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Experimenting with houseplants

I've never been a big fan of houseplants.  I had one on a dresser for a while and it leaked and cracked the veneer.  And I had another one that didn't get enough sun and it died.  Our new house is sunnier and less cluttered, it just felt like it needed some plants.  I've had others that I overwatered, or underwatered.  Its just seemed too hard to keep them alive.

Mother-in-laws-tongue in the bathroom

Benefits of houseplants
You might be wondering why I would bother with houseplants, seeing as I just said I don't really like them.  I haven't actually read any scientific studies, but its does seem pretty obvious that plants are going to improve indoor air quality.  If you google it you will find lists of up to 15 benefits, I guess its just one of those topics that attracts fluff articles.  A basic knowledge of biology tells me that plants suck up carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen.  This is probably more useful in the city, as we are out here surrounded by acres of trees producing oxygen.  For me, its just nice to have a bit of green inside.  I've cut back on most of the nick-knack dust-collecting ornamental things, so these plants add a bit of colour.  Maybe I've been looking at too many interior design magazines with this new house!  It started in the bathroom, so many nice modern bathroom images had plants in them, I thought maybe we could pop a plant in there and see how it goes.  It does seem kind of sensible to put a plant in the bathroom as its already damp in there.

What houseplants did I get?
I spent a bit of time (just a little bit) scrolling through photos of indoor plants on Google and Instagram because I really didn't know where to start.  At around the same time I was given two houseplants as part of our local Nanango Produce Share.  I recognised one as Mother-in-laws-tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) which had been dug out of someone's garden en masse (its not officially an invasive species in Queensland, but it does have its own page on Biosecurity Queensland, so its close).  This is my kind of plant, apparently its really hard to kill.  It likes dry, shady conditions, but can suffer from overwatering.  No problem.  Also they are quite fashionable again now!

I bought a damaged white pot and a miss-matched beige saucer on sale at our local hardware and put this one in the bathroom.  It needs to recover from the haircut it had before I received it, but it had been in a pot outside for a few months while I sourced my indoor pot and seemed to have quite healthy roots when I moved it over.  I'm hoping that it grows tall to fill this space next to the vanity.

The second plant is a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), which I also had in a small pot outside while I decided where to put it.  I reused a blue pot from a previous failed indoor plant growing attempt.  This time I found a saucer for it - 50c from the local market, so that it won't leak and ruin anything.  I've put this one in the kitchen, in a sunny spot near the window.

Spider plant in the kitchen

Keys to indoor plant success
These plants have been in the house for about two weeks, so I'm not going to claim expert status just yet, however there are two things that I think will help these indoor plants survive this time.  One is that I have found saucers for the pots, so I will be able to water them appropriately - no leaking and no avoiding watering in case they leak.  And the other is the fact that we get plenty of sunlight in the house, the bathroom in particular has three windows.

If these plants do well, then I think I will get a few more, I really like some of the images I saw.  I would like to bring some useful plants inside, but I think the light levels are too low, I'm thinking of trying aloe vera, but most herbs will be better off outside.

More about houseplants over at Gully Grove.

Do you have houseplants?  What does well at your house?


  1. I've not had a great track record overall with houseplants (the overwatering/underwatering thing is the bugbear), but I've managed to keep 5 madonna lillies alive for a couple of years now and they've even flowered! I think in this case it comes down to the constant filtered sunlight they get in the room they sit in.

  2. Funnily enough my daughter in law recently asked me for some plants for her house. It got me thinking about why I don't have any plants inside (same reasons you have!). I now have three matching terracotta pots with aloe vera on my kitchen counter, and a peace lilly in a pot I found on clearance in my living room. Here's to flourishing house plants!

  3. Liz years ago we used to have a few houseplants but don't have any at the moment. There is too much clutter in the house at present unfortunately. However, one day I might be allowed to get rid of the clutter and can once again fit in some nice plants :-)

  4. Here's to our experiments with indoor plants! I love your pots. They compliment the interior colour scheme well. Picking hardy plants, as you have, should see them live a long time. I also like the fact, you got some MIL tongue, as an exchange. It's fun swapping stuff! All the best with your new indoor companions. The dogs will be jealous. ;)

  5. I love having indoor plants :) we have a lot of empty space at our new house so I am looking for some taller plants to fill in some corners. We have a really great plant that wilts when it is thirsty, and perks right back up when we water it :) very convenient! We also have a big 2m^2 patch of mother in laws tongue next to our driveway, not looking forward to digging it up -.-

  6. I've gone houseplant mad in the last 18months...they are so great! I have been potting them in the plastic nursery pots and then sitting those inside pretty pots. It works well for the many pretty pots these days that have no drainage holes. It also makes it easier to move them about. I put them outside every month or so when it's raining to give them a bit of a shower/de dust.

    I read somewhere that mother in laws tongue doesn't grow any more once the tops are cut off. It may grow new legs but I don't think the current ones will get any taller. Hope that's not disappointing.

    I'm not great at keeping plants alive so I've gone with pretty foolproof plants. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra) is a great one. My other favourite is Devil's Ivy (called golden pothos or Epipremnum). I bought one of those 18mo ago (my first houseplant) and I've made 4 other plants off it so grows like mad! I've tried palms several times and they've all died. Mind you, it's not very humid down here in Melbourne, but I've given up on them.

    Succulents don't tend to do too well inside, they need heaps of light. I did have some hens and chicks on the window sill but they didn't do well. I have a string of pearls that's doing all right though. So if you get an aloe, pick the brightest spot you have! If you have an old SLR camera (or light meter) you can wander around and find the best location.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Great info, thanks! Yes I didn't think the MILs Tongue would have to regrow more tongues because it grows from the bottom up. Its funny, I was sitting there in the bath looking at it and I thought it would have to do that!

  7. The only indoor plants we have are the maidenhair ferns in the bathroom. They sulk.


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