Houseplant Care Tips

This is our plant family. We get all the guys together quite regularly for a family portrait to share on Instagram and naturally people have a lot of questions. We thought we'd put together a quick post to give you an idea of how we look after so many botanical friends. 

Below was our collection back in November of last year so you can see how our collection - and the plants within it, have grown. 

What plants are right for me/our home? 

We started off with an Umbrella (the tallest plant in the top picture, also called Schefflera) and brought home anything we liked the look of. Some plants thrived and some really didn't. We quickly learned to do a quick internet search for names/care tips before we purchased and only bought the plants that we knew we had the right conditions for. 

We have indirect light in our home and it can get quite humid so nothing tends to dry out too quickly. Not so good to dry our washing, but great for our plants! We work backwards from the windows; light-loving plants get first dibs and the low-light guys sit in shady corners.

Some of our plants' names:

- Monstera deliciosa (Cheeseplant)

- Calathea orbifolia

- Dracaena marginata (Madagascar Dragon tree)

- Crassula ovata (Jade or Money plant)

- Zamioculcas (ZZ plant) 

- Ficus elastica (Rubber tree)

- Chlorophytum (Spider plant)

- Areca palm 

Some of our other plants are: Crassula 'Buddha's Temple', Pilea peperomiodes, Mimosa pudica (we grew those from seed!) Kalanchoe, Philodendron xanadu, Begonia, Ludisia, Alocasia. 

How long does it take you to water everything?

Surprisingly, not very long. Every plant has different needs and because we spend a lot of time at home we can keep an eye on things. The majority of them need watering once a week and the cacti and succulents have a drop every now and then. We don't have a set day to give them a drink, we just wait until their soil dries out. It's not very technical but it seems to work for us. 

The longest we've ever left them on their own is for 9 days and we made sure everything had been watered beforehand, and that nothing was sat in direct sunlight so there were no casualties to come home to. 

We use a spray bottle to spritz/mist moisture-loving foliage, and twist the nozzle to give us a more direct spray to give a tiny amount of water* to the base of cacti/succulents. That way nothing can burn the plants if the light does decide to grace them. 

The long slender spout of this watering can (pictured above) makes it easier to deliver water to the middle-size guys and at 1.7L we only have to make a couple of trips to refill. We've found that all the bigger, more robust watering cans are not so indoor-friendly and don't have the accuracy when it comes to pouring. 

*We use rainwater that we collect in a bucket outside - and if we've been lucky with the weather then we boil our kettle before we go to bed so that the water is cold in the morning. That gets rid of any chlorine or anything else that might not be plant-friendly. 

Where do you get your plants from?

All over the place! Our first ever plant was the Umbrella (shown above - Schefflera arboricola) and at 40cm high it added a nice bit of greenery to our front room. It's now reached our ceiling and we have no idea what to do now... That was a Homebase purchase, we have a couple from B&Q and good old IKEA. All have been happy, healthy and are reaching for the stars. We live in Sheffield (UK) and our favourite garden centres are; Ward's, Ferndale and New Leaf

As we're on a greenhouse tour of the world, we end up in nurseries and in the company of specialist growers and very rarely come home empty-handed. We like to support the independent plantsmen/women and it helps that we know exactly where something has come from. We also have a fair few that have grown from cuttings or were given to us as gifts from like-minded plant parents. We are always grateful! 

Once we've got a plant home we let it settle in for a week or so before we repot it - sometimes we don't repot until we're sure that it needs a bigger home. That way it's not quite so surprised about being in a new environment. 

Houseplants August LR-19.jpg

We've seen on Instagram that you have water plants, what the hell are they?!

Yes. We bought one from IKEA (the 2nd one from the right, we now know he's a Bacopa) a few years ago and went happily about our lives, occasionally changing the water when we thought we ought to. We added the 2nd one on the left fairly recently (a Java fern, bought from the pond/aquarium department of our local garden centre ) that has since propagated itself to give us the new babies (far right). These plants are very low maintenance for us; they live in a fairly bright spot but only get indirect light and we change the water once every 6-8 weeks. That's it! 

The big guy in the middle is a brand new addition and we'll see how he goes. He's a water Hyacinth and needs a little more direct sunlight than the others. 

The first little jar has a leaf that is a fresh cutting that we took from a Pothos. We often take cuttings or pop the babies (of a Spider plant for example) into water to get the roots going before we move to pots. 

*Thanks to Nathan @akwaskape for giving us some fantastic advice on our aquatic plants.*

Can I submerge any plant in water?

No. It's always best to check with whoever you get them from before you dunk them right in! 

Lastly, this whole plant thing is forever a learning curve and you know your house better than anyone. Don't believe everything you read in books/on the internet because plants grow and adapt (within reason) and we can only speak from our own experiences. We are definitely not experts and sometimes we get it wrong (Maidenhair ferns do not like our house at all, but we persevere with them anyway!)  

Don't give up on the whole of nature just because you get it wrong with one plant - try again with something different and read up on them before you spend your hard-earned cash. 

We can't imagine our home without houseplants; they make us happy, surprise us with new leaves and fill the corners (or in our case the whole house) with energy and life.

UPDATE - The House of Plants Book is a good all round resource for plant care, you can get it HERE.