8 best house plants, hanging planters and terrariums to make your home more green
Improve your interiors, boost your wellbeing and purify your air by bringing the outside in
Nature is reclaiming our homes. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, UK houseplant sales jumped 50 per cent last year, and look set to keep growing in 2019. Part of this is undoubtedly down to interior style trends, propagated in fashion prints and over Instagram and Pinterest. We’re looking at you, monstera deliciosa.
But we think there’s more to it than that. Homing a houseplant isn’t as simple as adding an ornament to a room: you’re recalibrating your ecosystem through the addition of a living thing. This can change your home in all sorts of ways, from improving the air quality to providing ways to help treat injuries. Then there’s the satisfaction that comes with tending another life, and all the mental health benefits that can bring for the person tending it.
In this roundup, you’ll find a selection of relatively low maintenance plants with the potential to improve the look of your home and the quality of your environment.
If you’re getting a new plant, you’ll need somewhere nice to plant it. For that reason, we’ve included suggestions of some hanging planters and terrariums where your houseplants could thrive.
Glass terrariums are best-suited to keeping thirsty plants healthy, as the moisture the plants give out collects on the glass and falls back into the soil or on to the plant. Hanging planters are clearly the ideal option for plants with trailing vines, but can also be used for most other plants that will fit inside them.
Design House Stockholm large glass grow terrarium: £34, Trouva
Designer Caroline Wetterling and Design House Stockholm have created this singularly lovely terrarium especially for housing very small plants, or for nursing larger plants through the first stages of life – a purpose we dare say is referenced in its oval shape.
There’s more to this terrarium than meets the eye at first glance. It consists of two halves: a lower section that holds the soil for plants to grow in, and a larger upper section which serves as a moisture trap and window on to the plant. The upper section also has a tiny spout, and so can be removed and used as a watering vessel. You couldn’t hope to find a more inherently caring and clever terrarium than this.
Monstera deliciosa (swiss cheese plant): £15, Ikea
Monstera deliciosa has been something of a must-have for interiors enthusiasts in recent years. Whether or not people keep buying swiss cheese plants, there’ll certainly be lots of them around for a long time, as they can live for decades. And given that they have a mature size exceeding that of an adult human, they’ll be a prominent presence too.
Aside from its beautiful, broad leaves with their unmistakeable slits, perhaps the best thing about monstera deliciosa is that it only needs watering every two weeks or so. No matter how busy or forgetful you may be, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to keep it alive.
Swiss cheese plants can live very happily in pots or hanging planters. They’re fast-growing, so we’d recommend using a pot or planter with plenty of space.
Fittonia albivensis (nerve plants): £20 for 3, Beards & Daisies
A lover of damp, shady places, fittonia albivensis is the perfect plant to keep in a terrarium, out of direct sunlight. It can also live in a pot – but without the moisture-trapping action of a terrarium, it will need misting with room temperature water almost every day.
Nerve plants are a little more sensitive than some of the other houseplants featured here. Your reward for taking good care of yours will be an attractive plant with beautifully prominent veining – an x-ray insight into its biology. Its leaves can be pink and green, white and green, or green and red.
Ficus elastica (tineke rubber plant): £14.99, Waitrose Garden
What’s not to love about ficus elastica? Its leaves are satisfying to the eye and the touch, it is relatively easy to tend, and unlike most other plants, it photosynthesises through the night, exuding oxygen just when household air tends to be at its stalest. We particularly like the look of this "tineke" variety, with its beautiful green and cream patterns.
If you’re looking for a houseplant to grow with you long-term, ficus elastica could be the one. It reaches maturity after around 15 years, and can grow up to 50ft or even taller if moved to an outdoor setting. If yours gets too big for your home, you can always take some cuttings, keep those inside and move the parent plant outdoors.
Earn a place in your rubber plant’s good books by occasionally wiping its leaves with a damp cloth – they tend to get a little dusty over time.
Linton Garden yuan terrarium: £31.99, Wayfair
Linton Garden’s geometric glass terrarium is an ideal solution for showing off your mid-sized houseplants – especially ferns, succulents and carnivorous plants. Its tapering shape is especially well suited to collecting moisture from plants, before allowing it to drip back onto them, much in the same way tagines do with the moisture from cooking food.
Another facet of the Yuan Glass terrarium is the fact it looks especially stylish – which is impressive given its price. We reckon it more than warrants pride of place on your dresser, cupboard, table or kitchen counter.
Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls): £22.99, Waitrose Garden
The perfect plant for hanging indoors, senecio rowleyanus can lend a little drama to your home with its gorgeous cascading vines. In the wild, string of pearl plants grow along the ground, seeking promising spots to put down roots. Gladly, they are just as happy to hang. Its leaves – sorry, pearls – look a little like a cross between a split pea and a small gooseberry.
To keep a senecio rowleyanus healthy, you’ll need to house it in a sunny spot and water it about once a month. Just be careful if you have children, pets or a strange predilection for nibbling houseplants: eating string of pearls can make people and animals sick.
Aloe vera plant: £3, Ikea
Spectacularly spiky, serenely low-maintenance and, alas, forever associated in our minds with those “Hello, Vera!” Persil ads from the noughties, aloe vera is one of the most familiar houseplants out there.
Not only is this a lovely plant to look at; it’s also good to have on hand in case of injury. If you sustain a minor burn while cooking, say, you can snap off a leaf, carefully remove the spiky exterior, and use the aloe gel from inside to soothe yourself. Don’t try this till you’ve learned how from a reputable source. And since we’re journalists, not doctors, we should probably add that you should always seek professional medical advice in the event of injury.
Bargain seekers take note: you can buy this aloe vera online for less than the price of a Boots lunch deal.
Hokku Designs wooden hanging basket: £75.99, Wayfair
Isn’t this just the most pleasing object? It’s a wooden hanging planter, made from high-quality oak and built specifically as a home for air plants – plants that attach themselves to things like branches, rocks and human artefacts like buildings and power cables, rather than taking root in soil.
Without a plant inside it, Hokku Design’s hanging basket looks oddly like a wooden model of the Death Star. Once you’ve got one planted, it becomes a beautiful, elemental counterweight to whatever wild shapes your air plant is throwing. At 10cm across, it’s a relatively subtle addition to the home.
The verdict: House plants, hanging planters and terrariums
Of all the human-made products featured, the one that really bowled us over was the Stockholm Design House large glass grow terrarium, which supports growth while providing a simple and beautiful viewing window onto the plant. Congrats to Caroline Wetterling and the Design House Stockhouse team on their wonderful design.
Nature takes the plaudits, of course, for designing the plants also featured in this article. If we had to choose one of them, we’d take monstera deliciosa, the swiss cheese plant.
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