Top Choices For Indoor Plants With Benefits

The world seems to have brought everyone home lately, destined to stay at home for the foreseeable future. This has us thinking about the real and proven benefits of indoor plants for fostering life and lushness in our homes.

A study by researchers at RMIT in Melbourne formed the basis for the horticulture industry’s Plant Life Balance campaign, with a range of styles that included “Paradise Traders” and “Dark Matters” with a strong focus on indoor foliage. By using plants with large leaf areas, distinctive foliage colours and unique architectural forms, you can create a whole new furnishing for your home.

With the help of our expert plantsman, Michael Casey MAIH RH (yes, he’s our President too but here he’s on official plantsman duty), we’ve pulled together some top plants with benefits:

The Heavy Breathers

“We all know that plants produce oxygen. Well, these beauties are the heavy breathers of the indoor plant world, enriching your indoor air and providing amazing foliage impact”, Michael said.

  • Epipremnum aureum – this popular vine is often deeply-variegated and hugely popular in trendy inner-city cafes with a millennial vibe. It’s really tough and very beautiful with buttery yellow streaks and glossy deep green trailing vines.
  • Phoenix roebelenii – the ‘Pygmy Date Palm’ is a small-growing palm ideal in pots with arching foliage over a stocky trunk. Its green foliage is an ideal background plant for more showy indoor species and it likes a bit of outdoor time now and then.
  • Philodendron sp. – an old classic but the new varieties are not as overpowering as the older types. A great choice for indoors or shady outdoors and very resilient with notched foliage.
  • Nephrolepsis exaltata – the ‘fishbone fern’ is perfect for a sunny window and you’ll often see them used on green wall plantings as a feature that cascades outwards.


The Foliar Filters

Michael describes this group as plants that absorb the chemical gases that come from furniture, plastics, flooring and other man-made products in the home. These materials release tiny amounts of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which can cause irritation.

  • Asparagus densiflorus – the asparagus fern is best kept indoors as it can escape outside and become weedy. But indoors it’s a tough, durable plant with drooping fronds, and it’s impossible to kill.
  • Tradescantia sp. – The ‘Trads’ are an excellent planting feature indoors, and come in greens and purples for foliar impact. Also very tough with sappy stems that you can easily grow from cuttings.
  • Hoya sp. – the mystique of Hoya is well-known, with its climbing vines, waxy green leaves and really unusual starry white-purple blooms. It’s an excellent indoor feature and very hardy.


Shy And Retiring Types That Avoid The Limelight

“If your place gets dark and gloomy, indoor plantings will certainly add a splash of drama and focus. Plants that tolerate lower light levels sometimes originate from forest ecosystems, or have a lower growth pattern that enables them to cope with lower light availability”, explains Michael.

  • Sansevieria trifasciata – the classic upright stems of ‘Mother In Law’s Tongue’ are an indoor favorite, not least because they are attractive with white streaks and sometimes yellow and cream colourations. They also work well outdoors and appreciate a little time in brighter conditions now and then.
  • Aspidistra elatior – the classic ‘Cast Iron Plant’ is the toughest plant we know, and tolerates anything. However, it does best with a regular clean and good soil that promotes its glossy upright foliar habit. Literally, tough as old boots.
  • Spathiphyllum sp. – the iconic ‘Peace Lily’ is a perfect indoor plant and appreciates rich soil and regular watering. It will grow to fill its container so you can be generous with the pot size and it will become a focal point in your room when their white flowers emerge.


The Show Offs

“These plants are ideal where they can show off their form and style on their own merits”, says Michael.

“They are great for a bright and welcoming entrance or feature in a room”.

  • Ficus elastica – the ‘Rubber Plant’ is popular, most often as stand-alone feature plants that sit on their own in a bright corner. They like rich soil and a good-sized pot, and appreciate you cleaning their leaves with a damp cloth every now and then. Often they have purple colouration on the new leaves.
  • Ficus benjamina – the classic indoor fig forms an attractive glossy-leaved shrub that will get very large if you let it. The whitish-cream of the stems and the bushy, glossy leaves make it an excellent indoor feature, best kept at a modest size.
  • Crassula ovata – the ‘Jade Plant’ or ‘Money Tree’ is a hardy succulent with brittle stems and glossy leaves. It will tolerate dry but as a succulent (not a cactus), it prefers slightly damp soil without over-watering.

Enjoy them all with good quality potting soil and regular but not overdone watering. Good luck!


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