How to maintain an indoor jungle…
Just a quick scan of any of my social platforms and you’ll soon see how much I adore houseplants – there is no better way to inject life in to a space than with greenery, if you ask me. Of course, they do come with a bit of upkeep but it’s not as difficult as you think. I live in an apartment with no real garden but I manage to keep it looking like an indoor jungle, so I’ve put together some advice to help your leafy friends flourish!
The Easiest Plants To Care For
So while I do think I am pretty good at looking after my plant babies, there are some that I just cannot keep alive – I don’t think succulents do particularly well in my home, as much as I adore String of Pearls plants I’m yet to keep one looking lush and full of life. I prefer leafy plants anyway, especially anything that hangs!
I find Devil’s Ivy one of the most rewarding plants, they grow leaves at a rapid pace and they’re perfect as hanging plants. I have one in my shower and a couple in my kitchen and they require very little effort from me. There’s so many different varieties too!
The humble Monstera is also a must have, these grow wild pretty quick – I’ve taken a few cuttings off mine (thank you YouTube tutorials) and it’s still beautiful and leafy.
Pilea (Chinese Money plants) are also pretty hardy, even if you neglect them a little and their cute little round leaves fall off, they grow back quickly.
String of Hearts are so fun and easy to care for, I have a couple of these and they’ve grown to be so long I have to trail them along shelves!
Last year I got a Rubber Plant (a Ficus elastica robusta) and it’s also a very quick grower, plus he always looks so lovely and healthy because of the dark leaves!
The lovely tall leafy boy you can see above is a ZZ, or a Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Again, he’s hard to kill, grows quickly and looks beautiful and lush all year round!
Watering Tips & Tricks
There’s a bit of a science to watering your plants, but once you have the hang of it it’s easy peasy. I stick to a few general rules, these may not apply to every plant you own but it’s pretty much a one size fits all set of rules.
The number one cause of death is over-watering, and a lot of this is to do with the plant pot not having adequate drainage (more on this below) so the plant sits in the water and the roots rot.
I changed the way I water my plants and it really helped – first of all, it’s not the amount of water you should be concerned about, it’s how regular you water them. I usually stick to about once a week in summer, once every ten days in winter.
Place the plant under the tap, tepid water is better for growth, and let the water slowly run through the plant pot (making sure there’s drainage holes at the bottom) for a few minutes to give the roots a big drink. I usually do this in the sink or bath and then sit the plant in there for an extra half an hour to let the excess water drain out.
Between waterings, I use a spray bottle filled with water to give the leaves a mist – this works best in summer for plants that like a bit of humidity.
Light & Placement Pointers
This is really something I think about a lot because we get a lot of light in our flat, but it is important – especially in winter! Most plants are happiest near the window, but not in direct sunlight because they can get sunburnt.
Avoid placing near radiators or cold or windy spots, and it’s a good idea to give them a little reshuffle from time to time. You can also buy plant lamps in winter if you think your leafy pals need a boost.
Make sure you dust the leaves too, just use a cloth and a bit of water and give them a wipe every now and again.
Pots & Planters
I could spend hours and hours shopping around for pots and planters. My advice would be to get ones that are portable, they’re great if you move around plants as much as I do.
I love plant stands, the big solid wood legs and durable ceramic bowls are perfect for adding a mid-century touch. I also recommend mixing materials – these terrazzo pots standing on natural wooden legs make the perfect showcase for your leafy friends. Hanging planters are a great way to make use of space too, I love a DIY macrame job or searching on Etsy for something a bit more intricate but still homemade.
A lot of the time when you buy a house plant, you buy them in a plastic pot that sits inside a ceramic plant pot. The plastic pot sits snuggly inside the pot, and while the plastic inner pot has drainage holes, the outer pot doesn’t. It took me a while to realise I was watering the plant and the water was running through the roots and then sitting in the bottom of the ceramic pot so the roots would eventually rot.
I ended up getting some gravel (this stuff is great) and placing a layer at the bottom of each pot, and then I’d place the plastic pot on top of the gravel. After learning this trick, my plants rarely ever die!
For one or two of my plants I have self-watering pots, I usually only do this if they’re ones I really want to keep alive (like my big Birds of Paradise!). So far it’s been worthwhile.
If I’m going away for a while and I don’t want to ask the catsitter to water the plants relentlessly, I’ll give my plants a big drink and then use a couple of these to slowly release water while I’m away. I don’t think they’re aaaaamazing, but they seem to do the trick short term.
I also use plant food every few waters to give my plants a boost, you can easily overdo it with fertiliser so use sparingly!
Repotting & Propagating Your Plants
This is where it gets messy! The amount of times I’ve had to spend an hour cleaning black soil from my bathtub because we don’t have much in the way of a garden… ugh.
Both repotting and propagating are easy enough to do, and you may need to do it every now and again for plants like a Monstera that have a lot of big roots and lots of leaves! I just follow a couple of YouTube videos, the clean up job takes a lot longer!
Pets & Plants
Probably once a day I get a message or comment saying that one of my plants is toxic to cats, at this point I pretty much assume that all plants are toxic to cats – but thankfully my two kitties don’t go anywhere near them, they’ve just never been interested in plants at all. If you have a pet that can’t keep away, put the plant up high and be wary of your pet around them. There are some dried flowers and things my cats do love to chew so we don’t tend to have them, it’s just not worth them getting ill over it.
I hope this is a helpful little guide for anyone who wants to add a bit more greenery to their home! I tried to set out basic tips and advice that is easy to stick to without having a good knowledge of plants, so please do let me know how you get on…