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How to choose indoor plants

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04 Dec 2012

The right kind of indoor plants in the right kind of space can do wonders for your staff, clients and guests.

Choose the right plant for the right climate. Not only do flowering plants require higher light levels, but some like the beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid do better in areas with high humidity, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

But choosing indoor plants for your office or home can be a complicated exercise.

Although nursery staff are normally quite helpful, they may struggle to recommend plants if you can’t give them a clear picture of what you want.

You might end up choosing the wrong plants for the wrong space in the wrong climate. 

Ambius, a division of Rentokil Initial and worldwide leader in the design, supply, installation and maintenance of indoor and outdoor plants, shares the following tips…

Consider the space

Choose the right plant for the spot to be filled. 

Bear in mind that the majority of indoor spaces do not have enough light for plants to thrive, and that flowering plants and those with variegated leaves require higher light levels than other plants.

Plants that do well with partial or full shade are better suited to living indoors and can go just about anywhere in your office or home.

Our top 10 best performing indoor plants

1. Aspidistra elatior (Cast iron plant)

Choose the right plants for your space requirements. Small flowering plants like cacti and bamboo are great for putting on a coffee table or in other areas with limited space.

2. Chamaedoreaelegans (Love palm)

3. Dracaena species (Dragon tree)

4. Kentia forsteriana (Thatch palm)

5. Philodendron scandens (Heart leaf Philodendron)

6. Sanseiveria trifasciata (Mother-in-law's tongue)

7. Scindapsus aureus (Devil's ivy)

8. Spathiphyllum walisii (Peace lily)

9. Trichellia emetica (Mahogany tree)

10. Zamiolculcas zamiifolia (Aroid palm) 

Consider the climate

When choosing a plant take your time into consideration. Take your own attentiveness into account. Don't buy a plant that requires carefully controlled water and feeding when you know you're only going to water it once a week and probably forget to feed it at all.

Choose the right plant for the right climate. Not only do flowering plants require higher light levels, but some like the beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid do better in areas with high humidity, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Phalaenopsis also do not like direct sunlight or being placed in a draft, so areas which are heavily air-conditioned are definitely not suitable for this delicate plant.

Consider the size

Choose the right plants for your space requirements.

Small flowering plants like cacti and bamboo are great for putting on a coffee table or in other areas with limited space.

Herbs are great for small window boxes and palms, such as the love palm or thatch palm, look good in a free-standing pot in the corner of a room where something a little larger is desired.

Consider your time

Take your own attentiveness into account. Cacti and evergreen plants require almost no work while violets and many exotic plants are temperamental.

Don't buy a plant that requires carefully controlled water and feeding when you know you're only going to water it once a week and probably forget to feed it at all.

In fact, the most common cause of indoor plant decline and death is over watering, so check the soil moisture levels before watering and water lightly so that plants do not become waterlogged.  Using sub-irrigation in decorative pots provides plants with the water they need at their roots.

Other tips for caring for indoor plants

Keep your plants clean. This is the best way of preventing pests and disease, and keeping the plant looking healthy.

Do not use leaf shines because these can be damaging and they make the plant look artificial and plastic. Leaf shine does not actually clean the plant; it just makes the leaves shiny.

Do not over feed a plant. Too much and you risk damaging the plant’s roots.

Avoid under-planting and mixed arrangements. Not only is this old-fashioned, but it is a recipe for disaster as plants 'fight' for water and light and eventually need to be replaced.

For more information, visit www.ambius.co.za

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