Top 10 low light houseplants

Want to add houseplants to a space low on natural light? Natural light is essential for houseplants so beware of rooms without windows. Houseplants must have a light source to stay alive whether naturally bright, low light or artificial. Choosing the right houseplants to use in bright light and those darker corners is important for their survival, so read on to find out my top 10 low light houseplants. 

1. Cast iron plant - Aspidistra elatior 

Cast iron plant

With large dark green leaves this plant will survive the gloomiest of spaces. Traditionally surviving the most brutal of environments this houseplant handles it all, from fumes, draughts, smoke & low temperatures. Its glossy leaves shine in optimal conditions, including with low water. An excellent hallway or office plant, aspidistra can also been grown outside in shade.

2. Happy plant - Dracena fragrans massangeana

The Dracena might be slow growing, but it doesn’t require a ton of light to do so. Suitable for bright and low light rooms, this houseplant features stunning long green leaves with creamy yellow stripes down the centre. A floor plant when mature, the happy plant is sure to give anyone a smile as it's super low maintenance and very low water.

3. Devils Ivy - Epipremnum aureum

Devils Ivy

The golden pothos is very versatile, it can hang or climb in bright or low light positions. With large oval shaped leaves, pointing at the tip and a distinctive colour of yellow marbled with bright green. Epipremnum may also be sold as Scindapsus aureus and will climb up a moss covered pole or hang from a planter, but may latch onto nearby walls or objects. Devils ivy will tolerate neglect & low water & is perfect for almost every houseplant owner.  

4. Butterfly plant - Syngonium

Syngonium

A vigorous climber or hanging plant, Syngonium tolerates low light, bright light & shade outside. With beautiful & luscious amounts of arrow shaped leaves, cream veins and light green. The butterfly plant likes to climb a moss covered pole or can hang in a pot.

5. Snake plant -Sansevieria Trifasciata

Sansevieria

A very hardy succulent, Sansevieria species are great for the bedroom, living room and kitchen. With upright sword shaped leaves, mottled green with a yellow band on the outsides the Sansevieria species grows well in full sun and shade. Rated one of nasa’s top air purifying plants, the Sansevieria sucks up carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at night. This low water houseplant is great for beginners and those who travel. 

6. Lady palm - Rhapis excelsa

Lady Palm

A excellent statement plant for the dimly lit corner of your home, this palm will grow indoors and out, tolerating shade and a sun room. With clumping stems each with five to eight leaves spreading from the tops like a fan, this palm makes an excellent privacy screen or divider between rooms. A popular container plant the Rhapis excelsa needs regular water but allow to dry out between drinks.

7. Chinese evergreen - Aglaonema 

Aglaonema

The massive spear shaped leaves of the chinese evergreen create a spectacular display of green and cream splotches. The colours compliment other house plants foliage. The Aglaonema likes a regular drink but requires good drainage so don’t let this guy sit in water. Still easy to care for, if you forget about the chinese evergreen they will forgive you.

8. ZZ Plant - Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

ZZ plant

A plant you just can’t kill, the ZZ plant needs a drink once a month or two. The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia has thick succulent stems with rubbery dark green leaves. The ultimate of easy care houseplants the ZZ plant is perfect for those forgetful plant lovers. 

9. Fruit salad plant - Monstera Deliciosa 

Monstera Deliciosa

Young heart shaped leaves, splitting upon maturity give this plant a quirky personality. Traditionally a climber the Monstera creates a statement indoors and out in low light and shade positions. Another low water plant, Monstera is a perfect living room companion for the lazy or busy houseplant lover.

10. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea)

Parlor palm

A smaller variety of palm, the parlor palm is an excellent choice of houseplant for low light conditions. An easy care variety of palm, the parlor palm can handle lower temperatures & low humidity spots too. Chamaedorea doesn’t like to be over watered so let it dry out between drinks. 

What are your favourite low light houseplants?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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5 easy tips for Winter houseplant care

5 easy tips for winter houseplant care

Indoor plant care in Winter | 5 easy tips to keep your houseplants happy | June 2018 | Our Green Sanctuary Blog

In winter, plant maintenance is a little different and for some of us, much easier than summer time plant care! Here's how it works; as the days become shorter, many houseplants go into dormancy. Dormant plants use less energy & stop actively growing. Below I share my 5 easy tips for winter indoor plant care. 

1. Group plants close together to keep them warm and encourage humidity.

Group houseplants close together to keep them warm

Spacing plants close together helps to create a humid microclimate that many tropical houseplants love. In winter time this is especially important as the temperature drops and plants go into dormancy, grouping plants closely helps keep them warm.

2. Slow down on watering during the coldest months.

slow down on watering

Overwatering, particularly in winter can be disastrous. Dormant plants are not using anywhere near as much water as growing plants as the days are much shorter and less light is available. The difference in temperature also means water is absorbed much more slowly as there is less evaporation. Winter dormancy is common for most houseplants from temperate to tropical climates.  

If you need help determining when you should water your plants read this.

3. Move plants to where they will receive the most light. 

move plants to where they will receive the most light

The winter sun is in a different position in the sky, which means the light in your house changes, where corners are bright in summer, winter may leave them dark for most of the day. Even dormant plants need light and shorter days make this more challenging. Take note of the changes in light in your home and rearrange plants accordingly.

4. Don't fertilise your houseplants during winter 

Don't fertilise houseplants in winter

Dormant plants are sleeping plants and sleeping plants aren’t hungry, so there is no need to fertilise plants in winter. An exception would be if you are using a grow light on your plants outside daylight hours. If the plant is receiving sufficient light to be actively growing then fertilising is ok. For dormant plants you should wait until the days are longer and you can see leaves returning to trees outside. Then you can fuel your plants for the growing season with your fertiliser of choice.

5. Don't forget to dust your plants leaves. 

Don't forget to dust your plant leaves

Plants use their leaves to photosynthesize and even during dormancy require light to give them energy and keep them green. Dust on the leaves makes this process more difficult, especially during winter when the days are shorter and less light is available. Use a microfiber cloth or damp sponge to clean both sides of the leaves each week to ensure dust doesn’t accumulate.

What are your tips for houseplant care in Winter?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Top Houseplant Trends 2018

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P L A N T  S T Y L E | Top Houseplant Trends 2018

Ready to style your home with plants? The Top houseplant trends of 2018 is here! I’m calling it, on urban jungle plant style trends you’ll love. I know it’s been said green isn’t the colour of 2018, but green with plants is never going out of fashion. I’ll also share some of my top tips that you are sure to adore. 

Adding houseplants as part of your home decor is definitely a 2018 trend and it’s not going anywhere. Greenery as living home decor is a simple way to transform any space.

Green is in  

Green is in. In fact, the more the merrier when it comes to styling plants in your home. Think large plants in floor pots, plant shelves and plants in every room of the house. There are many beautiful ways to add plants to your home and the era of the urban jungle is here. You can fill your house with plants, regardless of your space. Not only will you benefit from cleaner air in your space, houseplants are proven to increase one's wellbeing too. Start with one plant if you’re not sure, or if you’ve never had a houseplant before & as your confidence grows, so will your indoor garden. 

Hanging Plants

Ideal for small spaces, or to keep plants away from small children and pets, hanging plants are a sure winner. Macrame plant hangers make it easy to add plants in any small pots to your home decor with a simple hook. Nursery’s and Garden Centres sell plants ready to hang in plastic pots, and there are many other varieties of hanging pots available.

Hang your plants from hooks opposite windows or to fill corners of rooms.

There are plenty of choices for hanging plants indoors, such as ferns, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), nodding violets (Streptocarpus rexii), Devil's ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and the Goldfish plant (Carassius auratus). 

Rachel’s Top Tip: Don’t forget to consider where you want to hang the plant when choosing what plant to hang. For example - Ferns love humidity, and indirect light. 

Mirrors 

Want to make it seem like you have more plants than you do? Amplify your space and plants with mirrors. Style over a dresser for multi purpose use or hang it on the wall behind a tall plant. Choose a unique shape such as a round or hexagonal mirror.Tall mirrors work well with a group of taller plants or by a plant shelf. The reflection will create space and the illusion of more plants! 

Baskets 

When styling plants in your home it can become expensive purchasing beautiful pots, another way to compliment your new plant is by placing it in a basket! We suggest using baskets made of natural fibres or in neutral tones. There are tons of options when it comes to baskets for your plants, including wicker, willow, seagrass and rope storage baskets.

Floor Plants 

Now you’ve got a great basket, let’s fill it with a floor plant! Last years trend was the fiddle leaf fig, a stunning large leafed plant with a long thin stem growing to heights up to 2m. This year it’s all about the happy plant (Dracena fragrans 'Massangeana'), it’s a low maintenance and easy care plant that survives in low to medium light conditions. My next choice would be my absolute favourite type of plant, a palm. Have you seen my earrings? I’m obsessed with palms for their stunning leaf structure that looks great in any home. So which palms should you choose? For indoor there are a few varieties that are perfect! For a smaller variety try the parlour palm, or for something with more impact go with a Kentia palm or Rhapis palm.  

Lady Palm

Terracotta Pots 

If you follow any plant account on instagram it’s obvious that plant parents everywhere love terracotta pots. And it’s not just for their style. Obviously they look perfect when lined up on a plant shelf filled with luscious plant babies. A colour that sings in unison with all plant foliage. But did you know that Terracotta pots are actually good for your plants? Terracotta helps plants dry out quicker, saving plants from root rot caused by overwatering. However, this means you need to monitor the water required for plants in terracotta pots due to their porous nature.  

Interesting & Variegated Foliage

It’s not just about straight green leaves for your indoor plants anymore. From variegated & marble, to splashes of ruby and gold, interesting & coloured foliage adorn many of my favourite houseplants. Variegated plants of the same species compliment their greener counterparts. Branch out into deeper colours with a Ficus elastica, or Golden Ivy. Challenge yourself to care for a stunning & stripy Calathea. Simplify your style with a few varieties of Sansevieria.

Classic White Pots & Planters 

Can a trend be a classic? Who cares! Classic white planters & pots are where it’s at. Grouped together, they create a stunning display, emphasizing the green foliage in your plant collection.  White pots with varied textures, structures & sizes will create a harmonious look in any home. White planters are timeless & on trend while effortlessly matching furniture & your homes decor.

Jarariums 

You’ve heard of Terrariums, so have you heard of Jarariums? A fun project to decorate your space with awesome aquatic art. Source yourself a large sized jar with a lid, the cheapest Potting mix with no fertilisers, aquarium gravel, & aquatic plants.  Grab a few tools, some long tweezers or mini tongs and a funnel to add the gravel and water. Start by adding a layer of soil, just a small amount, about 2cm thick is sufficient. Remove each aquatic plant from its pot and remove most of the soil, you may want to trim the roots if they appear to large for your chosen vessel. Use tongs to arrange your plants in the Jar and cover the roots with a small amount of soil. Use the funnel to distribute the gravel in a perfect layer covering the soil completely. Gently fill the jar with water through the funnel so as to limit the gravel being disturbed. Add the lid and place your Jararium creation in its new home!

Upcycled Containers 

Being green goes with loving green and upcycling is a step in the right direction, use old watering cans to plant up garden goodies like this trailing succulent ‘mezoo’. From old laundry tubs to kitchen chairs, there is no limit to the whimsy you can add to your garden with an upcycled planter.

What are your predictions for the Top Houseplant trends for 2018?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Suzy’s Sanctuary

Suzy's Sanctuary | Interview with a Houseplant Enthusiast | February 2018 | Our Green Sanctuary Blog |

I met Suzy through a Facebook group called Houseplant Addicts. An amazing and helpful group of houseplant enthusiasts who share pictures, advice & their love for plants. Suzy shared a photo of her amazing indoor garden atrium and I was hooked. I'm a huge fan of indoor plants with almost 50 of my own so I had to know how Suzy had created her indoor oasis. Lucky for me, I got to chat with Suzy about her love for houseplants and the inspiration behind this beautiful sanctuary garden.

This is Suzy’s Sanctuary:  

This photo is dated October 2017. 

I’m sure you would agree, this indoor jungle is a sanctuary we could all enjoy!

Suzy’s Sanctuary started back in 2014 when she purchased this property in Victoria. The atrium already existed, with a few tree ferns, plenty of rocks and the pond. For Suzy, this space was a beautiful blank canvas that she envisaged creating something awesome with.

Your garden looks like such a joy to spend time in, what got you into plants? 

I always liked gardening, learning different plant species and watching them change shape. I have been a collector of plants since I was 6 years old. I like to be creative, and plants were the easiest things to get into.  

I admire nature rather than people. People don’t excite me the way plants do. They are colourful, different, some are edible and some are not.  The good thing about plants is they don’t back chat!! All my plants are my babies (as I call them).  I talk to them and it’s like they seem to smile at me when I see them, they show me they are happy and healthy.

You’ve built a tropical oasis inside your home, what inspired you to create this garden? 

I had this huge space but it was boring to watch and look at, it lacked interest.  The entire space had about 5 ferns and just a lot of stones.  The best part was, the structure was all there with the ponds and walkways.  I bought the house in April 2014 and since I moved in, I  have built this area into what you see today. I have added heaps of ferns and plants that like bright natural light and can withstand colder days as well. I mainly have shade loving plants likes of Dicksonia Antartica which is quite huge now, few different varieties of palms, spider plants around the ponds, lots of different types of ferns, bromeliads, calatheas, stromantheas, aspidistra, peace lily and anthuriums. I love plants with character, I have recently added 15 rhipsalis to my collection.  I got into planting to create a peaceful place to relax and wind down after being away for work.  I really look forward to coming home to my paradise.

How long has it taken to create this amazing space?

It has taken me 3 years (2014 - 2016) to establish all the ground plants, then I added the hanging plants in 2017.  I continue adding bits and pieces all the time depending on what I see and like. As plants overgrow I cut them back, transplant and start it all over again from babies so I can watch them grow again.

It’s a sizeable garden, not to mention indoors and has a large water feature. How long do you spend maintaining it?

This is just one part of my garden! Overall, I have 2 acres, inside and outside, plus a vege garden. This space is at the back of the house - facing south, so no direct sunlight comes through the windows. The entire inner area is 25.7m L x 6.2m wide,  the structured garden area is 13 m (L) x 6.2 m (W).  Then I have pot plants in my entertaining area. Majority of the time is spent watering the plants. Since it’s been finished, apart from watering, not much needs to be done. Weed carpet stops weeds coming through and the ponds do not require that much maintenance, it has a good pump system and keeps itself clean. We spend about an hour a day watering and maintaining the gardens during summer, but in winter it’s less; about half an hour watering them all. 

With so much to absorb and enjoy, where do you find yourself spending the most time?

Around the fish pond listening to the waterfalls.  I also have a chair in the dining room that I look out on the plants and admire their beauty. This space is my meditation space; where I can relax with a glass of wine, some cheese and my plants. 

Finally, what would you say to anyone who wants to get into gardening or house plants?

Firstly, start with one. Try choosing something that you think can look after - what's the easiest plant you know how to grow? I would choose Aspidistra - Cast Iron plant. In my experience this one is super easy to look after. 

I suggest to choose a hardy plant to start with. The Peace Lily is another one - you can't kill this! Starting this way will give you confidence and then you can build up your collection with something else.

Calathea Zebrina

Cast Iron Plant - Aspidistra elatior

Rubber Plant - Ficus elastica variegated

You need to ask a few questions when you start adding plants to your home: 

Where are you going to put this plant? 

Would it survive there? 

Study the plant first where it lives its natural habitat and what’s the habitat like at your house?
Take into account temperature, this is especially important for growing tropical plants out of tropical locations. Indoor plant groups - such as fiddle leaf fig, maidenhair ferns, and calatheas - 15 degrees is the minimum for most of these plant types. Lighting is so important, no direct sunlight is perfect for Maidenhair ferns. 

You need to get the plant rooting where you plant it, for this you need good soil. 

Once established you need to feed the plants food, mulch & compost helps improve soil so that things grow well. 

What pot are you using for pot plants? For Terracotta pots - you need a specialised soil mix called terracotta and tub mix. I use this because it has the elements and ingredients to support growing plants in terracotta pots. 

Thanks so much for your awesome tip's and for sharing how you created your awesome sanctuary garden Suzy! 

I had an absolute pleasure chatting with Suzy, sharing her love for plants and hearing fantastic gardening tips. 

If you’ve created a sanctuary like Suzy’s, share it in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Why can’t I keep my plants alive?

Plant Care 101 | How to keep Houseplants happy! | March 2018 | Our Green Sanctuary Blog | 

I love being a plant parent. But I’ve had my fair share of misery when despite my best efforts one of my houseplants hasn’t survived. I really do care for my plants.

So why can't I keep my plants alive?

Over time I’ve learnt from some mistakes, but in the beginning, I rarely knew what had gone wrong. It’s not until I started reading the plant tags and doing some research that I discovered how important it is to get a few basics right. So I’m going to run through them below.

Choose plants for your space! 

This may sound simple but actually, most people do the exact opposite and choose plants that are attractive to them and worry about where they will put them later. Choosing plants that are suitable for the space you want to keep them in is very important to ensure their survival.

So what do I mean by choose plants for your space? Ask yourself these questions and your answers will lead you to the right plants for the conditions in your space. 

What kind of light or sun does the space get?

Indirect but bright light, full shade, part shade, full sun, afternoon sun? 

How big is the space? Do you want a small plant? (remember plants grow too!). A big plant in a large pot on the floor? Hanging baskets or plant hangers?

How often are you in the space/ will you notice it? Will you remember to water this plant? Is it easy to access so you can water it, check for bugs?

What’s the air flow like? Air conditioning blowing on the space, heating, humidity?

Plants will adapt to their environment but you can assist this process if you choose a plant that’s suitable for your space, you are making sure you have the right light, airflow, enough room and you can access it to water it. Most plants don't enjoy draughts or air conditioning directly blowing on them. Heating can also dry out the soil quicker. Consider where you want to put a plant before choosing a plant and you're halfway to happier plants.

Figure out how often you need to water your plant.

Figure out? Rachel, why can’t you just tell me! Sorry guys, it's because, it all depends on the plant type, the conditions you keep your plant in, the pot size and the soil. Here are a few quick tips.

What kind of plant did you choose? Tropical plants - or plants with leafy foliage; usually like to let the top soil dry out between watering except for some ferns which prefer to stay moist. Succulent or Cacti; most don’t require huge amounts of water, let the soil completely dry between drinks. 

Our tip: ask the nursery person when you buy or check out our Plant Profile's to see if your plant is listed. 

Where is the plant kept? The amount of light a plant receives will determine how much water it uses. Full sun plants need a daily drink in summer, except some established dry tolerant garden plants. Shade plants in dry shade or humid shade. Dry shade plants will need more water. In winter many houseplants will go into dormancy and won't require regular watering over this period. 

Indoor plants in bright indirect light; check the top soil is dry first and then water as required, don’t allow plants to sit in saucers of water for long, unless treating a dehydrated plant.

How big is the pot in comparison to the plant? A big plant in a small pot can have lots of roots, which means there is less soil and less chance of holding water. A small plant or recently potted plant in a bigger pot usually means there is lots of soil, and less roots. Therefore less water soaked up by the roots, and is held in the soil. 

What kind of soil did you use? Specialised planting mix for the species of plant is the best option for water holding capacity. Premium all purpose potting mix is a great all round option, you may you find you need to water different plants at different rates. Generally speaking the cheapest potting mix you can find will work for some hardy plants and even succulents as it often contains more bark chips, however it lacks the added fertilisers and trace elements plant need when they are being repotted

One of the quickest ways to make a plant unhappy is to over or under water them. In my experience you can bring a plant back from under watering if caught early. Overwatering a plant unfortunately will send it to plant heaven.

Maintain your plants!  

Plants are like babies, OK not really that much alike but you can't just forget about them and hope they stay alive! They need food, water, cleaning and even changing on occasion.

Food - plants need fertiliser, in actual fact it's not really food for plants but nutrients they use to grow strong. So if you want the best out of your plants fertilise them! Use a liquid or slow release fertiliser composed of granules.

Water - see above

Cleaning - old yellowing leaves on your plant might fall off but you can remove them. If the leaves aren’t old but are turning yellow this could mean there is a problem. Some plants require pruning, others might get bugs. Keep an eye on your plants and clean their leaves at least monthly

Changing - As plants grow they will need a new pot! It’s important to change your plants pot before it becomes too pot bound (when the roots run out if room). Some plants can survive being pot bound but others will not, if you can see roots at the top of the pot this can indicate its ready for a new pot. It all depends on the plant as to how often a pot change is required, we suggest every 12-18 months

The best advice we can give is to learn as much as you can about your plant so you can care for it properly. The advice above is very general and that’s why you will need to answer the questions mentioned for your plant to achieve the best outcome.

I hope this helps! 

Tell us in the comments below, your best tips for plant care.

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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How often should I water my indoor plants?

THE FINGER TEST | How often should I water my indoor plants?
April 2018 | Our Green Sanctuary Blog

Almost every day I get asked the same question "How often should I water this plant?" and because one of the worst things you can do to your plants, is over water them. I've put together this post to help you understand how often you should water your indoor plants.

If you're not sure how often you should be watering your indoor plants, read on. I'll share with you the two main ways we can tell a plant need's water, and which way I recommend for checking your houseplants water requirements. 

2 ways to tell if a plant needs water

There are two main ways we can tell a plant needs water.

1. Looking 

2. Lifting

Look at the plant. 

Are the leaves looking less shiny? Are there yellow leaves that have appeared? I have a Peace Lily Spathiphyllum, that's leaves will become very droopy and flat if I neglect to give it the water it needs. 

Next is lifting. 

Try picking up the plant and checking the weight. You'll first need to know how light the plant can weigh when it's dry and how heavy it is when it's wet. Then, when you are checking, the heavier the plant is, the less likely it needs a drink. This is easiest if you have plastic pots. 

Try picking up your plants to see if they need water

Unfortunately for me, many the pots we use at home are heavy glazed clay pots so this strategy isn’t always suitable. If you keep your plants in lightweight plastic pots then you can give this one a try.  

The way I recommend you check if your plants need watering is:

The Finger Test.

Simply stick your finger into the dirt as far down as you can and see if the soil is dry.

Check to see if your plants need water
Stick your finger into the soil

When you remove your finger, any soil sticking to it indicates moisture. When your finger comes out relatively clean, it’s time to water. Feel the soil by rubbing your fingers together. Dark & sticky soil is a sign of moisture.

Stick your finger as far down into the soil as you can
Any soil left on your finger indicates moisture

When you find the soil is still moist, don't water yet. Check back again in a day or two. Depending on how many plants you have this task might seem tedious at first. To keep your plants happy it's well worth the effort. Eventually you will get to know the watering requirements of each of your plants.

Rachel's Top Tip:

Group plants with similar water requirements together

There are a few other signs to look for if you think it's time to water your plants.

Leaves shriveling up, browning  or becoming crusty;  indicates the plant has dried out.

A plant dropping leaves, can be a sign of both under and overwatering. The finger test should help you determine which. 

Not all your plants will need water at the same rate. This will all depend on the type of plant; cacti and succulents need less water than a tropical plant.

If you want to water your plants at the same rate you will need to ensure the correct potting mixture for each plant type to ensure correct and efficient drainage. Find out which potting mix you need.

The size and type of pot can also influence how much water a plant needs. Clay pots absorb moisture and help plants dry out quicker.

Larger plants in small pots, doesn't leave much room for their roots and so there is less soil which means it can’t hold as much water. In this case you might find it easier if you repot your plant. I've written a separate post about that here.

What are your tips for watering indoor plants? 

Tell us in the comments below. 

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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