Life

Gardening advice: Tips for ensuring your houseplants survive if you want an easy life

Monstera (cheese plants) and cacti are good to grow if you're not that green fingered

1. Choose your plants carefully: It might be tempting to pick whatever plant you like the look of best, but a little bit of research will go a long way – especially if you're the kind of person who's been unsuccessful in taking care of houseplants in the past.

"Don't grow difficult or time-consuming plants that demand a lot of TLC," horticulturist Jamie Butterworth advises. "There are many plants that thrive upon neglect, and these are the ones to opt for."

He recommends trying Aspidistra, Monstera (cheese plants) or cacti if you want to make your life a bit easier.

2. Check where the plants come from: This tip is all about using your common sense. "Plants that naturally grow in the desert, such as cacti, won't want to be holed up in a shady bathroom," Butterworth says. "Similarly, a shade-loving plant won't want to be next to a south-facing window."

Again, it's tempting to put the plant where you think it looks best in your house, but this could increase your likelihood of killing it quickly. Also avoid placing them next to hot radiators.

3. Grow them where you can see them: Plants might seem easy to kill, but they're not hard to understand. "Plants are great at letting you know when they're not happy," Butterworth says. "By growing them somewhere obvious, you can take steps as soon as they look a bit peaky."

4. Treat them mean to keep them keen: No, this isn't a piece of terrible dating advice. Instead, Butterworth says: "Often it's easy to 'over love' plants, giving them too much water or worrying unnecessarily." This is why "the plants I grow at home are all resilient and tough, and only need attention every few weeks." If this sounds like a good plan to you, he recommends investing in a Schefflera Arboricola, otherwise known as the Dwarf umbrella tree.

5. Grow something you can eat: "You're much more likely to take better care of a plant if you know you can also include it in a meal," Butterworth says, and recommends trying to grow your own herbs, chillies or quick-to-harvest salad leaves.

:: Jamie Butterworth's book 50 Plants You Can't Kill (Mitchell Beazley) is out in May.

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