Call us now on

0800 201 4811

Return of the Spider Plant

Mark Gale

Mark Gale

Author

Lifestyle

Remember when trailing greenery hung from macramé pot holders in every bay window in the country? Well, the good news is house plants are back in vogue. Here’s how to make the most of them

Remember those glossy cheese plants and prolific spider plants of the 1970s? No stylish home was complete without them. Now, after decades of fresh flowers and streamlined minimalism, house plants are back in fashion. Millennials and hipsters can’t get enough of them. Fiddle-leaf fig trees are trending on Instagram, and there’s even an indoor plant shop in Brighton called Spiderplant.

It’s a welcome return. Adding greenery is an easy way to personalise your home. There are other bonuses, too. The health benefits of indoor plants are well established, both physical, improving air quality to help breathing, and psychological, reducing stress and improving moods. Research has even shown people are quicker at computer tasks in rooms with plants. 

And if you’ve recently moved house and no longer have a garden, bringing the outside in with a beautiful new palm or a spectacular fern will give your green fingers something to nurture.

Growing house plants also gives you the chance to make a style statement with contemporary containers. In the 1970s, your spider plants would have nestled in a macramé holder hanging from the ceiling (yes, macramé is back, too), but now your plants could look fantastic in sleek aluminium or zinc pots or industrial-chic concrete containers.

‘House plants look good clustered together in the corner of a room or next to a fireplace,’ says gardening author Stephanie Donaldson, whose blog, The Enduring Gardener, has a keen following. ‘Choose plants with leaves of different shapes and sizes, combining one large plant with two or three smaller ones. They’ll create their own humid micro-climate and keep each other healthy.’

Alice Sharville, owner of Spiderplant, recommends a large floor-standing plant to give a room the wow factor. ‘You can make a big impact by spending £50 on a mature cheese plant or philodendron. Mature plants are also easier to look after as they’re well established.’

One plant species that’s had a massive resurgence is the cactus. ‘Cacti are all over social media,’ says Alice. ‘To make your home individual, choose a statement Euphorbia ingens – the cowboy cactus – or one of the blue cacti, which are popular now. They’ll look great with smaller cacti.’

Their popularity is partly due to their easy-going nature. Cacti need little care, so appeal to people who go away a lot. They need watering only once a week in summer and hardly at all in winter. They like light but need to dry out in between watering. And since they release oxygen at night, they’re ideal for a bedroom.       

Most house plants need plenty of light to thrive, so McCarthy & Stone apartments with large windows or balconies suit them well. Remember that the direction your windows face can affect how happy your plants will be. South-facing windows can mean too much direct sunlight in summer, which can scorch those shiny leaves. ‘For a south-facing window, choose a cactus, yucca or bird of paradise, which don’t mind the heat,’ says Alice. ‘East- and west-facing windows should be fine for most plants, and north-facing, too, if there’s good light.’

Plants vary in their need for water. If in doubt, under-water rather than over-water. Wilting through a lack of water is reversible; root rot caused by waterlogging may not be.     

Hanging and trailing plants are also in vogue. ‘If you don’t want to take up floor space, these are a great way to bring greenery into your home,’ says Alice. ‘Place them in corners, near windows or on shelving units.’

Good plants for trailing include the spider plant; rhipsalis, which has pencil-thin stems like green hair; heart-leaf philodendron; and Ceropegia woodii, with heart-shaped leaves that grow in a string like a natural necklace.

Finally, let’s not forget the dual pleasures of growing plants on a sunny kitchen windowsill to spice up your cooking. ‘Chilli plants are so easy to grow from seed,’ says Stephanie. And the bright red peppers against the dark green leaves is a sight to savour.  

Need more inspiration?

Check out these Instagram pages:

Which to choose? 

Spider plants are among the easiest, and fastest, indoor plants to grow. Their long, curved ‘spider leg’ leaves make them ideal hanging plants and they don’t need much light, so you can put them almost anywhere.  

Ferns have had a major comeback in 2017. The Boston fern is one of the easiest to grow, and its graceful arching fronds look good in a hanging container. The delicate maidenhair fern is pretty but craves humidity, so is best in bathrooms or on kitchen windowsills.

Mother-in-law’s tongue is a vigorous and very low-maintenance succulent with erect, sword-like leaves. 

Monstera obliqua is an unusual relative of the cheese plant, with heart-shaped leaves dotted with oval holes. It’s fast-growing and works as a hanging plant, or you can grow it up a pole.

Air plants (Tillandsia) are small plants with curving, tendril-like leaves that don’t have conventional roots but produce a small root system to anchor themselves onto rocks and trees. They absorb water and nutrients directly from the air. They look attractive and unusual hanging in wire baskets.

Banana trees have architectural leaves, and the smaller versions can make striking house plants. They like warmth, light and water, but don’t expect any fruit – just enjoy them for their dramatic good looks.

Image credits: Gap Photos, Getty, iStock

Like this article? Subscribe to receive updates...
Subscribe to receive notifications when we post new articles to our online magazine.
Loading...
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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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

Lifestyle

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