Monday, November 9, 2015

The Indoor Plant

In the late 1980s NASA investigated the benefits of indoor plant usage as a pollution preventative solution for possible use in space stations. They were able to find several plant species that assisted in reducing pollutants in breathable air.  More recently, scientists have discovered that planting green walls and vertical gardens in urban areas, reduces the most toxic pollutants significantly.   I could keep on quoting and referencing different studies but I think that there really is no doubt now that surrounding ourselves in plants and greenery is of significant benefit to both our health and the environment.

Visitors to our house often comment on our indoor plants. Our house does have a bit of a 1970s boho vibe though, when indoor plants had their first heyday!  All the greenery inside the house looks so pretty and it just makes so much more sense economically to decorate a house with living plants. A growing plant should ideally last a lot longer than cut flowers.

The above photo was taken in our dining room.  I have a fiddle leaf fig in the corner  and monsteria growing in the Turkish canoe.  The canoe was originally home to all the Cymbidium orchids but the orchids have all been relocated to the garden and are currently part of a new garden bed I am creating out of an old wood sabot sailing boat.  More on that another day though! 

Fiddle leaf figs are super easy to take care of and are probably my favourite indoor plant.  My number one tip for taking care of them would be to wipe their leaves down every 6 weeks or so with milk.  I know it sounds crazy, but I remember seeing this tip years ago on Gardening Australia and it just works I promise you.  I have huge, over 10 feet tall plants inside the house and they look so healthy with fabulous  glossy green leaves. I literally fill a small container with milk,  I know someone will ask, so full cream ordinary milk.  I then dip an old rag into the milk and wipe the leaves down with the dampened cloth. Make sure each leaf is wiped clean of dust with the cloth.  You may need to get a fresh cloth every now and then depending upon the size of your fig.  Other tips for taking care of figs would be to only water once a week or so, allowing the roots to dry out between waterings.   If you need to re-pot, find a pot that is only a fraction bigger.  They get distressed if the new pot is significantly bigger than the old one.  

This photo is of our dining table.  Where I have Phalaenopsis Orchids and a Cyclamen that is somehow flowering in both white and fuschia!  Phalaenopsis are my second favourite house plant and I have many in the house.  They thrive on neglect.  I water them very infrequently and I only ever use the water left over from steaming vegetables.  I wait until it is cold and then give them all a splash of it.  It seems to work and mine flower regularly with multiple stems.  I also wipe their leaves down with a wet cloth once a month or so.  I have never fertilised them (apart from the old veggie water!) or re-potted them, so I can't offer any advice on either of those aspects of Phalaenopsis care!

In our entrance I have a Cymbidium Orchid.  These I have more difficulty getting to re-bloom.  I have resorted to selecting a new one each year and the old one is relegated outdoors to the garden.  The only thing I have observed over the years, is that moving them around the garden often precipitates a new flower stem!  

On the coffee table I have a little marble pot of succulents.  These thrive on neglect too.  I rarely water them, maybe if one of the boys leaves a water glass on the coffee table I might splash the remnants on top!

In the living room, I have the most spectacular Sansevieria.  I don't know what it's full name is unfortunately, but it is definitely part of the Sansevieria family and it is the most incredible looking plant.   It reminds me of seaweed drifting in the ebb and flow of the ocean, as there is a lovely fluidity to it's shape.  When we bought it the nursery staff  instructed us to be very conservative watering it.  I probably only water it 4 or 5 times a year!  I do wipe down it's leaves with a damp cloth regularly though. 

As you can see above I also have Peace Lilies in the living room.  They do like regular watering.  I empty the boys drink bottles into them after school everyday in a loose rotation.  Ensuring that each plant gets a top up of water fairly regularly.  The main thing with the lilies though I find is to pop them outside whenever it is raining.  This seems to keep them very happy.   If you do not have an outdoor area to put them to collect rain, I would just pop them under a cold shower every now and then!   

Any indoor plants I am missing that I should add to my always growing collection?  Any other tips?  I would love to hear from some other plant fans.


  1. Love it. I too empty the kids water bottles into my pot plants. Great to see you back.

  2. Thank you Joanne! I am really enjoying writing posts again. Emma xx



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