Four easy houseplants for beginners
Do you think you are a less-than-green-fingered gardener or maybe you see yourself as a hopeless horticulturist? Fear not. You don’t need to be Alan Titchmarsh, have a huge garden or spend hours watering to feel the benefits of plants.
“I’m too busy to look after a plant”
As well as being easy to grow, long-lasting and bringing a lovely scent to your home, some houseplants are notoriously tough enough to survive (almost) total neglect from busy owners. Even with limited space, the freshness of houseplants can brighten up rooms with bold colours, and beautiful blooms.
Many talk up the therapeutic benefits of indoor plants, with studies having shown them to have positive psychological effects; certain varieties are said to help a number of health conditions by bringing an element of ‘zen’ to the room.
Houseplants also help with indoor air purification – they actually clean the air, helping you to breathe easier, especially at night.
Which plant should I choose?
Houseplants come in all sorts, shapes and sizes – some loved for their flowers, others for their striking foliage, and most are fairly low maintenance.
Below are four almost indestructible options, that are easy to maintain and will give your home a welcome green boost:
Well known to many as an ingredient in moisturisers and soaps, this succulent, robust plant purifies the air and has amazing healing properties too. Its spiky leaves thrive on indirect light, plus a good soak every week or two.
The gel inside its leaves is packed with vitamins and is naturally anti-bacterial, which makes it perfect for treating minor cuts and burns (including sunburn). Studies have shown positive effects on dry skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
To harness the healing powers of this plant, simply snap off a leaf, open it up and rub the inside of the leaves over the affected area for instant relief.
Beware, however, if you have pets – aloe vera is toxic for cats and dogs.
The slow growth rate of many types of cactus mean they can grow for many years as a houseplant. With a whole host of different varieties and species of cactus, the world is your oyster when it comes to choice.
Cacti crave as much sun as you can give them and, with a loose, sandy mix in the pot, can survive with only being watered once a month – perfect for those with busy lives!
A really striking plant, Mother-in-law’s tongue (sanseveria, also known as the snake plant) works tirelessly to sort out the humidity in your home, so that your skin, eyes and airways can also enjoy the plant.
This desert plant converts substances in the air that humans don’t need, into oxygen, which it releases at night, helping you to breathe more easily. Try placing one in your bedroom for a better night’s sleep.
Looking like something out of Jurassic park, the lush green foliage of ferns can brighten up any room in the house.
One type – the Boston Fern – is thought to be one of the best air-purifying houseplants. This evergreen plant not only helps to rid the home of harmful toxins, it also improves humidity by naturally helping to restore moisture to the air – good for those who suffer from dry skin, noses or throats.
Ferns do need a little more care than those above, and do need to be kept moist – try keeping it on a saucer of grit to get the most out of this classic houseplant.
If you are interested in getting a houseplant, check out local charity and plant centre Walworth Garden, five minutes walk from Walworth Road, who provide advice and support for budding amateur gardeners, as well as selling a variety of plants and herbs.