House Plants: A Guide
words by Samantha Mair & photography by John Kwiecinski
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir
Put simply, if you can take care of yourself, a fellow human being or even a pet, you can look after a plant. Although they have roots instead of feet and leaves instead of arms, they still need food, drink, sunshine and air the same as us. They just take it a little differently.
Here’s a guide to looking after your leafy family members.
Choose the right plant for you. This should really be about picking the right plant for the space. You might like a flowering cactus in a dark corner that’s looking a little bare but really a Ficus would be better suited. You might not be able to have your dream plant exactly where you want it but choosing something suitable means you’ll have a healthy plant that’s happy in its environment and that’s better, right?
Consider your skills. Although I would encourage broadening your abilities as your confidence and experience develops, if plants seem scary to you because you’ve committed crimes against flora, start with something easy. A succulent is pretty self-sufficient but remember you need to consider the first point.
Eat, drink and be merry. When it comes to watering, this is more about timing, which again will depend on your plant species. But for most house plants it’ll either be twice a week, once a week, once a fortnight or every now and then. In terms of food, an application in spring and then in autumn will meet most dietary requirements. No need to cook a three course meal. You don’t even need to worry about adding carbon dioxide – there’s plenty of that around and the sun will provide the light for you.
Get to know your plants. They do communicate in their own way. They’ll tell you when they’re thirsty (drooping leaves), when the sun is too harsh for them (sunburnt leaves) or if they’re hungry (yellowing). Please note, this is generally speaking. But in return they’ll help you out as well. Not only will they brighten up your space but they’ll rid your environment of pollutants and give you clean oxygen. And how about inviting them into your life a little more like you would other loved ones? It’s a simple matter of recognising their place in your life. Say good morning to Sarah, your hanging Pothos by your bed; let Jerry the Fig be the first one you say hello to when you get home from work, or goodnight to Bethel the Begonia before you go to bed.
Diarise. And if all else fails put a note in your diary. Sundays at 11am after a sleep in and your first brew is when you have 10 minutes with your house plant. A chat, perhaps a dust if needed, and a drink.
With an open heart and mind, you will soon have happy and healthy leafy loved ones around you.