Plants can certainly brighten up your living space, but did you know that they can help improve your health too? Wait, what, a simple leafy green plant? Yep it’s true! Here comes the science bit. When we’re out in the great outdoors with nothing but trees and the rolling countryside, pollution levels are low and the air is cleaner. And trees play a big part in this. Trees release oxygen, cleaning the air we breathe. And the same goes for indoor plants in our living spaces. Whether you’re growing plants indoors or buying one ready, indoor plants can improve the air quality in a home by breaking down compounds from man-made fibres and absorbing nasty chemicals from the air, essentially acting like a natural air filter.
Physical and mental health benefits of indoor plants
Now let’s get back to nature. When we’re in touch with nature, we relax and our stress levels decrease. The simple act of seeing and touching real trees, plants and foliage creates a sense of calm, thus helping to reduce blood pressure, fatigue and headaches. And of course the same can be gained from common house plants.
The best house plants
So now you know the benefits of house plants, let’s get cracking on the best ones for your living space and learn how to look after plants. And what’s great about most indoor house plants is that they’re relatively low maintenance – so you’re in no danger of killing them off if you neglect them for a few days – and in some cases, months!
Air purifying, low light and low maintenance plants
Now, the cactus is one hardy plant, and full of benefits! Cacti help in removing carbon dioxide by absorbing it and then supplying us with fresh oxygen to breathe. They are so easy to care for as they require very little watering. Little mini ones look great next to your home office desk – perfect for those who like clean, contemporary living spaces.
This plant has a lot of character and resembles the skin of a reptile with long, dark green thick leaves with colourful yellow edges. They survive drought well – perfect for those who forget to give it a water! They’re usually quite large in size so would be perfect sat next to French doors or on a large table top.
The rubber plant likes indirect light – great for your living spaces. It has thick, glossy leaves that can store lots of water so they’ll do well in a heatwave if you forget to water it. The long, tall leaves grow upright so they’re ideal for small spaces.
Succulents are the perfect companion for your home office and very on trend. And there are so many gorgeous ones to choose from. As a rough guideline, water them every 7-14 days in the warmer months and every 3-4 weeks in winter. Make sure to let the soil dry thoroughly between watering and put them near the window for some hours to get extra light.
If the name isn’t calming enough then the plant certainly will be. This plant will purify your air and doesn’t need a lot of light. It does however require adequate watering when the soil is dry. But remember, too damp and it won’t flourish.
An indoor plant with a bit of maintenance!
Common Ivy plant
A bit of a curve ball here, but if you like a plant that brings with it some general maintenance, then ivy is just for you. Have you any ivy that’s crawled up your exterior walls that you’ve been meaning to maintain? Well now’s the perfect time to take a snip of that ivy and grow it indoors!
Make each cut directly above a leaf, and trim the stem below the leaf to about one inch. Dip the end of each stem in rooting hormone powder (don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on any root hormone – it improves the chances of growing success but isn’t essential) and then plant the cuttings in soil. Firm the potting medium around the stem to keep it upright. You can plant several ivy cuttings in your container but remember to allow space so that the leaves or stems don’t touch.
Ivy loves light, so try and place it near to natural light. Once it gets going, ivy is quite the invasive plant, so it will excel in a hanging basket from a height. Ivy houseplants benefit from a wash to remove the dust from the leaves. One quick and easy way to solve this is to take the ivy into the shower with you for a few minutes!
Fresh flowers in a vase
And if green leafy plants aren’t your thing, or you can’t get hold of any – a nice big bunch of fresh flowers in a gorgeous vase will do the trick. You can even look for pretty foliage and flowers from your own garden. Pick daffodils and green off-cuts and pop them in a vase with water. They should last up to a week inside your home.
Grow your own mini herb garden – how to grow plants
If you want to kill two birds with one stone (or plants in this case) then an indoor herb garden is just the thing. One, they’ll bring the air purifying benefits, and two, they’ll provide you with tasty herbs for your dinners! Not to mention, growing your own herbs is a great little hobby. To create your own mini indoor herb garden all you’ll need is some small plant pots, compost and seeds.
Choosing your herbs
If you’re planting different herbs in the same pot, avoid mixing ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ herbs together. Here’s the difference between the two types:
Wet herbs grow best in moist to wet soil. These varieties include:
Peppermint, chervil, thyme, lemon grass, lemon balm, watercress and sorrel.
Dry herbs prefer well drained soil and include:
Lavender, rosemary, basil, oregano, dill, sage, parsley, tarragon and coriander.
Choose your pots
Your plant pots will need adequate drainage holes because herbs don’t like to be kept in standing water. You could go for one long tray or lots of small pots for your individual herbs. Fill with potting compost and plant your seeds following the instructions on the packet. Make sure you have a saucer under your pots or things could get messy, but be sure to check that the saucer isn’t left with standing water long after you’ve watered the herbs. And don’t forget to label them.
The more light you provide for your herb garden, the more success you’ll have in producing tasty herbs. A sunny windowsill is the best location for your pots.
Herbs like infrequent, thorough watering, and it’s best to allow your pots to dry out between watering. You can test the soil simply with your finger and if the soil is dry about 2 inches below the top then it’s safe to water. Two to three times a week will suffice.
Growing herbs takes patience
It can take several weeks before you start to see any herb life, but be patient – they will grow! And once they do, don’t forget to check the roots. Once your herbs start to grow, make sure you check the roots by looking at the base of the pot. If the roots are spiralling out of the pot then repot into a bigger plant pot.
And once your herbs have grown you can pop them in gin cocktails, freeze them in olive oil for tasty dressings and sprinkle on salads!
Check out our planting department for all your growing needs.