I recently compiled some tips on how to best care for your house plants over on my Instagram page and received such a great response to it! It seems there are quite a few of us who share a love for and connection with our leafy green house buddies, however caring for them in the appropriate way can be a somewhat tricky business…
With this in mind, I have written an easy to follow guide on here, which I hope will act as a useful referral point for you as you find your way with your house plant care. So, from yellowing leaves to drooping stems, there’s a solution to be found for those common house plant problems – you just need to find the right plant for the right place in your home, then adhere to a few little rules and it will thrive!
Common Houseplants + How to Care for them
Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum
The Spider Plant is by far one of the easiest houseplants to care for at home. It’s easy to grow and you can even snip off the long spindly ‘spiderettes’ that it produces and replant directly into soil to create a whole new plant!
- Prefers bright, indirect light
- Ideal for a cooler room
- Allow its soil to dry out between waterings
The Spider Plant looks good potted in a hanging container or set it somewhere its spiderettes can trail down, eg a mantelpiece or bookshelf
Boston Fern Nephrolepis Exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’
The Boston Fern is a regular celebrity on the trendiest Instagram feeds, but can be a tricky little one to look after.
- Prefers a cool room
- Thrives in high humidity and indirect light
- Mist once or twice weekly to recreate humid conditions
- Its soil must remain damp but never waterlogged
- Non toxic to pets
You can place your fern in a saucer filled with small stones and water. The water will create humidity as it evaporates, keeping the fern very happy. Older leaves may brown or fall off, however these can be snipped off at the base to allow new, healthy fronds to grow. This is more normal in winter when Boston Ferns are dormant.
Boston Ferns add elegance and vibrancy to a room, thanks to their arching feathery fronds; they are perfect set onto a plant stand or side table in the corner of the room or in summer you can bring them out onto a shady area of the patio – they love warm, summery temperatures.
Spiderwort can be grown either indoors or outdoors, but for this guide I’m treating it as an indoor plant.
- Prefers bright, filtered sunlight
- Water regularly to keep soil fairly moist, however sparingly throughout winter
- Can pinch out the growing tips to make the plant bushier
The Spiderwort is a great hanging plant, thanks to its trailing leaf stems. Bring it outside during the spring and summer months to promote growth.
Swiss Cheese Plant Monstera deliciosa
A firm favourite of many home owners, the Swiss cheese Plant is easily recognisable, thanks to its large, hand-like leaves. It can grow at a vast rate when happy, so if this is the case, tie it onto a mossy plant support pole to keep it upright.
- Ideal for warm rooms
- Prefers bright, indirect light
- Water moderately, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings
- Likes humidity – mist the leaves once a week
- Prune to avoid excessive growth
When pruning your Swiss Cheese Plant, pop cut stems into a vase of water for a simple pop of greenery elsewhere in the house.
These larger plants need ample space to grow, so make sure they’re in a good sized pot or basket with plenty of room around them.
The Areca Palm is an easy to look after variety, which fills a corner of a room very nicely. Perfect as a floor plant or you can buy a young plant to pop into a small pot to set upon a bedside table or console unit, as seen below.
- Prefers bright, indirect light from a south/west direction
- Keep soil lightly moist in spring/summer; drier between waterings in winter
- Avoid feeding in winter
The Areca palm doesn’t do well in direct sunlight, which causes its leaves to burn. If this happens, simply snip off the browned leaves and move to a shadier spot.
Loved by the Victorians, these palms look elegant set into a basket in a hallway or corner of a bedroom, their leaves casting beautiful shadows on the wall.
A key fact to remember about the Yucca is that it generally thrives under bad conditions, so very little looking after is required! Just be careful not to allow direct sunlight to shine on your Yucca, as it will cause leaf burn.
- Prefers partial shade, but bright indirect light
- Tolerates semi drought and poor soil
- Offset plants can be cut away and replanted
When your Yucca reaches a certain size, it will produce a side shoot which will mature into another branch – this can be cut cleanly away at the point where it joins the mother plant and repotted in fresh soil.
Succulents come in all shapes and sizes and are readily available in supermarkets and larger garden/hardware stores. They fill little gaps on bookshelves and in cabinets perfectly. Also a firm favourite of teenagers, particularly because they’re easy to maintain and can be bought in an array of colourful pots and cool containers.
- Love plenty of sunlight – around 6 hours per day!
- Rotate frequently to avoid lopsided growth (they grow towards the sun)
- Avoid over-watering as this will kill a succulent, instead allow it to completely dry out between small waterings
- Water directly onto the soil, not the leaves
- Dust and shine leaves to have them looking their very best
A popular and easy to grow succulent is Aloe Vera, which has medicinal properties (good for cooling and healing the skin). Its offshoot plants can be replanted in fresh soil, meaning more plants for free.
Other good succulents to look out for include Dracaena (‘Mother in Law’s Tongue’), Money Tree (or Jade Plant) – pictured above, Hedgehog Aloe, Spiral Aloe and hanging varieties, such as String of Pearls.
Cacti are another form of succulent that are very easy to maintain – the main difference is that they feature little spikes on their fleshy leaves.
Where to buy your plants?
For smaller succulents, IKEA and places like B&Q or Homebase usually stock a pretty wide selection. I noticed the last time I was in B&Q that they had a fantastic range of plant containers, too, so it’s worth taking a look in there anyway.
The best place to buy houseplants is probably a specialised plant store, particularly if you want to be sure they’re strong and healthy to start with. You can find a better variety of house plants in these stores, too, and many online retailers also specialise in house plants. Try Thompson & Morgan or Totally Plants for starters. For the more common varieties, such as Palm trees and Swiss Cheese plants, you can’t look past IKEA. Their stock is regularly turned over and they’re at a reasonable price point.
My pick of plant containers
What can really make a plant sing is the style of container that you choose to place it in. There are so many to choose from, but hopefully my edited selection here will help you pick the right design to suit your plant. Don’t forget your watering can needs to look the part, too!
- Large plant pot on pedestal / H&M / £29
- Rainbow Pot / Anthropologie / £16
- Plant Pot / IKEA / £15
- Woven basket / La Redoute / £30
- HAY plant pot & saucer / Amara / £39
- Low plant stand / Made.com / £55
- Grecian Bust pot / Anthropologie / from £18
- Large plant basket / IKEA / £35
- Glazed clay pot / B&Q / £5.50
- Metal watering can / H&M / £19.99
- Plant mister / Trouva / £9
- House plant care book / John Lewis / £7.37
Happy shopping! :)