Short on floor space? Pick hanging plants which love direct sunlight and suspend them in a sunny window, or place them at the end of a shelf so they’ll have space to drape down. String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus, also know as string of beads, as its fleshy leaves appear almost spherical) is a popular choice, but don’t be deceived by the pictures of lush, healthy plants which grace so many Instagram accounts these days. It’s a tricky blighter to keep alive – overwatering in particular is a real danger here. For a less high maintenance but (almost as) picturesque trailing plant, try devil’s ivy (Scindapsus). Its heart-shaped leaves will trail or climb, depending on its position. Despite the slightly alarming name, this plant is also said to bring good luck.
If space isn’t an issue, go for a Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa). Yes, they reek of 70s style, but their leaves have had a real moment in the interiors world in the past couple of years (appearing in print-form on everything from fabrics to formica), and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere any time soon. Swiss cheese plants don’t need direct sunlight and can grow to over 10 feet tall when mature, so they’re great for filling a corner or creating a focal point. If you do want your plant to grow tall, use a moss stick or pole to give the plant support and moisture (mimicking the trees the plant would climb in the wild).
Herbs are the obvious place to start when it comes to adding greenery to your kitchen – they’re easy to care for, easy to get hold of, deliciously scented and handy for cooking if you’re that way inclined. Basil, oregano and mint are among the easiest to get you started, but make sure you plant them in separate pots – mint in particular will spread quickly and overtake other plants if it’s given half a chance.
Away from the edibles, mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria) is a robust little plant with yellow-edged, knife-like leaves (we’ll leave you to figure out where it gets its name) and is perfect for a sunny kitchen. It’s resilient, needs little attention and likes to be somewhere warm and bright. Just keep the soil dry (watering around every three weeks, and never soaking) and it’ll be happy to be left alone.
Plenty of plants claim to have air purifying qualities – not only providing healthy oxygen, but absorbing some harmful toxins too. Famously almost impossible to kill, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) may be totally retro, but they’re also one of the best plants for removing dust and pollutants from the air. Also at the retro end of the scale, a peace lily ought to give you the zen feel you need to help you drift off to sleep, and they’re also good air purifiers.
Aside from improving your air quality, there are also plenty of plants which can help you sleep. Lavender’s slumber-inducing qualities are well-known, while jasmine has been shown to reduce anxiety levels. While Valerian roots have been used as a tincture for centuries, its sweetly-scented blooms have also recently been proved to help with falling asleep.
There are all sorts of options here. For truly low maintenance, air plants will survive on the moisture in the air, and hardly require watering at all (an occasional spritz or mist would be the most they would need). Various orchids also enjoy humid conditions, and as an added bonus will give your bathroom the air of an upmarket spa. They require commitment though – at the very least a weekly water and a sunny spot.
More spa inspiration can come from lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana). Also known as curly bamboo, this isn’t really bamboo at all, and its thick, twisting stems will grow in water alone. Simply put some pebbles or beads in the bottom of your vase to give it support, and make sure you change the water once a week. If you’re using tap water, try to leave it out overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate before putting it in the vase. Your lucky bamboo will thank you.