As the nights draw in, it feels as though gardening season is over. But indoor gardening is becoming more and more popular thanks to its long list of benefits.
You can use plants creatively within your interior design to make a real statement. The warmer temperatures indoors mean you can choose more exotic plants that are too tender for the garden. It’s also a great way to grow plants if you live in an apartment or rented home with no garden of your own.
Plus, indoor plants have been scientifically proven to purify the air and remove toxins and pollution. Here is why you should grow more houseplants in your home.
Get a feel for foliage
Foliage and leafy plants are great houseplants because they make the room greener and help to clean the air. They are also low-maintenance plants that come in a huge range of sizes, textures and styles.
Use ivy trailing down from high shelves to create movement and pot up a statement with bold ferns. I love the Boston fern, also known as the bird’s nest fern. It has upright, glossy leaves that look so chic in any home style.
Cacti are neat and textured plants for desks and windowsills, while large spiky and strap-leaved plants will make a striking architectural statement in any room. Try sansevieria, also called the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, which is really drought-resistant.
If you’ve got a dark shady corner and want a houseplant to fill it, choose one with dark green leaves. This means it has high levels of chlorophyll so it won’t need as much light to survive. For more ideas, check out my 10 best houseplants that you can’t kill for stress-free growing.
Plants to purify the air
Finally there is scientific proof that plants make you feel better! NASA conducted research into how plants remove toxins and pollution in the air. Plants take in carbon dioxide to photosynthesise and produce oxygen. But certain varieties absorb pollutants too.
This research is important for space travel because the same pollutants found in homes and offices are also present on spacecraft. The three big ones are benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
The team found that having even one highly purifying plant in a room can reduce by pollutant levels by 87% in just 24 hours.
Here are NASA’s top 10 plants to purify the air. They all make great houseplants.
1 Peace Lily
2 Chrysanthemum morifolium
3 English Ivy
4 Red-Edged Dracaena
5 Variegated Sansevieria
6 Cornstalk Dracaena
7 Gerbera jamesonii
8 Broadleaf Lady Palm
9 Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)
10 Devil’s Ivy (Pothos)
Add an orchid
Flowers can also make a big difference in the home. The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is particularly beautiful with dark leaves and arching sprays of exotic flowers. It’s one the country’s most popular indoor plants and much easier to look after than you think!
Orchids need a bright but not too sunny spot in a humid room like the bathroom or kitchen. Keep the plant in a clear pot because it has special green roots that photosynthesise in light, just like leaves.
Place the pot on a saucer of fine gravel and keep some water on it – this will create a humid atmosphere around the leaves without overwatering the plant. Get more advice on growing orchids here.
Care for your houseplants
The worst thing you can do to any houseplant is to give it too much water. We call this “killing by kindness”. Indoor plants don’t need much water and giving them a little bit every day can cause waterlogged soil. This means the oxygen in it will be displaced by water and the roots will rot.
You should water plants only when the soil feels dry. To test it, push your fingers a centimetre into the compost.
Watch out for temperature changes too. Plants are just as sensitive to icy drafts and burning heat as humans, so don’t put them near external doors or radiators.
And if your houseplants start to flower or grow less than usual, they may need repotting into a larger container. Here’s a step-by-step guide to repotting indoor plants.
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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