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Happy New Houseplant by Beth Otway

Now that the Christmas decorations are long gone, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide. I find I can more accurately determine the brightness of a room if I am not trying to match it to a coveted plant that I am trying desperately to place. Don’t worry, I can assure you that there are fabulous houseplants for any situation. I must also tell you that I recommend collecting rainwater to water all indoor plants – it can be awkward I know but worth it!

If your home is bright and full of natural light, a fabulous Aloe vera plant might tempt you. This beautiful, architectural succulent will provide you with fleshy leaves, which you can remove as and when their inner gel, with its cooling and soothing properties, is required to treat sunburn and other minor injuries.

Saintpaulia, or African violets, are often perpetual bloomers on windowsills; they even grow well above radiators. Place your African violet container on a saucer, and top the saucer up with water when the surface of the plant’s compost begins to dry out. Deadhead regularly for optimum flowering. Take leaf cuttings to create new plants. Simply remove a fully developed leaf, and pot it up carefully in gritty, well-drained compost, ensuring that the base of the leaf is touching the compost. Cover with a clear plastic bag if you wish, but it’s not essential.

If your home offers somewhat shadier conditions, don’t despair, there are plenty of beautiful and stylish houseplant companions that will love and enhance your room. Spathiphyllum wallisii, known as the peace lily, is such a darling of a houseplant. It’s easy going and great to be around, complementing any style of decor. Thriving in partially shaded, to shaded conditions, peace lilies have a fresh look and feel; they also purify the air, removing toxins. The more plants you install in a room, the greater the purifying effect and the sumptuous decadent feel.

If your room is really rather shaded, opt for a houseplant that will favour these conditions. Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant, is quite amazing, it thrives in partially shaded to deeply shaded conditions and can be grown in rooms with only artificial light. Its green, shiny leaves add a charming presence and life to any dimly lit room. If your interest in houseplants tends to wane during the summer months, then you’ll be glad to know that the ZZ plant is remarkably tolerant of neglect. All of these plants will all be happy in temperatures from 15C-25C.

For more information about indoor plants including orchids, ferns and terrarium plants, outdoor gardening advice for the month ahead, and much more besides, visit my website www.pumpkinbeth.com.

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