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25.05.2020- Lockdown Life: Top Tips for Happy House Plants

With most of us spending more time than usual at home over the last couple of months, the chances are that a lot of us will have been paying a good deal more than usual attention to our general surroundings. Whether you're mindful of what's on screen when you're mid-Zoom call, or have found that sprucing up your spaces at home has had a tangible impact on your overall wellbeing, there's a lot to be said for finally being able to crack on with those little projects which have been largely put on the back burner for one reason or another. I've definitely made a few new additions to my at-home space in the shape of some new prints, vases and dried flowers, but I've also been paying a lot more attention to some old friends in the shape of my houseplants too! 

Day to day, I have to confess that in the past I didn't tend to give them all that much attention- a little drink of water here and there and some repotting if things were looking quite perilous- i.e. a preventative intervention before we reached the point of no return! Now, however, with a lot more time of my hands, I've been treating them to some seriously upgraded treatment, which they are already looking so much the better for. So, if you're paying more attention to your house plants just at the moment, or are looking to green up your gaff with a few new additions, I've drawn up a few tips to keep them happy- live and direct from my in-house plant spa:

* Know what you've got.
This perhaps sounds obvious, but knowing about the specific requirements of each of your plants is key- not just in terms of general maintenance, but also the nitty gritty in terms of taking into account the sort of soil they like, the light conditions they need to keep growing and how frequently they need feeding. Not all house plants are made equal, and there are definitely some which are more high maintenance than others- for example I really tend to struggle with spider plants (in part due to living with a cat who has a penchant for eating them!), but have made serious gains with other greenery. If you're completely new to the house plant game, I'd suggest a snake plant (otherwise known as mother in law's tongue) as the best place to start- they do well with very little attention, and won't mind limited light. 

* Water them.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it's often easy to forget that your indoor house plant family need water just as much as the outdoor gang. Granted, they might not need a drink quite as frequently as they're exposed to a whole set of different conditions, but even the spikiest of customers benefit from a regular topping up of water. Ours tend to get a big drink once a fortnight with the slightly needier ones being topped up as and when they need to be, and recently I've been taking them outside about once a month for a little bath with the watering can and some fresh air, but a soak in the bath will work just as well (much as it does for humans!)

* Maintenance is everything.
Again, this is definitely something which I'd neglected until recently, but the majority of house plants will benefit from a bit of specialist tlc every now and then. From a gentle leaf clean to ensure that their pores are free of dust, to a trim of any dead, burnt or damaged leaves which will allow them to channel all of their gorgeous green energy into producing new growth. Obviously every indoor plant is different, but for the larger varieties such as yukkas, cheese plants and rubber plants, it's vital to keep their leaves as free of dust and dirt as possible- my tried and tested method is to use a clean duster and a spray bottle of water to give them the premium treatment- think a day at the spa- and I've found this to be as therapeutic for me as it is for them!

* Don't give up on them!
If I've learnt anything from the last few years of plant ownership, it's that most of them are pretty resilient. I've had a few disasters, for sure, but on the whole it's nothing that a bit of care and attention couldn't solve, whether that be finding them a new pot once they'd grown too big for the ones they were in or seeking out a new spot in the house where they might be a bit happier. About eighteen months or so ago I got a nerve plant from the garden centre which was really unhappy, but after some serious deadheading (so much so that it was basically just a stalk), it grew back much hardier and is now happily thriving on the kitchen window ledge. 

Have you been cultivating any new indoor plants lately?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

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