No one can argue that a houseplant or two will light up a room. Any interior designer will tell you that plants are completely integral to creating a warm and inviting space, which is what most of us want for our home, and researchers have shown us again and again that bringing nature into the home makes us happier and healthier. Having houseplants is a no-brainer.
But we live busy lives. And most of us have had the experience of buying a lovely houseplant, and then watching it die because we don’t have the time or attention to give it. For many, this puts them off ever buying one again, and they miss out on all of the aesthetic and health benefits of having plants as part of their home.
Well, I’ve got some good news. There are many plants out there that are really easy to look after, even for someone as busy as you, so I’ve collected a few of the best low maintenance plants for a busy household.
If you are thinking about getting a plant for a very specific place in your house then think about the conditions of the space. Does it get direct sunlight or not? If it’s a windowsill, it helps to know what direction it is facing. Is it a draughty spot, or near to a radiator?
Most plant labels will tell you the ideal conditions for the plant such as needs good light, keep away from cold air and draughts, etc., as well as care instructions. The good thing about buying plants from a garden centre or nursery rather than a supermarket is that the staff should be able to answer any questions you have about the plants you want to buy.
When buying only look for shapely specimens that are strong, healthy and vigorous and they should settle in well to their new surroundings.
Tough vine plants like ivies or the ‘kangaroo vine’, Cissus antartica, can cope with a bit of manhandling and fluctuating temperatures, and make wonderful, no-fuss houseplants. You can stick them in a shady corner or on top of shelf or cabinet and they will do fine.
Monstera deliciosa, the ‘swiss cheese plant’, is a gorgeous plant with its signature ‘holy’ foliage. Originally from the warm climes of Mexico and Panama, it loves getting cosied up in a British living room. Just give it partial shade and it will instantly bring the feel of the tropics to your home.
Other easy plants that will give your room a botanical burst are old school favourites like aspidistra, which also known as the ‘cast iron plant’ as it thrives on little attention.
Dracaena is also undemanding and has dramatic strap-like leaves, often with red and yellow variegation on stems that can reach up to 1.8m tall.
A classic parlour palm has a really friendly vibe, is really easy to care for, and is a superb way to brighten up any space.
A relative newcomer to the easy-care indoor plant world is the interesting Zanzibar gem Zamioculcas zamiifolia, which is often called ‘ZZ plant’. It looks a lot like the tropical cycad called ‘cardboard palm’, but has thick, fleshy, naturally glossy leaves. It thrives in living room conditions but hates a lot of water.
Peace lilies, which produce white, cupped “spathes” with a pronounced finger-like spadix are outstanding for removing airborne contaminants and can live for many years on little more than occasional watering and feeding. And bromeliads are bold-looking plants that won’t ask for much in return – you simply keep their ‘vases’ of cupped leaves filled and forget about them!
The ultimate no-care plants though are today’s trendy cacti and succulents. They are very undemanding and will withstand most maltreatment except for heavy handed watering and feeding. All you need to do is check on them and give them water about twice a month… and that’s it!
Crassula ovata, also known as the ‘jade plant’ or the ‘money tree’, is a succulent with a unique look that makes a fantastic houseplant. It can grow quite large if you want it to, but it is slow growing and easy to control if you want to keep it small.
Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid of houseplants. There’s plenty that are dead easy to care for, and they are well worth a little effort. And if they do take a turn for the worse, don’t feel bad, just chuck them and get a new one like you would with cut flowers!
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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