House plants: everything you need to know

From house plants you can't kill to house plants that won't kill your pet, we've got everything you need to know when it comes to indoor gardening

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House plants are back and they’re here to stay, providing you don’t kill them first! Whether you’re looking for design inspiration, are already an indoor gardening enthusiast, or don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing the best indoor plants for your home, we’ve gathered together all of the information you need to ensure that your indoor plant life thrives.

House plants everyone should own

a collection of houseplants displayed across a desk

An eclectic mix of houseplants really enhances the use of natural materials. Find similar at Cuckooland

(Image: © Cuckooland)

Like the idea of house plants, but feel clueless when it comes to what to choose? House plant expert, Jane Perrone, recommends these three house plants as a great starting point and the house plant species that everyone should have in their home.

1. Wax plant (Hoya Carnosa)

In addition to being easy to care for, wax plants are also renowned for their ability to flower. Perrone recommends placing them somewhere high and watching their red stems snake throughout a space. If you’d like to control the growth of your wax plant, think about training it up a trellis. 

2. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera Adansonii)

If your space is too small for a Swiss cheese vine, it’s little brother (monstera adansoii) may be the option for you! As long as it’s placed in bright, indirect sunlight, this houseplant makes for a dramatic focal point.

3. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatoir)

As its name might suggest, the cast iron plant is a strong sort able to withstand minimal care and an imposing pot. Able to survive in minimal levels of lighting, it makes a great option for darker spaces, with reduced natural light.

How to look after house plants

a wooden coffee table topped with assorted plant pots and vases

Choosing the right pot for your plant is an important first step.  Beaumonde have a great selection, meaning you're sure to find something that suits your style as well as your plants needs

(Image: © Beaumonde)

If you’re new to being a house plant-parent, follow our top five tips to looking after houseplants and you’ll have a thriving houseplant community before you know it.

Unsurprisingly, not all house plants are born equal. From watering and feeding, to light, humidity and potting compost, every species requires a different standard of care. Jane Perrone suggests that effectively researching your house plants is the best first step to helping you understand exactly what it is that they require.

Don’t over (or under) water house plants 

As simple as it sounds, watering house plants can be a difficult balance to strike. As a basic rule of thumb (literally) always ensure to feel for a plant's moisture before making a decision about watering. Moist soil is what you’re aiming for. 

Choose the right pot for your house plant

Your choice of pot also affects a plant's water retention and ability to grow. Make sure that the pot you select is large enough for a growing house plant and allows for drainage if necessary, as not all species are suited to sitting in water. 

Should you have house plants watered while away on holiday?

Whilst many house plants can survive a holiday with a thorough water prior to leaving; smaller potted species and those that favour humidity may be better suited to a soak in the bath (or sink). Rest on water-soaked towels with plenty of shade and expect to find your house plants in equally healthy condition on your return.

Should you clean house plants?

Like everything else in your home, house plants accumulate dust. Waxy leaves can be cleaned with water soaked cotton wool, or a soft, wet cloth, while a soft bristled paintbrush is the best option for spikier breeds. Avoid using polish, as this can block a plant's pores and affect its growth.

5 house plants you can't kill

glass airplant containers hanging from ceiling

Despite their delicate charm, air plants have proven somewhat difficult to kill. Find similar at Garden Trading

(Image: © Garden Trading )

If you’re concerned about your ability to care for a high-maintenance plant, or have a long and varied history of plant neglect, our selection of house plants you can’t kill might be worth a thought. They’re hardy and require minimal attention, but still make great additions to your home.

1. Mother-in-law's tongue

Able to withstand up to a month without water, you’ll be hard pressed trying to kill a mother-in-law’s tongue. Not only are they a hardy species, but their thick, extending leaves make a real visual impact.

2. ZZ plant

Indoor plants expert, Jane Perrone, recommends a ZZ plant to even the most forgetful of plant owners. Capable of ‘shrugging off deep shade, direct sun, no water for months on end and desert-dry air,’ they require minimal attention and make a great addition to minimalist rooms.  

3. Air plant

Not only do air plants look stylish when displayed in a terrarium, they also require relatively little attention. No need for soil, as these peculiar little plants thrive mostly on air, the occasional mist and a weekly soak in water.

4. Philodendron

Due to their minimal needs, the philodendron is a great option for even the least experienced plant parents. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, all it asks for is a bright spot, out of direct sunlight, and a weekly water. What could go wrong? 

5. Aloe vera

As well as only requiring a water every couple of weeks, aloe vera has well documented healing properties. Make a shady spot in your kitchen the home for your new found friend and know that you have a cooling gel on hand, should you burn yourself.  

How to display house plants

Made the decision to become a house plant owner, but not sure how best to display them? We've gathered together a selection of our favourite ideas for displaying house plants; they're suitable for every space and should leave you feeling inspired.

Use trailing plants to create a living wall

living room with overwhelming collection of houseplants

Trailing plants are a great option to consider if you're trying to recreate this look. We love this Betty Armchair from Sofa.com for a green inspired living room 

(Image: © Sofa.com)

Adding lots of living, breathing greenery to a shelving unit instantly gives a fresh feeling to any space. We love this look for a great alternative to the more traditional book shelf display – find more clever ways to display in our gallery wall ideas feature. 

Spruce up your desk with a low-maintenance terrarium

pyramid shaped terrariums on a desk

Available in a variety of quirky shapes, terrariums are a simple addition to a sad looking space. We love the unique shape of this Gold Terrarium from Not on the High Street

(Image: © Not on the Highstreet)

If you require something small to spruce up a sad looking desk or uninspiring home office, look no further than a terrarium; the perfect home for small succulents.

Group pot plants for a contemporary feel

hanging ceramic tray with assorted pots and plants

We love this Bloomingville Flowerpot Tray from Beaumonde

(Image: © Beaumonde)

If you’re short on surface space, or are simply looking to make more of a feature out of your houseplants, grouping assorted species together on a hanging stoneware tray is a great option that adds depth and interest to a space. 

Choose an eye-catching plant pot

deep blue room with bright green chair and brass potted plants

Taller, more dramatic species make the perfect addition to this statement bronze planter and stand. Find this Brass Planter and Stand at Audenza

(Image: © Audenza)

A step-up from the standard plant pot, Mid-century inspired planters are a sophisticated option for displaying houseplants; particularly the more dramatic varieties. We love this bronze finish, which really pops when added to a bold colour scheme.

Make plants a feature in a minimalist space

a crows eye view shot of various cacti and succulents on a coffee table

An assortment of pots really adds to the eclectic feel of this houseplant display. Find similar at Ikea

(Image: © Ikea)

Houseplants can really bring a coffee table to life, making a feature out of an often overlooked space. The trick to achieving this look effectively is ensuring an assortment of species, sizes and pot styles; arranged with little uniformity. 

Right plants, right place

office space filled with various plants

It's been suggested the plants increase happiness and productivity, making them a great addition to an office space

(Image: © Furniture Choice)

Aesthetic appeal, whilst important when selecting a house plant, shouldn't be the only factor taken into account when choosing where to position it. If you want your plants to thrive, it's important to carefully consider their needs when deciding where you place them. Here are our top tips to get you started:

Think about your space

Take a moment to really think about your home: which areas receive the most natural sunlight; which are in constant shade; and the average temperature of each room. Remember that as the sun changes, so will the light in a room. It’s important to know what you’re working with before you start understanding your plants' needs and choosing where to house them. 

How much sunlight does your plant need?

Don't just assume that all plants need sunlight and leave it at that, take the time to research just how much light they require. For some, it seems that the more sunlight the better, whilst others (generally the larger and more leafy species) are better suited to somewhere a little more shaded.

Consider heat sources

Temperature is also an important thing to consider when deciding where to position your house plants. As a rule of thumb, house plants are at their happiest around 20 degrees, so if you're planning on cranking up the radiator in the depths of winter, definitely make sure your house plants aren't too close.

While most plants can tolerate a slight fluctuation in temperature, for more tropical species, consistency is key.

How to handle humidity

Heat from a radiator creates an atmosphere too dry for most species, meaning regular water spritzing during the winter months is a must. Keep an eye on your plants; dry leaves and discolouration are a sign that they can't stand the dry heat.

Choose house plants that are pet safe

cat sat on a sofa in blush toned space with an abundance of houseplants

We love the blush tones of this contemporary living room and its variety of pet-safe plants. See Cubit for similar

(Image: © Cubit)

Unfortunately there are many plants that, while aesthetically pleasing and safe for humans, just aren’t an option for a home shared with pets. They're worth avoiding all together, or being kept out of harms way. 

  • Aloe Vera
  • Lily (Belladona and Kaffir are particularly toxic)
  • Hawaiian Ti
  • Ornamental Pepper Plant
  • Sago Palm
  • Winter Cherry
  • Amaryllis 

However, this doesn’t mean you should miss out on the calming properties of plants, as there are still many pet-safe options available. We’ve gathered together a selection of house plants guaranteed to keep you and your furry friends happy.

Money Tree

As well as bringing good fortune to your home, money trees are a perfectly safe addition to a home shared with pets. Win, win!

Pick your palms carefully

In cooler climates, palms make wonderful additions to a home. However, caution must be taken when selecting an appropriate species. Whilst Sago palms are toxic to pets, Areca palms are perfectly safe. 

Bamboo

Genuine bamboo species, as opposed to look a-likes, are non-toxic to pets and, if allowed to grow, can make a striking addition to a living space.

Selected succulents

Particularly popular amongst millennials, succulents are a welcome addition to many a desk. Opt for species such as Blue Echeveria, Burro’s Tail, Ruby Heart and Opuntia if you have furry friends sniffing around. Kalanchoes are to be avoided, often causing sickness in animals.

Calathea

For a slightly more leafy option, Calathea are worth a thought. Best positioned in a shady corner, they’re entirely harmless to pets.

Inspired? Find out more about house plants: