Low-maintenance houseplants for beginners

Quite often, houseplants are the first route many people take to looking after plants – and you either end up loving it or hating it.

Lee Cross guest posts about his experience being a first time plant owner, after a friend introduced him to Jade plants. 

“Being cabin crew, I spend a lot of time away from home and so my dream of having a house filled with beautiful plants and flowers was always going to be rather difficult to fulfil. That was until one evening when, over a few glasses of wine, a friend introduced me to succulents.

As a bit of a green fingered novice, I had no idea what a succulent was. She showed me her Jade or ‘Money’ plant and explained how easy they were to care for and how they were seen by many as being lucky. With my appalling track record regarding anything plant related, any plant entering my home was basically going to need to look after itself, combined with plenty of luck to stay alive.

Jade plant and Aloe vera

So the next time I was in my local garden centre, I treated myself to a Jade Plant and a lovely Aloe Vera. Without a clue what I was doing I bought them home and popped them in our living room window. Stunning.

My Jade plant thrived, my Aloe did not and soon began to look like something from Little Shop Of Horrors. I was concerned. I wanted my plant to live. I felt a sense of responsibility for it.

So I did what any panic stricken person would do and called up my mom to explain this life or death horticultural dilemma. She gave me some expert advice, don’t over water, don’t let it sit in water, move it out of direct sunlight and try it in your kitchen. “Aloes love kitchens,” she said.

Aloe propagation

As that age old saying goes, ‘Mother knows best’ – she most certainly did. My Aloe began to show signs of life again. This evergreen perennial, more used to a tropical climate, was now thriving on a kitchen windowsill in Liverpool. Not only was it thriving, I began to notice new plants sprouting up from the soil. Yes, my plant baby was having its own babies and before long I was saying ‘Aloe’ to countless new pups that I then decided to propagate.

When I told my friend who had introduced me to the plant world about being a plant grandfather, she told me how easy it was to propagate my Jade too, from just a single leaf or cutting. Tentatively I removed a couple of leaves and placed them on top of some soil and left them to it. I was stunned when a few weeks later I noticed that a whole new plant had begun to grow from this single leaf.

So my little Aloe Vera and Jade soon turned into a bit of a green fingered hobby, which has now developed in to a full blown plant obsession.

Cacti in tin cans

I also wanted to create my own planters, and with so much talk recently of plastic waste and pollution I began to look at the items we were throwing away every day at home to see if these could be jazzed up and transformed. From tin cans, to glass jars, plastic bottles and beer cans, I soon realised that there’s so much household ‘waste’ that can actually become new and funky homes for your plants.

And why stop there? I now create my own succulent soil too, using my homemade compost from kitchen scraps with some added drainage – succulents and cacti do not like waterlogged soil – by using some some sand, gravel and pebbles I collect when out and about.

Becoming a bit of plant geek has not only brightened up my humble abode – it has actually been good for my soul. Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”, and whether your garden is a huge expanse on your property or just a few plants on your kitchen windowsill, plants are a great way to reduce stress and soothe the mind.”


Lee’s blog post has given me some inspiration to offer my advice on five houseplants which I think would be ideal for beginners, in addition to his excellent Jade and Aloe selections!

1. Snake plant

Snake Plant

Snake plants are eye-catching, but incredibly easy to care for, especially if you live in a home with little windowsill space for plants. If you place this on a surface where it gets low-to-medium amounts of light, and water only occasionally, it’ll be sure to thrive.

2. Peace lily

Peace Lily

Because Peace Lilies are so elegant-looking, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re difficult to look after. Able to survive with fairly minimal watering, it’s a great plant for those who are often too busy to engage in plant care!

3. English ivy

English Ivy

You probaby think of ivy as something your dad hacked away at each year before finally giving up and letting it take over your garden. Well, thanks to its ability to get knocked down and come back up again, English Ivy makes an ideal houseplant for beginners!

4. Lucky bamboo

Lucky bamboo

Bamboo is known for its resilience in the right conditions – and if you’re growing it as a houseplant, this is no different. There’s no need to find ‘well-draining soils’ with this plant, simply place in an abundance of water in low-to-medium light and watch it grow.

5. ZZ plant

ZZ Plant

Seriously trendy amongst Instagrammers, the ZZ plant is drought tolerant and quite happy in a low light environment. A slow grower, this plant won’t cause you to spend all your plant money on bigger pots and extra soil! Simply water occasionally, and it’ll purify your air for years.

What are your favourite foolproof houseplants? Leave a comment below.

 

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