A beginner’s guide to indoor plants
In the century of tiny apartments and blaring screens, young nature lovers struggle to get their gardening fix. The solution, of course, is to grow plants indoors. The rise of apartment living and desire for a connection to nature has resulted in a boom in the popularity of indoor gardening and houseplants. It doesn’t take much to get involved, and once you get started it is guaranteed to become an addiction.
The Best Houseplants for Beginners
Dracaena massangeana. This statement plant is ideal for medium-light areas, but it can tolerate low light for short periods. It’s the ideal plant for those who usually drown their indoor plants, as they appreciate more water than many others.
Philodendron scandens is a creeping plant with plain or variegated glossy green leaves. They can grow metres long without much effort from busy indoor gardeners.
Sansevieria (snake plant). Sansevierias can handle almost anything – unfavourable light conditions or a forgetful waterer. They are easy to propagate and come with striking variegations and pointed leaf shapes to fit modern, edgy interiors.
Spathiphyllum. With shiny green leaves and elegant white spathes, spathiphyllum is hard to miss. It is a low-light houseplant favourite that likes plenty of water
Asplenium nidus (bird’s nest fern). The dramatic bird’s nest fern has long, textured leaves making it a stunning indoor feature plant. Like other ferns, it requires an occasional misting or a steamy bathroom.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant). The most Instagram-worthy houseplant is the ZZ Plant, and for good reason. This plant is drought tolerant, can survive low light conditions and even withstand a fair bit of neglect.
Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig). You can’t pop into any nursery without coming across the insanely popular fiddle-leaf fig, named for the shape of its massive leaves. With some bright filtered light, regular watering and a repotting every once in a while, this houseplant can grow into a towering tree to amaze any indoor gardeners.
Anthuriums. Anthuriums are a classic 70’s houseplant that is firmly back in style. With colours like soft flamingo pink, salmon-pink with dark foliage, and pure white, there is an anthurium for every season and every gardener.
Peperomia. People have fallen in love with peperomias for their variety of ornamental leaves in every strange shape, texture and colour imaginable. They are also slow-growing and low maintenance, tolerating a bit of neglect from houseplant beginners.
Keeping your leafy friends alive
Most beginner-friendly plants follow a standard set of rules to easily turn your black thumb into a green one.
Too much or too little is often the reason why houseplants die. The secret to success in watering lies not in a schedule you will inevitably ignore, but a simple trick – push your finger into the soil to feel if the top layer has dried out – water when it has.
A crucial element in watering is drainage. We’re all tempted to place houseplants into a pot cover with no drainage holes – in addition to being pretty, they also protect furniture from water damage. But ensure that you take the plant out of the pot cover to water it and allow it to drain well before displaying it again.
Although they have slightly different lighting requirements, most indoor plants appreciate natural light close to a window, without direct sunlight that will scorch the leaves. If your plant looks unhappy (drab colour or stunted growth), move it to a brighter spot to perk it up again – they’re often hardier than you may think.
Positioning your houseplants correctly can save you significant headaches in the future. The key elements are light, humidity and airflow – make sure your chosen position has enough light, is near water sources for high humidity plants like ferns, and has adequate air circulation. Keep your houseplants away from draughts from open doors or windows, and do not place under air conditioners.
Feed houseplants with a water-soluble fertiliser in spring, and remove dying flowers or old leaves to encourage growth. Wipe down the leaves every few months as dirt prevents the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is essential for plants to thrive. Remove any dirt build-up on the pot and repot any root-bound or overgrown houseplants.
Choose your favourite plants and follow these few simple steps, and you will go from indoor gardening goof to guru in no time.