Indoor plants are a quick and easy way to bring your garden and the beauty of nature into your home.
We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert this carbon dioxide back into oxygen. But it’s more than this oxygen release that provides benefits to the environment around us; plants help clean the air inside your home, reduce anxiety and stress, and filter toxins from the environment.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, found in building materials such as paint, carpet, plastics and electronic equipment, release gases and pollute our indoor space.
Research suggests that plants and microorganisms in the soil may have a role in cleaning, or detoxifying, indoor air of these organic compounds.
All this is reason enough to bring more indoor plants into your home. Here are our top six indoor plants for beginners.
1. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
With shiny, variegated leaves, this plant is great for hanging baskets. Devil’s ivy looks good on floating shelves or bookshelves. Why not grow one along a window frame?
2. Philodendron species
Even within this one plant species, there are so many different types: from trailing Heart Shaped philodendron (Philodendron cordatum), big lush philodendron ‘Hope’, to the lovely pink mottled philodendron ‘Pink Princess’. You can have a jungle in your home of dozens of different plant species and never venture out of the philodendron genus.
3. Monstera (Monstera deliciosa)
Monsteras are a lot of fun to grow and very rewarding, even if you think you have zero success with plants. Monsteras will give you a “jungle vibe” for your home with minimal fuss.
4. Happy Plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)
If you want something big and easy to care for, bring a 1970s vibe into your home with Happy Plants. The variegated stripes will brighten any room and its tall growth means this plant will make a big impact in your home.
5. Mother-In-Laws Tongue, or Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
Mother-in-laws tongue has a terrible name but is a wonderful plant if you don’t spend too much time at home or have a tendency to neglect plants. Snake plants can also handle low light, so they are a good option for dark corners of your home. These plants can usually survive a month without watering.
6. Chinese Money Plant or Friendship Plant (Pilea peperomioides)
This is a very cute, small, indoor plant with round saucer- shaped leaves. It grows on a tall stem and is a very lovely addition to your plant collection. Pileas very readily grows little baby plants, which can be gently cut from the host plant and shared with friends.
How to get indoor plants for free!
There are so many ways to get plants that will cost you nothing – cuttings, division and swapping with friends are just some of the ways to add to your plant collection.
When you are propagating from cuttings, make sure you cut just below a leaf node. This is the part of the plant where a leaf grows and is also the area that produces roots. Place the leaf node in soil or water and the roots will develop. Some plants, such as monsteras and philodendrons, even have roots growing at a leaf node, ready to be planted.
Plants like mother-in-law’s tongue, ctenanthe and peace lilies can be divided if the clump gets too dense; so one pot can easily be multiplied.
Plant swaps are another brilliant way for sharing the love – you could host a trade-a-plant” night at your place. Perhaps you have been eyeing a friend or neighbour’s plant and are keen to try a cutting – you may be able to trade with them and make a fun night of it.
How to care for your indoor plants
All plants have three basic needs: water, food and light.
When it comes to watering, how much is too much? People have a tendency to overwater. The finger test is best. Stick your finger in the soil – if it’s wet or even damp, don’t water and let the soil dry a little. Never have water sitting in the saucer, as it clogs up the soil. Brown blotches on the leaf can mean your plant is getting too much water.
Plants need a balanced diet just as much as we do. Pale, yellowing leaves are a tell-tale sign your plants aren’t getting enough food. It’s pretty easy to make your own plant tonic for lovely growth, see here.
The brighter the light indoors, the better the plant will grow. If you have a dark house or want to brighten a dark corner of your home, choose plants like mother-in-laws tongue or zanzibar gem. Be wary of too much sun coming into the room through a window, which can be like a magnifying glass and burn the leaves.