Advice How-to guides

How to choose the right houseplant for your space

Now you know houseplants are great for your health, and are a super easy way to style your space, so how do you choose the right houseplant? Selecting the perfect houseplant for your space takes some consideration, so I’m going to share with you the top things to consider when choosing the right houseplant for your space. 


Why is light important for houseplants? Plants need light to grow. For houseplants light is essentially their food. The process of plants eating light is called photosynthesis. Plants take the energy they receive from sunlight, carbon dioxide they absorb from the air and water and turn it into carbohydrates which they use to grow and release oxygen.

If plants do not receive adequate light then they may not be able to photosynthesise. 

Adequate light requirements may differ between houseplants, as some plants can handle less light than others. You can read about my top 10 low light houseplants here

Houseplants are often found next to large windows, in bright indirect or filtered light. Most houseplants will tolerate direct morning sun however, hot direct afternoon sun is not generally recommended. 

When choosing where to put your houseplants, consider that the further a houseplant is away from a window, the less likely it will receive enough light. Keeping houseplants in windowless rooms will only be successful when providing the plant with a substantial artificial grow light. 


How big is the space you have for houseplants? Plants come in many shapes and sizes which may change and increase over time. After all, they are a living thing! Consider the size of your space when selecting appropriate houseplants. You may wish to style a collection of small houseplants with shelving or plant stands, or fill an empty corner with a larger plant in a basket such as a Kentia palm. 

Take into account the maximum size in height and spread of the houseplant, and whether its slow growing or not. Be aware, grow time will also be relative to the conditions the plant is kept in. Strelitzia nicolai - Bird of Paradise is a stunning houseplant which can quickly grow in excess of 2 metres high and 1 metre spread indoors. 

Hanging planters and macrame plant hangers are also an effective way to display plants and are perfect for small spaces. Climbing and trailing house plants such as hoyas, syngoniums and some philodendrons are great choices.  


Is it getting hot in here? Many houseplants are tropical in nature and require warm and humid environments to thrive. You will need to consider the temperature and airflow of the area you choose for your houseplants and take into account any doors or windows where a cool breeze could pass through. Fluctuations in temperature due to artificial heating and cooling will also have an effect on houseplants. For very dry areas, you may find a humidifier will be beneficial to your houseplants. 

Houseplants such as Calathea species are particularly affected by unsatisfactory temperature and humidity and often require a pebble tray or humidifier to increase the humidity in a space. This can be indicated by brown tips on the edges of a plants leaves. 

TIP: What is a pebble tray? 

A pebble tray is simply a tray filled with pebbles and covered in water. Place underneath or nearby plants that require increased humidity. The water will need to be topped up regularly in order for humidity to be created.

Brown tips on your houseplants are a sign their environment needs changing. Light, temperature and water all in play. Under or over watering are often the issue so always use the finger test when watering your plants.

Placing houseplants by large windows can assist in providing the best environment for your plants as the window should provide adequate light. 

Grouping plants together can assist in creating humidity, and grouping plants that have similar water requirements makes watering day so much easier! 


This is the best part! The lush green walls of plants… Don’t get distracted! When you purchase your plant, take note of the environment it is kept in. A nursery or garden centre should keep its plants in their optimal environment so they look great to sell. Are they outside in the direct sun? Or shaded under cover? Houseplants will be where the plants are either indoors or under cover. Be aware most plant shops don't grow their own plants and advice can vary so, don't be afraid to ask questions and do your own research. 

What do you look for when choosing a houseplant for your space? 

Tell us in the comments below!


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How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

how do you know if your plant needs a new pot

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?| July 2018
|Our Green Sanctuary Blog

Don’t feel daunted if your plant needs a new pot. Without speaking about a particular plant, most houseplants will require repotting every 6-12 months. So, how do you know when your plant needs a new pot? There are a few signs your houseplant needs a new pot, and depending on how fast your plants grow, will determine how often repotting is required. I’ll take you through the main indicators your houseplant needs a new pot and offer a few tips along the way.

My first tip is, where possible, repot your house plants in spring. The roots will then actively grow into their new soil, and this will minimise the risk of transplant shock. What is transplant shock you might ask? If your plant shows signs of stress after transplanting it may be experiencing transplant shock. This could include wilting, so ensure not to overwater newly potted plants.

This is my parents Dracena, the plant had stalled growing and was looking quite sad.

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

To determine when your plant needs a new pot, consider the following:

How often do you need to water the plant? Plants which are thirsty can indicate its time for repotting, as the roots are taking up most of the room in the pot, there is less soil to hold moisture.

An easy way to determine whether a plant is ready for a new pot, is by looking at the soil at the top of the pot for signs of roots. You can move or scrape the soil at the top of the pot and feel any roots that have moved to the surface. Can you see roots growing through the holes in the bottom or showing at the surface of the soil? Roots showing in these areas is a clear indication the plant is becoming pot bound and should be repotted as soon as possible. 

Does the plant appear to have stopped or stalled growing? This will be less obvious in winter, but during the growing season if your plant seems to stall or growth has slowed even with regular fertiliser and the right care. 

roots on the surface of the soil

Can you see the veiny roots on the surface of the soil?

Choose the right container.

Choosing the right container for your pot is an important consideration before repotting.

You will need to think about:

The size of the container. Don’t pot up into a container too large as the plant may look out of balance and the extra soil will hold additional moisture 

this container has two drainage holes

This container has two drainage holes

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container.

Sometimes you may find a plant has been in a pot for a little too long and is starting to or has become root bound. In this case, it’s definitely best to repot the plant into a pot 1 and a half, to 2 times larger than the original container. If the roots are really bound, gently tease or cut to separate them so they continue to grow into the new pot, I would suggest to check youtube for some advice about your particular plant if this is the case. 

The roots are quite bound

The roots are quite bound

So I used this tool to help separate them

So I used this tool to help separate them.

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth.

What material is the container is made of? I usually choose lightweight containers for my house plants so they are easy for me to move when watering and taking photos. Terracotta containers can also help dry out soil quicker, so may not be suitable for all houseplants. There is also specialised potting mix you can purchase for terracotta containers.

Another reason I repot my plants is because I want them to look good in my home! The colour and style of the container should be of your preference. The container should suit the plant size, style and your home decor. 

Why should you repot your plants?

Often when you bring home a new plant from the nursery, garden centre or wherever you buy your plants, it may need repotting. It’s good to repot new plants for a few reasons. You can check the plants roots and see if they are healthy, free from root rot and any disease.  You can also ensure the soil is free from bugs and plant your new houseplant in premium potting mix to give it all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements it needs to keep blooming and growing. 

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting.

Speaking of potting mix.

The soil you use when repotting is definitely an important factor. Specialised potting mixes are available for a variety of houseplants and should be used where available. Alternatively, premium potting mix has all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements for great all round plant health. Always add fresh soil in with the existing plant soil when repotting. I don’t recommend recycling soil in case of disease, I add any used soil to the compost heap and recycle it for the garden. 

Finally fertilise & water.

If you follow all the steps above, you might also like to fertilize your newly potted plant. A new pot provides room for growth, so feeding up your plant with a suitable liquid plant food or slow release fertiliser will encourage your plant to grow.

So now you know what to look for when your plant needs a new pot, and what to consider when repotting, I’ll share the final rule for potting up a plant. Always water your plant as soon as it has been repotted. This is important for two reasons, firstly it will stimulate the roots so they grow into their new home, and secondly it will compact the soil into the pot so you’ll know if you need to add a bit extra. 

After repotting and a drink, I removed all the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

After repotting and a drink, I removed a lot of the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

Repotting your houseplants is a fairly simple process. If you remember the tips above, your houseplants will continue to flourish year after year. 

How often do you repot your houseplants?

Share your tips in the comments below!


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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.


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