Whether you’re renovating, redecorating or home staging a property for sale, plants can make a huge difference to a space: giving it a finished, homely feel; adding colour; and even giving it the power to improve your productivity, happiness and health.
Having recently attended a conference on the benefits of Biophilic Design, (see our earlier blog here) we at APM are fully signed up to the importance of incorporating nature into our projects.
When it came to expanding our office space (the result of adding a new member to our team) plants featured heavily – we now have a large window ledge of varying plants as well as some pots just outside the window and some in shade. Below we outline our favourite and most successful plants, as well as our top tips for successfully caring for them.
this fabulous plant is widely available and relatively inexpensive to buy depending on the size you want. They are one of the best indoor plants known to cleanse toxins from the air. To keep your peace lily in good shape; place in a well lit (but not extremely hot) position and water once/ twice a week in the summer and once a week or less in the winter (depending on how warm your house is). If you see the leaves go floppy- water it and it will generally perk up within a couple of hours! We think Peace Lilies look particularly nice in bathrooms.
There are many varieties of fern. The larger varieties are fantastic houseplants – requiring little work and covering a lot of space (ideal for an empty corner or hallway). Water twice a week if in sunlight or once if in the shade.
Orchids have a reputation for being difficult to look after, however get the conditions right (as Liz seems to have managed in our office!) and the results can be spectacular. Readily available in supermarkets, you don’t need to go far or spend a lot to get your hands on one. Orchids like bright spaces and should be watered sparingly once a week (use more water if in a warm room). Be careful not to over-water as the roots can rot. Some varieties have aerial roots which should be left above the soil. Orchids are a nice choice to decorate bedrooms or bathrooms as their flowers last an extremely long time. Once the flowers die, cut the stem back to promote regrowth (this will take some time – don’t panic!)
Delta Maidenhair Fern
Another fern on our list! Much smaller in scale this plant, when happy, has lovely bright green leaves. Needing different conditions, the Delta maidenhair likes humidity meaning that it needs more care than the temperate varieties. To achieve this, we use a water spritzer and regularly spray the leaves. We also water the roots weekly. Liking humidity makes this plant a great choice for bathrooms where steam and moisture levels are high!
A firm favourite of the APM team, miniature roses come in a vast array of different colours. Add a pop of colour to a room or coordinate with the furniture for a subtler result. Place in either a sunny or shady spot, although beware of them getting too much hot sunlight as the leaves develop yellow spots. Water twice a week if in the sun/once if in the shade or as and when the soil feels dry. Once the flowers die off cut the stems right back. This will promote better growth and more flowers. These are hardy little plants and will grow back from a stem with no leaves if necessary. Watch out for thorns!
Very easy to maintain, succulents come in all shapes and sizes. Happy in bright areas, water once or twice a week, allowing the soil to dry out slightly in between. Succulents are very easy to propagate: simply repot off shoots or place a cutting in water until roots appear and then repot. The small size of succulents makes them perfect for a mantelpiece or small kitchen window sill. They even work as little gifts.
Technically a type of succulent, cacti are another easy win. Water weekly to keep them looking juicy. We think cacti can look particularly good when you have a variety of types lined up in matching pots. Watch out when repotting and keep out of the reach of pets and children as the spikes can be vicious.
As well as aiding any aspiring chefs, herbs can be relatively hardy and require minimal work. We have been enjoying our mint plant in the APM office. Relatively indestructible, we water it just twice a week. When the leaves start looking a bit ropey, just cut back and it shoots again from the bottom. Ideally kept in the kitchen, herbs also smell great.
On the advice of a friend, we bought ourselves a lemon tree, that sits proudly on the roof terrace. Bearing 3 lemons (yet to ripen!) it continues to do well with relatively little maintenance. Water twice a week depending on the weather and add citrus fertilizer regularly (up to once a week during the summer). This would be a great plant for kids and looks lovely on a terrace or patio.
Cut flowers & Window boxes
Whilst not a type of flower, we couldn’t do a blog without mentioning vases of cut flowers and window boxes full of bulbs! If selling a house, cut flowers smell nice and look good in photos. Window boxes can also be inexpensive whilst making your property look infinitely nicer. Our favourite cut flowers (that are relatively self-sufficient) include daffodils, tulips and roses in yellows or pinks. For good deals on cut flowers, opt for seasonal varieties when possible. For window boxes we recommend bulbs in spring, geraniums in the summer and cyclamen in the cooler months.
- Plants like damp water, not waterlogged. Don’t let your plants sit in stagnant water; it will rot the roots
- Most plants love the sun but will wilt in extreme heat. If your window ledge is in full sun, make sure you water your plants regularly and check their leaves for sun damage (blotchy yellowing of the leaves) if you notice this – move them somewhere shadier. We recommend researching the natural habitats of plants and placing the plant in a spot in your house with similar conditions.
- Use your instinct – as you get to know your plants you will learn what they need, for instance when the leaves droop or curl – it needs water. With smaller plants you may be able to tell how much water is in the soil by the weight of the pot.
- After flowering cut the dying flowers off to promote regrowth.
- It is also useful to cut back/prune large stems; this will promote regrowth and healthier new leaves. Also it helps keep plants to a manageable size.
- Use flower food/fertiliser to top up the nutrients in the soil. Sometimes when the leaves lose their green colour it could be a sign that they lack nutrients. Do this in early spring and autumn.
- As your plants grow their home should too; repot plants which require more space and give them plenty of water to encourage their roots to spread into the new soil.