Call us now on

0800 201 4811

Expert advice: The Best Plants for an Indoor Garden

Gina Narramore

Gina Narramore



The Guardian’s former gardening editor, Jane Perrone, has been offering her expertise to some of our favourite publications for over a decade and here she provides us with some useful advice on the best plants to choose for making your own indoor garden.

According to a recent study, a third of all homes in the UK don’t have an outdoor garden. But, did you know that you can instead create a stunning indoor garden? 

An indoor garden can really bring something special to the interior of a property and can of course help satisfy the needs of the gardenless green fingered.

So, for a little help and inspiration, we spoke to indoor gardening expert, Jane Perrone - a regular features writer for publications including The Guardian, Gardens Illustrated and Garden Design Journal.

Jane’s wealth of experience with gardening both inside and outdoors – and the fact she has a podcast dedicated to houseplants – meant that we couldn’t think of anyone better to advise us on how to create and maintain an indoor garden. Read on to discover her top tips.

Why Are Houseplants Important to a Home?

Personally, I love growing plants and having them around me. I really get a kick out of seeing things flower and flourish. 

When I go into a home without any plants, I always feel like there's something missing. That said, when I go into a home where the houseplants are badly neglected, it makes me really sad!

Could You Pick a Favourite Houseplant?

A member of the Gesneriad family, Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose)

That's like trying to pick a favourite child! I love them all, but I do have a soft spot for the Gesneriad family.

These plants include Streptocarpus (otherwise known as Cape Primrose), Petrocosmeas and Smithianthas (also called Temple Bells). The Hoya (wax plant) plant family is also beautiful and will thrive indoors, and succulents are a great pick too.

What Are the Health Benefits of Houseplants?

Well, there is evidence that houseplants can help clean the air, but to be honest, unless you have an awful lot of plants, it’s not going to make a huge difference.

However, there's lots of evidence that plants improve our mood, and we are drawn to them.

A hypothesis known as biophilia, which was introduced by Edward O. Wilson, is now something that many individuals and even businesses now factor in when creating their own interiors and living spaces. 

Described by Mr Wilson as ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’, biophilia essentially suggests that we possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. 

This idea of 'biophilia' suggests that a few plants on your windowsill can be beneficial to your mood and wellbeing. Which is particularly relevant if you have mobility issues and as you can essentially bring nature indoors. 

How Should a Beginner Introduce Houseplants to Their Home?

Moth Orchid

Firstly, do your research - don't just go and buy the first houseplant you like the look of. Plants have different needs, so what might thrive in one environment may struggle to do so in your home.

Then, you should start slowly with one or two plants and get the knack of looking after them before you expand your collection. 

If you’re looking for low maintenance plants, or houseplants to suit those with mobility issues, ideally you want something that doesn't need a lot of fuss or regular repotting. Moth orchids are a good choice as they don't often need repotting, and only need watering once a week. When you do water them, simply run them under a tap from about 60 seconds

Can You Grow Your Own Food Indoors?

You can have an element of ‘grow your own’, even if you don’t own a garden. In fact, you can successfully grow things like pea shoots and microgreens on your windowsill, or even compact varieties of chillies and tomatoes during the summer. 

If you’re looking to create an indoor herb or edible garden, make sure to start small and only grow what you like to eat! I’d suggest that you buy some herbs in pots from a good garden centre and place them in a bright spot where you can keep an eye on them daily. The best spot to do this is usually on your kitchen windowsill. 

What’s a Commonly Overlooked Houseplant Which You’d Always Recommend?

African Violet (part of the Gesneriad family)

I don't think people truly appreciate how great the Gesneriads (which includes African violets) are. 

As well as being easy to grow, they’re beautiful and they flower too. Of this plant family, I’d suggest trying a Primulina or a Petrocosmea.

What if You Want Houseplants and Have a Pet?

Many houseplants are poisonous to both cats and dogs, but it all depends if your pet is interested in eating your plants. If you have a pet that likes to nibble, check whether plants are toxic to them before buying - I recommend using this website to do your research. 

McCarthy & Stone’s Additional Indoor Garden Top Tips:

To create a striking indoor garden, simply find a nook or cranny with good natural light and fill it with plants. 

A dedicated area for your houseplants will feel more like a garden and look more appealing. Use different stands and multi-level stools or side tables to display your plants, as this will add interest and depth. It’s also another great way to showcase your own style.

With many of our properties, our prime locations often offer stunning window views of the surrounding area. So why not consider adorning such windows with a beautiful array of plants? Not only can it keep drawing your attention to these views, it will create a new element to your interior and add a personal stamp to your home. 

You can read up on more of our indoor and balcony gardening tips and you can also listen to Jane’s podcast ‘On The Ledge’ to find out more tips and tricks for growing plants indoors.

Header image: 'Jane at her home.' Image by Cat Lane.


Like this article? Subscribe to receive updates...
Subscribe to receive notifications when we post new articles to our online magazine.
By subscribing to these updates you’re agreeing to receive email updates when new articles are published to the McCarthy & Stone online magazine.
We’ll never send you spam or sell your details. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Related Articles


Foraging Favourites

For many people, collecting and eating wild plants and fungi has been part of life since childhood, filling punnets with wild edibles from ripening berries to sweet chestnuts. ...Read more


Spotlight on York

A city of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth woven into  every  brick and beam, York seeps history at every turn. ...Read more


Summer Events in 2019 To Look Out For

The summer season is packed with a variety of events to appeal to a range of interests and ages. Savour the delights of new and exciting cuisine, enjoy the thrill of world-class horse racing and discover the latest super cars, at events taking place across the summer months.  ...Read more


It's All Greek To Us

Sparkling white beaches, deep blue seas, sugar-cube villages and venerable ancient sites make the
Greek islands an idyllic holiday destination for many. Tourists can immerse in the Greek cuisine,
century-old sites and local culture each island has to offer, while enjoy luxurious accommodation
and the locals’ warm and welcoming hospitality. ...Read more


Fishing for Fun

Looking for an exhilarating and challenging activity that brings a sense of serenity and calmness? We think we’ve found the perfect catch. ...Read more


It’s time to start living life to the full again

A McCarthy & Stone Retirement Living Plus apartment is about getting more from life for the over 70s. It’s the perfect combination really - company when you want it, help when you could use it, care when you need it. And all in the comfort of your own stylish new home. ...Read more


Explore Our Menu

Retirement Living PLUS is all about making life easier. This includes providing a great value in-house restaurant or bistro, where you can enjoy freshly prepared food in good company. ...Read more


Staying Cool and Well During A Heatwave

Although warmer weather can be a welcome sight for many, the increased temperatures can lead to
added risks for some, particularly those with health issues or those that are more vulnerable. Stay well with these tips.  ...Read more


The History of Father's Day

Father’s Day is the perfect time to thank fathers and father figures for their help and support. In this post, McCarthy & Stone look at the history of Father’s Day. ...Read more


A New Adventure 

Colin and Pat Mackay are looking forward to making the most of their retirement following their move to North Berwick.

...Read more


The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

There are many benefits of downsizing and if this is something you are considering, here, we share our knowledge about downsizing, and explain why it could be one of the best things you can do for your retirement.   ...Read more


Blooming Marvellous: The Chelsea Flower Show

The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s the most glamorous day out in the gardening calendar.

The grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are once again blooming with flora as the Royal Horticultural Society prepares to welcome 157,000 spectators to their annual five-day flower festival in May. ...Read more


Working After Retirement – Is It For You?

More and more people are choosing to put off their retirement and continue working. Plus, in many other cases, those who have already retired are looking to return to work. Here, we weigh up the pros and cons of each situation. ...Read more


How To Manage Your Diet In Retirement

There are many extra demands placed on our bodies as we progress through life and because of this our nutritional needs also change as a result. It is never too late to revamp your nutrition and nurture your body with a healthier diet.   ...Read more


Tackling loneliness among older people with Pen Pals

We understand the problem of loneliness amongst older people and we want to do something to combat it. That’s why we have created our latest Pen Pals programme, an outlet to connect older people with other older people in communities by the writing and exchanging of letters. Click to find out more. ...Read more


How To Make New Friends In Retirement

Friendship is hugely important at every stage in life, and retirement is no exception. What’s more, in retirement you could make the most of the extra free time you have to discover different experiences and meet new people – leading to new friendships and relationships.  ...Read more


Sheffield – The Steel Centre of the World

Famed for its industry and innovation, the green, modern cityscape now replaces the smoking chimneys from the industrial revolution. There’s a friendly, independent and alternative spirit that can be hard to find in other cities alongside a thriving cultural scene. ...Read more


Wally & The Flying Scotsman

Popular North Gate Court customer Wally Blazey moved into their McCarthy & Stone apartment with his wife Gladys seven months ago, and the couple have just celebrated their 72nd anniversary. At 92, Wally is one of the two last surviving drivers of the Flying Scotsman, the most famous steam locomotive in the world. ...Read more


The Top 11 British Hidden Gems

Where are the best locations in the UK to visit... that you've probably not heard of? We've ranked the best hidden gems around Britain, that are easy to access, and offer a great weekend away with the family. ...Read more


Do Pets Make You Happier?

Whether you're a pet owner or have a pet free home, animals of all kinds have been proven to improve the happiness of their human counterparts. To find out more McCarthy & Stone conducted a survey to see how pets enrich their owners lives. Here are the results! ...Read more