.
2) Do a little research before buying a plant covering the essentials above. It really does pay off as and you’ll have a good idea of how care for your new plant before you take it home. Search online, ask for advice in the shop where you buy the plant, take recommendations from friends....
3) Choose decorative pots carefully. We’ve already mentioned that over-watering is enemy number one and ensuring good drainage for your plants is key. It’s best to keep plants in the plastic pots you buy them in then place in a decorative container. Traditional clay or ceramic pots with drainage holes in the bottom that sit in a saucer to catch the excess water as it drains through the soil works well, especially if you water plants from the top. For pots without drainage, or other containers such as baskets or material pots, it’s best to remove the plant in its plastic pot and sit in in a sink or basin of water for an hour or so and allow the plants to take up the water it needs, before draining the water and replacing the plant in its decorative pot.
4) Feeding requirements vary according to the plant’s growing cycle and how long you’ve had it. When you first buy your plant, the compost will be fresh and full of nutrients, but a few months on will need a little help. Liquid houseplant food which you dilute in water is the easiest, use every few weeks during the growing season mid-Spring to mid-Autumn, but not in the Winter- just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Our favourite liquid plant food is Sprout Organic Plant Food Nutrient.
5)Succulents- like echeveria, crassula, hawthorthia and aloe are the most popular plants right now- they look interesting and don’t need too much attention. They prefer a warm, light-filled room and hate the cold. Water sparingly, mist occasionally, and allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. Do not let them sit in water or they will rot.
6) Statement foliage plants- like Aralia, Monstera and palms - these leafy beauties look lush and tropical, require moderate light levels and can tolerate shade. They love humidity so water and mist frequently, but do not allow to sit in water. Feed with a liquid feed during the growing season and gently clean their leaves with a wet soft cloth when they get dusty.
7) Clean air plants- like Devil's ivy, English ivy, Boston Fern are great at filtering toxins and pollutants from the air, so dot about the place, especially in bedrooms and on your desk. Trailers like ivy are oh so easy and perfect on shelves or on top of cupboards. They thrive in most light conditions and can even tolerate a little neglect. Boston Ferns are probably the easiest care fern variety, they can tolerate shade but like moisture and humidity so water and mist frequently. Ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.
8) Think about where you place plants in the house and take account of their needs, especially for light, warmth and space. Trailing plants work well on a bookcase or in a hanging pot but will get damaged on a low table. Large foliage plants need room to grow so squeezing one into a small cluttered space will not work and in terms of scale they can look odd when placed on top furniture rather than on the floor. Succulents and plants with an upward growing habit look great on a low table. Plants like warmth but sitting them next to a radiator, fire or on under-floor heating will kill them.2 And grouping plants together looks great and they love it too as it keeps humidity levels up. It’s just common-sense really.
9) Get yourself a plant mister- why? So many plants love a little humidity, it refreshes them, helps keep leaves clean and dust-free and when directed at the soil, can be used to water plants, such as succulents that don’t need much water. Plastic misters cost pennies, but a beautiful metal mister like one from Haws is a thing of beauty, will sit out next to your beloved plants and will last a lifetime.
10) Get yourself a book- if you’ve caught the plant bug and want to know more, a good book is a must. There are lots to choose from and we stock a few. Our favourites are 'How not to Kill your Plants' by Nik Southern and Urban Botanics by Emma Sibley with the most beautiful illustrations by Maaike Koster.