Indoor plants must be the single decor item that will never go out of style. Plants are, literally, a breath of fresh air – besides being decorative, they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The challenge is, we often end up with plants that seem terribly unhappy because they’re not growing under the right conditions.
HL spoke to Luke Darries, senior horticulturist at Stodels Nurseries, who shared some advice on which plants are best suited to different types of lighting.
Filtered light can be classified as low light, or partly sunny conditions, but definitely doesn’t include direct sunlight at any point in the day. If you can read comfortably, the lighting should be sufficient for the following plants to thrive.
peace lilies (Spathiphyllum)
These tropical plants prefer filtered light, warmth and humidity and, under the right conditions, flowers will appear in the late summer and last for weeks.
This lovely indoor tree (actually a species of ficus) has large, dark-green leaves that seem to form the vague outline of a violin – that’s how it got its name.
The fiddle likes room temperatures between about 18 and 24°C, and exposure to medium light. The surface of the soil should dry out slightly between watering. If it starts to look a bit pale, try moving it to somewhere less bright.
This pretty indoor palm is great to conjure a tropical look. It can grow to about two metres for a dramatic feature, but a smaller pot will keep it contained if you’d prefer to curb its size.
The areca palm does well in indirect light. Keep the soil somewhat dry, only watering on alternate weeks or so.
If you’ve ever seen a desert in full bloom, then you would know that desert cacti feature some of the most beautiful flowers. There are many varieties of cacti available and about half of them can be bloomed in the average home. Give your cactus lots of sunlight, hold off on the water and wait for spring or summer.
We know the hibiscus as a large tree, but yes, they can be grown indoors too. The hibiscus is one of the most enduring symbols of the tropics. These flowers are available in single and double forms and in a dizzying array of colours. Some of the newer hybrids feature multi-coloured flowers as large as a salad plate. The hibiscus is not a plant for beginners, either to keep alive or bloom. They insist on warmth, lots of light and humidity, and they are prone to several varieties of bugs. But for those who have the gumption to make it happen, a flowering hibiscus is one of the most remarkable sights in any temperate home.
For those who love the look of a succulent – not to mention the ease of care – a jade plant offers thick, lush leaves and visually interesting branches. It grows slowly and has the potential to live from your child’s birth until their high-school graduation— at least! It also looks great in a pretty pot when paired with other succulent varieties.
The jade plant does not require a lot of water, so keep the soil somewhat dry. It prefers bright light and ordinary room temperatures.
not bothered – low, medium or bright light
The most highly coveted of ornamental plants is the delicate, exotic orchid, which represents love, luxury, beauty and strength. The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is a favourite. Give them a spot in low, medium, or bright light and water weekly or every other week. Promote more and larger blooms by feeding moth orchids monthly with a fertiliser specially formulated for orchids. The plants do best in temperatures from 18 to 23°C, but a drop in temperature does encourage them to blossom.
This indoor plant has an air-purifying quality that can absorb and strip toxins like formaldehyde from materials in the home, like carpets. The pothos is a great “antioxidant for the home”. It has trailing stems and works well in a hanging basket, or as a climbing plant with some training onto a trellis or whatever object you like that will support its growth.
The pothos can produce stems that trail two metres or longer, so just cut them back when they get too long and your plant will continue to look full and healthy. It can thrive in an array of lighting conditions, but very low light may diminish the leaves’ variegation. Allow soil to dry somewhat between watering. It does well in a range of normal room temperatures too.
It doesn’t get much easier than this indoor house plant, also sometimes known as mother-in-law’s tongue. It has variegated leaves that grow upright and some varieties’ leaves have yellow or white edges. It has small white flowers that bloom only rarely.
This indoor plant grows well in a whole range of lighting conditions. The air should be somewhat dry, as should the soil. Any normal room temperature should suit it just fine.