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Updated : 21/9/2014

Indoor Plants

Most indoor plants are easy to maintain if they are in the right environment and given reasonable care - only choose plants that will suit your conditions. The more you know about your plants, the greener your fingers!


  • Most plants are happy between 18ºC and 24ºC (normal home conditions) but some will tolerate greater fluctuations.
  • Good air circulation is necessary, but avoid draughts.


  • Water plants well (until runoff from drainage holes), and then wait until soil surface is just dry to the touch before watering again.
  • Water flowering plants from below. Stand in water until it seeps through.
  • Tip out excess water. ‘Wet feet’ (water standing in drip tray) causes rotting.
  • Underwatering (dry soil), stresses the plant and may cause flowers to abort.
  • Overwatering is the main cause of plant deaths. Waterlogged soil drives out all the air causing roots to suffocate and rot.
  • The higher the light or temperature, the more water is needed (i.e. water less in winter).
  • Different plant varieties and soil types also affect water needs.
  • Use water-storing granules in hanging baskets or porous pots.


  • Only use a reputable potting soil or specialized medium (as for Orchids, African Violets etc.)


  • Feed healthy, actively growing plants monthly with a specially formulated fertilizer of your choice and vary the diet according to the plants’ needs, e.g. before or after flowering.
  • Never overfeed

Cleaning / Neatening

  • Remove dust by gently spraying foliage with water or use damp cotton wool. Suitable ‘wipes’ can be used on tougher leaves
  • Hairy leaves may need a soft brush
  • Remove yellowing leaves regularly
  • Pinch out growing tips to encourage bushiness. Cut above growth buds with clean, sharp secateurs


  • Neutral colours show plants off to best advantage
  • Ensure that the pot is of a suitable size and type to accommodate the plant’s needs and its growth habit.
  • Repot in early spring if absolutely necessary to avoid it becoming root bound. The new pot should not be exceedingly bigger than the old one.
  • Water evaporates quickly through porous material like clay pots, necessitating more water than plants in metal or plastic pots.
  • Pots need drainage holes. If you prefer using a pot cover, plant in a plastic container that is slightly smaller than the pot cover first and place inside the pot cover. Remove all water from the cover after watering.

Trouble shooting

  • Brown leaf tips or margins – soil dryness or excessive fertilising
  • Yellowing, dropping leaves – poor light, coldness, overwatering, pollution or insect pests.
  • Weak growth, pale foliage – too much light, lack of fertiliser or root problems
  • Small leaves, spindly growth – insufficient light
  • Small closely-spaced leaves – too dry, lack of feeding


Plants need light to photosynthesize food, the amount varying from high (distinct shadow) to medium (fuzzy shadow) and low light (no shadow) groups. Intensity, quality and duration of light all add to the total available.


Recommended plants for:

Low Light

  • Aglaonema varieties
  • Aspidistra elatior (Cast iron plant)
  • Asplenium nidus ( Birds nest fern)
  • Chamaedorea elegans (Parlour or love palm)
  • Cissus rhombifolia (Grape ivy)
  • Dracaena fragrans & hybrids
  • Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm)
  • Spathiphyllum wallisii

Medium Light

  • Dieffenbachia (Dumb cane)
  • Eucharis amazonica (Eucharist lily)
  • Ficus benjamina (Weeping fig)
  • Platycerium bifurcatum (Staghorn fern)
  • Rhapis excelsa (Lady palm)
  • Saxifraga stolonifera (Mother-of thousands)
  • Schefflera varieties (Umbrella plant)
  • Syngonium varieties (Goose foot plant)

Bright light (no sun)

  • Caladium hortulanum varieties
  • Cyclamen persicum
  • Cymbidium hybrids
  • Maranta leuconeura (Prayer plant)
  • Primula varieties (Primrose)
  • Saintpaulia ionantha (African violets)
  • Soleirolia soleirolii (Peace in the home)
  • Streptocarpus hybrids (Cape primrose)

Bright light (some sun)

  • Beaucarnea recurvata (Pony tail palm)
  • Begonia semperflorens
  • Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Bamboo palm)
  • Chrysanthemum hybrids
  • Kalanchoe blossfeldiana hybrids
  • Nephrolepis varieties (Sword fern)
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