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Bringing the outdoors in: A quick guide to caring for indoor plants

By Rachel Wallace

Plants in the house can make a big difference to the look and feel of a room, and the benefits of indoor plants for wellbeing, including improving air quality, are now more widely recognised.

How many “plants per person” does your home or office have now? My house – before kids – had copious indoor plants. It was a sanctuary.

We’ve had to pare it back a little, but I still love bringing the outdoors in. Now, with toddlers roaming, we’ve shifted to fewer, but bigger, plants (small trees, really) in larger, more stable pots. It maintains the same biomass with a little less effort and time required for care, because two-year-olds need a lot of that.

Plant position

I believe the ideal spot for indoor plants is within two metres of a window. In my experience, plants that have been further away haven’t grown much at all (apart from the all-pervasive sansevieria). Devil’s ivy is another strong low-light plant that seems to get by with less.

The ideal spot for indoor plants is within two metres of a window. Photo: domain

And there are loads of plants that will survive with low light. They won’t exactly keel over and die if more than two metres from the window; they just won’t thrive.

Thriving plants take more water, grow quicker, stay healthier and repel pests naturally. If your indoor plants need to be in a darker spot you could keep them on rotation – a few days outdoors, then a week back inside so that they’re getting enough vitamin D.

I do this with most of my indoor plants, not just the low-light positioned ones, as I feel it keeps them fresh-looking and thriving.

Suitable sizes

Ensure your pots and plants fit the space appropriately. Photo: Alex Carlyle

What size pot will fit the space, what height and shape should the plant be? Leaf Supply have books on the topic that are as helpful as they are beautiful. I highly recommend them.

Personally, I’m loving having some tall two- to three-metre plants inside. My current larger plants have narrow leaves such as Dracaena marginata or Ficus longifolia for tall corner positions.

I also love a Ficus elastica for its hardy, dense and space-filling qualities. Licuala elegans (fan palm) is also a favourite for its massive tropical round leaves. Spathiphyllum Sensation, monstera species and philodendron species have a lower form with broad leaves.


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