By Elaine Bothe
Thriving houseplants are a true joy. Heathy plants help cleanse
the air and add beauty to your home. But once they begin to fade, dying plants
are depressing, add stress because we work so hard to make them healthy again and
So, what’s the appeal? Are house plants worth the effort?
Yes, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Plants are living things,
sometimes things go wrong!
Here are some tips to keep your plants healthy and looking
great, for at least a while.
1. Accept that plants
are mortal. They will die.
Who amongst us hasn’t tried to nurse a sad poinsettia
past its prime, hopeful that it will once again bloom? The inside of our homes
are not really suitable for most plants unless we make some specific
arrangements for light and humidity. Few of us have space or money for that.
When your plants fade, give it up. Dying plants make a mess of
dried leaves and look awful, which is exactly opposite of why we bought the
plant in the first place. We love to nurture -- in our hearts we take on the
challenge, and think we are doing the right thing by trying to resurrect the
Enjoy the plants while they look great, then throw them out.
Make your life a little easier. You did the best you could, and you have other
things to do than coddle some brown sticks. On the bright side, the dead plant
and its soil make great compost. And you can reuse the pot.
2. Choose bombproof
plants when you can.
And then, ignore them. Usually we kill plants with
kindness with too much fertilizer and water. Most indoor plants can’t handle
perpetually wet soil and soggy roots.
The Cast Iron Plant
Aspidistra elatior, shown at the top of this post, is a great option. It loves low light,
dry air and temperatures between 45 and 85. This describes the environment in
most of our homes! It grows slowly, and only to about two feet tall, so the
best spots for the Cast Iron Plant may be at eye level on a column or tabletop.
The elegant Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii,' is another virtually indestructible plant. It will grow up to four
feet tall and as wide if you give it a pot big enough. Its striking and
architectural vertical leaves make this plant suitable for very modern
interiors as well as traditional ones.
3. Think scale -- go big. Small
plants are great on your desk. Otherwise don’t be afraid to make a bold statement
with plants, they just become clutter if they are too small for the space. Buy the
biggest ones you can afford, or buy hanging style plants such as a Boston Fern, Nephrolepis exaltata,
and place on a pedestal to get them at eye level.
Or, buy multiples of smaller plants
of the same type, and place at several levels such as the floor, coffee table
height, and eye level.
You can also use a bigger,
vertical style pot or urn, and build a platform inside to support the plant in
a smaller plastic pot. Keep the width and opening of the outer urn in scale
with the plant, but you can go taller. Hide the inner pot with dried moss
4. If all else fails, go for the faux. Modern artificial plants have all the beauty of the real ones, and none of the hassle. You get the look of more tender plants without the stress. All you need to do is dust once in a while. From afar, faux ferns and ficus are always green, silks are slick and and bombproof blooms look perfect all the time.
Spend a little to get a better quality. Silk plants are better than plastic, and you may need to get really close to tell the difference!
Send us your stories about house
plants. Did you have a sickly spider plant from college that thrived in a new
apartment? Did you kill off your Mom’s heirloom jade plant? Let us know!
Photos courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens website.
Labels: common house plants, easy houseplants, good house plant, plant care tips