Which house plant where?
Which house plants you choose should depend on the environment you intend to keep them in, the space available, how much time you can spend preening them as well as your personal preference. For me, foliage house plants are the ticket, because they provide the continuity to my indoor displays, to which I can add a blast of colourful flowers as well as the odd novelty or two for seasonal variety and interest. This year, for example I’ve been enjoying a couple of banana plants that have, at times, threatened to take over the conservatory completely!
If you are buying your first house plant, choose one that’s really easy to look after. Popular plants such as weeping figs and the Swiss cheese plant are ideal, but you shouldn’t overlook the more flamboyant cymbidium orchids. Although rather fragile and exotic looking, these orchids are trouble free and practically look after themselves. They have the added bonus of flowers that last for months during winter. They make a great gift, too.
Bathroom house plants
Your bathroom is often the best room in the house for growing an indoor plant. The warm, humid conditions in a well-lit bathroom are ideal for many tropical plants such as anthurium and caladium. Where the light levels are less good try the peace lily instead. However, if your bathroom has no natural light, you will have to provide it artificially using a light bulb that promotes plant growth. When using the bathroom, try to avoid spraying the plants with aerosols and dusting them with talcum powder, because the leaves will become coated and make them less able to photosynthesise.
- Good for African violet (Saintpaulia), angel’s wings (Caladium), anthurium, baby’s tears (Helexine), club rush (Scirpus), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), snakeskin plant (Fittonia), umbrella plant (Cyperus), zebra plant (Aphelandra), and devil’s ivy (Scindapsus).
Kitchen house plants
In the kitchen, the temperature and humidity is likely to be more variable depending on the time of day and how often you cook. If space in your kitchen is as tight as mine, choose small plants that don’t sprawl or topple easily. Avoid placing plants where they will get in the way or be next to hot spots, like the cooker, or draughts such as by the back door. Often the best place to grow plants is on a shelf above the work surface or in hanging baskets suspended in the window.
- Good for African violet (Saintpaulia), asparagus fern, begonia, busy Lizzie (Impatiens), cape primrose (Streptocarpus), coleus, creeping fig (Ficus), devil’s ivy (Scindapsus), grape ivy (Rhoicissus), peperomia, tradescantia.
House plants for the hall
Although usually light and airy, halls are also prone to lots of draughts and rapidly fluctuating temperatures, both of which will dictate what you can grow here. You need to choose tough plants that can cope, such as the aptly named cast-iron plant or Mother-in-law’s tongue. But if you’re looking for something a bit less structural, consider the pale green pig-a-back plant in a hanging pot or the wafting fronds of asparagus fern.
- Good for Asparagus fern, false castor oil plant (Fatsia), cast-iron plant (Aspidistra), devil’s ivy (Scindapsus), grape ivy (Rhoicissus), Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sanseveria), pig-a-back plant (Tolmiea), tradescantia, umbrella plant (Schefflera).
Bedroom house plants
Most bedrooms are kept on the cool side, so they are ideal for growing a wide range of the most popular winter-flowering house plants such as azalea and cyclamen. You could train a winter-flowering jasmine over a simple trellis to add its delightful scent to the air, then, as Christmas draws near, add a bowl of fragrant hyacinths in the hallway for olfactory impact throughout the house.
- Good for azalea, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, cape heather, Persian violet (Exacum), false castor oil plant (Fatsia), feather palm, grape ivy (Rhoicissus), hoya, hyacinth, orchids, polka dot plant (Hypoestes), scented pelargonium, winter jasmine.
House plants for living rooms
This is the first place most people think of putting their first house plant because it’s the focus of attention and seems pleasantly warm. Unfortunately, for many plants the warm, dry atmosphere is a killer. The key to success is to maintain humidity around the leaves at all times and to avoid fluctuating and extremes in temperature. If you can maintain a temperature of around 15oC (60oF) and avoid a dry atmosphere, you can grow a wide range of plants. To help improve your plants’ chances, avoid hot spots such as next to radiators or the television. You can increase the humidity locally by standing the plants on trays of moist gravel as well as moistening the foliage regularly with a hand mister. The living or dining room is the place to have bold collections of plants kept together so that they can create their very own micro-climate.
- Good for croton (Codiaeum), devil’s ivy (Scindapsus), dracaena, Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sanseveria), orchids, peace lily (Spathiphyllum), philodendron, shrimp plant (Beloperone), spider plant (Chlorophytum), Swiss cheese plant (Monstera), tradescantia, wandering Jew (Zebrina), washingtonia, weeping fig (Ficus), yucca.