Indoor plants are the trendiest thing in gardening right now and its easy to see why – they look great and they are good for you! The addition of indoor plants into your home has been proven to improve air quality by decreasing volatile organic compounds whilst increasing oxygen and humidity in a room, all are catalysts for greater concentration levels and an improved mood.
The sad part about this current mega trend in gardening is there is not one plant that has evolved to live in a dark, air-conditioned dry cave, which, unless you are a super green thumb can lead to disappointment as they struggle through life and you’re turned off trying them again.
The trick with indoor plants is getting the right plants, you need greenery that requires little direct sunlight, can tolerate dry air and ones that aren’t too fussy with their watering. Achieving the holy trio of these limits you to only a few plants – The Zanzibar Gem, Devils Ivy and mother in laws tongue are three plants that will cope with these conditions, the trick to getting these plants to look good is to not over water them, a single cup of water once a week is more than enough, anymore and you’ll kill them with kindness.
As well as being almost indestructible Devils Ivy is known as one of the best air purifiers when it comes to indoor plants and mother-in-law’s tongue has the benefit of removing nitrogen oxide produced by fuel-burning appliances. NASA researched the Zanibar Gem and found it was excellent in removing xylene, toluene and benzene from the air (I have to admit I know nothing about those toxins, but they sure sound terrible!)
Once you have a bit of confidence with the easy to care for indoor plants and If you are feeling a bit adventurous, I would recommend stepping up your game to the Peace lily, the Monstera and the Pilea
Spathiphyllum or the peace lily is a great indoor plant because its glossy green leaves and creamy white flower lift a space. They are also useful in damp areas such as kitchens and bathrooms because they help to remove mould from the air. This plant likes a bright area out of direct sunlight and reliable moisture. It requires a bit more water than the first three plants, but it will tell you when it needs extra water as its leaves will droop.
Pilea is a variety of Chinese money plant that has recently become trendy thanks to Instagram. (I follow @pileaplace) This plant has a really interesting round leaf that looks great in a round bowl or vase that mirror the shape of the leaf. This plant doesn’t need too much water and prefers the soil to dry out before watering. During the warmer months up the watering to compensate with the heat and the plant will need a weak fertilisation to ensure they get all the food they need when growing.
Monstera or fruit salad plant is only tricky to grow as its light requirements are like goldilocks– too much and it burns and too little and it the leaves turn yellow and the plant slowly disappears. If you get the light right though it’s a tough plant that tolerates irregular watering and minimal intervention.
If you want to move on to the king of indoor plants at the moment then Ficus lyrata or the fiddle leaf fig is the designer’s choice for indoor plants because it has huge architectural leaves and an upright, open habit. Like most indoor plants, it needs to be in a light spot without direct sun and it doesn’t like irregular watering, a cup every couple of days depending how big it is. If overwatered or underwatered, the lower leaves will fall off the plant and striking the right balance can be tricky so only give it a go once you have indoor plant confidence.
One thing I do with all my indoor plants is give them a warm but not hot shower every 4-6 weeks. I know this sounds crazy but it’s a great way to wash the dust and pests from the leaves whilst soaking the root ball all the way through from side to side and top to bottom. This replicates a good downpour out in the wild and once the pot has stopped leaking water they will look sensational back out in the wilderness of the living room.