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The Ultimate Guide to Houseplants

Houseplants are one of the best ways to liven up the interior of your home throughout the year. Despite being located in the cool climes of the UK, you can add colour and fragrance to your living room, bedroom and kitchen by potting houseplants from as far afield as Peru or Australia.

To help you give your new plants the care and attention they deserve, we asked our expert gardeners to put together the ultimate guide to houseplants. Here you can find our top houseplants, as well as essential information on watering your plants and nurturing them indoors.

Remember that every houseplant is different. You can find more detailed information on each species by clicking through to that plant’s specific information page. If you have any questions or queries, please contact the team at Eddington House Nursery.

Top Houseplants

There are a fantastic variety of houseplants from all corners of the globe that can thrive indoors in homes across the United Kingdom. Each houseplant is unique, offering different features, be it colour, smell or size, which appeal in different ways to different homeowners.

Some houseplants are easy to grow, while others might take a little more patience and tender loving care to reach their full potential. The following is a list of our top houseplants, as selected by our nurseries curator Mr Ian Chadwick, who has spent years bringing the best houseplants to the UK.

Kentia Palm

Kentia palm, or Howea forsteriana, is a houseplant of Australian origin that’s been a common feature of households in the UK since the 1870s. Kentia palms are native to the small island of Lord Howe, which is located far off the eastern shores of New South Wales, where they enjoy a subtropical climate and grow in splendid isolation far away from the rest of the continent.

Kentia palms are popular as houseplants because they can grow with very little light. Outdoors, Kentia palms can reach heights of ten metres with palm fronds as long as three metres. Indoors, they’ll be contained by the conditions and room, but you’ll still need plenty of space. Minimal watering is required, but to keep the palms green and bright try to water the pot and leaves three times a week.

 

Dracaena fragrans

Dracaena fragrans (also known as corn plants) are grown in two distinct varieties. There’s Dracaena fragrans (the tall version) and Dracaena fragrans compacta (the shorter, more compact version).

The larger plant can reach well over two metres in height, but the compact variety can still reach anywhere between one and two metres. Dracaena fragrans love a little humidity, as they’re native to subtropical Africa. Try to mist the leaves when you can, and remember that both plants require bright sunlight to flourish.

Snake Plant

The ominously named snake plant, or Sansevieria, is a popular houseplant species characterised by its long, vertical shoots, which are sword-like (or snake-like) in nature. However, snake plants actually get their name from the unique dark green and yellow patterns that form on the surface of their leaves and look remarkably similar to snakeskin.

Peace Lily

The peace lily, or Spathiphyllum, is a common sight in bedrooms, kitchens and offices across the country. This popular houseplant is fantastically easy to care for, but the peace lily quickly fills a room with flowery fragrances and colourful blooms.

The peace lily originates from Central and South America, but it easily thrives in low light levels. Try to water this houseplant at least once a week, and keep it away from direct sunlight.

Philodendron

Philodendrons are an enormous family of plants that comprise an estimated 489 different species (estimates are constantly evolving). This sturdy houseplant is characterised by large green fronds that sway from long green vines, but each species has unique features.

Philodendrons grow best in direct sunlight, so they prefer to be next to patio doors or large windows. They need little attention in terms of watering however, and will grow up to one metre in height with little effort on the part of the gardener.

At Eddington House Nurseries, we have an ever-expanding range of Philodendrons, including the following popular species:

ZZ Plant

ZZ plants, or Zamioculcas zamiifolia, are an increasingly popular houseplant that can trace their origins back to the dry plains of the African savannah. They’re marvellously green in colour, featuring small but bright leaves that grow from long stems up to one metre in length.

ZZ plants are a popular addition to homes and offices, because not only do they look great in the corner of a room, but they also require little watering (they are incredibly drought-resistant). It should be noted that all parts of a ZZ plant are poisonous to humans, but only if ingested (so don’t eat the leaves!).

Chamaedorea

Parlour palms, or Chamaedorea elegans, are well known for their slender, elegant stems and bucolic, vibrant foliage. They can quickly fill a room with bright green leaves, particularly when they flower in the summer months, and reach heights of up to two metres.

Chamaedorea comes from the rainforests of Central America, but they don’t require too much watering or direct sunlight to thrive indoors. Try to place in bright but indirect sunlight for the best growing results.

Devil’s Ivy

Devil’s ivy, or Epipremnum aureum, is a dastardly sounding houseplant that’s native to just a few solitary islands in French Polynesia. It takes its unique name from the fact that it’s virtually indestructible, which is a prime quality desired by gardeners in their houseplants.

As an ivy, this plant can quickly get out of control when left to its own devices outside. Inside, a potted devil’s ivy needs little care and attention, but offers long, vibrant green leaves that are even said to glow in the dark!

Succulents

Succulents are a type of plant that have found their place in ornamental gardens and homes all over the UK. It’s a broad categorisation that encompasses as many as 60 different plant families (and many more species), but the defining character of a succulent is its thick, fleshy stems or leaves, which are designed to hold water.

Succulents are found anywhere with limited water and they are well adapted to survive drought. That makes them great for potting indoors, where you can leave them in the sunlight and virtually forget about them. Popular succulents include aloe vera and cacti.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig

The fiddle-leaf fig, or Ficus lyrata, is a tongue-twister of a houseplant that’s native to the subtropical climate of western Africa. Outdoors, the fiddle-leaf fig can reach up to 15 metres in height, although indoors it’s a little tamer.

Needless to say, the fiddle-leaf fig is a tall, elegant plant that can still rise to three metres in the living room. Give this houseplant plenty of headroom and plenty of water if you want it to grow tall. They also love bright but indirect sunlight.

Swiss Cheese Plant

The Swiss cheese plant, or Monstera deliciosa, is neither Swiss nor made of cheese! Its English name comes from the fact that this houseplant has bright leaves with unique patterns that resemble the holes on Swiss cheese.

The Latin name for the plant translates as ‘delicious monster’, a reference not to cheese, but to the large fruits that can grow in the wild in its native lands of Central America. Indoors, the Swiss cheese plant is easy to look after and enjoys bright, indirect sunlight.

Spider Plant

The spider plant, or Chlorophytum comosum, is one of the most popular varieties of houseplants given how easy it is to grow indoors. It has a number of different species, but all are known for their long, spindly leaves that hang like spider’s legs from the stems.

Spider plants need bright, indirect sunlight and regular watering, but they’re incredibly difficult to kill, even if you’re trying!

Ficus Elastica

The Indian rubber plant, or Ficus elastica, is a type of rubber-producing plant that’s native to Sri Lanka and parts of India. As a houseplant, the Indian rubber plant produces large, dark green leaves that are rubbery in texture and glossy in look.

Indian rubber plants can reach a height of three metres if kept in bright but indirect sunlight, and if well cared for.

Bird’s Nest Fern

The bird’s nest fern, or Asplenium antiquum, is a beautiful fern that traces its origins back to Japan. It’s characterised by impressive fronds that can spread wide across the room.

These ferns look lovely when sat in shade, because they don’t enjoy direct sunlight. It’s important to keep these houseplants warm too, particularly in winter

Peperomia

Peperomia is another variety of houseplant found all over the world, with as many as 1,500 known species in existence. Peperomia have thick, green leaves and stems that give them the ability to store water and survive droughts. They’re commonly found in the tropics, while indoors they provide brightness to rooms when they flower.

Variety is key to the peperomia family, and each species has its own unique colours and flowers. Some are bright green, others are red, and some are purple. Peperomia are popular for beginner houseplant enthusiasts, as they offer a wealth of colours but require little watering and only medium-to-bright sunlight.

At Eddington House Nursery, our favourite species of peperomia include the following:

A Guide to Watering Houseplants

Many of our top houseplants require little watering, particularly if they’re drought-resistant and used to dry conditions (succulents, for example). However, it’s still important to water your plants sufficiently.

With houseplants, too much water can result in drowning so it’s best to be sparing, particularly if you know the plant in question is hardy. In fact, the biggest danger to houseplants is overwatering, so be careful rather than generous. Each plant has different requirements, so always check the plant’s instructions or check in with our team after purchase.

Finger and Lift Tests

Given the importance of not over watering houseplants, it’s good practice to learn how to accurately check whether a houseplant needs watering or not. The quickest way to assess this is by performing a finger test or a lift test.

A finger test is a good way of checking water levels in the soil. Take your index finger and push it down into the soil. If you don’t feel any water by the time your knuckle reaches the soil, then your plant needs watering.

A lift test simply involves lifting the houseplant up off the ground while it’s in its pot. You’re judging the plant’s weight, to see if the houseplant needs watering. A dry plant is much lighter than a watered plant, and it’s often quite obvious if the plant needs watering. For this method to work you need to be able to compare its current weight to its watered weight.

It’s good to lift the plant up after it’s been watered to get a feel for how it should weigh in the future. This method also only works if the houseplant is small and light enough for you to safely pick up.

In addition to these simple tests, it can often be clear that a houseplant needs watering (particularly if you’ve left it unattended for some time). If your houseplants don’t look as green or fresh as usual, or if they are beginning to wilt and turn brown or yellow, or are simply drying out, then it’s time to give them a good water.

Remember that plants need more or less water depending on the time of year. While houseplants are hardy and drought resistant, they will still need more water during summer. This is especially important if there’s a heatwave or a prolonged period of extreme heat.

In winter, the need for watering is much reduced given the cooler climate, and you need to be more vigilant and careful of overwatering your houseplants.

How Much Light Does My Plant Need?

As well as watering (or not overwatering, as the case may be), houseplant owners need to consider the amount of sunlight their plants receive on a daily basis. Just like watering, each plant has its own unique requirements. All plants require sunlight, but some prefer direct sunlight, while others need shaded light.

If your plant needs lots of sunlight, position it close to windows, but if it’s a shade lover, the corner of the room might be more appropriate. You also need to consider how the sun’s position changes each day and throughout the seasons.

Houseplant owners can help to better position their pots on the basis of their geographical location. As the UK is located in the northern hemisphere, we know that any windows facing south will receive more sunlight than windows facing north.

If your plant needs lots of sunlight, position it next to south-facing windows. If it prefers the shade, it’s best positioned to be north facing. If it needs to be somewhere in the middle, then choose an east or west-facing location.

You also need to factor in objects or nearby buildings that can cause shade at particular times of the day, and remember to move your houseplants as the seasons change and less direct sunlight is available in certain parts of your home

Guidance on Plants That Are Pet and Child Safe

We’ve already noted that ZZ plants are poisonous to humans, if consumed. Therefore ZZ plants are not safe to have in the house if you have small children or pets that might start to become curious.

Other plants can have negative effects on pets and children too, so if you’re considering purchasing new houseplants, always check with your provider if there are any dangers to be aware of before you take them home. If you’re unsure, always keep your houseplants out of the reach of pets and children, by storing them on shelves or tall windowsills.

Contact Eddington House Nursery for All Your Houseplant Needs

Eddington House Nursery stocks a wide range of houseplants, from peace lilies and ferns to snake plants and devil’s ivy. Our nurseries are packed full of an incredible variety of plant species from around the world, and our expert team are ready to help you with your next houseplant purchase.

We’re the number one source of unique houseplants on the Isle of Wight, and all of our plants are lovingly cared for and nurtured by our passionate gardeners. Contact Eddington House Nurseries today to find out more.