Glamorous greenery

How to create your own indoor jungle.

Not only do plants look great but they make us happier and healthier, with research finding that increased exposure to nature improves our mental and physical health.

With more than 10% of Australians now living in a unit or flat, creating your own green health retreat can be difficult with the restrictiveness of apartment living.

Here’s how to bring a touch of greenery into your home so you can reap the health benefits of nature without moving to the suburbs.

Sunlight

Indoor plants in sun

Plants need sunlight to survive but, luckily, some plants need less than others. Many apartments don’t get the right sunlight so choosing plants that will suit your space is essential.

Knowing how much sun comes through your windows will help you choose the best spot for your plant.

South facing windows often don’t receive much light so aren’t ideal for most plants but some varieties, such as peace lilies, Zanzibar gems and spider plants, will tolerate a bit of darkness in the summer months. 

East facing windows get the weaker morning light so place plants that only need moderate or indirect light here. In fact, most popular indoor plants, such as monsteras, rubber trees and devil’s ivy, will prefer this light.

As the sun follows a slightly northern east-to-west route in Australia, north facing windows receive the most intense light for longer periods than other windows. Snake plants, aloe vera and cactus can tolerate this level of light, but it may be better to place plants that need filtered or indirect light to the side or further away from the window.

The sun is strongest in the afternoon, so any plant placed near a west facing windows needs to be able to tolerate harsh light and heat. Avoid placing fiddle figs and aspidistras here as the light will burn their leaves – instead opt for cacti, azaleas and agave plants.

Temperature

Indoor plants rain temperature

It isn’t strange for Queensland temperatures to push 40 degrees so it’s important to select plants that like warm, humid temperatures.

Aside from English ivy and cacti, most plants prefer humid warmth over dry warmth so will need to be placed in a spot with good humidity and airflow. Spritzing them with water and putting pebble-lined water under their base will help boost humidity. 

Tropical jungle plant varieties like calatheas and some palms love our humid climate and will not enjoy being placed too close to an air conditioning unit (or heating in winter).

Watering

Indoor plants watering

One of the main reasons indoor plants die is due to either over or underwatering, and it can be tricky knowing how much water your plant needs.

As a rule of thumb, water plants from top to bottom (straight onto the plant base) until water begins to run into the pot tray. Make sure any excess water in the tray is emptied as plants don’t enjoy having soggy feet – it also leaves them prone to root rot.

Plants will also need less water during the winter months but if you see leaves drooping or the top 2cm of soil is dry then it’s likely time for a quick bath.

Those in sunnier spots will also need more watering than those out of the light – apart from cacti and succulents which thrive on sunshine and neglect.

Repotting

Indoor plants repotting

Some plants enjoy being root bound like peace lilies and spider plants, but most would rather have a bit more freedom.

It’s time to repot your plant when the roots begin peeking out of the drainage holes – usually a new pot about 2cm bigger is fine however each plant has their own needs.

Animal safe plants

  1. Bird's nest, boston and staghorn ferns (easy care).
  2. Calathea zebrina or rattlesnake (advanced care).
  3. Spider plant (easy care).
  4. Parlour and bamboo palm (easy care).
  5. Money tree (easy care).
  6. Peperomia green (easy care).
  7. Stromanthe triostar (advanced care).
  8. Echeveria lola (easy care).
  9. Prayer plant (advanced care).
  10. Cast iron plant (easy care).
  11. Swedish ivy (easy care).

However, it's important to note that while these plants are considered non-toxic to domestic animals, excess consumption can cause digestive problems. Find out if your house plants are toxic to pets here.