How to: Make Room For Houseplants

Make Room For Houseplants

Houseplants not only look great, but they also lift spirits. Graeme Shaw, Horticultural Champion at our Edinburgh store, provides the lowdown on houseplants and their care. 

Bright and bold, gently trailing or architecturally sculpted – whatever your taste, there is a houseplant to suit you. Dobbies’ range is incredible: from shade-loving ferns, scented flowering specimens and tropical foliage plants to sculptural cacti or succulents – you will find a plant to match any interior.

Aside from good looks, they offer proven health benefits, such as reducing stress and absorbing indoor pollutants. And, honestly, they are not difficult to grow – just pick the right plant for each room and follow a few basic guidelines.

The right amount of water

The main point is to remember that houseplants are living things and will need a little TLC at least once a week. Watering is, obviously, essential. Ideally, houseplants should be planted in a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering. These can be disguised by putting the pot into another container, or by using a saucer. It is best to water the compost with some plants, while others – such as bromeliads – benefit from a fine spray of water (misting) daily – the care label will tell you which is right.

To test if water is required, push your finger into the compost – if it feels moist, but not wet, the plant is fine. If it is dry, water the plant well at the kitchen sink and leave it to drain before putting it back. However, it is also possible to go overboard with watering. If the compost feels very wet, and your plants have yellowing leaves or are wilting, this may well be the cause.

In this situation, remove the plant from its pot and check the roots. If they are rotting, you will have to discard the plant, but if not, just remove any damaged leaves, repot the plant in new compost and don’t water it again until the soil on top is dry – and even then, only add a little water at a time.

Cleaning and feeding

Houseplants need to be cleaned occasionally, too – just wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. This is not just to keep them looking good – removing the dust ensures good health. Take off any foliage that is yellowing, and trim damaged leaves of larger plants with sharp scissors at the same time.
As with outdoor container plants, houseplants need repotting and feeding in spring to keep them healthy. Some, such as orchids, have special feeds to encourage fruits and flowers rather than foliage.

The right place

The most important thing to get right is positioning. All plants need a certain level of natural light to thrive, and you should aim to mirror the plant’s
natural growing environment. Flowering houseplants need good light to bring on blooms, but too much sunlight encourages flowers to fade quickly. Insufficient light will result in stunted growth or long, thin and weak growth. As a general rule, succulents and cacti love a sunny, southfacing room, while most other plants thrive in a well-lit position out of direct sun.

Climate control

All houseplants dislike fluctuations in temperature and draughts, so avoid placing them by radiators or open fires – a steady temperature of 18-23°C is ideal for most. For an easier option, try cacti, which offer sculptural impact with minimal effort – and are very much in vogue. There really is a houseplant for everyone – how about adding a few to this year’s Christmas list?