Choosing Houseplants

Choosing Houseplants has now become more confusing as the current fashion in new houseplant varieties means that there are lots of different plants available.  In the past there was a small selection available in supermarkets, but now garden centres have started re-stocking their shelves and florists are also selling a wide variety of indoor plants.

Why grow Houseplants

House plants can have a calming effect on the mind as they can be fascinating to look at and contemplate, but not demanding.  You can interact with them; touch and smell them and watch them grow and flower.  Some can also support your physical health by filtering harmful chemicals out of the air.  Whatever the size of your room, flat or house, if you have some light, you can grow house plants.

Research studies have shown that “living and working alongside plants [many people found]…

  • Their mood levels improved
  • They felt less stressed
  • They felt more productive
  • Their attention span improved” (RHS Practical House Plant Book)

Which Houseplant?

If houseplants can make US more happy, then we need to make sure THEY are happy too!  That means choosing the right plant for specific conditions.  Below I’ve listed some easy-care houseplants for different conditions.  Also, bear in mind that most houseplants don’t like temperatures below 10 degrees.

Shady rooms and corners

Houseplants for Shade

Snake Plant, ZZ Plant and indoor ferns

  • Spider Plant, also purifies air
  • Peace Lily, also purifies air
  • Snake Plant, also purifies air
  • Devil’s Ivy (hanging plant), also purifies air
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ Plant), also purifies air
  • Indoor ferns
  • Begonias
  • Fatsia lizei
Houseplants for Shade

Begonia, fern and Fatsia lizei

Sunny rooms and windowsills

Glass Terrarium

Succulent houseplants in terrariums

For these areas you’ll be choosing houseplants from the following

  • Jade/Money Plant (Crassula), also purifies air
  • Cactus
  • String of Pears – hanging plant
  • Tradescantia zebrina – hanging plant
  • Most succulent plants (those with thick fleshy leaves)
  • String of Hearts (hanging plant) also likes direct light
  • Ruby Glow Radiator Plant (avoid draughts)
  • Aloe vera
  • Agave
Succulent houseplants

x Graptosedum ‘Alpenglow’, Peperomia graveolens, Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’, Sedum nussbaumerianum

Humid conditions

Air Plants

Tillandsia – Air plants

  • Air Plants – these don’t need compost or a pot (arrange them on sea shells or driftwood)
  • Blue Star Fern
  • Birds’ Nest Fern
  • Green Lady Boston Fern, also purifies air

You can’t water Air plants in the traditional way so either spray them with water or plunge the whole plant into a bowl of water for a few minutes.


No houseplant likes to be over-watered; in a pot there is nowhere for too much water to go, so it will rot the roots and leaves if the plant is sitting in water.  Before you water, feel the top of compost to check if it is dry and then have a look at the bottom of the pot to see if that is dry too.  If the compost is moist you don’t need to water at all, but if it feels dry water the plant.

Generally plants will need more water

  • during summer when the plant is actively growing
  • if the plant is large

What could happen if you over water

  • The compost may go green at the top (this will be algae growing which likes wet, sunny conditions)
  • The plant roots will rot
  • The leaves may develop black spots.

If this happens just stop watering, empty out the pot if there’s water at the bottom and let the compost dry out before you water it again.  Make sure the plant is in a container with drainage holes.

What could happen if you under water

  • The plant will stop growing
  • Succulent (thick) leaves may shrink and wrinkle
  • Softer leaves will wilt and develop brown leaf tips

If this happen just water the plant well – watering from the bottom is the best way to re-hydrate the plant (stand the plant in a shallow bowl of water for 20 minutes so the compost can be re-wetted).

Feeding Houseplants

Your houseplant only has a pot to grow in, so it’s doesn’t need lots of fertiliser – a liquid feed once a month from April to August is plenty.  Just follow the instructions on the container and add a few drops/grains of fertiliser to the water.

More information on choosing Houseplants

If you’d like to start off your collection of succulents come along to one of my Terrarium Workshops around Greater Manchester or (if you get a group of friends together) book me to come and deliver a private workshop at your house, office or other venue.

It’s hard to buy one or two houseplants!  Once you start you’ll want to build up your collection and improve your displays.  For great ideas look on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter etc. as well as

Hortology – Mail order suppliers

Surreal Succulents

CraftyPlants – Air Plant Specialist

Tree Bay – Houseplants specialist around Manchester

Flourish – Florist and houseplant specialist with shops in the centre of Manchester and Didsbury

Bud Garden Centre – As well as outdoor plants Brenda also stocks a range of indoor plants and pots in Burnage’s boutique garden centre.

Plant Shop – Houseplant specialist in Stockport

On the Ledge – Podcast all about Houseplants

Also look out for specialist plant fairs and stalls where you live.  If you’d like to learn how to take cuttings, grow and swap plants with friends see my blog post on succulents or look at the RHS Practical House Plant Book .