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Plant power: 9 easy ways to fill your house with plants

Living
5 minute guide

Georgina Wilson-Powell

22 May 2017

Green with envy over Instagram’s plant porn? Dive into indoor gardening with these tips from master gardener Ian Drummond.  

Drummond is the Creative Director of Indoor Garden Design, the UK’s largest interior landscaping company. He has created a garden called At Home With Plants (co-created with IKEA) at RHS Chelsea this year (which has just won a silver medal) and has recently released a book of the same name with Kara O'Reilly.

The good news is there’s never a bad time to kick off your houseplant revolution.

“The beauty of indoor gardening is that you can introduce houseplants to your home whenever you wish. Having said that, there is a lot to be said for buying them in the winter, because you will appreciate them even more when there is less greenery outside,” says Drummond. “I want to show how creatively plants can be used and take away some of the fear of owning plants because they should be accessible to everyone,” he explains.

So where to start?

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Match plants to the amount of time you realistically have

Find plants for your level

Don’t worry if so far you’ve managed to kill off everything alive you’ve ever bought from IKEA. All you need are hardy plants. Aside from cacti and terraniums, try the sweetheart plant or Devil’s Ivy.  They’re pretty indestructible. 

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Any space in your home can be greened up with easy houseplants

Start an indoor kitchen garden

“Herbs are never that easy inside but mint and basil should be hardiest,” advises Drummond.

They both like a light, bright windowsill and to be watered every couple of days. You can also try chilli peppers and chives but try and go for a garden centre variety rather than a supermarket plant, which is designed not to last very long.

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Keep herbs on hand for your Jamie Oliver impressions

Green bling your bedroom

Our bedrooms should be sanctuaries of peace and relaxation. Doesn’t sound like your house? Plants can bring calm to any room but they also act as air conditioners to purify and improve the air quality. Some plants release oxygen at night, which can help you get a more restful sleep. These include orchids and aloe vera as well as the peace lily. 

Go large

Use plants to break up different areas of your home, to create privacy screens or to add a wow factor or focal point to a large room. Try the bushy fiddle-leaf fig for greening up a corner or Chinese windmill palm.

Sculpt at Kew info and tickets
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Turn your living space into a green jungle

Don’t forget the bathroom

Not all plants need streaming light and lots of attention. Go for foliage heavy plants rather than flowers and if in doubt stick to ferns like the asparagus or Boston fern (although if your bathroom has no natural light then no plants will last very long). For a dramatic effect, try a tall, bushy Kentia palm, it’ll add elegance to even the pokiest bathroom.

“Try a Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, they tolerate low light levels and like humidity,” says Drummond.

Let it all hang out

“Trailing plants are really popular and easy to look after.  The trend for macramé is brilliant for this too – you can group them together.  Alternatively create a ‘shelfie’ by grouping plants together on a shelf, with a landscape effect,” says Drummond.

If you can’t hang anything from the ceiling, use wall planters or plant stands of various heights or fill a shelf with plants such as the spider plant, chain cactus, English ivy or silver vine.

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Shelves, cabinets, wardrobes, they can all be softened by greenery

Keep it small

Indoor gardening isn’t just about dramatic displays, even the smallest flat can be filled with tiny plants. Air plants have had a resurgence and any mantelpiece or shelf can be filled with an array of pots. Smaller species include the fern arum, fan plant, emerald ripper and Mexican firecracker. And almost anything can be a plant pot – including pen pots, tin cans and teapots.

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Catci will grow in almost any pot - however ridiculous

Bring the outdoors indoors

“If you are creative with your houseplants then the general tasks of a garden can be achieved in a home, for example a ‘hedge’ of ficus trees can be shaped as you would a hedge in the garden. Hanging plants or creating landscape effects can include multiple colours and textures that are every bit as beautiful as an outdoor garden, just on a smaller scale,” says Drummond.

Houseplant up your workspace

More and more of us work at home and the colour green can relieve stress and encourage stability – perfect for when you’ve got a last minute deadline. They can also help your concentration. Share your desk space with succulents or try a money tree or finger tree which can add tiny flashes of green to the smallest spaces. A variegated snake plant or elephant’s foot are both tolerant and low maintenance.

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And breathe...calmer cleaner air in your home office

And don’t forget plants aren’t just there to look pretty. They act as natural air filters.

“There have been many studies undertaken by bodies as varied as NASA and a number of universities worldwide and they have all come to the conclusion that plants act as a kind of ‘pollutant sponge’ because they absorb all kinds of toxins in the atmosphere – from carbon dioxide to the various volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from many common man-made products including paint, carpets, furniture and cleaning products.  Plants are able to remove these toxins from the air through their leaves and stems," says Drummond.

See the At Home With Plants garden from 23-27 May at RHS Chelsea.

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