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Monday, April 6, 2015

House Plants and How to Enjoy Growing Them



Image result for houseplants

Say the word houseplants and what immediately springs to mind - dead, dying unloved in some ghastly container that really should have been chucked out months ago!
I would like to put forward another picture - plants in the home that are part of the interior design scheme of any room; that are being cared for and greatly enjoyed and giving pleasure to everyone.
The immediate excuse is 'oh when I grow anything it immediately dies!' Anything or anybody taken out of their correct environment is not going to be happy. I would venture to suggest this is time for a new approach. If you know you have a dodgy history with plants then take the necessary steps to change. Ask appropriate questions to find out what will make the plant you have chosen flourish - do they like to be in the sun or do they prefer the shade, what about water -?a lot or a little? If you are still unsure, then the Internet is really the place to go; or Gardening Groups on Facebook, or Wikipedia. There are also sites dedicated to houseplants. Surely by taking the time to investigate, you are investing in the success of the plant. Nothing says wasted money more than a dead plant.
So you have your plant home and it is sitting there. It may or may not need water but it will certainly need a nice container. Think about your interior design room scheme. What would be the most appropriate? Decide the theme. Is your room rustic, then a lovely basket would look great. If modern, then you need something that is clean lined and simple - Perhaps black, white or silver in colour. A room surrounded in antiques needs a planter that fits in with the scheme. Old soup tureens make wonderful containers. I also adore those lovely swans that you can fill with plants - they can look really interesting. Why not look round on Pinterest for ideas, go to your local flea market, car boot sale or trawl eBay to see what you can find that you like. Another option is terracotta pots, the older and more interesting the better. As with any container make sure that watering will not do any damage, appropriate saucers fitting in your general overall design are most important. There is nothing more heartbreaking than water damage on a beautiful dark wooden polished table.
Care of your container is vital. Always line your basket with a black liner. Make sure if you are using china that limescale does not become an issue. Re-potting a house plant gives ample opportunity for cleaning the container too. Glass too for a more modern display also has to be kept clean and smart.
Don't forget by having houseplants in your home you are improving your health! Plants produce oxygen. There is a theory supported by NASA that houseplants remove up to 87% of airborne toxins. To do this, you need 15 - 18 good sized plants in 6" - 8" pots. By helping you feel calmer and providing a purpose helps you focus outward which in turn can help your blood pressure drop. Your plants can contribute a 'Zen' feeling in a room. So with all this very positive information, I hope that you are feeling more confident about giving them another go.
The next step is to decide what effect you are looking for. Do you want just foliage or do you want flowers as well? Realistically unless they are orchids, you will be looking at a limited timeframe when they are at their best. Orchids by the way flower for 3 months plus! If you fancy growing them, then please do check out Kew Gardens to learn more about their orchid extravaganza. Other flowering alternatives include lavender or jasmine, peace lilies even a shrimp plant; Christmas cactus, azaleas, streptocarpus and begonias.
If you have the space, see if you can grow your plants from seed. Coleus do well here and they are fun to grow as they have the most amazing coloured leaves going from pale green/white to the darkest of plums.
Foliage plants are a joy. They take less maintenance and have all year round interest - often seen in offices. In this category, you might also consider Air Plants. They are something a little bit special as they only need spraying not watering. Well worth investigating. Foliage plants are interesting, do you keep them as specimen statements or do you group them for impact? You need to use plants with different textured leaves and different colours. Be warned, group plantings can be more difficult as all the plants will have different watering needs.
In this category, check out ferns, spider plants and fiscus. Peace lilies cross the divide as their flowers are somewhat exotic yet the leaves look great by themselves. Aloe Vera and eucalyptus have health benefits. Herbs growing in the kitchen look most authentic and obviously have a use too. Also in the heat, the aroma of the plants is really attractive. Curry plants are fun here. I would also encourage you to check out sedums. Fascinating plants that look great in a modern scenario. Pinterest have lots of beautiful examples of how they can best be set off.
I hope that you feel more inspired to either start a new interest or re-visit an old one with more confidence.
Marilyn Mountford trained as a horticultural therapist and ran her own floral design service for weddings in Hampstead, London for 10 years. Currently she runs an online website selling over 300+ cushions predominately handmade but definitely designed and created in the UK. http://www.cushionsbydesign.co.uk


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