Bring nature indoors with houseplants that will transform your home into a green haven to help you to relax, destress and boost your wellbeing.
Budding gardeners and those that are new to indoor gardening may find it difficult to choose a plant that’s right for their home. But, with plenty of low-maintenance and robust houseplants to choose from, there are a few that will forgive a little bit of neglect.
Help your houseplants
The variety of cacti and succulents available is huge, but the common characteristic between them all is that they store water in their leaves or stems. Most of these plants are native to areas with low moisture, plenty of sun, high temperatures and great drainage, although it’s best to check the exact needs of the plant when you buy it.
It’s ideal to give your succulents the best start in your home by planting them up in a compost that perfectly suits their requirements. Miracle-Gro® Premium Cactus, Succulent & Bonsai Compost contains the optimum combination of 14 vital minerals and a pH balance that is slightly acidic, suited to cacti and bonsai plants. As mentioned, good drainage is essential, so the free draining blend of loam and sand is exactly what they require to make the most of the moisture.
Succulents are low-maintenance and it’s easier to kill them with kindness by overwatering. Instead, water them when the top of the soil dries out slightly, allowing water to drain away so the plants aren’t sat in it which can lead to root rot. Then, through autumn and winter, watering can be reduced. When watering, it’s best to use rainwater or distilled water because the extra substances in tap water can build up in the soil which causes a build-up on the leaves.
Plants to pick
If you’re looking for a plant to add structure, to give as a gift or simply to bring some nature indoors, there is a cactus or a succulent to suit your needs.
One of my favourite succulents are Echeveria which are happy in a brightly lit spot. They don’t need much care, as their fleshy leaves store water so water the soil when the top has dried out. These little plants are perfect to fill a small space in your home or used to create a larger display of cacti and succulents. For flowering succulents look no further than Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (flaming Katy) which can be found with red, yellow, orange or pink flowers.
Cacti are one of the most fool-proof houseplants and there’s sure to be one to fit your home-design. Mammillaria hahniana (old lady cactus) looks like a pincushion for a rounder cactus, which looks great next to the Opuntia microdasys (bunny ear cactus) which may sound cuddly, but it’s covered in spines. The segments of this cactus are made from rounded pads which creates a really interesting appearance. Cereus forbesii spiralis (spiralled cactus) looks exactly as it sounds and has a fascinating twisted shape.
Whether you have a terrarium to fill or a spare spot on your windowsill to embellish, here are some decorative displays that you can use:
In your terrarium, layer up small stones, sand, and a good layer of Miracle-Gro® Premium Cactus, Succulent & Bonsai Compost, so the material makes up around a third of the height of the terrarium.
Remember when adding the layers that the terrarium is glass, so you’ll be able to see the layers clearly from the outside, so take your time! Don’t overload your terrarium with plants, instead start with about three and see how it looks, ensuring that none of the foliage is touching the glass. Another important thing to consider is that the plants collectively have the same needs regarding sunlight and water.
Alternatively, create a container that you can fill with plants. A trough shape can look great in a contemporary style interior. Fill the length with suitable compost and plant in the succulents and cacti and add gravel as the finishing touch.
Another popular plant to add something special to your décor are bonsai trees. The art of growing dwarf trees does require a little more care and maintenance compared to the needs of succulents, but it is definitely worth the effort. There’s something so satisfying about growing a miniature tree to have in your home and it really becomes part of the family.
They need plenty of light, humidity and regular watering to keep them thriving. The Chinese elm is a common choice, and they prefer a cooler room, and their soil should be kept moist and not allowed to dry out.
Placing the bonsai on a humidity tray filled with gravel and water and misting the tree daily will help to increase the humidity levels. Although their fast-growing and vigorous nature makes them forgiving sometimes if they are accidentally neglected – but don’t make a habit out of it!
Terrific terrariums and dynamic displays of succulents, cacti and bonsai can add personality to your home. They are a great way to bring nature indoors and you’ll feel such a sense of achievement watching them grow, flower, and thrive.
This article is a special feature by David Domoney, professional horticulturalist and television presenter, and our Ambassador for Miracle-Gro.