For this year's Wellbeing Week, we're taking a look at how plants are the ideal way to enhance your living environment - and can make you feel good too.
By Sue Jeffries, Horticulturist
Houseplants can have a calming effect on the mind as they can be fascinating to look at and contemplate, but not demanding. You can interact with them; touch and smell them and watch them grow and flower and they’ll make your room feel homely. Some can also support your physical health by filtering harmful chemicals out of the air. If you grow herbs, you have the bonus of adding them to food or drinking them as teas.
Whatever the size of your room or space, if you have some light, you can grow houseplants.
Research studies have shown that “living and working alongside plants [many people found]"…
Most student unions have regular houseplant sales, and many florist shops, supermarkets and garden centres are stocking houseplants. There are lots to choose from but you need to make sure you’ve got the right environment for them. After all, if houseplants can make YOU happy, how can you make sure that you keep THEM happy too?
All plants need some light, but some grow in the wild in tropical jungles and so are used to shade and can cope with a small amount of indirect sunlight. Other houseplants grow in dry deserts and need warm, sunny conditions. Tropical plants also appreciate humid conditions so they are great in bathrooms, but you can create humid conditions with regular water spraying.
In the shade
In sunny, indirect light (ideal for open glass terrariums)
In humid areas or bathrooms
No houseplant likes to be over-watered. In a pot there is nowhere for too much water to go, so it will rot the roots and leaves if the plant is sitting in water. Before you water, feel the top of the compost to check if it is dry and then have a look at the bottom of the pot to see if that is dry too. If the compost is moist you don’t need to water at all, but if it feels dry you should water the plant.
Generally plants will need more water:
If you over-water:
If this happens just stop watering, empty out the pot if there’s water at the bottom and let the compost dry out before you water it again. Make sure the plant is in a container with drainage holes.
If you under-water:
If this happens just water the plant well – watering from the bottom is the best way to re-hydrate the plant (stand the plant in a shallow bowl of water for 20 minutes so the compost can be re-wetted).
Your houseplant only has a pot to grow in, so it doesn’t need lots of fertiliser – a liquid feed once a month from April to August is plenty. Just follow the instructions on the container and add a few drops/grains of fertiliser to the water.