Bringing The Outdoors In

We're delighted to introduce garden and interiors blogger Melanie Jade Designs and her blog on bringing plants into your home. 

I’ve always thought plants make a home. They bring personality, life and a calm quality to a room and let’s face it, they look great! They’re also a great accessory for when you don’t know what to do with a space or corner in a room and can be beneficial to our health. Some plants can purify the air which can help us sleep at night, a great cleanser to all the pollutants and dust from every day life.

A lot of people tell me that they’ve never had a plant in their house and the main reasons are often, I don’t know how to look after them or I’m not green fingered and often kill them. I can assure you, I am not a plant expert in any shape or form. But somehow, I’ve managed to keep them alive and I’ve gone from having 3 plants when I moved into our house, to around 30 and counting! Here is a selection of the plants in my house and I find, very easy to look after. If I can do it, you can too!

Peace Lily

One of the easiest plants to care for, the peace lily is great for cleaning the air as well. They mainly consist of dark green leaves and white “flowers” (although they look like flowers, they are actually white leaves). I find this plant the easiest to look after as it will tell you when it needs watering, no joke! They are far more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering, so you shouldn’t water on a schedule. In fact I wait until the leaves start to droop before I water, a great reminder!

Spider Plant

Another fabulously easy plant to care for, I absolutely love my spider plants. My first plant came from my Mum in the form of a “baby” from one of her plants and it’s grown into a bit of a beast! They are very robust and can take a lot of abuse, which is great for any newbie indoor plant enthusiast. They like a light room, but cool temperatures and as the light increases over the spring months, they produce babies, or spider plant spiderettes which you can repot and grow into another spider plant! I currently have 5 in my house and that number is growing!

Boston Fern Houseplant

The fern is a must have houseplant in my eyes. I love the way it grows and trails over a shelf or cupboard and it is constantly reinventing itself! They are a little more difficult to look after however! They’re not so fickle as the previous plants, their environment must be spot on. They have to be in a cool place, no direct light and high humidity. I find that they thrive in my bathroom! The best way to care for these plants is to make sure the soil is always damp and to spray them with water once or twice a week, especially in the winter when we tend to have our heating on and the air can get very dry.

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Peace Lily

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Spider Plant

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Boston Fern Houseplant

Areca Palm

These are quite expensive plants, so a lot of people purchase them when they are small and watch them grow to over 7 feet! I bought one that was just over 4 feet and has grown considerably since then. I love the almost tropical, botanical feel these plants give and I think they are a fabulous addition to any home. They need bright, indirect light (the leaves will start to brown if you put them in the sun) and water them enough that the soil stays slightly damp in the spring/ summer months and slightly dry in the cooler months.

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant

This is a hugely tolerant plant, so great for beginners. It is a slow grower and very good at being forgotten about. They can thrive in low light and not much water, but you want to look after them, don’t you? Don’t put them in direct sunlight and water them just enough so that the soil becomes dry in between. In return, they will help keep the air in your home clean and remove toxins!

Dragon tree houseplant

The newest addition to the household, another palm like plant that gives a tropical feel to a room. The dragon tree can also grow up to 6 feet tall, but you can trim the top off if it gets out of control. It loves average room conditions, not too hot, not too cold and as with most plants, out of direct sunlight. Just do not overwater as this can cause the roots to rot.

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Areca Palm

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Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant

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Dragon tree houseplant

Calathea Mix (Zebra plant)

This is the hardest plant to look after, but it has to be my favourite! I love the “zebra” texture of the leaves and the fact that the leaves are almost a red/brown colour underneath. When we first put this plant in our bedroom, we kept hearing “shuffling” noises (well, I did. Mr B was snoring his head off as usual) and I realised it was the Calathea moving its leaves at night. The plant needs water, but the water needs to be able to drain so as not to cause root rot. Lack of water and the plant leaves will begin to curl. The Calathea also likes high humidity and low light, especially in winter. So make sure you have a mister to hand to keep it looking healthy!

I have found whilst caring for my plants that it is all trial and error. The plants in my house get moved around often and I find that some will prefer rooms to others. I try to stick to a routine of watering them the same day every week (so as not to forget), but I always check how damp the soil is first to make sure I’m not overwatering them. But the best advice? Always keep them out of direct sunlight!

But, plants aren’t the only way you can bring the inside out! I have several faux plants in my house and the quality these days can make you believe you have the real thing, without all the trouble!

And finally, it’s all about the décor. We are lucky enough to have bifold doors in our kitchen and on a sunny day, there’s nothing better than opening the doors and letting the garden become an extension of the kitchen. This room used to be painted white until recently, when I decided to go green and paint it Cool Pine by Valspar and add shelving with plants on it. It now feels very homely and calming and has become more of a “garden” room than a kitchen. For the finishing touches, I added a few botanical print cushions and art work and always like to have a fresh bunch of flowers on the table.

I don’t think you have to be green fingered to look after plants. Start with the easy to look after, such as Spider plants and Peace Lilies and see how you get on. But to give your house that true Bringing the Outside In, find natural colours (green obviously being my favourite) and let as much light in as possible.

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