So you want to adopt a house plant?
Unlike fur babies, real babies, or goldfish, house plants are a commitment that’s within reach of most folk regardless of their ability to care and/or time commitments. The only thing that one really has to be on the look out for is that your plant baby is the right for your care factor level. If you really like the idea of greenery in your home but forget to brush your teeth most nights and pay your bills two weeks late there is a good chance that a plant that requires watering a few times a week will not last long under your supervision. It’s cool… we all have been that busy at some point. Being busy doesn’t mean that you have to opt out of the potted-plant-Instagram-feed game, it just means that you have to shop smart for the right plant for you.
If you have been on a predominately visual based social media stream or walked by an interior decorating store in the last two years you might have noticed that plants are really having their moment when it comes to design. Plants are pretty much to Instagram in 2016 what Manolo Blahnik’s were to every one of Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits. The icing on the cake! If you add some kind of on trend greenery to your social media feeds there is a guarantee that you are upping your coolness by at least 80%*. This is important to keep in mind when decorating because adding a few totally awesome plants to your slightly dodgy rental apartment can suddenly make the place oh-so-chic and you don’t have the worry that you would have trying to affix paintings and posters to walls (why are they so fussy about adhesive tack or a few little nail holes!!!!). Not only do plants give your home a visual lift, they can also help your spirit shine and clean the air. Convinced you need one or more in your life yet?
*Author takes no responsibility for the accuracy of this entirely fictitious guesstimate of coolness to plant-ness.
Low-maintenance, high visual impact plants to consider.
If you are prone to murdering green things or sometimes get so busy that you forget where you live then there is a good chance that you might want to consider investing in a low maintenance plant that will require little input from you for maximum plant awesomeness. Virtually un-killable plants that you might like to include in your home are:
- Aloe: An easy care plant (shown at bottom) that requires very little effort or watering from it’s plant parent (you). Aloe’s look really awesome and some varieties come with additional benefit of being a great sunburn remedy and general all round beauty regime winner. Depending on the type you choose and where you live you can get away with watering as infrequently as monthly or possibly never if you have a nice patio it can live on and get rained on. Beware that some Aloe species can be a bit prickly or spiky so if you have small people you might want to avoid those varieties.
- Spider Plant: A creepy name for a very stunning and easy care houseplant. Chuck this little guy in your home for his looks but know that your addition is actually helping to reduce air pollution. Spider plants are rumoured to be good at eliminating formaldehyde. These plants are apparently appealing to Kitty Cats, and while non toxic, it’s suggested you try to avoid having your purring friend playing with your plant baby. Spider plants do like a little bit of water so tip your post-gym water bottle dregs on them a few nights a week and keep them in moderate sun for a happy house plant (I’ve seen these guys successful in many bathrooms).
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: This architecturally gorgeous plant (the tall snake like looking one above shown in two varieties) with a funny common name is a really simple plant with maximum Instagram impact awesomeness. It’s like this plant was actually designed for lazy people as it actually prefers to be neglected. Keep it inside in a dingy corner if you like (it’s tolerant to low light levels) and water infrequently. Every few weeks or once a month should be fine. If you water too much it can get root rot. Be warned that this beauty isn’t the best if you have pets. It can be a little toxic so if you do own a fur friends and a Mother in Law’s Tongue keep them apart.
The slightly trickier but Oh-So-Pretty Plants to Consider.
While you might look at the list below and think ‘Meh.. I can so grow those’ some of these plants aren’t the easiest to keep alive despite common belief. While they won’t be as difficult as cultivating Pomaderris clivicola and Bertya pedicellata they can have their moments.
- Cacti: While these guys are often the ‘go-to’ plant for people who want low maintenance they can be surprisingly difficult if you don’t live in the right location for your chosen cacti. Many cacti species like hot dry conditions, so quite often you can water them sparingly and talk to them all day only to have the die in front of you. This is often due to humidity. So unless your office resembles the desert (hot, dry, tumbleweeds blowing through) there are some species that might not cut it. Do a little research and find ones that might prefer a bit of moisture (the Christmas Cactus above is a jungle cactus and can deal with a bit more humidity and lower light) or suit your specific home and geographical conditions. If you can’t work out what to get buy a succulent. They have the same aesthetic but are generally easier to look after. Cacti with spikes or irritating sap are not great for people with pets or kids.
- Ferns: Some ferns grow like weeds in some locations. Others will wither up and die in your apartment in a week if you forget to give the a little water. Yes, ferns can be a great low maintenance plant for some, but others will be scared off plant care forever if they kill their maidenhair in a fortnight. If you are prone to plant murder steer clear of these until you are feeling brave and responsible.
- Bonsai: While many know there is an ‘Art’ to bonsai some swear these beauties can be easy care. To this I say ‘Heck No’! I’ve been scarred by previous Bonsai murdering experiences with the easiest care bonsai. I’ve learned that mine may be due to incorrect lighting (the roots of many bonsai sit close to the sides of the plants pot so if they get too much sun even for a short time they can get fried from the bottom up). From personal experience I would recommend that only the brave and careful try Bonsai. If you master the art please share some pics with me so I can live my Bonsai growing dreams vicariously though you.
Generally speaking it’s best to chat with the people you buy your plants off for growing advice. You will get lots of info on the internet but the people growing them locally will know what works best for your plant in your specific location. Ask for advice on fertilisers, lighting, and watering. They should give you a good guide on what your plant needs. If you notice your plant looking sad (they do have feelings you know) that’s when you should Google to find out details. Check to see what diseases or pests are known to lurk on your plant baby. Check Google images until you see a visual match. Plants like a rain watering from time to time. If you do put your baby out in the rain bring it in as soon as the rain stops. Wind and sun exposure can be a shock to indoor plants. You don’t want to go out a day later and find that you have killed your plant with kindness. Most plants love an organic fertiliser from time to time. Ask your nursery or grower for their best tips on plant food.
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Do you have pet plants? Do they have names? Perhaps you are a serial plant murderer? Share all your thoughts and stories with us below (no judgement for brown thumbs).