practical guide to indoor plants

After being shunned for many decades as a dusty hippy addition to your home, the humble indoor plant has recently seen a renaissance and shows no sign of slowing down as a hot styling trend for interiors (along with the other 70’s throwbacks – macrame and weaving).  It seems you can’t have one 70’s comeback trend without the others.  Next we’ll be eating blancmange.

So if you don’t have any indoor plants, or have been woefully neglecting those that you do own, here is a practical guide to get you started.

fiddle leaf fig

The fiddle-leaf fig is the darling of the interiors styling scene at the moment.  They are everywhere and very on trend (kind of weird how even plants become trendy). It’s a great plant if you need something taller. You can find them in a single trunk or as a multi-branch plant.  They can grow very large so choose one to suit your space and prune annually to maintain the size you like.  The oval shaped leaves grow in different sizes and have a leathery texture.

How to care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig:
Light: Shady bright
Water: When the top layer of soil is dry.  The soil underneath the top layer should remain moist.
Fertiliser: Feed with slow release pellets or liquid fertiliser once a month

 

 

Fern

There are many types of ferns but the Boston fern is a good choice for a low-ish maintenance indoor plant that  provides a beautiful bright green foliage – and it’s also very 70’s retro cool.  It has long hanging fronds that naturally have a ruffled look so find a pot that is not too deep so that the fronds can hang over the side.   This is a plant that loves humidity – which is a good thing if you live in Singapore.

How to care for your Boston Fern:
Light: Shady bright and humidity
Water: Keep soil moist and check soil daily to make sure it hasn’t dried out
Fertiliser: Only required twice a year

orchid crop

Orchids of all varieties are easy to care for as an indoor flowering plant, particularly in Singapore where the climate suits them.  The flowers should bloom for up to three months.  If you like a clean modern aesthetic then this a great plant for you.

How to care for your Orchid:
Light: Shady bright
Water: Water before the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep soil moist but not waterlogged
Fertiliser: Feed with orchid formulated liquid fertiliser once a month

final succulents

The variety of plants in the succulent family is astounding – from purple flower shapes, to spikey bright green, and my favourite, soft mint green fleshy ones (clearly I am not up with the scientific names).  Pot them together to create a larger display or use mini succulents on sideboards and bookshelves.  You can also decorate with them like you would a flower and show their roots in a glass vase or jar.

How to care for your Succulents:
Light: Shady bright.  They like at least 6 hours of sunlight a day but be careful they don’t burn in direct light
Water: When the top layer of soil dries out, water until moist.
Fertiliser: Once a week using half-strength liquid fertiliser

cactus 1

The cactus is another plant having a moment in the sun (pun intended).  Along with pulled pork tacos and high quality tequilas designed for sipping, these little desert beauties have captured our attention and are a major trend.  If you have children or pets, keep them out of arms (or paws) reach.

How to care for your Cactus:
Light: Shady bright – to full sunlight
Water: When most of the soil has dried out.  In Singapore, this will probably be once a week.
Fertiliser: A couple of times a year using half-strength liquid fertiliser

 

heartleaf

Philodendron or ‘heartleaf’ is a popular indoor plant as it is extremely easy to grow.  This beautiful evergreen plant looks great trailing down from a bookshelf or from a hanging vase.  Perfect to add a little greenery to your home office.

How to care for your Heartleaf:
Light: Shady bright
Water: Water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Occasional misting
Fertiliser: Feed with slow release pellets or liquid fertiliser once a month

 

General Tips:

Taller plants may lean towards sunlight so make sure you rotate your pot
Clean the leaves of larger plants every now and again with a damp cloth
Generally indoor plants don’t like full sunlight so make sure they are not next to a window with direct sun
Consider re-potting your plants in good quality draining soil when you get home as often they are potted in nurseries with cheap alternatives
Ask in the nursery for help if you want to create a cluster of succulents or other plants and don’t feel you have the skill.  You can buy the soil and a larger pot and ask them to create the look you are after.

Where to Shop:

In Singapore I recommend looking through the nurseries at Thompson Road.  I usually go into each one to find the plants that I want as some of them do a great range of cactus and succulents (Far East Flora) and others do good mid-sized plants like the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Hawaii Landscape).  So shop around and spend a morning wandering amongst the greenery to find exactly what you want.  Start at JM Flowers and make your way up the service road until you reach the end of the nurseries, making a note as you go which nurseries had what you liked so that on your return you can just re-visit the nurseries you want to buy from.  Also, don’t despair if you don’t find what you want immediately.  Popular items like cactus and succulents can sell out quickly so when you visit there may not be a great range, but sure enough the next week they will be back and fully stocked so it may take more than one visit.

Lottie 2