6 easy-to-look-after houseplants to brighten up your workspace
Houseplants don’t just look pretty – studies have shown that having plants indoors boosts health and improves productivity. Kay Hill looks at plants that can survive even the most clueless owners
Search for scientific evidence of the health-giving properties of plants and you won’t be disappointed. Studies have shown that having plants in the home or office reduces stress, improves mood, increases worker productivity, boosts reaction time and attention span and reduces blood pressure, headaches and fatigue1.
However, to enjoy the benefits of these indoor green friends, the plants have to stay alive! Here are our top suggestions for (almost) unkillable houseplants:
Cacti like a well-lit windowsill and don’t mind the dry atmosphere of centrally heated homes. If you need to re-pot a cactus, you must use fast-draining compost or your plant will get waterlogged and die. Cacti need regular watering during the summer (once the soil has dried out), but in the winter you should water infrequently (if they start to shrivel it’s time!). Popular varieties include Angel Wings, Saguaro and Barrel cacti.
For a bit of retro glam, you can’t go wrong with a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), although making your own macramé hanging pot for it is optional! Water regularly, whenever the soil is dry, but not too much at a time. They will grow almost anywhere in the house, and you know they are happy when they produce little baby spiderettes than dangle from the mother plant and can be put into their own pots to create lots more lovely spider plants.
As well as the usual benefits of plants, Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) is also a cook’s best friend, as you can break the tip off a leaf and rub the soothing sap on to small scalds and burns, as well as insect bites. As a desert plant they can withstand conservatories that are boiling in summer and freezing in winter, and can survive with very little water. They produce small plants regularly that you can separate, pot up and share with your friends.
This pretty but hardy native African succulent (Sansevieria trifasciata) has gorgeous sword-shaped leaves, often striped, and is so easy-going that you can put it anywhere in the house. In winter it only needs watering once a month.
Ideal for shady corners, the Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) thrives in low-light and needs little more than a bit of water when it dries out. It’s highly toxic to dogs and cats however.
Also known as the Jade plant (Crassula ovata), it’s slightly easier to kill than the others, but it’s supposed to bring good look so is worth the effort! It likes a sunny spot, regular watering and fertiliser twice a year (if its leaves turn silver and drop off you know it’s not happy).