If you are planning to be a first-time plant parent, you need to read this
For many people the mere idea of getting a houseplant is generally met with a guilty flinch or a sackful of excuses. If like those folks, a previous experience has left you traumatised (read as: the plant died) or you are a first time plant parent, then rein in your fears and adopt at least one of these plants.
Need to know: Likes interiors that receive some indirect light
Tip: Low water requirement. Can be drought tolerant if conditions call for it to step up, and is frost resistant too.
House proud: They’re tall, so use them as a focal point in the house. It’s sharp-looking long leaves sprout out quite boldly from its long limbs.
Need to know: Also called the umbrella plant, it is tropical in nature and grows well in warm weather. Requires daily watering, but not too much sun.
Tip: Balance is key. Too much light will turn the leaves yellowish; too little will cause them to turn a dark shade of green.
House proud: This flowering plant has long petals that spring outwards, looking uncannily like a spider (hence the nickname spider orchid). It may be on the taller side, but can do well as a hanging plant or even on a bookshelf.
Need to know: Water these guys every alternate day, as the plant’s susceptible to waterlogging; preferably use a clay pot as the porous material will absorb the water better.
Tip: If you ignore it, it will reward you by growing well.
House proud: As palms go, this one has long, straight leaves that look like a sleek ponytail, hence the nickname, the ponytail palm. It’s a cool-looking addition to the home. Its other not-so-flattering name, the Elephant Foot Tree comes from its pendulous base that stores water.
Need to know: Largely outdoorsy, they do work indoors but need light to bloom; water once every four to five days.
Tip: Terracotta and clay containers ensure better drainage of water. According to Shaan Lalwani of Vriksha Nursery, using coal and bricks as a soil medium will increase chances of the plant blooming.
House proud: They bear beautiful flowers and will make for a pretty presence in the house.
Need to know: A succulent, it likes warm weather but unlike others of its ilk, it needs a good amount of water, which means once every four days; keep in ambient light and keep the soil moist, but well-drained.
Tip: Choose a wide and sturdy pot for it as the plant is heavier around the top and needs strong support to stay upright.
House proud: A popular housewarming gift—and according to Feng Shui, a bringer of good luck.
Need to know: Also known as the Raphis Palm and the Lady Palm, this one likes low light and cramped spaces; does well in morning light but does even better away from windows. Watch that water—watering alternate days is enough.
Tip: Fertilise regularly. Not recommended for pet owners, it’s highly poisonous for animals.
House proud: This palm, as its name suggests, is a great one for the living room or the entryway too. Pavitra Rajaram says it is popular with interior designers—and with good reason. Its leaves fan out gracefully from the slim but sturdy stem and make for a great focal point.
Need to know: The good news is unlimited with this one—it’s hard to kill, grows well even in the darkest corners, require water just about twice or thrice a week and especially loves rainwater. And it’s all helped by the fact that they look really really good.
Tip: Use room temperature water. They’re also pretty great as air cleaners.
House proud: The plant comes in a variety of colours and has lush leaves. It tends to creep around a bit so prune regulary.
STRING OF COINS
Need to know: This succulent gives new meaning to the concept of the colour of money, given its bright green, coin-shaped leaves. Grows well in bright, indirect light.
House proud: It’s pretty round leaves look even better spilling out of a hanging basket.
String of Coins
Need to know: Imagine a plant that needs no soil to grow. Less mess for you, that’s for sure. Nicknamed air plants—because they mostly need just air and sun to survive (a whole lot of sun though).
Tip: On first getting it home, soak it in water for 15 minutes and dry it out completely.
House proud: A nice green addition to brighten any setting regardless of the season.
STRING OF HEARTS
Need to know: It’s durable, likes bright, indirect light.
Tip: Don’t overwater, as you could end up killing it. Let the soil dry out between watering and water it less in winter.
House proud: Use a hanging basket and with time, watch as the vines languidly trail out if their pots.
String of Hearts
Need to know: A split-leaf philodendron or the Swiss cheese plant likes bright indirect light. Made for the tropics because it loves humidity.
Tip: Let the soil dry out between watering bouts. And it’s a child of the tropics, so absolutely no frost tolerance.
House proud: Its almost artistic-looking leaves will add to your decor.
Need to know: Doesn’t suffer at all if you forget about it ocassionaly. Overwatering is the worst thing you could do. That, and exposing it to direct sunlight for too long.
Tip: According to Adrienne Thadani, it is believed to even tolerate the AC well.
Decor wise: Makes for an ideal centerpiece, especially when it’s over 4 feet tall. Works well in large living rooms.
Meet the experts who helped us make sense of it all:
1. Dr Akshay Joshi of Nursery Live: +91 9319212233; email@example.com
2. Adrienne Thadani, plant expert and co-founder of farming and landscaping consultancy THRIVE garden design studio: @thrivegds;
3. Shaan Lalwani of Vriksha Nursery, Mumbai: @vriksha_nursery; +91 98207 04069
4. Interior designer Pavitra Rajaram: @teaonthebluesofa
5. Interior designer Mangesh Lungare: @mangeshdl
6. Landscape architect Hemali Samant: @arhemali
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