Plant power! Boost your happiness and wellbeing with some houseplants
It’s well documented that adding houseplants to our living spaces can help reduce anxiety and stress as well as boosting our happiness levels. Nurturing plants and watching them grow can be very satisfying, adding to our sense of contentment as well as offering a welcome distraction, however fleeting, to the outside world.
Garden centres (entitled to open during lockdown) often have breath taking displays of exotic, indoor plants and will offer everything you need to look after your purchases. Equally you may well find your perfect plant at your local market, supermarket or even on Ebay. Whether you go for a venus fly trap or a simple pot of herbs on the kitchen window sill, there is definitely a perfect plant for just about anyone. To help get you started, here are a few of my favourite houseplants along with some handy tips to help you to care for them at home.
If you are the kid who had all the Pokemon cards then you probably want more than one houseplant! You can collect cacti in a surprisingly small space and you will be amazed how many different ones there are at kids’ pocket money prices!
Care: They like to be kept on the dry side of course, having evolved in desert environments and don’t really need to be fed unless they are trying to flower. Best on a sunny windowsill although they will tolerate a bit of shade.
Subtle they are not, but if you want to see some growing action at this time of year then Amaryllis are the plants for you! Buy the dry bulbs now, pot them up and watch them go! They are often sold as a gift / kit in a box with separate compost and a pot. You could pay £10 in M&S or be lucky enough to pick one up at Poundland. Care: Instructions will be on the box…
Here’s another idea for the collectors amongst you. Succulents come in so many colours, shapes and sizes you will never get bored! Pot them up in old mugs or even tin cans. If your pot has no drainage holes then make sure you put a bit of grit or gravel in the bottom and don’t over water them! They hold a lot of water in their leaves.
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
The 1970’s classic, this is a plant for someone who actually wants a pet! It takes up a bit of space and you will form a relationship! Having said that, it is pretty easy care, requiring just slightly damp compost at this time of year (check a couple of times a week) and a little more water in summer. Leaf shine wipes will help you to keep its coat, uh leaves, looking healthy. It may require support (physical not emotional) as it matures.
Prayer plant (this one is Calathea lancifolia)
So named because its leaves pull together at night like hands in prayer. Calatheas have beautifully marked leaves and come in all shapes and sizes.
Care: Keep the compost slightly damp, but allow the surface to dry out a little especially in the autumn and winter. A few drops of house plant feed once a month and spray the leaves with a hand held water spray if the surrounding air is dry, perhaps two or three times a week to prevent the leaf edges from turning brown.
Always put a saucer under your pot, to avoid water marks on surfaces. This will also help you to monitor watering – your houseplant should not be sitting in a soggy saucer.
If you do a really good job of caring for your house plant, you may find it outgrows its pot. Potting on will allow it to continue to flourish and grow:
- Invest in a new pot (about 20% bigger than the old one) and some fresh compost.
- Put some of the compost in the bottom of the new pot.
- Pop out your plant and gently loosen its root ball.
- Sit it on the new compost making sure that its compost surface is about 2 or 3cm from the top of the new pot. If it’s not quite there add a little more fresh compost underneath.
- Now tuck some more compost down the sides of the pot to hold it firm and give it a little water to settle the compost in around its roots. Job done!