Choosing the right place in your home to keep a particular plant is crucial to its wellbeing and even its survival. Different types of plants have different needs when it comes to light, temperature and humidity, so it is important you find your plants a spot that meets their requirements. So how are you supposed to know how to care for them? Well, that’s where greenery guru, Sophie Lee, comes in. As the founder of botanical styling company, geo-fleur, she knows a thing or two about house plants and how to look after them. Take it away Sophie…
While you may have your heart set on keeping certain plants in a specific space, if the environment is not right for the plant there is no point trying to make it grow there. Forcing a plant into the wrong space will only lead to trouble. It is much better to first work out the light levels, temperature and air quality in a room, and then choose plants that like those conditions. There is such a huge variety of house plants out there that you will definitely be able to find some that are perfect for you and your space.
When you see a plant you want to buy, before purchasing, think about where it is going to live once you get it home – you do not want a sunloving plant to be left in a shady corner, for example. Any good garden centre will advise you on what a particular plant likes, but make sure you read the plant labels and follow the notes for each plant as different varieties of the same type of plant can desire different levels of light.
Most house plants prefer bright, filtered and natural light, but there are lots that like plenty of shade too. However, all plants need at least some light in order to photosynthesise (use light to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars) and grow. If a plant does not get enough light it will grow long, weak stems as it strains to search for more light. On the other hand, if a plant gets more light than it can withstand, its leaves will shrivel up and fall off, or become very pale. The compost will also get dry very quickly, so be wary. Whichever plants you choose, with the exception of desert cacti, do not let them bake on a windowsill in the boiling midday sun – it is not fair!
Because plants use their leaves to absorb light, cleaning the leaves not only makes the plant look pretty, but also helps the plant thrive. Misting plants helps to keep their leaves clean, or you can buy leaf cleaning products called leaf shine that can be used on plants with smooth, glossy leaves – just avoid using it on hairy or spiky plants.
Different plants like different levels of heat, so always check the plant’s label to find out how warm or cool it likes to be kept. Just as you should consider the amount of light a particular room gets, you should also take into account how hot or cold the space is – plants that like cool environments will not survive if you live in a sauna and those that need plenty of warmth will not live in a cold, dark corner.
Air and humidity
During the day, plants perform a process known as photosynthesis in which they convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars. Plants produce oxygen as a byproduct of this process. However, at night, photosynthesis stops and a process called respiration occurs, in which plants take up oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. Consequently, it is important for plants to be provided with the correct airflow.
Opening a window to provide some ventilation helps to keep plants cool when it is hot, but do not let them sit in a draft. Some house plants will shed their leaves and wilt if they are exposed to cold currents of air, but gentle air movement helps to reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases, so it is better not to have plants shut in a room with no ventilation.
Desert cacti and succulents love dry air, but most house plants prefer air that is moist – many plants wilt when the central heating is on because it dries out the air. If you need to increase the humidity of the air around a plant you can create a microclimate for it by creating wet gravel trays to go underneath your house plants. Misting your plants helps to increase the humidity and freshen up the foliage.
Want to learn more plant-based tips? Pop into our Habitat Tottenham Court Road which will play host to geo-fleur’s new pop-up store, selling a range of weird and wonderful houseplants and planters curated by Habitat. Plant lovers (and killers) will be able to explore houseplants in depth throughout April and May 2018 with workshops being held at Habitat Tottenham Court Road. Plus, you can find more tips, inspiration and guides from Sophie Lee at habitat.co.uk/plants and on geo-fleur’s Instagram.
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