Experimenting with houseplants

by Liz Beavis
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?


More posts about our house, from moving it to the property through to moving into the house (roughly in order):


  • Liz

    Michelle – correct, it won’t grow from the trimmed part (not my trimming either, they were dug out of someone’s garden like that), but it has now shot up a lovely tall leaf from the roots, so I will wait until it has a few new ones and then separate the chopped bits and start again.

  • Michelle

    im not sure that your bathroom plant will continue to grow on those leaves that you have trimmed. They are a type of succulent I think, and while they grow taller I’m not certain what effect trimming will have. Might encourage a new leaf from under ground to sprout tjhough.
    And yes they are a hardy plant.

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