What to consider when choosing houseplants

Are you an aspiring houseplant parent, but don't know where to start? Here's what to consider when buying indoor plants.

If you’re an aspiring houseplant parent, the abundance of choice can seem overwhelming when you don’t know your Monstera from your Begonia. Whilst it might be tempting, choosing an indoor plant based solely on appearances can be a recipe for disaster. Before you splash your hard-earned cash on that Variegated Monstera, it’s a good idea to think about these four key factors.

  • Origins: understanding where the type of plant comes from originally can help you figure out what conditions it will need to thrive.
  • Light: figuring out how much light you get in your home is key to any plant’s success - is it mostly shade, lots of sunlight, or none at all?
  • Water: understanding how much water a plant requires can be a deciding factor on your choices - think about how much time you’ll want to dedicate caring for it.
  • Temperature and humidity: placing your plant in the right spot in your home is a crucial part of successful plant ownership.

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1. Origins

You may not know what country your plant came from, but knowing whether it’s from the forest or the desert will really help to work out what care it needs. Leafier tropical houseplants often originate in rainforests, where they would grow under tree canopies in bright but dappled light. Epiphytic types such as Anthurium and Philodendron are easy-going examples of rainforest plants that do well in the home. If you’re looking to fill a south-facing windowsill, plants from arid regions such as cacti and succulents naturally thrive in hot temperatures and direct sunlight.

2. Light

It’s all about location, location, location. If you’ve got a darker corner that’s crying out for some foliage, or a sun-soaked windowsill in need of some greenery, pick your plant to suit the light. Zamioculcas and Sansevieria will sit happily in a shadier corner, whereas cacti need your sunniest spot. Get this bit right, and your plants will flourish. Read more on how to decode the lighting situation in your home with our handy indoor plant light guide.

3. Water

Be honest, how often will you be able to water your plant? If you’re frequently away or tend to be on the more forgetful side when it comes to your watering regime, drought-tolerant plants such as cacti and succulents will be your friends. On the flip side, most houseplants are killed by overwatering. If you’re a chronic over-waterer, always check the soil before you water.

TOP TIP: For leafier tropical plants, the finger test is an easy way to check whether your plant needs watering. Simply poke your finger into the soil (1-2 inches will do!). If your finger comes out dry, it’s time to water. If there’s moist dirt on it, you can probably leave it another few days.

4. Temperature and Humidity

As temperatures in the home can fluctuate drastically throughout the year if you're somewhere at the mercy of changing seasons, resist temptation to fill that empty space by the radiator or in the draughty hallway. Radiators will cause the leaves to dry out, whereas cold draughts may cause leaves to drop as the plant tries to conserve energy to keep warm.

If you’re looking for a plant for your bathroom, where it’s likely to be much more humid than other areas of your home, plants such as ferns and Orchids will really benefit from the moist air. But remember: plants need light, so no plant will survive in a bathroom with no windows for an extended period of time.

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