Would you love to have some lush greenery in your home but don’t feel that
you have the expertise? Let’s face it – we have all killed a houseplant – or
two or three….perhaps more! But don’t let that put you off. There’s a
houseplant out there for every type of gardener, however inexperienced or guilty!
If you are self-confessed plant-killer with a shameful
back catalogue of murdered houseplants our Bombproof Houseplants are the
Or perhaps you are a well-intentioned plant-lover who is
just too lazy, forgetful, or busy to love your plants full time? Then our Low
Maintenance Houseplants will cope with neglect.
the Aspidistra Flying! The
titular Aspidistra in George Orwell’s novel has typecast this plant as a
Victorian fuddy-duddy. But Aspidistra really deserves more appreciation and the
RHS have awarded it an AGM for good reason. Aspidistra has a cast iron
constitution, hence its common name. Naturally growing in the deep, dry shade
of forests in Japan and Taiwan they can cope with poor light levels and
drought. With its strong, upright leaves it creates ambient greenery in grim
spots where no other plant will survive. There is plenty of evidence to support
the psychological benefits of indoor greenery, so if you have a gloomy room or
a soulless office which could do with some green life to perk it up, then the
Aspidistra is perfect. Although like all plants it needs water, if you forget to
water your Aspidistra she will cope. If you are a determined plant-killer, Aspidistra
is a tough cookie and will treat neglect with disdain.
A born survivor long known under its dated nickname ‘Mother-in-law’s tongue,’ Sanseviera has been justly rehabilitated as a style icon. Its clean, simple lines and boldly striped design make this plant a living sculpture which looks at home amongst modern décor. Sanseviera comes from desert habitats in Africa and Southern Asia and is well adapted to arid conditions with its hard, fleshy leaves which store water. They also exhibit a novel form of photosynthesis. Unlike most plants, which open their leaf pores during the day whilst photosynthesis takes place, Sansevieria keeps its pores firmly shut during daytime heat, reducing water loss through its leaves. As a result, this plant should only be watered every few weeks and is ideal for reckless neglect. However, leaving her soaking in a puddle of stagnant water is like kryptonite to this houseplant superhero. Such appalling treatment is likely to make other houseplants expire in sympathy!
Aptly known as the Eternity Plant, Zamioculcas is practically unkillable. Stiffly upright and armoured with thick, dark green leaves, this warrior of a plant is not easily defeated. Its dark foliage is rich in chlorophyll making it perfect for rooms with lower light levels. And if you fancy something striking, there is even a variety with leaves so dark they are almost black. The ZZ plant is ideal for the inattentive gardener. Swollen stems and roots hold moisture and nutrients so it is rarely hungry or thirsty. Before giving it a drink ensure that the compost has dried out completely.
The adaptable Aloe Vera has spread far beyond its native habitat in the Arabian Peninsula and become naturalised across the world in warm climates. It will adapt equally well to the warmth of your home, as long as you keep it in a bright place and go easy on the watering. Known to the ancient Egyptians as the ‘plant of immortality,’ lazy gardeners should have a job trying to kill this one. Equipped with thick fleshy leaves full of water-storing gel and covered with a waxy skin the Aloe only needs an occasional drink when its gravelly compost is completely dried out.
The crazy candelabra of Euphorbia abyssinica is capable of growing into a tree reaching ten metres in the wild. Don’t worry! It won’t reach such unwieldy proportions as a houseplant, but it is a fast growing succulent capable of becoming a large and striking specimen. Boldly columnar with multi-branching, ribbed segments edged with spines, the Desert Candle is a dramatically sculptural plant. It makes an excellent solitary centrepiece or can be used to provide effective contrast amongst a group of softer leaved plants. Give Euphorbia abyssinica a bright position growing in gritty compost and all it needs is an occasional splash of water when the roots are dry.
The cool white spathes of the Peace Lily create a tranquil atmosphere and reflect light in dim corners where other houseplants won’t thrive. This easy-going plant is native to tropical rainforests of the Americas. An inhabitant of the understory, it is adapted to lower light levels. If the idea of caring for houseplants induces anxiety, the undemanding Peace Lily will calm your fears and live quietly and contently in partial shade only asking that you water it enough to keep the compost just moist.
Originally from one small island in French Polynesia, Epipremnum has bullied its way across the tropical world to become an exotic pest in wild habitats. But this invasive brute makes a perfect houseguest as its tough constitution shakes off terrible growing conditions making it almost impossible to kill. It also has the advantage of being a climbing vine, which lends it adaptable to different types of display. Its sprawling stems are equipped with aerial roots which will attach themselves to any grippy surface, including your wall if you let it! More usually, it is grown up a pole lending height to indoor plant displays and creating columns of greenery which don’t occupy much space. Alternatively, it can be left to trail out of a pot and grown as a hanging plant.
strengths include its ability to tolerate lower light levels. Finding good
light spots for houseplants can be a challenge and light intensity plummets
dramatically as you move away from a window. But Epipremnum tolerates lower light
levels and will even retain its golden variation. It will also put up with lazy
watering and should only be given a drink when the compost is drying out.
Perfectly at home in scorching deserts, Cacti won’t get in a prickly mood when you turn your heating up! Many houseplants come from tropical regions with high humidity and the dry atmosphere of your centrally heated home during the winter months may not be the most hospitable environment for them. But cacti love to be warm and dry. These resilient characters are basically water-holding stems that have ditched their leaves for spines. They have frail and shallow root systems, but these roots will quickly grow in response to rainfall. So, if you habitually forget to water your plants, Cacti will thrive on your negligence as it will give them the chance to dry out between waterings. Grow them in bright light on a south facing window sill, always using a proprietary cactus compost.
commonly known as ‘houseleek’ but its Latin name literally translates as
‘forever (semper) alive (vivum)’. These rugged little survivors are used to coping
with deserts, stony ground, and sunny rocks. They are great for beginners
because they come in a fabulous range of colours and textures and offer the
opportunity to gradually amass a varied collection. As well as their decorative
foliage, attractive spikes of starry flowers are borne on mature rosettes.
Although the mother rosette dies after flowering it produces plenty of baby
plants to replace it.
With a bit of creative flair sempervivums can make wonderful displays. Cram them into terracotta pots, old teacups, or rusty tins for an eccentric and fun exhibit. Any recycled container will do, provided you make a drainage hole in the bottom and use a very gritty compost. Make the holes by gently tapping a nail into the bottom of the container.
Keep your Sempervivums on
a bright sunny windowsill and they don’t need much care other than removing
dead rosettes and old leaves. In the summer months they can be left outside. An
occasional feed with cactus and succulent fertiliser will give a boost to
growth. But avoid high-nitrogen feeds as these will make your plants grow soft
and become liable to rot.
You might be scared of spiders but there is nothing intimidating about the Spider Plant, Chlorophytum comosum. Spider Plants are perfectly unfussy creatures which adapt to a wide range of conditions, although unlike spiders, they don’t like to hide in dark corners. Grow your spider plant in a bright spot and water regularly but allow the compost to dry out between drinks. They look great cascading from a shelf or tumbling from a hanging pot.
So even if you don’t have green thumbs or lots of time, there’s a host of undemanding houseplants which will beautify your home without requiring much skill or effort. For more ideas browse our Houseplant Section.
From Monkey Leaves to Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, houseplants offer a dazzling variety of leaf shapes, forms, and colours. And from bright, warm window sills, to cool humid bathrooms, they each have their own preferences for where and how they like to live. In case you are feeling bewildered, we have narrowed down the very best. Here is an introduction to our Top Ten Houseplants, answering all your questions on why grow it, where to grow it, how to grow it and even, how (not) to kill it!
Spiky leaves which create vertical accents and contrast beautifully with softer-leaved plants. These punky plants are also excellent air-purifiers. NASA research into cleaning air in space stations found that they remove a host of common air pollutants.
Where to grow Sanseviera?
Anywhere! Sansevieras are born survivors and although they do best in bright light, (but not direct summer sun), they will also tolerant partial light.
How to grow Sansevieria?
Neglect it! Treat it mean and it will grow keen. Water it only once every few weeks. Over-water it and it will rot. Don’t bother potting it on unless the pot is about to break! And if you do, use a very gravelly, free draining compost.
How (not) to kill it
water it too much, stand on it or throw it under a bus. Otherwise, practically
monster with a big heart, this huge, heart-shaped-leaved jungle dweller really
channels the tropical vibe. Deservedly popular, plants can slowly grow into
impressive specimens. An iconic houseplant.
Where to grow Monstera deliciosa?
Hall, bedroom, bathroom, or office – Monstera isn’t fussy.Native to the tropical forests of South America, this gentle giant is tolerant of a wide range of conditions and any room with medium to bright indirect light will do. Naturally dwelling in the lower canopy, it can tolerate lower light levels, but if too low, growth will become leggy and unsightly.
How to grow Monstera deliciosa?
Monsteras are vining plants and can be trained to climb a pole or trellis. If it’s in a pot against the wall just be careful it doesn’t ruin the wall paper with its self-clinging stem roots! Water every one to two weeks allowing the compost to dry out between waterings. Feed these moderately hungry plants once a month in Spring and Summer.
How (not) to kill it!
Avoid putting your Monstera in strong, direct sunlight. The glossy leaves benefit from an annual clean but if you decide to hose it down outdoors choose a shady spot as plants will scorch very quickly in outdoor sunlight. Ensure that it has a free draining compost containing some perlite. Don’t saturate it or leave it soaking in a saucer full of water. Every watering should be allowed to drain freely through the compost.
3. Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia cucullata)
Why grow Elephant’s Ear?
A perfect partner to Monstera, Alocasia cucullata continues the tropical theme with its glossy, prominently veined, heart-shaped leaves which taper down to fine points. Nicknamed ‘Buddha’s Palm’, their elegant leaves, held gracefully on stems which flare at the base, exude an aura of meditative calm.
Where to grow Elephant’s Ear?
well-lit room near a window where it will get bright, indirect sunlight. But
avoid a south-facing window if it’s positioned where strong sunlight hits the
leaves directly. They will scorch!
How to grow Elephant’s Ear?
but moderate watering is the key. Little and often. Poke your finger into the
top of the compost and if it’s drying out give it a splash. Once a month, through
spring and summer, add soluble houseplant fertiliser to the water to give it some
How (not) to kill it
leave it in a dark corner soaking in a saucerful of water. Don’t saturate the
compost – there needs to be some air in there for the plant roots to breathe.
The trick is to keep the compost continually moist but not soaking wet.
This ‘houseplant’ is actually a fast-growing tree, which in the wild can grow up to 20 metres. Its fast growth means that it can quickly make a large feature plant, showing off its swollen, plaited stems which are actually several young trees braided together. The bare stems are crowned by a jungle canopy of five-palmed leaves. All that’s missing is a swinging monkey!
Where to grow Money Tree?
a window with bright, indirect light or even in the office under fluorescent
How to grow Money Tree?
Like the Alocasia, only water it when the top of the compost is dry. Pinch out the growing tips to keep it bushy. Pachira’s quick growth is one of its assets but if it’s obscuring the view, prune it back in spring, feed it, and it will rapidly grow a new crown of leaves.
How (not) to kill it!
trees are adapted to tolerate periods of drought, the swollen stems act as a
water reservoir. If you constantly saturate your Money Tree the stems and roots
asparagus fern radiates an ambience of oriental calm. Lacy foliage, lightly
held in tiers of horizontal fronds, this is green therapy at its best. Relax in
its soft caress (but be careful of its unexpected thorns!).
Where to grow Asparagus Fern?
A position with bright but soft, filtered light. Like most houseplants, do not place it in spots of strong direct sun.
How to grow Asparagus Fern?
fern isn’t really a fern, it’s a lily. This is good news, because unlike most
ferns it adapts well to indoor container growing and is easy to look after. Water
regularly, keeping the compost moist.
How (not) to kill it!
Leave it in hot sun and it will quickly frazzle. Overwater it and the plant will turn brown.
High performing but low maintenance, the Indian Rubber is possibly the perfect houseplant. With its broad and simple leaves, it cuts a stylish silhouette against a plain wall. A fast grower, it quickly makes a strong focal plant in a mixed houseplant display.
Where to grow Indian Rubber Plant?
If you have a corner with lower light, the Rubber Plant will cope. Although in brighter, indirect light it will grow faster, with bigger and better leaves.
How to grow Indian Rubber Plant?
is a toughie which is good for beginners. Water when the compost is dry and
boost growth with a monthly feed during the growing season. Polish the shine on
its lovely leaves by cleaning off dust with a soft, moist cloth.
How (not) to kill it!
Fuss and spoil it with excessive water and your Ficus elastica will sulk, turn yellow and drop leaves. Check the compost regularly to judge the moisture content and ensure that the water can drain freely from the pot. Allow it to dry out between waterings.
floating above stems attached from underneath like lily pads make Pilea
peperomioides a distinctive and quirky looking houseplant which is rapidly
becoming an Instagram star. Its spherical shapes contrast beautifully with upright
plants like Aloes and Sansevieria. Better still, it sprouts lots of ‘pups’ from
around the base. Pot them up and give them to your friends!
Where to grow Chinese Money Plant?
Looks dinky on a bright windowsill in a well-chosen
pot and arranged with other short plants.
How to grow Chinese Money Plant?
it regularly but only when the compost feels dry. Pilea will tolerate lower light,
but the leaves may curl inwards, the stems lengthen and bend towards the light
and flop. In lighter conditions growth will be compact and perky. Regular
monthly feeding when in active growth will keep its leaves looking bright green
How (not) to kill it!
Most dead houseplants are killed by overwatering. If the pert leaves collapse this is a sign that it needs a drink. If the compost is already damp, don’t water it!
RHS award-winner is the longest flowering houseplant, providing a year-round pop
of colour amongst the greenery. The ‘flowers’ are actually modified leaves,
with the central ‘spadix’ containing the real, tiny flowers. Their sculptured,
waxy spathes come in exotic shades of salmon pink,
or dusky purple.
But if you are more purist in your tastes, plump for the pure white form.
Where to grow Anthurium?
In the wild Anthuriums are epiphytes, growing off the branches of other host plants rather than rooting in the ground. The plants trap debris around their roots, rainwater drips through and high aerial humidity keeps everything just moist. Your Anthurium will enjoy the humidity of a bathroom, provided it gets bright, indirect light. Don’t place it near radiators, heating vents or in draughts.
How to grow Anthurium?
Anthuriums can be grown ‘epiphytically’ like orchids, without any soil! If you do grow them in compost it should be
very gritty and free draining. To increase humidity, mist them regularly or sit
the pot on top of pebbles in a saucer of water. Pull off spent flowers, which
are usually produced at 3-month intervals with a rest in between. Every couple
of months treat your anthurium with a tomato fertiliser.
How (not) to kill it!
epiphytes, Anthuriums have minimal need for soil whilst their roots require
high aerial humidity. If you grow them in a big clod of soggy compost, they
will turn their toes up!
woodii or String of Hearts is one of my personal favourites. Once difficult to
find, it is fast becoming highly popular and for good reason. A tumble of fine
stems decorated with heart-shaped leaves and round bead-like stem-bulbils, this
RHS award winner will win your heart over!
Where to grow String of Hearts?
Dangling in front of or beside a window with bright, indirect light, Ceropegia looks fabulous. But don’t dangle it directly above a radiator! Alternatively, trailing from a high shelf or table will show it off to advantage.
How to grow String of Hearts?
String of Hearts is a succulent and likes to be kept dry. Treat it like a cactus and grow it in gritty cactus compost. Water it moderately, preferably from below. Feed it with cactus and succulent fertiliser every couple of months in the growing season.
How (not) to kill it!
it with kindness! This is a plant which prefers neglect. Over-watering and
over-feeding with high nitrogen fertiliser will be its downfall.
With elegant white spathes sailing above slender dark green leaves, the Peace Lily is a long-flowering beauty but also unfussy and easy to care for.
Where to grow Peace Lily?
lilies will tolerate lower light levels than many houseplants but too dark and
it won’t flower. Site it on a shelf or table where it will receive moderate to
bright indirect light. Spathiphyllum is a highly effective air purifier so it’s
great at home or in the office for removing air pollutants.
How to care for Peace Lily?
regularly but wait until the top few centimetres of compost has dried out and
the pot feels lighter. If you leave it longer the leaves will droop with
thirst. Soak it for 10 minutes, leave it to drain and your Peace Lily will
How (not) to kill it!
is an unfussy plant but is most likely to be killed by overwatering. Only water
your Peace Lily when it tells you that it needs it!
If our Top Ten has whetted your appetite, look in our Houseplant section for more inspiration and watch our video for additional growing tips.
Add some festive colour to the dark winter months this Christmas.
Our winter-flowering houseplants make growing gifts which everyone will love. A gift of brightly coloured flowers raises Christmas spirits and what’s more, green gifts are not just for Christmas, but continue to give pleasure through coming seasons.
Christmas houseplants also make great festive decorations. Beautiful plants themed in red, green, and white look stylish and bring natural winter beauty into your home.
The vivid yellow of these miniature daffodils will brighten up gloomy winter days. One of the most popular dwarf daffodils, Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ is also delightfully fragrant. Our specially prepared and timed bulbs are delivered just sprouting, ready to burst into flower once in the warmth of your home. Put them outside after flowering and they will continue to bloom year after year. Give these cheeky little daffs to someone and they are bound to put a smile on their face.
Arguably the best Christmas-flowering houseplant, this Christmas cactus bursts into a tropical mix of pinks which will banish winter chills. Putting on a phenomenal two-month flowering display from late November into January, Christmas Cactus Tricolour is also one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Rest it after flowering and this bumper bloomer will put on a stunning performance every winter.
One of the most intensely scented flowers, Hyacinths will quickly fill a whole room with their exquisite fragrance. Their pearly, starry blooms are perfect for a touch of Christmas twinkle. Choose pretty-in-pink Hyacinth ‘Pink Pearl’, or snowy white Hyacinth ‘White Pearl’. Both varieties have been specially coaxed to flower over Christmas and will re-flower outdoors each spring
This red-hot hibiscus will turn up the heat on cold Christmas nights. Its luscious, trumpet-shaped flowers make a wonderfully festive welcome to the home. In the warmest months of the new year, it can be moved to a sunny patio to bloom again.
Create a charming New Year’s display with these dainty snowdrops which promise the coming spring. After flowering, plant them outside in the garden to enjoy their honey-scented, nodding blooms the following year.
A stylish decoration for the Christmas home, the sculptural blooms of the red amaryllis create a striking statement. Deep, velvety red, they also make romantic gifts. And if you like your Christmas to sparkle, our Amaryllis Pot with LED lights will do the trick.
The ‘Flamingo Flower’ will bring cheer not just at Christmas but for many months. Anthurium ‘Million Flower’ produces exotic red blooms intermittently throughout the year, each one lasting for up to three months. The bright red spathes and glossy green leaves bring a jungle vibe into the home.
The most popular Christmas plant is undoubtedly the Poinsettia. But instead of traditional red, this one comes in classic, frosty white. Princettia ‘White’ brings brightness on short winter days, its simple green and white colour scheme looks perfect on its own or pair it with a traditional red Poinsettia for an effective contrast.
Houseplants are a green gift which everyone will enjoy. Look in our Christmas section for more festive greenery and inspiring gifts.
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